Remember Life Before the Boat? -Gracie Berry

Photo on 9-13-14 at 8.42 PM #2
Thrift find: At first glance I was disturbed by it, then shocked. I realized that I needed to get a grip, literally get my hands on it before that old white lady did, so I slid in to stake my claim. Her face was irritated like I had stolen something from her. She huffed and puffed and stomped away. I examined the image and how it showed the glutenous way businesses have deployed racism to sell their products. Aah yes- Life After the Boat! They used our faces as they used our bodies to not only turn a profit, but to deplete us from ever existing as valuable human spirits on this planet. I approached the counter and the cashier said, “Wow! I’m surprised a person of color wants this.” In sarcasm I said, “Of course I wouldn’t want an image of a person that reflects me.” She apologized and talked some bullshit about how she lived during the 1960’s where stuff like this was really bad. I replied, “Um, Ferguson Missouri-stuff is still really bad.” I told her that she should never charge people of color that wants images like this. She charged me 50 cents from the $10 the store wanted for it. I told her that it’s part of my life’s mission to liberate my experience as well as those around me, and that this was not a purchase for monetary gain-it is a way to honor my ancestors, objectified like the one in this image. A way to honor them in my home and my heart, so that anyone who enters my space will bare witness to them-valued human spirit. They have a place here. It’s easier to whitewash over our history and pretend it never happened. People of color need to take symbols and images that are meant to oppress us and redefine them. It was like her sweet face was waiting to be found by me-someone that understands her, loves her. They can’t hold you hostage if you’re free. Remember life before the boat and how we honored each other and loved each other? Honor the richness from where we’ve come. Images like this are necessary parts of our healing. In solidarity to us still suffered by racism. Gracie Berry #digtheskinyouin #blacklovebeforetheboathelpsmeremeberblacklifebeforetheboat #weareone

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