"I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear?" - MLK Jr
This series "Language of the Unheard" is painted from photos and from memory of the night I found myself riding my bike around in smack the middle of the unrest in downtown Philadelphia on May 30, 2020, the fires and looting and mayhem following the George Floyd protests.
This night in Philadelphia was a parade of systemic inequality. The majority of the looters were black, and the majority of the crowds watching with open jaws were white. After the shop storefronts in downtown Philly were smashed, and products strewn across the sidewalks and streets from people grabbing handfuls of whatever they could, there were 2nd rounds of sidewalk shoppers shopping the remnants. In the moment captured in this painting, a mother is pushing a baby stroller with her young son through clothes strewn across the sidewalk and into Walnut Street. A tween with a t-shirt that read "Youth" was shopping the same pile, as was a barefoot kid that looked to be about 10 (not in painting). A car was running nearby, the occupants filling it with loot before going on to the next spot.
In the smallest of ways, the name brand downtown shopping district goods and threads that are typically only available to those who can afford them, were being forcefully "redistributed" on this night. A night of free shopping for the homeless and brazen low-income kids, a writeoff for the stores, and a powerful and scary in-your-face reminder of the inequality we still have generations-full of work to do to repair.