Colin Kaepernick and Kerry James Marshall protest the same thing, in similar ways. Both seek to bring attention to oppression facing Black people in America using their platforms. Both the pro-baller and painter seem to call out the concept of patriotism in a nation where their people are oppressed. Moreover, how can a Black person pledge loyalty to a nation that oppresses them? This question can also resonate on a larger scale when discussing the impact the nation’s tradition of capitalism has had on continents like Africa.
Kaepernick’s movement has sparked a conversation and he has ignited the spirit of those who have been protesting. Similarly, Marshall’s works highlight a need for change and the conflicting relationship African Americans must face in America. The men using their celebrity to highlight these issues is much need within a community where we are calling for an understanding that Black Lives Matter. Both are making it impossible for America to continue to hide behind its shield of protection. They are helping us see things for what they are.
Looking at Marshall’s paintings, it’s clear he links speaking this truth to power. He brings forth the pain and agony faced over the loss of life. He hails from Brownsville in Chicago and knowing the pain faced in the community, he showcases the children and men — the men and boys who have been caught in the crossfire. He speaks to the loss of life in his paintings.
His sentiments should inspire protests like Kaepernick’. More painters and athletes and African American coaches should step forward to highlight issues impacting the community.
See gallery of Marshall’s work below.