Well, I tell ya. When you ask for understanding... sometimes it brings to light things you never thought of. So, I created the Men @ The Round Table events to learn about the affects of racism, feminism, incarceration, absentee fathers, etc. on African American men in the US... What I have gotten out of these discussions has far surpassed anything I would have imagined. I have been confronted by myself... yes, an African American woman/ female,... confronted, sometimes surprised, sometimes horrified, by own ideas, thoughts, preconceptions about African American men. I knew they were there... some at least.
In sitting at a conference table with black men from all walks of life, senior citizens, young men, professionals, students,...and listening to their stories, expressions, confusion and frustration, I have been confronted by my own frustration, anger, disappointment and general disdain for black men. I have also been confronted by my heart for them; the knowing in my soul that I love them, that they hold the key to so much in my world. I found myself holding back snappy comments like "Just be straight up, man, and stop trying to look so tough." and "You are so full of shit." Simultaneously, I asked them questions about their life and what those experiences did to them on the inside with genuine care and concern.
These events and experiences have been transforming me from the inside out... Much of my work is about transfromation. I figure, why create art, paintings, drawings and crafts, unless they will challenge, inspire or ignite a fire in someone...? I figure that in order to create works to transform black men and women's relationships, I must delve into the depths of all that is REAL for me... the good, the bad and the ugly... sometimes the hideous.
Keisha "I Make Everything Beautiful" Whatley,