A dispiriting week: the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis as well as the video of a white woman in Central Park calling 911 to falsely claim that an African-American bird-watcher was “threatening her life.”
James Baldwin comes to mind—a passage from “The Fire Next Time” for each of these events. Regarding George Floyd, I think: “Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear.”
As for Amy Cooper in Central Park: “The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”
I designed and published the poster “Elvis Ain’t King” in 1992 as a response to the 1991 Rodney King beating and subsequent acquittal of the four L.A.P.D. officers responsible. The title is a reference to both Rodney King and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as to the Public Enemy lyric from “Fight the Power”: “Elvis was a hero to most / But he never meant shit to me.”
The poster notes the disparities between the black experience and the white one; between heroes who are lauded (like Elvis Presley) and heroes who are murdered (Martin Luther King Jr.); between motorists who are simply arrested and those that are beaten first (Rodney King). The glyph on the left half of the poster signifies division.
Unfortunately, white America continues to fail to address its persistent racism. [MF]