the weekend I spent some time painting in Uptown on one of the hundreds of businesses with plywood over their windows. This
is on the corner of Lake and Hennepin, kitty corner to Calhoun Square. It was organized by the Uptown Association, and I
was happy to take part. I thank Adam Turman for pointing me in their direction.
I got to choose what I wanted to paint. I like doing portraits, and poets
have the best words to heal/energize/challenge/comfort/excite people.
A man on
the street asked if I had any pictures of myself working. I did not, despite many people stopping, and many of those asking
if it was okay, to take a picture while I worked. So he took these this morning and sent them too me. Maya Angelou was a
hero of his, as she is to my mother.
I had a lot of positive feedback from people
on the street. Honking their support, thanking me for my work, leaning out of their car while driving and shouting, "Fuck
YEAH! I love it!" What I was doing was such a small thing in the scheme of a smashed and broken city, but it clearly
mattered to some people that it was starting to look better.
And then there was
the picture taking. Everyone was taking pictures of everything. From casual folks out on a stroll to dudes with fancy camera
gear setting up tripods.
The city looks very different now. The rage of generations pounded out the glass of every business for miles, swallowing
some in flames. Perhaps we can all see more clearly how things really are, making everything in our old neighborhoods new.
The curtain has been drawn back enough now that even white people can see the broken system we've all been taking part in.
I was asked if I new of any black painters
who could help with the painting in Uptown. I knew one. That's a problem for someone who likes to think he's somewhat connected
to the art world in the Twin Cities.
I also wonder if I wasn't a white male if people would have asked my permission
to take my picture.
isn't about me, though.
As a white male, I was born into a system created by other
white males to keep white males on the top of society's pyramid. The system was built for me to just be happy with where
I am and not to worry my fancy little head about it. I was great. The system told me so.
I benefited from that
racist/sexist system, and with all that has been happening, it seems a fine time to tear it down and build a new one that
is fair for everyone.
I am doing the best I can to educate myself. I want to stay
informed, I want to fight for a better way. Sometimes I'll do it through donations, or activism, or my art, or a combination
of things. I'm going to keep my mouth closed and do a lot more listening (I really the hypocrisy of saying that near the
end of my wordiest post in years).
I won't let this moment pass by standing still.
I want to keep pace with it and help push it forward. I'm not a white saviour. I'm striving to be a humble worker bee, and
I'm ready to work hard for the human hive.