some things

Radio-Raheem

  1. In a land of iPhones and Beats™ headphones, a Black kid walks by with music playing from his backpack, no speaker or boombox in sight, leaving silent bystanders visibly disoriented.
  2. Where was this pathological fear of the surveillance state before its tentacles reached wholesale into white men’s cellphones and lives? (Oh, that’s right, it was safely contained in dystopian sci-fi, but never felt in communities of color…)
  3. Ads are everywhere. In the trays at airport security, even. (They have papered Black communities throughout the US from at least the late 80s when I got here until now. Huh.)
  4. And out there somewhere, someone believes that, because it required manual effort, photography (the ‘hard’ kind, large format), was blue collar work. (Wait, what?)

Something happened a few years back; my ability to ‘just hear me out’ half-witted, half-true ideas just snapped. I could no longer not hear the entitlement in precious, self-involved, rooted-in-racist-fantasy arguments. Like, I can’t un-hear the bizarreness, the disrespect to genuine blue collar workers in the opening paragraph of the photography essay in #4. I can’t pretend that the complaint in #3 about access to blank public space doesn’t sound like whining to me. And the nagging question in the back of my head when I watched CitizenFour, “Where was Ed Snowden or someone like him when activists of color (and Ernest Hemingway) were saying, ‘they’ve tapped my phone, they’re following me’.

But that kid. That kid with the music. That was the thing! The best art I’ve seen in a while.