A White Artist Wrote ‘Black Lives Matter’ 2,000 Times. But His Mural Almost Said ‘All Lives Matter.’

By Kate Abbey-Lambertz, Huffington Post

The mural commissioned by Detroit’s N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. Huffington Post

The mural commissioned by Detroit’s N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. (Huffington Post)

Artist Renda Writer wrote “Black Lives Matter” about 2,000 times last week on a wall in Detroit, the white text in his handwriting appearing both tiny, streaming over the black background, and huge, shouting its message to anyone who walks by.

Writer, a white painter and poet from Miami, was commissioned by Detroit’s N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art to create the mural. He worked on the piece for about 80 hours and finished earlier this week.

Gallery owner George N’Namdi said he wanted to spark dialogue and pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, which formed in response to police shootings of young black men and addresses racial inequality more broadly. But initially, he and the artist discussed incorporating the phrase “Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter.”

Though the obvious meaning of “all lives matter” doesn’t contradict the assertion that black lives matter, some say changing the focus to “all lives” undermines the BLM movement and ignores its message that society doesn’t value black and white lives equally.

Artist and poet, Writer, with N'Nandi Gallery owner George N'Nandi. (N'nandi Center for Contemporary Art)

Artist and poet, Writer, with N’Nandi Gallery owner George N’Nandi. (N’nandi Center for Contemporary Art)

“All Lives Matter” has been used to criticize the movement’s tactics, appearing in Twitter fights, political speeches and more destructive scenarios. In July, a mural in Ottawa, Canada dedicated to a black woman who died in police custody was defaced, with the words “All Lives Matter” spray painted over her face. A Maryland church’s Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized twice this summer, with someone cutting out the first word.

“‘All Lives Matter’ really is a way of co-opting the Black Lives Matter movement,” N’Namdi told The Huffington Post. N’Namdi, who is black, ultimately decided that if Renda Writer included the words “All Lives Matter,” it would take away from the mural’s message.

“It really dawned on me, we’re talking about a movement here, we’re not talking about just a slogan,” N’Namdi continued. “We’re talking about something we’re trying to change, and once you start diluting the movement and making it ‘All Lives Matter’ … What issue is ‘All Lives Matter’ confronting? None.”

“I think ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a message of love,” he [Writer] said. “This particular race needs a little more attention, a little more love.”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Learning the Reality of Racism

Author Craig S. Keener discusses learning about White priviledge in the Huffington Post

Sometimes white people think that racism is a dead issue, because they do not experience it. Yet it is not wise to judge other people’s experience based on our non-experience.

In 1991, I converted to the Black Church. Unlike my earlier conversion from atheism, it wasn’t a religious conversion so much as a social conversion. I had been through the most difficult time in my life, and I found that the Black Church knew how to deal with pain. In fact, they had centuries of experience dealing with it.

I also had begun feeling deceived by my own culture. I thought the civil rights movement had mostly ended any serious problems regarding race, except for a few crazy white supremacists here and there. But when I began living in an African-American neighborhood, I would listen as friends and neighbors talked about a world unfamiliar to me. And I was horrified as some of the students at the university I was attending chatted about their almost daily experiences of racism. People had said or done things to them that I didn’t think happened any more, simply because they didn’t happen to me.

One day, after hearing my friends recount multiple racist encounters, I confidentially asked one of the students, Arthur, about it after the others left. Recognizing that I had lived a sheltered life, he simply recounted the story of his first English course at the university. He was the only African-American student in the class, and the teacher called him aside after the first day of class. “You need to drop this course,” she advised, “because you are not going to pass it. And if you tell anyone about this conversation, it will be your word against mine.” Arthur chose to stay in the class and, undoubtedly to the teacher’s surprise, he earned an A. I was horrified by the incident he recounted. “That doesn’t happen often, does it?” I inquired. He eyed me sympathetically, recognizing that I didn’t get it yet.

Read more of his stoty here.

Room4Debate: Do barriers to interracial marriage still exist?

 By Kevin Noble Maillard of thegrio.com

Do barriers to interracial marriage still exist? Despite recent media reports that we are living in a “post-racial world” as the face of the American family changes, the numbers do not lie when showing that there is still resistance to black/white relationships.

Formally, all prohibitions on black/white interracial marriage have been removed. The Supreme Court ruled that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia. This case made it legal for people to marry the person of their own choosing, regardless of race. No state government can block an interracial marriage after the ruling, the case determined.

Hearts did not change overnight, however. Some states did not change their laws after the ruling, even though they could not have been enforced. South Carolina and Alabama did not officially amend their laws until 1998 and 2000, respectively, and not without resistance. In 2009, Keith Bardwell, a Justice of the Peace in Louisiana, refused to perform the marriage of a black man and white woman. And just last year, a church in Kentucky banned interracial couples from membership.

What are your thoughts?

Read more of the story here.

Watch a trailer for the HBO movie, The Loving Story.

Does “George Zimmerman” Dwell Within You?

In a Huffington post opinion piece, Ama Yawson questions whether the Taryvon Martin case has made anyone examine their own prejudices. Yawson states:

“The pervasive nature of race and age-based prejudice and stereotyping do not in any way excuse George Zimmerman’s behavior. When such prejudice evolves from a thought in one’s mind to the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, athlete, student, son, brother and child of God, then we clearly must demand that all facts are brought to light so that justice can be served. We must keep up our activism because precious lives are at stake.

But I personally can’t cloak myself in absolute moral superiority because I am not yet able to observe all others in a completely neutral fashion without ascribing some negative or positive values to them based on the combination of their race, ethnicity, age, religion, clothing and or other characteristics. To the extent that George Zimmerman has come to represent prejudice then “George Zimmerman” dwells within me. Does “George Zimmerman” dwell within you?”