Pay for Soup, Build a Fort, Set that on FireJean Michel Basquiat
Not long ago, I came across this idea that the end of art has come. An art critic by the name of Arthur Danto came up with this term: an art theory (link here) about how art isn’t dead but that it is now working outside the confines of theory that has for so long held art to the course of history. The easiest analogy I can think of here is that scene in Star Wars Episode 4 (A New Hope), Obi-Wan is struck down by Darth Vader but right before he is sliced through those blazing hot light sabers, he becomes one with the force. If that’s still a little confusing, check this short video on the “end of art” (link here).
Love liberates. It doesn’t bindMaya Angelou
This borrows from the Francis Fukuyama’s concept of End of History (link here for essay)(link here for video), which he thinks he borrowed from Hegel himself. Although in this case, the end of history does not refer to the end of events. It talks about the evolution of history and how it has ended at liberal democracy, though the conclusion of his thought goes against what Hegel’s philosophy was about.
You are not and yet you areW.E.B. Du Bois
Let’s talk about the end of our identity. The end of your identity. No matter how many times you try to rebrand, regroup, improve, or hide your identity, you are still doing it within the boundaries that have been set. On one hand, it’s an interesting phenomenon to observe and learn how we love one another within the context of these boundaries. We often hear the importance of boundary setting in romantic and platonic relationships. Our identity has been somewhat set by these boundaries. When it is broken, we feel a perversion and a betrayal to our identity and what we thought was safe is now vulnerable. This isn’t who I am.
I love myselfKendrick Lamar (i)
On the other hand, Identity, especially the ones intertwined with our race, hangs so exposed for some of us.
- “Watch out, you better guard it tightly so it doesn’t become an easy target for others to attack.”
- “Hey, blind yourselves to your own race card in the off-chance that others won’t see it if you don’t show recognition.”
- “Damn, wear it proudly and with confidence, so that even if the others try to hurt you, they can never hurt your identity.”
But we all know. This identity that we’ve built through trial and error, through love and pain, through tears of laughter and pain, we’ve built it in order to survive in this world. This world with its boundaries. This world with its rules that can hurt us. This world with its confusing messages saying it loves me but it actually doesn’t. I love me. What has the world got to do with loving me? But especially during Black History Month, this question weighs heavier for some, and it also lifts the mystery for some.
I’m not a preacher, but I preach. I’m not a Buddhist, but I chant. I’m not a race theorist, but I have questions and ponderances around the complexities of race and class and culture wherever I amTheaster Gates
Black history month is a great month to build or strengthen identities. That is what I love about it. This piece is not about me building my identity during this month. I’m Asian! It’s about me loving how people are getting good at this identity game, and they’re picking up steam doing this. Now, I want to think what if these boundaries were gone. The boundaries that have limited our movements, boundaries with different scales across different races and classes, can be reworked and reset. (Angela Davis and Walter Rodney talked about classism and race). I don’t think the identities forged during the era of boundaries will disappear but I think it will go further and explore the end of identities>>>>>Being able to do what you want to do. No more being able to do what you want to do (under the current reality).
Let us give each other the courage to see beyond the stories we were born intoMontgomery Allen (The Last Black Man in San Francisco)
There is no need to abandon race as the main focus of identity for those of us wishing to honor it. There are people out there in the world who still appreciates art in its traditional form of painting, architecture, or even origami. There is beauty in your identity. In our identity. There can be ugliness in it too. Heck, I’ll come out and say that I don’t like the series of AI artworks being shown on social media. I hurl insults towards them but most importantly I will withhold my cookies from the internet. But that’s exactly the reality. We learn to love and we learn to hate. We also intuitively love and we intuitively hate.
Hate (Left hand) KO-ed by Love (Right hand)Radio Raheem (Do the Right Thing)
We are not the same. Some are going to be in the opposing team and try to demean our identities.
Today I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions.Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks)
I’m not saying love is peace. Love should be powerful and should protect our kins through proper means. Love is not always morally convenient. It does have the power to shine light on the boundaries and show the holes in them fences. But to those who celebrate BHM or to those that wish to honor it. Love your identity. Love their identity. Love my identity.
Stop! In the name of Love, before you break my heartThe Supremes (Stop! In the Name of Love)