Art can be so powerful, especially if you give it time.
Encountering a mural in memory of D’Andre Campbell
He is bright – bright face, bright smile, a galaxy of light and stars around him. His headphones are off, like we’re chatting with each other. We’re in conversation, we’re making each other happy. That’s the brilliance of the piece, his face draws you in, you feel like you might know him, might enjoy having his light in your life. Then you stand back and take in more. “In memory of…” – he is gone, you will not meet him, you will never hear what bright things he has to tell you, you will never learn what made him smile that smile.
Or is it a grimace?
Is he enjoying the conversation with me or have I offended? What ignorant frog has leapt from my mouth to make him flinch? Step further back, take in more. Black Lives Matter. #SprayTheirName. #PaintTheCityBlack. Step away and see it all, zoom out, stand away, create distance. Where I saw the smile of a bright young man beckon me, now I see more. Context. Must stop imagining that race is invisible to me. Context. Must see that the galaxy of a young black man is a halo, the dust of gunshot exploding behind him in the moment before contact.