Here is the background for this print. It is directly inspired by the striking Black Lives Matter signs that my children and I have seen all across our town. We have loved to see these posters, and we, as white people in the upper edge of the South, are continually learning from the movement that is gaining momentum, and in our own inherent complicity as white people in this society.
As we prepared to walk in a recent civil rights protest in our town, my young son said he was scared, and when I asked if there was a sign that he would like to hold, he didn't see one, and so he asked if I could make him a sign that felt like something he could hold that showed how he felt inside. He wanted to show that his heart was open. He, as a child, wants to understand, and yet there are pieces of this movement and its history that will invariably cause big feelings for anyone, especially a young person whose heart is open. This fear is part of it, and the reckoning with the place of anger is part of it. It is a big idea to express to a young child, that there is valid anger in this moment in time, and that white people have misused power and have viewed Black people's bodies as disposable.
This movement is fierce, and yet these souls are still wonderfully sensitive. I know we are privileged that we get to protect that sensitive spirit in our children of every color, and that we believe that both their bodies and their spirits deserve to be protected. I know I am privileged that I get to think about a child's perspective of this movement, and to approach this time with them in mind. Here is a sign I made for my son, and for you.
I feel there is a place for all kinds of civil-rights signs in this movement. My favorite that I've seen are the handmade ones out of cardboard in family's front yards. Here is another one. I originally carved it out of linoleum, because I have found that children relate to things that are handmade. I added an image, because many children cannot yet read.
Another piece of background to this print: as I walked through the National Museum of African American History and Culture with my children this past year while visiting D.C., I was incredibly moved by the experience. We walked through the whole museum, from the basement curving up a mile and a half to the top. As I got to the present-day, I kept thinking about the Black Lives Matter signs that I had seen, and I kept thinking specifically about the word Matter. We are made of matter. Our matter is carbon, and carbon comes from stars. In awe at all that Black people have accomplished in this country despite an awful, inhuman beginning of slavery, I kept thinking about how Black people don't simply matter, they are made of stars. This art print shows that star, and, inside it, that small, open heart of a child.
Frame it, or put it in your window, or we can mail it to a child you love and even include a handwritten note.
All proceeds will go to The Conscious Kid, a program that brings children's books on race, racism, and resistance into classrooms across the country.