Category Archives: Black Men

1001 Black Men #977


This guy was one of the people in the audience at a panel discussion I participated in at the San Leandro Public Library. The topic was voting rights, and my fellow panelists were Ronald Moore, Board Member of the Alameda County Paul Robeson Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California; Penny Peck, Secretary of the League of Women Voters, Eden Area; and Donald Tamaki, an attorney at Minami Tamaki LLP in San Francisco and former executive director of the Asian Law Caucus representing Asian Americans in civil rights and poverty law. This panel took place on September 8, nearly two months to the day before the recent presidential election. I don’t usually get a chance to speak at community events like this one, and I was impressed with both the turnout and the truly warm welcome we received. While the man in this drawing was not among the people who asked questions, I did notice him nodding and taking notes during each of the panelist’s introductory statements. That felt good, too. I’m a 19th-century African American literature specialist, not an expert on voting rights. So, it’s kind of amazing that anything I said might have ended up in somebody’s notebook.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #974


One of the best parts of living in the San Francisco Bay Area has been the opportunity to connect with so many other artists of color. This drawing is a portrait of William Rhodes, a local sculptor, and mixed-media artist whose work is included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, in Washington, DC. In this drawing, he’s dressed as I saw him at the opening of the Making a Scene exhibition at SOMArts, in San Francisco. Click on his name (above) to view some of his amazing work.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #972


At the “Making a Scene Opening,” SOMArts, summer 2015.


SOMArts really knows how to throw an opening. From “Glitterbomb” and “Making a Scene” (both in the summer of 2015) to “The Black Woman Is God” (in the summer of 2016), SOMArts openings have drawn huge crowds of art lovers from across the Bay Area. I think it’s because SOMArts group shows include a diversity of artists, each of whom draws their own community of friends and family. Even those openings that have been overwhelmingly Black or LGBTQ draw on a richly diverse array of identities within those respective communities. There’s something about these events that feels so Bay Area. As much as I whine about missing my beloved Northeast, the art community in the Bay always reminds me of why, since coming to Oakland in 1999, I’ve decided to stay put.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #966


It’s election night, and things aren’t going quite as I’d hoped. So, I’ll take a page out of President Barack Obama’s book, and dedicate this post to celebrating the good things about life in the U.S. that will remain the same, no matter who wins the presidency.

This is but another of the drawings I did of the Black men I saw at the Kehinde Wiley exhibit, at the Brooklyn Museum. That exhibit was more powerful than I could ever have imagined, and I say this as someone who was a Wiley fan for years before I ever saw the Brooklyn Museum show.

Tomorrow morning, no matter who is president, Kehinde Wiley will continue to create beautiful art that resists the dehumanizing stereotypes applied to men of African descent. Tomorrow morning, technological innovations will continue to place the means of production and the means of distribution in the hands of the masses, so that people of African descent can continue to create media that reflects our understandings and experiences of the world. Tomorrow morning, the New Great Migration of people in every nation on the planet , from rural areas to cities, will continue to reshape economies and cultures worldwide, including in the U.S.

Most importantly, tomorrow morning, whether Clinton or Trump is our president-elect, western nations of the global north will continue to become increasingly diverse, identities will become increasingly complicated, and–from Europe to the U.S.–the browning of the northern hemisphere will continue, unabated.

To the current majority, I say, don’t be afraid. Instead, embrace diversity and accept the reality of demographic change. Another Democrat, many decades ago, said it best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #965


This is one of my favorite drawings, of a friend I will refer to by his online pseudonym, Atypical. This year was Atypical’s 28th birthday, and  his partner commissioned this portrait as one of his gifts. He was a pleasure to draw, and his great smile is just a reflection of his warm spirit. Plus, he’s into robots, which is one of the coolest things I learned about him in the drawing process.

Happy belated birthday, Atypical!

Ajuan Mance