I have much to tell you. I kind of want to start with an apology...Not really, but I feel like I should offer an apology that the inaugural piece in my this series, My Black Joy, is titled 1: Black and ugly as eva (or #1 for short.) "Black and ugly as eva," is a line from One More Chance by The Notorius B.I.G. According to my brain, it is one of the most important lines in my own history and relationship with music.
I had intended on calling the piece, My Black Joy, to be safe and good, but the piece was unimpressed. She is heavy. She intends to take up space... physically and in the imagination... I say OK. I say Nikki Giovanni has a "Thug Life" tattoo... And safety is a kind of illusion...safety in black skin? Don't wear the hoodie. Speak properly. Take 60 something cents on the dollar. And one day...one day.
And through the line "Black and ugly as eva," I feel my place...always Black. Always navigating the world in this glorious skin, into sometimes problematic spaces. Able to find deep love and recognition of my worth in a space that don't always want me...but will take what I bring...
And as I am tangled with my own thoughts, I am meeting you here. Opening this space to review, remember, wrestle, respect, and deeply engage with Black ways with and uses of words, interpreted visually, conveyed on wood panels. Preserved.
To me, art is my vocation...but to find a whole love is my work. As Dr. Tricia Rose, noted in her talk, Black Feminism, popular culture, and respectability politics, black culture is often pathologized. She cites jazz as an example and I remember the implementation of the parent advisory stickers...when black music was so dangerous that there were stirrings...always stirrings.
Until the music that was dangerous became useful to sell pop, and swimwear, and back to school...
And if you are black, it wasn't just music...it was clothing, hairstyles, words and tone...so many pieces to hold together...to be seen as proper...to maybe save your life.... And as we learned to reject/denounce these pieces, they were picked up commercially....our invetions and inventiveness was and is loveable and profitable. I am wrestling with this...
This work is a work of love. Self-love. Black love. It is political. It is place-making. It is space-taking.
I have much to tell you.
I don't want to hold you too long.
#1 is available.
I will soon tell you all about the process...