By Amarie Gipson, Blogger
Does talking about race make your body ache?
Does your mouth get dry?
Do your palms get sweaty when you are forced to address your privilege?
Does your head start hurting when the women in the coffee shop walks over to you and grabs your arm to thank you for not stealing the wallet she mistakenly left on the counter near you?
Do you feel fatigued?
How do you relieve yourself when confronted with the complexities of race?
Do you leave the room?
Turn off the news?
What might make this easier or harder for you?
Have you ever felt burdened by race?
Do you carry that burden in the street with you?
What about at home?
What do you know about endurance?
Through the duration of four hours, U.K. based performance artist, Selina Thompson did the work. The work that is not only expected of black women in predominantly white institutions, but the work that has become necessary to our visibility and survival in said spaces. She invited us to listen actively, to think about our intimate relationship to the questions she produced. Race Cards posed 1000 questions that very few people consider pressing matters throughout the course of history and today.
In this current moment and every other time in history characterized by a constant terror on black and brown bodies, existence is radical. Exposing white supremacy in liberal arts spaces is crucial. The racial binary is dangerous. Intersectionality needs to be prioritized. Why does the burden of race fall on the shoulders of black women?
Question 1: What have I learned about race since the 9th of August 2014, the day that Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri?
Question 234: What is the relationship between race and our ideas about expertise?
Question 431: Why is history cyclical?
Question 646: Are you tired?
Question 889: How can anti-racism become the rhetoric of white pride?
Question 1000: What will freedom feel like?
Selina showed me that being present is worth it in the end, that endurance pays off. I sat four hours to share that moment with her. To share the fatigue. At the end, I saw no other familiar face but hers. Staying throughout the duration of the performance felt like an act of solidarity, a diasporic exchange between two black women and a room full of spectators. I watched her undo the room with her voice, her curiosity, her frustrations, her hopes and her fears. From start to finish, I realized that all we have is us. I guess Solange was right, this shit really is for us.