Finn: best Christmas present, ever!!
Because I’m not really “back” yet, here come some more double exposures. After being challenged by an African American artist about my choice of slavery as a topic over on Instagram recently, I decided to make a few collages with Irish imagery. To see what came. This was an impulse already in the making. Lots more to think and feel about all of this, but for tonight I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Sources: the Irish female figure is a screen shot of a drawing found on internet; the three male figures appeared in an episode of “Peaky Blinders” last night, so they are a TV screen shot. The enslaved female appeared on an episode of “Finding Your Roots” (with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,) — also recently watched; also, therefore, a TV screen shot. Cloth layers: various. Some of the Solstice Collages crept in as well.
Happy New Year, all! I can’t wait to get to all the blogs that I love to read!
I can understand why you were challenged, but my own view is that our own past lives and karma are often more impactful than our current familial line. I suspect that this topic is important to you for reasons that go back beyond this current life.
On the one hand I respect the feelings that are natural to someone who’s descended from slaves. On the other, I haven’t always been a member of every group I belong to now (gender, ethnicity, race, nationality), and I believe that’s true of just about everybody else on the planet as well. So am I standing on my hill, or yours?
In any case, though, I think it does us all good to consider what slavery was really like so that we can better understand how it’s still affecting the descendants of slaves, and therefore our whole country and culture. The message I got growing up (from my mother) was that slavery was really perfectly pleasant, that white people loved their slaves like family, and that all I really needed to know I could learn from Gone with the Wind. It sounded suspect at the time, and from this vantage point, it sounds like utter BS.
PS I suppose I should acknowledge that sometimes slaves were considered family. There’s an article in a recent Smithsonian about a former slave who asked to be bought by a man he’d gotten to know, and who deeply trusted him. He repaid the favor by loaning the man money after the war when he was destitute. The man’s family displayed a photo of their former slave in Confederate uniform in a place of honor with family photos up to the present day. The explanation given to those who asked was, “He was a very important man to our family.”
I’m glad to hear you were challenged, because now (hopefully) everyone’s experience deepens. Having just read “How the Irish Saved Civilization”, being white myself, and having ventured into the inner city of Trenton to teach in a school that was 98% African American, some African, and 2% Hispanic… I feel ummm sensitized (on the surface) and more aware than I’ve ever been of these racial “tensions”. I know you’ve been there too, trying to make things better. No earth shattering answers have I gleaned. Yet I am now more deeply aware that my whiteness makes me an Other, one to be suspicious of rather than trusted at the first encounter, and that is a grim realization – something I never feel as Irish to Irish. But,I agree with the adage that to be challenged as a human being and/or as an artist is to be asked to engage in the conversation. I look forward to the day that it is a place where we will all be standing with open arms and voices – ready to learn more, ready to build bridges all the time. However all people are not yet willing, not open, as we know. The Work to do is heavy and complex and constantly crumbling or getting blown apart. Retreat is natural and occasionally necessary from peace building work, and from art, that is very difficult for everyone and ongoing.
Dee(p) Heart Magic Days!
have you read Ben Okri’s article “A mental tyranny is keeping black writers from greatness”
and this response?
Havent Mo. Will take a look. In vacation mode for a few more days. Did read a food article on theroot.com.