Monday, December 1, 2008

On Brandon Robinson pt 4: On Being African American

Sup Blog world! Well I've been wanting to do this posting for sometime now especially after President Elect Obama's win this past month. I've opened up about my influences for those who wish to get to know me and today I'm opening up and talk about mypersonal experiences being an African American .

In January of 2008, my sister asked me a very simple and very interesting question that I'd never given much thought to until now. " Why don't you draw many black people? "
I laughed a bit but, I began to think about more after she went back home. The thought bothered me. To be honest this wasn't the first time I heard that question, a kid I knew back in Junior High asked me the same thing. He assumed because of my Anime style at the time I was drawing mostly asian characters . I didn't have an answer even back then.

As looked at African American artists I admire like LeSean Thomas, Carl Jones, David Williams, and others , their art and characters have a true understanding of our culture. Yet when it comes to my application for some reason I want to draw other cultures aside from my own. I can't help but wonder if there is something deep inside me that causes this. I know I'll find answers in my past experiences.

I had a tough time as a youth growing up in the town I lived in. I was constantly harassed by other black children because of the way I spoke , the things I liked, and the way I dressed. They called me "White Boy" and would beat me up and steal my things. I felt like a great outcast even though I had the same skin color as they did. Eventually these feeling would lead me on a long journey to define my identity.

In my search I discovered how much people don't understand one another and the horrible stereotypes that have caricatured African Americans negatively. I've never liked the way the media and pop culture has painted African Americans. We're always portrayed as thugs, drug dealers, sex crazed, angry, uneducated, drug addicts, violent and it's celebrated. Where as if your an African American who doesn't fit any of those stereotypes your " Not Black enough" or "acting white". I've been on both sides of the coin from people calling me Less Black or assuming that I was just another weed smoking G. I always wondered why can't I be accepted for who I am as a person rather than people just projecting their expectations, fears, or ideas on to me.

It's frustrating trying to be a good citizen , christian, or man for that manner when your over shadowed by a wall of negativity and negative images of what some believe being "Black" is all about. I was so happy on Nov. 4th when Barrack Obama became our country's President Elect.
His background, his values, and his election as our next President have truly set the bar higher
for African Americans to better themselves. I think that's the heart of the matter to me.
As an artist and as a christian I want show to people that they can have a better life than what they are excepting of today. I may not have drawn black characters because of self hatred, but because of Godly wisdom and my experiences caused me to create characters who were not caricatures but a wonderful reflection of the diversity that our world and God has to offer. There is a lot more I could talk about but yeah I've talked my head off already.

By the way the Obama painting is a work in progress and I will be sending it to the Pres. elect before he goes into office. I will try to make prints for Sale for those who like it. Thanks for viewing.



Mokuu said...

Guess we've been through the same background, xcept im left with more hate than you XD

StudioRisingStar said...

Wow Mokuu.
I'm so sorry to hear that.
I had anger about my struggles but, I made a decision no to let hate over take me or my life. Thanks for the visit.

Megan Wolfe said...

Wow, great post. Very thoughtful, and quite personal. I might have to meditate on this one for a while. :) I do think, though, that if you're looking for reasons behind your work, you're probably digging in the right spot. Knowing why often helps when you create new work, with a specific meaning or emotion.

In terms of drawing anime.. people of all cultures have gotten into it, so I don't think you should worry too much about that (especially if you really enjoy it). :) We can't help it if the Japanese kick all our asses! (I mean, they ARE building robots, for pete's sake.. who can top that?)

StudioRisingStar said...

Thank you Wolfe Wolfe for reading!
The Anime thing was back when I was in Junior High but yeah your totally right. Dang they are making robots aren't they?! Moving to Japan!

Dyno said...

stereotypes suck..why can't we just BE.

StudioRisingStar said...

Aint it the truth Dyno, aint it the truth.. Thanx for stoppin' by man!


macaronni said...

Knowing that Jesus had no impartiality whatsoever gives us good reason not to categorize groups as stereotypes.

Although I have my kicks in imitating Asian parents wanting their children to learn the piano ;)

Edward said...

Brandon--thank you for the encouraging words on my last post. Hope you like the latest. So I was simply gonna drop a line to check out your new work when I read your current post---very deep and insightful words. I think we all hate being tied down to any negative stereotypes. But I liked what your friend Dyno replies:"Why can't we just BE." I think we can just be--and that's why you are who you are. Regardless of any race--the most successful artists are the ones who stay true to themselves and their work. So carry on dude. Draw what you love--and merry christmas!

StudioRisingStar said...

Thanks for stoppin by Ed and thanks for the reply on my thoughts. And thanks for the encouragement.