Artistry or Racism?

Written Father’s Day 2020

My opinion regarding flags and statues; from two perspectives. (Written during the controversial removal of a statue in Louisville, Ky during the protest of Breonna Taylor’s murder.)

First, as an artist.

I have always been a student of the arts, formally and autonomously. I remember watching my father, a very talented artist, work on varying projects as a young girl.

He drew, he painted, he built, he made, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow! My dad can do anything! I want to be just like him!’. I’m not sure if he knows the lessons he taught me in allowing me to watch him be an artist; hard-work, perseverance, thinking outside the box, using what you got, get lost in the details but have a map to get out, try and try again, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you planned, sometimes you bleed… I could go on for days.

One of the biggest lessons I think any artist learns is respect for the work of the art itself. 🎨

Now, does that mean all works of art deserve a public place setting? 🤔

One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband is because he had a deep love of museums. Every single trip we took, we made sure to visit at least one museum. We’ve been to art galleries, Civil War museums, Lego museums, prohibition museums, women’s museums, men’s museums, science museums, plant museums, creepy dead animal diorama museums, clown Museums, American Tribal Museums, I mean, do you get my point?

We visited museums to learn about our history. I do my best to read all the plaques and commit as much to memory as I could. Naturally, it didn’t all stick. Still, it doesn’t upset or trigger me when I see statues or busts, flags, emblems, or quotes from terrible people and periods in history.

Seeing these things allows me to paint a greater mental picture of humanity, its strengths and weaknesses, and how I can help educate my children so that they can help paint a better reality in the future. If the statues bother you, why not put them in museums or at memorial grave sites, or take them to places where battlefield re-enactments are held. All of these are fair options wouldn’t you say?

To destroy a work of art because you disagree with it should be a cardinal sin.

As to why they should not be in public spaces; How many of you actually go visit any of the statues that are being removed?? I have honestly never thought twice about them and I bet most of you haven’t either. And to be honest, again, a lot of these statues are in awkward places making them aesthetically displeasing and unnecessary.

Here’s the thing, racism is deeply ingrained in our culture. I don’t blame any person or group of persons, I blame the entity that is the United States Corporation itself. Every fiber of virtually everything we read, watch, do, or consume, in large part could be argued to have racial undertones.

Do you see public memorialization of prolific Nazi leaders in Germany today? Why do you think that is?

The Civil War war began because 7 states tried to secede from the United States of America when they realized Abraham Lincoln’s stance on slavery was opposite their own. I cannot say if Lincoln was racist or not, likely in some ways, I am sure he must have been, given the environment at the time.

I can say his stance was not in favor of black people, it was the fact that he felt one could NOT own another person. And black people, according to the Lincoln Administration, are, in fact people.

The Confederate Army fought to own others, specifically black people. To still be so boldly and openly vying for the Confederacy and its “honor” makes you racist, period.

When the Confederates surrendered to the U.S.A they did not throw in their towels or their slaves, many fled the country and re-established themselves in Brazil. This branch of the Confederacy still exists today and I am sure they would be happy to welcome back any and all wayward sons and daughters.

We will never eliminate racism y’all. We can, however, begin to change our culture so that we are not being fed underhanded racism on the regular and see if that makes a difference in the racially charged, election year patterns.

Second, as a black woman.

As a very young child, I associated the confederate or rebel flag with mullets, beer, KFC, sweet tea, and good ole’ Southern pride. And look, I know there are good people out there who still rock this whole look, I still associate with some, I view this as a miseducated or under-educated situation and I am not dissing you; but picture this for one second, have you ever been called a NIGGER? 🤔

Here’s what I know, I HAVE been called a nigger.. Many times. More times than I have fingers and toes. Every single time I have had this happen to me it has been by someone who is sporting the rebel flag, Southern pride, miseducated look I described above.

Middle school through college I had many suitors that also sported the rebel flag, Southern pride, miseducated look I described above; they would sing my praises, send secret notes or texts regarding my alleged, esteemed beauty, only to be told our relationship would have to remain a secret because he could never have anyone know he was dating a black girl. Or how they always wanted to be with a black girl as if I am some kind of fetish.

I know that this flag was flown by an army whose sole purpose for existence was to fight to maintain ownership of PEOPLE.

I have come to associate this flag with racism, based purely from my own experiences and I am not sorry that I find it offensive.

As for southern pride, I love Kentucky! Oh my gosh, am I a proud KENTUCKIAN!!! Ask my husband or my kids; when we would go on vacation, I cried when I saw the sweet blue sign that reads, ‘Welcome to Kentucky’, as we pulled back into our home state! Then I would play John Prine ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ and I cried some more.

I love sweet tea and sitting on a porch in a rocking chair, chatting away while I swat at skeeters. I love fried chicken, homemade of course (or Lee’s, we don’t eat KFC in Kentucky actually). I love greens of all varieties. I like my chili without noodles. I love the scenery and our rich history. My kids make fun of me when I say words like ‘oil’ or ‘pie’. This land is a part of me, truly, the Irish side of my family came over and landed in Garrard County, Kentucky. I know nothing else.

I know we have our issues, I also know some of the nicest people, I have ever encountered have come from right here in Kentucky. The name of our state means, ‘The Land of Tomorrow’.

Tomorrow, let’s wake up, and move forward with a little more knowledge and stop showing patriotism to objects and cloth over land and people.

This is my take.

Happy Father’s Day! Thanks again to my Dad who gifted me the eyes and the mind of an artist!

Don’t forget to wash your hands.

Talk soon.