In my studio: Black history, black futures

Dear America:

I’m gonna need you to up your history game to include the stories of all our people, and not just in history books. (But really: you need to do better with schoolchildren’s history books. Those things are awful.) You don’t even have to look far for material. For example: Did you even know you owned this photo, America?

Children at a White House Easter egg roll, 1923. Credit: Library of Congress

Children at a White House Easter egg roll, 1923. Credit: Library of Congress

It’s in the Library of Congress, that big ol’ hoard of your favorite images and documents. I laughed out loud when I first discovered the image — I mean, that’s some EPIC (probably unintentional) side-eye!

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And then I sighed. This photo and its original title — “A study in black and white snaped [sic] at the White House today” — say everything and nothing at all about America in 1923. Like a lot of American history and culture. A wink-wink-nudge-nudge title that implies racial tension, and almost no explanation for why that might be so.

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During Black History/Black Futures Month, I’m going to assign my own interpretation of what’s going on in this photo. I think the gaps in our stories are directly responsible for the way we treat each other. Realistically, I know those gaping holes will continue to exist for… God only knows how long. But if anyone else is trying to fill the holes and make things right, well, the collages I plan to make are for you.