American Ghettos still stand today as impoverished wastelands of city life bustling with urban life and criminality but how did this happen? Newark, for example, was not founded in flames and destruction and neither was Detroit, the Watts or DC. Is it the inability or the unwillingness to change that has kept these communities from overcoming hardship? Are these questions really unanswerable or are the answers just stuck in between the pages of history?
Violence is the backdrop to the origins of certain black communities, which is an unfit title and an oversimplification of the actions that led up to uprisings in places like Detroit, Newark and LA. “But even now I don’t think we see what’s behind the violence” (Summer of ’67); social injustice is what’s behind the violence. “It is conditions that create people, not people who create conditions” (Summer of ’67) and its these same conditions that are casually overlooked whenever these uprisings are mentioned.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuh1AqR0NA0 (skip to 3:12)
It was a time of blissful ignorance when the black struggle was just beyond the horizon, just outside of the public eye and when these issues lit a Molotov cocktail to throw at their opposing forces; they watched in horror. My intention through images of several uprisings is to highlight the underlining causes and through paintings depict why they are uprisings rather than ‘riots’ as they were formally named. News media swallowed the chaos and destruction of some of these uprisings however almost seemingly ignoring to discuss the causes, with possible exception to NBC’s Summer of ’67: What We Learned where there is some reflection of the past and how it came to be. Black History was born from the neglect of American History which tells stories of half truths but to really dive deeper into these pages of American History one must look within the confined texts of an Afro-American course in a university.
1967 NBC News Special Report: “Summer of 67” (Aftermath of Detroit Race Riots of 1967)