During the recent BART strike, if you happened to have been driving through the Jack London area around 8am and you spotted a long line of people dressed in sweaters and jackets (even in early July), you were probably seeing part of the line of commuters waiting to take the ferry into San Francisco. After 4.5 days, BART workers negotiated a one-month extension of their existing contracts, the trains started rolling again, and a lot of people who spent the week riding the the high seas of the San Francisco Bay returned to their typical routine.
For my second 500 drawings I am interested in depicting those African American men that I have largely overlooked during my first 500 drawings. Among those constituencies that I am rarely depict are homeless Black men, which is kind of peculiar, because there are a number of homeless guys who I see and with whom I speak on a regular basis. This is one such person who I’ve run into a few times near the Safeway that’s across the street from the Fruitvale branch of the Oakland Public Library. We have exchanged hellos, but we’ve never actually had a conversation. I’ve never forgotten the way his too-thin frame accommodated a tucked-in sweater a bit too easily. The way the tongue of his belt hung down way past his pocket suggested that he was both dramatically underfed and dressed in the clothing of a much larger person. There is an unassuming dignity in the way he carries himself, and his gaze suggests that he’s seen more in his one lifetime than most people might encounter in three. I hope to print this drawing soon and to hand this gentleman a copy next time I’m in his area.