2020: meet pandemic, record unemployment, and systematic racism! What a combination America. Going back to “normal” is not an option. We can and must do better.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. According to the BBC: “For eight minutes and 46 seconds, Mr. Chauvin kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, the prosecutors’ report says. About six minutes into that period, Mr. Floyd became non-responsive. In videos of the incident, this was when Mr. Floyd fell silent, as bystanders urged the officers to check his pulse. Kueng did just that, checking Mr. Floyd’s right wrist, but ‘couldn’t find one’. Yet, the officers did not move. At 20:27, Mr. Chauvin removed his knee from Mr. Floyd’s neck. Motionless, Mr. Floyd was rolled on to a gurney and taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in an ambulance. He was pronounced dead around an hour later.”
SANDRA BLAND and WALTER SCOTT description: Lady Justice is a symbol of impartiality in our judicial system. Standing stoically with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other, she is blindfolded representing that power, status, or money has no influence. A standard braille sign becomes repurposed by altering its function. The art serves as a memorial to how privilege benefits some while persons of color continue to pay the ultimate price for sheer existence. Citizens must not blindly follow but question, organize, and demand the highest standards preserving truth and justice.
From The Washington Post: “The deaths of Floyd and Taylor follow a tragic pattern of racist state-sanctioned violence that has shaped U.S. history for centuries. During slavery, black people’s lives were circumscribed by organized groups of white men who policed the enslaved. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the emergence of ‘Black Codes,’ which curtailed black rights and mobility, emboldened nascent police forces and white vigilante groups to carry out violent acts under the guise of ‘law and order.’ In cities across the nation, black people were targeted by police forces, arrested at higher rates than their white counterparts and, in Southern states, trapped in a system of bondage that mirrored slavery.”
DEMOCRACY description: My art practice investigates symbols of influence and power that impact perception. During his campaign and presidency, President Donald J. Trump declared repeatedly “…law and order must be restored.” Meanwhile, his policies erode democracy by threatening “sanctuary cities,” attacking the Robert Mueller investigation, and perpetuating false claims. Smith & Wesson’s most popular police handcuffs have been repurposed altering function. The word “DEMOCRACY” is branded and shackled bearing the weight of America’s history, identity, and future.
What can I really say about our current state of affairs? How does one articulate anger, sadness, and fear? What must be done to stop racism?
President Barack Obama: “It’s natural to wish for life ‘to just get back to normal’ as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ — whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.”