Unfortunately, the inspiration for the piece was the senseless and racially motivated
murders of nine innocent black Americans in the historic Mother Emanuel
AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
I was just stunned and torn apart by the thought of those nine families having
to deal with such an unwarranted and horrible act.
I was going through the outpouring of emotions via social media; the rage,
the pain, and the sorrow and I saw one of my facebook friends..I don’t
remember who…mention something about Black Twitter has been so
useful in dealing with political issues in our country and how this would
be no different.
I decided to make something to deal with how I was feeling but, also
to show unity via a symbol. Ironically, I am not a huge user of Twitter.
I do know, however, that Twitter has been used to organize, spread information,
and do critical analyses of current events by black scholars and activists regarding
I wanted to make something that represented that. So, I amalgamated
the Twitter symbol with the classic notion of a “black power”
The only plans I ever had for the image was to show solidarity and for people
to be able to use it to connect, share and rally around.
Currently I am selling [BLKPWRTWITTR] shirts here on society 6 (at the behest of a number of
black Twitter users).
I have no other marketing or merchandising plans for this image.
However, any profit made off of the shirt will be donated to the Emanuel
The image was created in the spirit of protest and inspired by the
pain of the event that occurred. I want no profit from anything like that.
I only want the image to encourage dialogue and change in our country.
I am tired of the profits reaped from exploitation, pain, and violence in our
There were a handful of people who accused me of being “an idiot”, “perpetuating hate”, “being
for segregation”,and other things. Of course, the symbol represents quite the opposite. For some reason, in the West, we have been taught to draw lines in the sand and either be “for” or
‘against” something. If you are “for” black unity then you can’t be “for” anything else. Nine Americans were killed in that church because they were black. That was the main reason. However, when we start to have real conversations about racialized violence..people want to change the subject and shut down. It boggles my mind how little racial literacy exists in our country. People have no idea about the differences between chauvinism, bigotry, prejudice and racism. The problems we face are systemic and wildly complex and until we, as a unified, country sit down and talk about these centuries old wounds. We will see more violence and confusion in our country and this will never get solved.
Black people didn’t ASK to be black people. Our identity was constructed out of a need
to “other” us. When we took that identity and made it something to be proud of…then
all kinds of problems start to happen. How dare we be beautiful? How dare we be
successful? How dare we survive? Despite all the odds…we PERSIST. This our
homeland and for good or ill we will fight to make it a better place for our progeny.
I am NOT African-American or some other hyphenated trendy PC term of the
I AM BLACK..and I am so proud to be the descendant of those people who fought, marched,
and died so I could have a better life.
I have no idea.
It’s far too complex to answer in one interview.
I do think it’s going to get worse before it gets better though. The powers that be refuse
to see these “isolated incidents” as part of a systemic, deliberate, deep seated problem.
As long as people like Dylann Roof are treated as “lone gunmen” and not the latest
in a historically proven culture of racialized violence in our country…more of these issues
may plague our country.
I don’t know. I am afraid for the future I’m sorry to say.
The Black Twitter piece will be in an artshow I am co-curating with my good friend and colleague
Dr. Reynaldo Anderson. Twitter and the networks that allow us to communicate are extensions
of the black community now. The original definition of the cultural production that we call
Afrofuturism talked about cybernetic bodies, black subjectivity, and future spaces. The internet
and all it’s affordances are now part of our experiences as human beings. For good or ill..
it’s just the beginning of how various types of technology (both analog and digital) have and
will continue to expand how we interact with one another. The image I did is just an avatar
for a much larger community, a much larger goal, and a much larger movement. Our race
was constructed as a type of technology to mark us and control us within the frameworks of
colonization and slavery. Now we have hacked that identity, turned it inside out, and use it as as a weapon. Knowledge is power. Never has that been more true than now. The struggle for equality is a human struggle…and it is still raging on.
I am working on a lot of things.
The most exciting thing I am doing is with my long-time collaborator and friend
Damian Duffy. We have the honor of adapting Octavia Butler’s classic story
KINDRED into a graphic novel. We are back on track with that and working hard on it.
Also, the second issue of Black Kirby’s KID CODE is on deck. That is a hip hop
time-travel adventure comic created by Stacey Robinson, Damian Duffy and myself.
It is coming out from Rosarium Publishing soon.
Also, from Rosarium is my hoodoo-detective story BLUE HAND MOJO. A Depression Era story about the fictitious
cousin of Robert Johnson and his redemption in post-Great Migration Chicago.
I am also working a story with my friend Stuart Jaffe. The story, THE BLUESMAN,
is based on a series of short novels featuring an extra-dimensional blues musician
who is also a magician and monster slayer. With his partner they roam the
back roads in search of evil creatures that would destroy our world.
Finally, I am working on a 10 part story called BOX OF BONES with author
Ayize Jama Everett. BOX OF BONES can be called the “Afrocentric HELL RAISER”.
It’s about black history, black rage, black culture and the tenuous connections and
intersections between right and wrong, good and evil, justice and revenge.
To be honest with you, I hadn’t heard of it before this question. However, I do feel that black people in our country don’t have great training in the basics around economics, baking, and trade. So, any event that puts those issues to the forefront is a great idea, in my opinion.
White privilege is based in economic power. The more we understand that, the more we can figure out ways to circumvent those issues and move forward.
My twitter handle is JIJennings.
Thanks so much for supporting me.