How White Folks Can Experience “the Black Experience”?

by | May 4, 2022 | Mission

White folks (like me) can never live like Black people do. We walk outside through the front door without a second thought. So do Black people —- unless they spot a police car parked up the street. We calmly stroll through Target eyeing the merchandise. So do Black people–unless they sense that a security guard is tailing them. Black people live quite literally in a world of their own into which White people have forced them.

That fact raises an enormously difficult question for antiracist White people. If our two “races” inhabit such different worlds how can we ever work fully together with Black people to achieve racial justice? That requires interracial understanding so deep and consistent that cultivates trust, unity and durable friendships. Can we actually achieve such a profound understanding while living in such racially polarizing times?

The artists you meet on this website answer that question this way — “yes, we can.”

How? It’s all about their artwork, which invites, provokes, challenges, implores and entices us White viewers to sense in our guts and decide for ourselves what it must feel like to live the Black experience. It’s all about interpreting the art on your own terms.

That done, there’s a second step. Introduce your friends and neighbors to AHHA! artistry. Turn what you are learning into racially inclusive conversations, Black and White together. Discuss what you “see” in the art. That unites us. Don’t get to debating polarizing issues like “defunding the police.” That’s for later, once we’ve accustomed ourselves to talking together about artwork.

When doing this we are not attempting to reshape ourselves in order to attempt to “live like Black people” Just the reverse. This is all about us embracing what we learn from black artistry in order to make ourselves into better White folks — more deeply informed, more understanding, more accepting, more empowered, more productively engaged and confident when working with Black people to roll back White supremacy.

We hear so much today about the problem of “White fragility.” Its antidote is AHHA! artistry.