Black Art Accountability & Philando Castile.
(ThyBlackMan.com) When you have been endowed with the ability to produce creatively the images (film, television, & theater) that will shape the mind (what) and perspective (how) of your audience (and ultimately a nation) it would be responsible to assess the condition of the universe in effort to provide, at least, a reflection of reality, OR, at best, strategies to navigate the problems you identify. In an era where millennials (who are the future leaders) communicate almost entirely in images (social-media, emojis, et cetera) we must know, accept, and understand there is a direct connection betwixt the images they consume and their behavior. Yes, instead of articulating emotions to one another (and even to modern parents) in words, youths are sending images to describe how they feel.
If emoji icons, which are simple forms of expression where a smile means happy and a frown means sad, have become effective mediums for delivering pertinent (feelings) information among youths/adults, it is safe to suggest more vivid/telling images like, film, television, and theater will do the same. Therefore, art delivers information to an audience. Art, by nature, informs us of what the artist is thinking. Furthermore, it informs us of his worldview. And when we are not careful to moderate images that do not reflect the diversity of a group of people (OR race), an artist’s worldview becomes our own.
Initially the art is WHAT (mind) we see. Then, after penetration, it becomes HOW (perspective) we see. If you know the Philando Castile incident you understand the officer who murdered him was non-white. We have to look at this because it is dangerous to assume discrimination betwixt minorities has nothing to do with racism. In fact, Castile’s shooting communicates the effectiveness of racism against Africans in America and how it continues to permeate our world. I am suggesting the disparaging images (film, television, theater) of black men contributes to the war betwixt officers (blue) and men of color (black) on both sides of the spectrum (offense/defense). When black men (and boys) see themselves as threats in the media they fear confrontation with officers. Likewise, when non-Black officers see African-American men as hoodlums (threats) in the media (music-videos, film, television, news, et cetera.) they fear confrontation with black men. Hence, this black and blue war.
This article proposes a challenge to black artists who have the ability (power) to create the images that will educate non-blacks and black youth about our behavior. I am not challenging anyone to hide their truth, BUT if you must talk about ‘thug-life’ (HUNGER) then provide the series of events that undoubtedly preceded your choices/behavior. Yes, many of us are coming from underserved communities, broken/dysfunctional families, and poverty, and are making some hard choices to survive the aforementioned circumstances. However, we (black artists) must tell the whole truth and cease meditating on the negative choices we make to survive.
Let me be clear. I am not writing to blame black artists for the death of Philando Castile. Please see my About Alton Sterling article to get my view on racism/police-brutality. Here, this page seeks to call black artists into accountability for the images we create for our youth to identify with by assessing the condition of our universe, the trending medium(s) of communication (emojis), and the contribution of art in present day officer/black-man confrontation.
Many will argue discrimination towards Africans in America precedes artistic expression/media. This is an untruth because creativity and communication begets the beginning of time.
I’d love to hear what you think about this issue. Let me know in the comments.
Staff Writer; Tylie Shider
Also connect with this brother over at; TylieShider.com.