Regardless of whether you write, paint, make music, take pics; or if you are one of the lucky few who have been blessed with a combination of talents, I think we could all agree that now is a tricky time to be a creative. Artists around the world use our feelings and experiences as inspiration, which in my opinion, is what makes art so fucking amazing and necessary. But sometimes, these same feelings and experiences can also make the idea of picking up a pen feel like it weighs a thousand pounds. Sometimes it’s easier for me ignore my own thoughts rather than share them with you.
I have a lot to catch you up on, but for now, let’s take it back to the weekend of the Charlottesville riots. I had briefly mentioned this post was coming a few weeks ago, but what I didn’t tell you was I was one of the models hired to work a NASCAR event representing a major car maker as a brand ambassador. Basically it was my job to smile, interact with potential customers and give away free stuff (because who doesn’t love free shit). Simple enough right?
I had worked at the speedway before, and despite my reservations, my interaction with crowd-goers was nothing less than pleasant and polite. However, as a woman of mixed-descent (Italian and Black in case you were wondering), I’m not going to sit here and act like I never once questioned how I would be received at what was sure to be a mostly-white event. The saddest part of it all was that out of all the smiles and “Thank Yous” exchanged, the image I took home with me is of a group of 3-4 teenage boys wandering around with Confederate flags tied around their necks like capes. Driving past the rows of trailers I saw too many Confederate flags to count.
Needless to say, the 45-minute ride back to Ypsi definitely had me feeling some kind of way. I normally don’t leave an event questioning how many people looked me in the eye and smiled . . . only because I was still technically “serving” them. I mean, we all know what that flag stands for. We all know what it represents and why people still choose to display it. I refuse to argue its historical “relevance” here, there, or anywhere, so please don’t come at me with that weak shit. I know what it is by how it feels – a feeling that has stayed with me to this day.
And while I realize that all this might sound a little extreme to some, ask yourself: is it really? Is this not a perfect example of what our country is, and always has been? Is the promise of life in America one big smiling facade on the surface with a history of hatred and violence brimming just beneath?
Unfortunately, there is no escaping the constant bombardment of racist bullshit we are subjected to thanks to you know who. And I’m not here to pretend like it was my first time seeing that God-forsaken piece of cloth. It’s just that given the horrific events of that weekend, the timing of its message hit me harder than the random occasions I’d see it waving from some guy’s pickup truck. Partly why I’ve never really spoken about race on any of my platforms until today is because it can be so difficult to digest what is (still) going on in our country, and how that affects both sides of my family as well as myself. But now I see there is no running from racism. It’s here. It’s real. And it’s in your face.
Every day I am disgusted by the headlines that seem to meet me at every turn, but I am learning how to create through the madness. I have also come to realize that when it comes to race it is okay for me to talk about it. I can even blog about it. But I can no longer remain silent.
Feature photo courtesy of NASCAR.com*