28th Day

After being in labor for two days, my mother released me to the world the morning of May 7th 1973.  I was born Black and have remained so for the entirety of my life, despite my lighter complexion.  So if I am Black every second of the day for so many years, why would I regulate my Blackness for 28 days a year?  My father died a hair short of his 50th birthday.  His birth certificate, which is in my possession, states that my father was born Colored.  From Pine Bluff, Arkansas to Chicago, Illinois he carried that label both beneath and upon his skin.  Every day we live in America as Black men and take all the good and bad that comes with it.  It makes no sense to only celebrate and acknowledge it for only 28 days.

This Blackness that I carry, how does it translate to my art?  Does my art get Blacker in February?  Is this the only time of year that my art lifestyle is profitable?  Should I exploit my Black Heritage at this time of year?  Is it easier to get media coverage during the chilly month of February?  All of these questions surround me and my tightknit artist community as we wear the hats of both artist and businessmen, planning our lives both in practical and in terms of commerce.  We gotta eat.  We gotta survive.  We gotta create dope art, because that’s what we were born to do.  The level of exposure and support does get heightened a bit in February.  How do we as artist ensure that our exposure continues throughout the year?   Celebrating our culture shouldn’t end on the 28th day. 

I LOVE who I am.  Every bit of my Black existence radiates in my artwork.  Those underlining themes stretch far beyond the communities in which I was raised.   My Blackness doesn’t need to be confined to Black patrons no more so than being confined to one short month.  My experience on this earth is unique in its own right, but it overlaps the experiences many of us have had despite birth certificate labels.  I won’t allow my art to be contained in a box.  I will not be painted into a corner to distribute fine arts calendars for the Blackest month of the year.  That’s not me, and never will be me.  I certainly hope that’s not you either.  LOVE yourself everyday – celebrate yourself and your ancestor’s every day.  LEARN something NEW about yourself and your past EVERYDAY.  Don’t get trapped in this condensed 28 day cycle.  Let the 28 days just be a louder trumpet for what has been going on the other 337 days.

 Ali and Malcolm

Ali and Malcolm