Posted on June 29 2020
The country is so wounded, bleeding, and hurt right now. The country needs to be healed—it’s not going to be healed from the top, politically. How are we going to heal? Art is the healing force.
- Robert Redford, National Arts Policy Roundtable 2012
Each painting tells a story. A black man carrying the weight of crime, racism, poverty, and brutality upon his back. Tears flowing from the face of another, as bullets penetrate his street clothes. A king blinded by his own crown. And yet, beneath all these various pictures, there lies one bigger, underlying story. The story of Boyd Samuels, which, in turn, is made up of several others.
The first story of Boyd’s begins at age ten. In the Bronx. Where a harmless game of Kick the Can between a few black kids was enough for the police to get involved. Of course, when young Boyd was grabbed by a police officer for running around his own neighborhood, the injustice of the situation had not yet occurred to him. It would take a few more nasty encounters with the police for this to resonate.
Years later, Boyd would find himself pulled out of his car by a policeman for no apparent reason. However, the bag of marijuana that the officer pulled out of thin air proved otherwise. The officer tried to get Boyd to hold the bag, but Boyd knew better. Fingerprints were a surefire way of putting him in a cell. For a petty crime he wasn’t even guilty of.
Of course, to the police, Boyd was committing a crime. The crime of having a darker skin tone. Why else would Boyd be stopped by the police for walking to work? Doing his job and living his life. The cop that pushed Boyd against a wall said that he was cracking down on jaywalking. Just as he and his colleagues were cracking down on eating, sleeping, and breathing.
Yes, Boyd has spent all of his life treated as a second class citizen by the police. Something that minorities have always had to deal with in America. It is an aspect of reality that hinders one’s daily life and erodes the soul.
However, Boyd’s story doesn’t end there. Not on that note. No, there’s another notable painting in his collection. Fists of justice rising from the crown of a black king. Though, this country’s conscience has deep, ancient wounds, art may just be key in the healing process. For it raises our consciousness and imbues us with hope. And that is the big takeaway of Boyd’s story.