Sharing: White people, we need to talk

Mildred and Richard Loving

As an artist, I’m on various mailing lists for show opportunities as well as for the shows of other artists whose work I find interesting. As a rule it’s the same ol’, same ol’, a list of venues and dates but this past week I got a wonderful surprise from Benjamin Jancewicz who sends out his information from I was so impressed that I’m just copying it, with his permission, here:

Mildred and Richard Loving are best known for their 1967 Supreme Court fight to have their mixed race marriage recognize by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Up until their 1967 US Supreme Court decision, it was illegal for black and white people to marry outside of their race in Virginia. Even after the decision, anti-miscegenation laws remained in place in many states. On June 12th, we celebrate Loving Day and as you can imagine, this celebration hits very close to home. I love my wife and I love my children. I could not imagine life without them. I certainly could not imagine the government dictating who I decided to fall in love with. Sound familiar? Click here to learn more about Mildred and Richard Loving.

Just My Thoughts

White people, we need to talk. In addition to my belief in stepping aside for marginalized voices, I believe it is my duty to help white people understand racism and our role in racism. Just because you don’t use the N-word or have never been afraid of a black person in your neighborhood does not fully absolve you of your role in racism. Telling black people how they should react to racism, saying that famous quote, “not all white people,” and not doing the work to educate yourselves beyond what is taught in school or on the news can be just as racist as discriminatory practices.

I want to talk about that last point for a moment. I cannot stress how important it is for us as white people to go beyond what’s reported in the news or what’s taught in school when it comes to race, gender, sexuality and economics. More often than not, the information presented will keep white people and whiteness in a dominate position while pushing those in societal margins further into those margins.

I love highlighting Black figures both historical and contemporary. Many of the “Who Said What” pieces I’ve created are dedicated to amplifying the voices of Black leaders, artists and activists. While the majority of my work is well received for its artistic and social relevance, there are those white people who despise it for no other reason than the fact that I have chosen to highlight figures that contradict what they have been taught.

Last year, I did an entire piece on the hateful and racist comments I received on my Korryn Gaines piece. Recently, I created this piece to celebrate Africa Day.

I won’t lie to you and say that I was surprised by the level of ignorance that I received behind this piece but it doesn’t make it less annoying and hurtful to have to deal with.

Last month, I highlighted the birthday of perhaps one of the most influential (and controversial) black figures, El Hajj Malik el Shabazz. And right on cue, it was met with vitriol and hate. White people, when we allow our life perceptions to be based on the supremacist narratives found in our media and education system, we perpetuate racism, even if we don’t use the N-word.

Benjamin Jancewicz

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