Look at Me! See Me, Hear Me!
Casual museum visits can often transform into unexpected moments of reflecting, revitalization, and renewal. With so much chatter and noise surrounding us via 24-hour news cycles, tweets, Instagram, and Facebook posts, we must find moments to quiet the noise and reflect on what's important. Reflecting on who we are as human beings, how we treat one another, how we interact with those around us, and what we absorb into our spirits are vital to our mental health and physical well being. While visiting the museum recently, I experienced a work by Nigerian-American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby entitled, I Refuse to Be Invisible. The mixed-media work
shows a group of people, two who are dancing in a close embrace with the woman starring directly towards the viewer as she sternly looks over her right shoulder. The seriousness of her gaze and the confidence in her posture conveys the message in the title. Look at me. See me. I refuse to be invisible. I heard her gentle voice through her intense gaze.
As I tried to use my time at the museum to renew my spirit my mind could not stop racing with thoughts of the countless black women whose names we know, some we don't and wonder if they, in their moments of fear, anxiety, terror, and death felt like they weren't heard or seen. Breonna Taylor, Korryn Gaines, Sandra Bland, Shantel Davis, Malissa Williams, Miriam Carey, Sharmel Edwards, Kendra James...and so many more have been killed by police without meaningful accountability. #sayhername reflects the deaths of unarmed black women who perhaps were invisible or unheard in the eyes of the law. Black women are not invisible. We are here, we are present, we must be recognized, seen, and heard. The black woman and central figure in Njideka's work demands our attention, our respect, our adoration just as Breonna, Korryn, Sandra, Shantel, Malissa, Miriam, Sharmel, Kendra, and the many others deserved the same. While we think about the emotional trauma our communities face during this tumultuous moment let us steal away moments to revive our spirits and renew our minds so that we are prepared for what's to come.