Watercolor, 9x12, sold
He looked at me and without hesitation, said, "Paint black people."
At first I wasn't really sure why I painted this piece. It wanted to be painted. Sometimes it happens like that. When I showed it to friends, several of them thought it was frightening. That's when I realized why it needed to be painted. It's just a man in a hoodie sweatshirt but that's not what our culture teaches is it?
Honestly, although it called to me, it was emotionally difficult for me to paint it. I felt quiet, scared, depressed, anxious. I wasn't sure if I should finish it. Maybe it was my own process to work through, something that I wasn't meant to share—but each time I came to that conclusion, I heard my son's voice again, "Paint black people." I know he meant for me to share. But it's still hard for me, my fear for my son is high. Not for this moment but in just a few short years, he'll be driving. He will likely be pulled over for DWB, "Driving While Black" or WWB, "Walking While Black" or, or, or... the list goes on and on. We continue to teach what black families have had to teach their children forever, "Pants up, hood down, always. Smile. Be respectful. Hands where they can be seen. Ask if you can reach for your wallet for license and registration. Don't argue"
"Just get home to us safely."
This info is new to us though, we are white. When pulled over by the police, our hearts pound, because we've done something wrong and we don't want a ticket. It never crosses our minds that a cop could shoot us. (Please know, I fully understand that the majority of police are there to protect us. We have cop in the family.)
We brought our son home from Ethiopia when he was 7 months old. Big gummy smiles, huge Disney eyes, and eyelashes a mile long—everyone who met him fell in love. Now, at 13 years old and 5'5" he looks and acts older (in public anyway lol)—someone recently told me they thought he was 16! We are well past the years of, "OMG! What a beautiful baby!" Now I see the looks. I've caught grocery workers following him with his arms full of milk, cookies, whatever I sent him off to get—they track him back to me, catch my angry eyes and quickly look away.
I know what it feels like to see your baby boy suddenly seem like a threat. It's infuriating and puts a fear like no other in my heart.
And I've only been experiencing this for, maybe...6 years?
My heart is breaking.
Love to all from the Mother Ranch,
Let me give you a big ol' hug!
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