I Am Not Beyoncé: Tackling the Issue of Race Representation Head On

Zetta Elliott


On my last night of a six-day sojourn in the Twin Cities, I gave a reading at The Loft Literary Center and shared this statement made by a young Black woman, Ysa, whom I had met at Juxtaposition Arts earlier in the day.

Ysa and two of her fellow artist-apprentices shared with me the creative process behind the impressive mural they recently painted on their block. My morning presentation at the arts center was sponsored by Umbra Search, a free digital platform that provided research assistance when the young women needed to study graphics from the Black Panther Party’s newspapers. The mural features a mother and child in the traditional sacred pose, but the child in this scene is female and these haloed figures have brown skin and Afros. Beams of light radiate outward, made up of hundreds of small black-and-white photographs of Black women who have made a contribution to the community as well as those who have lost a loved one to violence.

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Sarah Park Dahlen, "Picture This: Reflecting Diversity in Children's Book Publishing," sarahpark.com (blog), September 14, 2016, https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/picture-this-reflecting-diversity-in-childrens-book-publishing.

"FAQs about Children of Prisoners," Prison Fellowship, accessed October 23, 2016, www.prisonfellowship.org/resources/training-resources/family/ministry-basics/faqs-about-children-of-prisoners.

Mitali Perkins, "Children's and Young Adult Fiction Featuring a Child with an Incarcerated Parent," Mitali's Fire Escape (blog), September 27, 2016, www.mitaliblog.com/2016/09/childrens-and-young-adult-fiction_27.html.

Zetta Elliott, "Lemonade for Girls: In Formation," zettaelliott.com (blog), May 9, 2016, www.zettaelliott.com/lemonade-for-girls-in-formation.

June Jordan, "Poem for South African Women," JuneJordan.net, accessed October 7, 2016, www.junejordan.net/poem-for-south-african-women.html.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5860/cal.15n2.26


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