"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.
People were using whatever was around to break the huge storefront windows in downtown Philly - I saw several newsstands thrown through windows. Groups of kids ran in and grabbed clothes, merch, registers, food, some were running away with things like water and cases of Gatorade. Cars were pulling up with kids jumping out and running into the smashed out store windows, filling their cars with what they could before they went on to the next place. Children, tweens and adults alike were shopping the remnants in the streets, sometimes popping into a storefront to see what was for grabs. Much of this is depicted in additional paintings in the series.
"Reparation" has been a hot topic in the discussion on how White America has still not come around to provide the same opportunities to Black America in everyday life, in the communities, in representation in entertainment and advertising. Reparation, the big payback, was being taken this night, whether downtown Philly liked it or not.
I remember some friends being so angry about these stores being looted. I understand the view some took, that so many of today's kids lack severely in education and are void of discipline. Although I was on edge this night,I personally wasn't offended by poor kids robbing empty big brand chain stores for a day as a little taste of payback. Isn't that the point? White America pushed Black America into a corner, so go get your Nike's, your cash registers, your cases of Gatorade that will just be writeoffs for these big companies. After May 30, 2020 though, there's still a heck of a lot of work to do to repair, if its even possible at this point with the imbalance that continues to exist.
9" x 12" oil on stretched canvas