In all honesty, I am scared. When I drive I worry about if I’ll get pulled over and if I’ll make it home from being pulled over. I worry about my young students who are of color and what they might have to face. As odd as it may sound to others, being pulled over is one of my greatest fears. I don’t know if I will make it out alive in that moment, even if I comply with everything that the officer tells me to do. There have been moments in my life where the color of my skin has led people to judge me before they even get to know me, for instance when I tell people that I go to TCU they are visibly shocked and don’t hesitate to ask me, “Do you mean TCC?” I have been a victim of driving while Black when a State Trooper ran my plate numbers to make sure my car was actually mine.
License and Registration is a series of painting that is my commentary on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Often I think about people will automatically make decisions based on what you look like and that an ID does not always tell much about who a person really is. While in some case this type of profiling is not harmful, there are moments that we have seen in the news, like the Trayvon Martin and Philando Castile murders, where those snap judgment have resulted in death.
For these painting I will be interviewing different people about who they are, relationships in their lives, their thoughts on current politics and police brutality. From those interviews, I repaint each person’s license and replaced the usual information with their answers. For instance, on a driver’s license there is a line that lists any restrictions you might have while driving. On my real license my restriction is that I need corrective lenses, on my paint liscense I changed my restriction to Black.
I firmly believe that there are good police officers, I really do, the only problem is that the bad ones, the ones who shoot first ask questions later; the ones that racially profile; the ones who assume I’m doing something wrong because of the color of my skin are the ones that we see featured the most. There’s also the struggle of how the media portrays the victims of police brutality. They dehumanize the victims and blame them for their own deaths. Misrepresentation in the media and profiling helps fuel an us versus them mentality preventing us from having conversations that do not lead to argument. One of the main goals of these paintings is to give people a chance to tell the world who they are as a person. So that the community can start to have a conversation about their opinions and the turmoil that is constantly growing in the nation.
In Texas I’ve noticed that we have this terrible habit of not wanting to talk about politics. In order for there to be any change we have to talk to each other and we have to act. This project is a push to get people talking, with all the nonsense that is happening we need to talk to each other. Even if it makes uncomfortable we need talk to each other and band together so we can use our voice and make a change for the better.