Day 28 - 28 Love Letters to Black Women
This Black History Month, I am sharing 28 stories of Black women who shaped me and showed me the way towards liberation. Because Black women are often not cited for their ideas, I thought this would be one way to give flowers to those who influenced me.
This is the last day of Black History Month, and I can think of no better way to end this series than to celebrate a woman whose work focuses on Black Joy, imagination, and Black futurism. Today, I’d like to give flowers to archivist and artist, Natasha Marin.
Natasha Marin is a conceptual artist who uses digital media to create connection and healing. In 2016, Marin created a social experiment called Reparations where people of color were able to make requests for repair for race-based trauma and financial inequity, and “white-identified” people were asked to make offers in response to those requests leveraging their privilege. Marin received hundreds of notes calling her racial epithets and several death threats in response to the work. Marin shares that in order to repair the harm she experienced after Reparations, she immersed herself in the writing of Black women and found “joyful escape in this Black Imagination.” Marin decided to create something that would “de-center Whiteness and provide space for healing and validation,” and collected stories from Black people around the globe. The exhibit and book Black Imagination emerged from this work.
To collect the stories in the book, Natasha asked Black people a set of questions including, “Describe/Imagine a world where you are loved, safe, and valued.” That question stopped me in my tracks. It reminded me that for Black people - a world where we are loved, safe and valued cannot be presumed to be true. As I read the rest of the book, I felt the heartache of the people responding, lamenting that this dream world is not completely available to us. Yet.
I say yet, because the book did give me some hope. The dreams - the freedom dreams - the dreams of love and care were so inspiring. I loved reading about these dream worlds. And it made me think of what I wish for Black women in particular:
I hope you know how special you are. How talented. I hope you feel beautiful. I hope you love yourself and your body just as it is. I hope people tell you regularly what impact you’ve had on their lives. I hope you are able to find care with you - and not just basic care but abundant care like you are precious. I hope people cherish you. I hope something brings you joy every single day. I hope you are loved. I hope you take up space. I hope you find rest. I hope you feel safe enough to be free. And I hope people give you your flowers.
Thank you, Natasha Marin, for using art to capture the pain and hope of Black imagination. The arch of the universe may be long but your book made me believe it bends towards Black Joy and Freedom. #28LoveLetterstoBlackWomen #BlackHistoryMonth2023 #Day28
Photo credit: Telektty, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Image Description: Picture of Natasha's face. She is touching her lips with her fingers.