[Painting by Edward Ofosu]

As I begin my thesis interviews with Black/African artists and activists in two European and one American city, I find that you need only a few phrases or sentences to expose the reality of being visibly different in these modern, developed cities in the West. The experience of being excluded from and controlled in space along with the resilience to transform and create space expresses the rawness of the urban, as well as the ability to adapt and transform within a cityscape. I only chose a few quotes from the two cities I’ve begun interviews in: Oakland, California and Vienna, Austria. In sharing some of the quotes from the interviews I’ve done so far I hope to show a small part of the scope of a unique and yet similar experience that affects people across the globe who live ‘as black’ in an urbanized, heterogeneous world that has not yet grasped its own diversity.

“The way people interact with you… and you don’t have the privilege for thinking maybe it’s not (about race) or not thinking about it at all.”

“Supporting anyone who is trying to create the space for those moments… because I do believe that Black joy is revolutionary right now.”

“I think I am privileged to be a Nigerian… Despite all the negativity.”

“I remember when I realized I was black… It wasn’t long ago, it was 10 years ago.”

“That divide… is by design.”

“The culture and the heart of the people. The consciousness. The duality.”

“Oakland’s not being shaped for us anymore.”

“No one has hash-tagged me anything in real life.”

“Black Lives Matter equates across the board anywhere in the African Diaspora.”

“There’s never been anywhere to, 100 percent, be safely black in Europe.”

“(They are) criminalizing our lifestyle.”

“They always equate blackness to wrongness.”

“People have different mechanisms of survival.”

“…it was difficult, but still so much community.”

“Black folks nature is inclusivity.”  

“…playing our own music when it’s played by our own.”

“Anywhere I go I will still paint black people anyway.”

“What is Utopia? Seeing yourself in an advertisement.”

“There is resistance here that works globally and there is a presence here is that is globally connected.”

“…to empower those who have been silenced.”

“I choose to see that we are here and we are doing our thing in different ways.”

“When black people get together and are not being isolated… Just knowing that you are not on your own.”

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