Generational wealth, white privilege and amateur watercolor painting…
In this season of quarantine and heightened awareness of systemic racism in America – you know why – because the police keep getting filmed killing Black people. I am working to understand how I’ve benefited from systems that harm Black Americans and what the #$%^& I can do about it.
Related/Unrelated – During the quarantine I’ve also been attempting to learn how to watercolor – and Im pouring a lot of angst about a lot of things into that process.
I hope my design business can actively help Black folks in my community as collaborators/contractors, clients, pro bono projects etc. If you can suggest a connection, please do. But I’ve looked at the impact of my 1.5 person business and it doesn’t feel like I could move the needle significantly. Enter Buy Back Black Debt: #BuyBackBlackDebt was created by activist and educator Sonya Renee Taylor to build relationships, pay off the debt of Black folks and to re-establish the possibility of human connections and relationship.
WHY? Because being a Black American means the game is rigged it against acquiring wealth… you can’t get home loans or homes, cant get a decent public education, cant get out of the slums, so many more cants…. The history lesson is below, read up. For every cant, non-Black Americans are able to acquire wealth and pass it down to the next generation. That’s true for my middle-class-Archie-Bunker upbringing and its true for most of my community.
Let’s create that potential for that opportunity for a Black person. I’ll send you a painting for contributing. I started the project with the goal of making 10 paintings, getting at least $100 for each one, and matching that donation with $1000 of my own. I posted the idea on personal instagram account because I wanted my friends and family to do this as a community. You can see the history of that here. I pretty quickly met my goal and then even quicker realized that $2000 is not a game changer for a student with over $100,000 in loans. I kept painting, 19 have homes and I plan to keep going.
I’m raising the stakes so my project can have a bigger impact. The minimum panting/donation exchange is $200 moving forward. I’ll send you a 5″ x 7″ painting (I pay to pack it safely and send via USPS to put a support in their direction.) You can have some input on style and palette too.
Even bigger – I’m hoping to find at least 10 donors to match my initial $1000 contribution. (Personal note – I’m literally in therapy to find the cohones to type those words and ask that big.) These folks will get the benefit of the practice I’ve had on dozens of paintings – yours will be even BETTER! You can commission a panting on fancy AF 9″ x 12″ paper, I’ll ship it to you and we can do a good thing together.
History Lesson – paraphrased heavily from this article in the Washington Post. The typical Black American family has just 1/10th the wealth of the typical white one. The cause of that chasm is hidden, we’re taught to believe the civil rights achievements have leveled the playing field. But for every gain Black Americans made new, mostly hidden, discrimination, stood in the way of the growth and oportunity.
Black Americans were denied the chance to buy a home, because the government wouldn’t guarantee the loan. Housing costs rose without giving Black residents a stake in the value of their homes, and neighborhoods crumbled from lack of investment. Real estate professionals and developers worked with racist lending policies, hemming black families into neighborhoods where disadvantages compounded one another. Low-quality schools and services in poor neighborhoods prevent upward mobility and Black Americans were/are from establishing equity. The cycle repeats.
Listen to What Sonya Renee Taylor has to say about #BuyBackBlackDebt:
“Wealth is generational and familial. It is passed down through lineage. I hope through #BuyBackBlackDebt we are able to restitch the garment of humanity by weaving Black and white lives in depthful and transformative ways…lineal ways, such that Black people become the heirs to white wealth alongside white family members. Such that white people become the heirs to Black love. Such that white people with financial resources immediately consider supporting the Black people in their lives because they have Black people in their lives. Where those relationships do not exist, they begin building them because it is through relationships that we heal and white people have much in themselves to heal. To be clear, both parties are clearing debt at the intersection of the spiritual and material realms.
KEY NOTE: THIS PROJECT IS NOT A GIFT! You are not gifting or donating or any other language steeped in white saviorism. You are seeking a relationship in which you would like to clear up some of YOUR spiritual debt by doing your part to mitigate the harm your people have done to Black people via institutions of white supremacist delusion. And that you desire to be in an authentic reparative relationship.