I know that racism is a loaded subject but what happened in Charleston deeply affected me as a woman of color and a human being. I shared this on Facebook, but I realize many of you on my list are not on Facebook, so I am re-sharing here.
I painted this painting a few days after the Charleston Massacre. I was deeply affected by what happened and spent much of the days following, crying, listening to the Color of Fear on Youtube and painting this painting. It was my way processing my feelings. Afterwards I just didn't have any more words.
I included the 9 figures of those who were killed and one figure for the survivors who must be so traumatized and devastated to have been there during this massacre. And then the little girl was mentioned to me a week later and I knew I had to include her, facing out and looking at you when you look at the painting. For me she completed the piece.
This is what I shared on Facebook and I share it with all of you because speaking my truth is absolutely essential to my health, and my well being and if I'm going to share the journey with you, my journey, then I must be honest about all parts of the journey not just the joy, and excitement, but the loss and grief, and the feelings of feeling like "other".
From my FB status:
As a woman of color I am heartbroken. I don't have a lot of words to say, in fact I have purposely refrained from talking about the stories of brutality and injustice not because I don't care, but because I really am trying to absorb it all. I am trying to process it and there is no processing it.
I have friends from all races and I love all of them AND not BUT, inequality and racism exists.
There is no doubt in my mind and I myself having lived in predominantly white neighborhoods since my twenties, have experienced numerous occasions of being followed in stores, being asked to put my bag behind the counter and then seeing that no one else in the dressing room was asked to do the same, I've been approached by a manager at a buffet table and asked if I had paid for the buffet when he could have easily checked with my waiter.
I am often the minority in many of my circles throughout the years. It is something that I notice, and can't help but notice. I have been accepted and loved in many of my circles but it feels sad to me when I attend a retreat or art workshop and am the only person of color. It is interesting and curious to me when my ethnic girls do not sell as much as my other girls.
I notice and I feel it.
These are such MINOR incidents but they tell a story, they reflect the rejection of color as other. It is devastating to know that lives are being lost because of this rejection, this hatred and fear of "other". We are not "other". We are all human. And of course most of the people on my FB feed know this, but not everyone gets this as evidenced by the disparate treatment of people of color.
I must admit I have been afraid to speak up because the last thing I want to do is alienate the beautiful people I have come to know here. But being silent does not educate, being silent perpetuates the myth that racism is exaggerated or the myriad of myths I am witnessing of threads on this issue. I can't be silent anymore.
And if we love each other then having hard conversations is a gift we give to one another and if something pains you I want to know and I would hope that you would want to know when something pains me. Having these conversations is really about being human and wanting the best for your fellow man.