Greetings! Time to dust off this keyboard and get back to blogging!
So I’m working on a new collaboration with a fellow Scorpio artist. It’s not music, reiki, or meditation, or any of that although it does hold a lot of good energy.
In case you weren’t aware, I draw….I paint…I’m creative. I just don’t always have the time to focus on that outside of my other creative endeavors and sometimes I don’t share these things on social media.
I’m going to tell you this story for two reasons…First, I’m SUPER excited about what she and I are doing together and second, I also think white people need to understand why it’s important to be mindful of how we incorporate black culture into our own creations. The term “cultural appropriation” is thrown around a lot lately but I don’t really think white folks get it.
I get it. So I feel that it’s my place to speak on it and give examples. (Side note…more white folks need to be the ones speaking up and educating other white folks.)
Let me first explain how we met. A few years ago I was attending Handmade Holiday at the Living Well in Baltimore. It’s one of my favorite events in December with local vendors selling handmade items. This was before I was heavy into wrapping jewelry and making crystal grids. Dana was one of the vendors. She was selling these amazing paintings of women…mostly black women with interesting angles, curvy nudes, half portraits, big afros and headwraps. They just really spoke to me. The colors, the imagery, the power. Her energy was fire as well. A calm Scorpio (we do exist lol) just standing there painting a new piece while the energy from the completed canvases was vibrating all over the place. I’m an intuitive and an energy worker. I know all about you before you even speak. She didn’t need to speak. I knew she was good people. Deep…probably misunderstood sometimes…but genuine and gifted.
I took her card and stalked her art works for a while. LOL We crossed paths again maybe 2 years later when this time I was vending my Reiki Rocks and Crystal Grids at Handmade Holiday. My grids are works of art in a way. Crystal grids on a painted canvas. Her art tells a story. Mine sends an intention. The same…but still different.
Fast forward to this year. I contacted her with an idea I had. What if we put my grids into her paintings? Or what if she creates a piece with the intention of it having a grid in it? How powerful would THAT be? Sacred geometry inside a goddess’s womb? Sri Yantra shapes inside an afro or a Metatron’s Cube in the 3rd eye of a warrior goddess? AMAZING, right???
She shared my enthusiasm and excitement and we started working. This collaboration is unique. I went to her place to see all the pieces she has. We discussed how crystals and grids could be incorporated to add even more intention to the piece. A few weeks later she brought some canvases to my house and we tried out grid shapes and stones.
We aren’t always in the same room together. We communicate via social media a lot, sharing progress photos, and thoughts. She trusts me with her art works and my crystal healing expertise and I trust her experience with how the intention works within her artistic expression from her experience as a black woman.
So you might be asking what does this have to do with white people and cultural appropriation?
I’m getting there. Listen up.
Understand…this could have played out differently. I could have met her, experienced her artwork, been blown away…and then gone home and started painting similar images of black women to incorporate my grids into. I could have taken her influence and ideas and claimed them as my own. I can surely put a brush to canvas and paint an afro. I already have an established clientele of crystal grid customers who would love this. I could probably make some money. She’s not the only person who paints these images so why can’t I, right? Art is about expression and isn’t about race, right?
Nahhh love. That’s not right. I was directly impacted by HER story on canvas. Black hair isn’t my life experience. Even though I’ve cared for black hair, twisted friends’ locs, helped take out braids, all that. It doesn’t matter that I have black friends. It doesn’t matter that my clients and grid customers quite often don’t share my skin color. It doesn’t matter that my intentions might be good.
What matters is that THIS artwork that I was directly influenced by is HERS. And she is a black woman. It’s her story that she has been telling through images that look like her. Her experiences. Her energy. Her joy and pain. It’s not for me to tell. If I copied her and claimed the amazing images with grids as my own creation that would be cultural appropriation. That’s not the energy I want associated with any of my work.
I know people get confused because sometimes it’s not always so black and white. (pun intended)
We are all influenced by each other to some extent. My straight haired self has always wanted to just once have a big bouncy afro mane of curls. Too many hours of my life and 10 million dollars worth of spiral perms in the 80s and 90s was surely a waste of time and money. And people with curls sometimes want flowing straight hair. That’s not really what this is about, though. If I copy a style and claim it as my own creation or benefit from it because now with my privilege it is cool and acceptable to the mainstream, that is cultural appropriation. If black people are discriminated in the workplace for wearing their hair in a natural style but I can roll up to work in some cornrows and everyone thinks it’s so “new and trendy” that is cultural appropriation.
I know white people ask “Well what can I do?” There is no simple solution but you CAN choose differently, mindfully, and you can make yourself more aware of the issue even if it doesn’t seem to affect you directly.
As a white person you have a privilege that other people don’t have. Use it to bring attention to these issues when you have a platform to do so. On a personal level, support black owned businesses. Support women in business. If the person sells products that you can’t use or offers services that don’t apply to you, then talk about them to other people who can benefit from them.
Make an effort to be present and attentive when conversations about racism and cultural appropriation come up. Be the only white person in the room sometimes. Stand up with people and for people who are being discriminated against. If you don’t understand, research it. Google it. Talk about it. LISTEN and HEAR what people who don’t look like you are saying. It might make you uncomfortable but you can’t grow without some discomfort.
Also, when doing any of these things…DON’T expect any applause or accolades for doing what is right. Don’t show up with an attitude that anyone owes you anything for being present. Also don’t think you are entitled to ask people about their own life experiences with racism. No one owes you anything. But you still need to do the right thing.
So….back to the art! Not sure when we will be done. Not sure if this will be a new offering of hers or something we present together. It’s still in the planning and testing stage. You know we Scorpios are secretive and mysterious about our creations. 😊
She is Rhed Scorpion in the art world and on social media. And you know where to find me.
All I know is that this combination of energy from two very different life perspectives is POWERFUL. Stay tuned!