1001 Black Men #917


Brooklyn Museum, Spring 2015:

At the same time as the Kehinde Wiley show,  the Brooklyn Museum was also presenting an exhibition of the notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat, in a different gallery.

I spotted this young museum goer at the entrance of the Basquiat show. He carried himself with the poise of Beyoncé Knowles and the self-possession of Maya Angelou.

Even in progressive Brooklyn, his lace top and carefully chosen accessories stood out among even the other LGBTQ Black people at the museum that day; and looking at him made me very aware of all the ways my appearance doesn’t draw the attention of others. As edgy and stylish as I might think I am, the world sees me a just another middle-aged Black woman in a v-neck sweater, perhaps a bit under-accessorized, but otherwise unremarkable.

It may seem strange to commend someone simply for dressing their body as they please; but that is the world in which we live. I admired this young person’s absolute refusal not to be himself.

Ajuan Mance

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