This is by far the hardest comic I’ve ever made so far.
Now, this might be a laughable statement given how it looks, but it’s true. I had a very hard time making this comic.
I spent months avoiding this comic because every part of making this page was painfully frustrating experience. I wanted to make a comic that expressed a lot of anxiety I have been feeling over certain current events and struggled to depict it. I could not even attempt to visually express the real horror of ongoing protests, assaults, and murder. So, I decided to make an experimental comic essay. This also proved painful. I was unsatisfied with my script. I still am. I spent months doing anything I could to avoid putting words on a page for this comic. Looking over my script and even copy and pasting the text to page felt excruciating as it brings up memories. Writing this blurb also brings me mixed emotions. However, this page also made me stop working on comics in general, including many that are unfinished. I resolved to force myself to complete this page so I could get to them, no matter how painful it was, if only to discuss one aspect of my many frustrations.
There is a distortion in the way people perceive Blackness and I've sat frustrated seeing the same tragedies happen, with the same results and interpretations that I often find misses the mark. It frustrates me that Black people have to have some big 'redeeming quality' in their life to be relevant when they die or get assaulted. The brutality, in and of itself, doesn't make people care as much and it bothers me. Is it not enough that it shouldn't have happened? Why do people only seem to temporarily care about inequality when we become martyred memes without addressing the real problems? I've seen people tweet #BLM while refusing to challenge racist rhetoric in real life when it matters. It often forces me to wonder if one day it will be my turn and how badly interpreted my demise would be. In a bad situation, nobody would see me as an educated Artist with 2 degrees that teaches thousands of children or any kind of potential, they'll probably see me as another unloveable Black 'thug' or threat to be put down. It feels insulting for every type of Black victim to me when some reports after the fact go "Oops, we might have killed one of the good ones" and even worse when they try to dig up something to dehumanize us to say we had it coming. It doesn't help that footage and articles of those types of tragedies play on loop in my head sometimes. This comic carries a complex mix of a fraction of the fears, frustrations, and anxieties on the topic that I regularly live with and struggle to express.
Take a hard look at yourself, no matter how 'woke' or 'not racist' you think you are. Many people of every background in our society are culturally trained in anti-blackness and its baked into many of us not to challenge it. Try to understand the many subtle and overt forms of racism that cause these issues and ask yourself what do you actually plan to do about it, big and small. Only doing #slacktivism does not count. I also hope people take a look at the names. Each name has a story. For every Breonna Taylor and George Floyd that you’ve heard of, I guarantee there are many that you haven’t. Very few of the people on that list survived their needlessly violent encounters and those that did were forever changed by it. Their lives shouldn’t need to be hashtagged to be acknowledged. The magnitude of injustice and racism at play in our lives doesn't disappear when it isn’t trending and you are comfortable. It requires constant action by us to change this world, not complacency or social media posts or empty words.
There is much I struggle to express in this comic and I don't even think I'm expressing myself well. I felt a responsibility to use my art as one way to call attention to these ever-present issues somehow. While comic comes from a very angry and exhausted place on my part, I believe that's okay. Longtime followers of my work know I am no stranger to making art that makes people uncomfortable and 2020 has no end of frustrations to creatively vent. Ultimately, I just don't want it to be necessary that blood of myself and others to be shed before people can potentially see us as living, breathing human beings that matter.
See you next comic.