Things That Matter

An Art Project Portraying Immigrants As ‘Aliens’ Is Stirring Up Discussion About Who Can Make Art About POC

Immigration is an intensely sensitive subject. Though people migrate from all over the world, it’s one that seems to touch communities of color more often than white communities because of the prejudices our society holds against brown and Black people. One look at the border wall discussion exposes just how narrow-minded some people can be concerning migration. The use of words like “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien” further expose how ugly people can be towards migrants. 

Considering all this, it’s not surprising that people who are uneducated about the subject of immigration seem to be the ones who talk the most about it. 

Take, for example, this offensive art project that Twitter exposed for its shocking commentary on immigration.

Twitter / @itsapobitch

Twitter user @itsapobitch ⁠— who goes by Coyolxauhqui on the social media site ⁠— shared an image of a classmate’s art project. The painting originates from the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara. According to the post, the art class’ assignment was to depict something with the theme of extraterrestrial or subterranean. For some reason, the person who created this offensive picture decided to depict a child wearing a Mexican sombrero and a serape while trick-or-treating. The painting is captioned “I’m an alien.”

Naturally, Twitter didn’t react kindly to this outrageously insensitive art project. 

Twitter / @neoputa

Twitter quickly labeled the panting as racist. This response wondered how “white people manage to be racist with every little thing.” Many comments asked Coyolxauhqui to share the artist’s name and location so they could talk to her (aka drag her) about her interpretation of the theme. Ultimately, the comments all suggested that they were upset by the outright racism of the painting but sadly weren’t surprised because of the constant state of bigotry people of color experience. 

In a strange twist to this story, the artist herself came to the Twitter thread to defend her intent and the painting’s meaning.

Instagram / @juliettecollet_

The artist, Juliette Collet, shared an explanation of the art project in a statement. She first apologized for the piece before diving in to defend her intention. According to Collet, the idea behind the painting came from a conversation with her boyfriend last year around Halloween. Her boyfriend is allegedly Mexican and came to the United States from Mexico City. Collet explains that her boyfriend was shocked to see people dressing in sombreros and serapes as Halloween costumes and appropriating his culture during the Fall holiday. 

Collet says in her statement that her boyfriend’s father was deported that same year. Due to these experiences, she felt that the theme of this project was a good opportunity to expose “how the American white gaze has stereotyped an entire people with the xenophobic notion of being an ‘alien.'”

The artist also acknowledged that her intention missed the mark and she would take the piece down and replace it with one that more positively reflected the project’s theme. Collet even shared her email address and invited people to contact her to continue the conversation. 

Though she issued the apology, many still had a problem with how oblivious this piece seemed to be about the topic of immigration. 

Twitter / @a_new_hopee

Comments responding to Collet’s explanation and apology pointed out that her instinct to depict a child in Mexican dress when the theme was essentially about aliens was a strange stretch. Twitter questioned her intention to provide societal commentary with a painting that so obviously was problematic at best. 

Despite her supposedly having a Mexican boyfriend, Collet isn’t part of the Latinx community. As Twitter user @a_new_hopee suggested, “It’s always the one’s who aren’t even a part of the community that have the most to say. In other words, outsiders to our spaces would do better to listen than attempt to speak on an issue that doesn’t directly involve them. 

The original poster of the art project, Coyolxauhqui, had some final thoughts to add to the conversation following Collet’s excuse.

Twitter / @itsapobitch

Twitter user @itsapobitch confirmed that Collet removed the painting from public view. Still, despite the artist’s apology, Coyolxauhqui explained that she let it be known when it was first displayed that the painting was dehumanizing and anti-immigrant. She also explained that the piece encouraged the misconception that all immigrants come from Mexico and this thinking can be especially harmful. 

In conclusion, Coyolxauhqui echoed the same sentiment that many on Twitter shared. As she wrote, “Point blank, never try to make artwork with experiences that don’t belong to you, especially if you’re white.” Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to any would-be artists in the future. Instead of inserting yourself into a conversation that doesn’t concern you, lift up the voices of the community. When given the opportunity, we can tell our own stories.

A Black Man Says A Group Of White People”Attempted Lynching” Him And It Was Caught On Video

Entertainment

A Black Man Says A Group Of White People”Attempted Lynching” Him And It Was Caught On Video

Vauhxx Booker / Getty

In Indiana, the culture of white supremacy remains alive and well. According to RTV6 Indianapolis, Indiana at the Ku Klux Klan’s peak, the governor of Indiana, over half of the state’s legislature and nearly 30 percent of all white men born in the state were members. That culture, while not totally alive and well in Indiana revealed itself recently when authorities in Indiana shared that a Black man said he was attacked by a group of white people who attempted to lynch him.

The incident, which went viral on Sunday, was captured in a series of videos posted to Facebook.

The Black man involved in the incident, Vauhxx Booker, is a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission and described the incident which took place in Bloomington’s Lake Monroe saying that five men took him, pinned him to a tree, and beat him while pulling out his hair. The incident happened after Booker said he had mistakenly trespassed on private property “At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck,” Booker in the post shared to Facebook. “I could feel both his feet and his full bodyweight land hard against my neck.”

In his post, Booker said that bystanders attempted to help him and yelled for the men to let him go.

When the men assaulting him replied to the protesters they said “We’re going to break his arms,” and yelled, “Get a noose.” While the comments were not captured on video, Booker has described the attack as a hate crime. He also claimed that he was “almost the victim of an attempted lynching.” “With me still pinned underneath them they kept telling onlookers to leave the ‘boy’ and that everyone else (all white) could go,” Booker wrote in his post.

In response, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed in a statement that they had responded to a report of a battery in the area on Saturday “on private property adjacent to Monroe Reservoir property.”

According to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the FBI said that they were “aware of the incident and is monitoring the situation.”

Video captured of the incident reveals a group of white men holding Booker against a tree.

I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching. I don’t want this to have happened…

Posted by Vauhxx Rush Booker on Sunday, July 5, 2020

In one of the videos, when the person who is filming moves closer to the assailants he says “Please, let him go,” and one of the white men replies “You go.” “You go and we will let him go,” one of the women replies.

In another video posted to Facebook by Booker, a man without a shirt can be seen calling Booker a “nappy-headed bitch.” “We were having a great time and you invaded us,” another man yells in the video “You stupid f******* liberal f****.”

In his post about the incident, Booker wrote that he and a friend were heading to the beach at the lake to attend a lunar eclipse gathering. A man with a Confederate that followed him on an ATV and told Booker and his friend that they were on private property.

“We relayed to him that we believed the organizers had received permission from the property owners to cross, but apologized and went on to our beautiful site just off the water without any further incident. When we arrived we told the event organizer of the encounter and it was relayed that the individual wasn’t the actual property owner and the organizer apologized. Even still, we advised our folks still en route to use the public beach way to avoid any possible conflict arising,” Booker wrote in the Facebook post. “We later found out that these individuals had blocked off the public beach way with a boat and their ATVs claiming that it was also their land. When folks tried to cross them, the assailants yelled, “white power” at them. Honestly, we thought it might just be the one drunken individual with the confederate hat we had encountered earlier who might be instigating the conflict. We decided to just walk back and attempt to simply have a conversation with some of the more sober seeming group members and see if we could smooth things over a bit. We were calm and polite, but looking back now, it’s apparent that these individuals began targeting our group the moment they saw myself, a Black man and were looking to provoke a conflict.”

Booker said that once they came across the people on ATVs they initially seemed calm but “quickly became aggressive” so he and his friend attempted to leave.

Booker claims the group then followed them and then two “jumped me from behind and knocked me to the ground,” Booker said. “Yet DNR refused to arrest any of these individuals, even with multiple the witnesses several who filmed the event and collaborated our accounts. Instead, the officers stated they contacted the Prosecutor’s office who relayed there was no immediate need to arrest anyone, and that the officers would simply file a report. To reiterate, this attack occurred on public land and was recorded by numerous individuals who made statements against the attackers for assaulting them and me. I’m gravely concerned that if any other people of color who were to cross their path they could be killed.”

Booker’s attorney told the Indianapolis Star that no one has been arrested in connection to the incident.

Donald Trump Taunts NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace And Promotes The Display Of Confederate Flags

Things That Matter

Donald Trump Taunts NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace And Promotes The Display Of Confederate Flags

Chip Somodevilla / Getty

As of late, many a user on Twitter are convinced that the President of the United States is attempting to stoke the fires of a race war. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen but there’s no doubt that at the core of Trump’s recent messages of hate, he has no desire at all to help our country heal during this time. Let alone assuage the current culture wars.

Recently, in another one of Trump’s twitter rants, he made a slew of racist attacks and defended the Confederate flag.

During a rant, he unleashed on Twitter, President Trump defended the display of the Confederate flag, attacked former Vice President Joe Biden, made false claims about coronavirus, and said he was victorious in his pandemic response. 

After putting blame on China for the coronavirus, Trump spat out a series of racist attacks which included his defense of the Confederate flag.

Included in his tirade was a verbal attack at Black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. Recently, Wallace was involved in an incident in which FBI investigated a potential hate crime against him. The FBI investigation ultimately found that a noose found by his car’s stall wasn’t a racist attack against Wallace. It turned out that the noose had been hanging in the garage for months before he was moved to it.

About the incident, Trump wrote, “Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?”

Trump went on to rail NASCAR for its “politically correct” decision to ban Confederate flags from events.

Trump lampooned NASCAR for inciting its “lowest ratings EVER” because of the decision. Hours later, Trump made more callous comments, when he referenced recent announcements that the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland were considering changing their team names. Trump said American Indians “must be very angry.”

Later that same day, he attacked media outlets for their reporting on the coronavirus.”Deaths from the China Virus are down 39%, while our great testing program continues to lead the World, by FAR!” Trump wrote in a tweet that was untrue. “Why isn’t the Fake News reporting that Deaths are way down? It is only because they are, indeed, FAKE NEWS!”

While outlets like The New York Times recently reported that COVID-19 deaths in the United States are down to nearly 600 per day which is much better than the U.S.’s peak of 3,000 per day in April and May, Trump overlooked the fact that new infections continue to climb. According to CNN, “Public health experts say the increase in new cases and a simultaneous decrease in deaths and the death rate is likely a function of the virus infecting a higher percentage of younger people, who are less likely to be killed by COVID-19, improved disease treatment and expanded testing.”