How To Be Black…

A few weeks ago I was having a hard day. I was feeling flustered by my surroundings. I was frustrated about my finances. When I looked around me there were tons of people of all sizes shapes and diversity, but every time I glimpsed to the walls of the subway advertisements I saw mainly one type of person (I’m sure we all know what they were). I started feeling into the irony of the environment. It was ironic that most of the people that rode the subway were not the people on those walls. I begin to feel conflicted about the confines of society. I started to wonder if the rules that society dictates the rights and wrongs, what’s beautiful and abdominal were worth internalizing. Later in the day I followed my “routine” as usual and as I went about my day I really started to pay attention to the feelings that arose around entitlement vs lack (I say this word loosely) individuals. A poem arose… “How To Be Black.” The results of writing that poem have been beyond anything that I could imagine. I would like to share it with you all. Maybe a conversation will start as a result (see below):

Thanks for stopping by. Let’s talk again soon!

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SO THIS IS ART… A lesson on Compassion

A few days ago I went to an Art gallery. So this is art? I thought as I walked into what was soon to be a marker of change for my life. It was modern art so all of the pieces were “funky,” “fresh,” and” innovative.” From the moment I walked into the door I could sense that people in that particular world were of the elite sort. Everyone walked around imbuing the art with their quiet gestures and nods of approval. Yet all I could wonder as I chanced upon a few of the pieces was what makes this art? How does one person’s creativity become more valuable than someone else’s creativity? I was baffled. I walked around and observed the work. Then I walked up to this piece (see below).

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I looked at the price tag. It was valued at six-thousand dollars. Again I wondered to myself what made the piece artistically valuable. Finally I queried out loud.  A friend of mine suggested that I ask the art-exhibitor. I did. Her response was less than favorable: “Are you serious? This is Michael S. He makes his own paper, draws his own lines and writes out every word by hand. He has been featured at the MOMA and he is well known in the artist community.” Next she walked away. But I wasn’t offended by her reaction. I was angry. I was angry that society had built standards that require us not to ask questions anymore. I was angry that “the new normal” is to passably go along to get along and to just fit in. I was angry that of all the art I saw in the room there were only a few people of color whose work sat on the wall. Most of all I was angry because she couldn’t speak to why the art was valuable, and yet… it was art: “So this art.” I thought to myself. I left the gallery with a new resolve. The first thing I took with me was the art of compassion. I wanted to remember that of all the paintings, murals, statues, and museums in this world the most valuable artwork here are the living creatures that inhabit this plant. I hoped that by remembering this I would treat people with patience and kindness. The second thing I resolved to do was to speak up when there were questions to be asked. I resolved to not be afraid to upset the status quo. That’s how it changes…

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The thing is at least for me, is that in order to grow I can’t always be in environments that make me feel comfortable. That’s how I grow and that’s how I help others. Today let’s remember that we don’t know all the answers. No one does. Let’s also remember that we are the artists. We are also the art. Treat your canvass with care and kindness, and remember that there is always a bigger picture.  You make this world artistically valuable. I make this world artistically valuable. We are the muse, and so I hope to always remember this as my world gets bigger and as my art takes me to new heights. Thanks for stopping by, let’s talk again soon.

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