Recognizing Black Queer Creators and their Impact for Pride - Part One

June 30, 2020

Recognizing Black Queer Creators and their Impact for Pride - Part One

Drew Train, Trevor Mundt, Jay Do

This Pride, we want to recognize Black queer activists and creators, many of whom have built and continue to build a better world for all of us. This month, our OBERLAND staff is sharing work by Black queer creators that has shaped our actions as citizens, humans, and advertisers who are fighting against racial injustice.

We asked our team to reflect on Black queer creators as one small step toward being active antiracist. Education is one of countless actions we need and plan to take. By sharing the below, we hope to inspire others in our industry and community to follow suit. 

In the interest of Pride, multiple queer staffers contributed to this. However, we’ve also asked cishet allies to join the convo, because we all can play a part in educating ourselves better as one small step in active anti-racism.

This is part one of a three part series highlighting our staff’s favorite works. See here for Parts Two and Three.

Jacolby Satterwhite: Merging Black queer identity with cyber-aesthetics (by Creative Intern Jay Do) 
Blessed Avenue Factory 6 (2018)

One of the fields I studied during undergrad was art history. While I find this topic extremely interesting, I’ll be real with you, the history of art is essentially filled with dead white dudes. I wanted to learn more about underrepresented artists, so I wrote my senior thesis about Jacolby Satterwhite. Satterwhite is an American artist who uses computer-generated imagery to produce virtual worlds that merge his black, queer, and personal identities with cyber-aesthetics to assimilate viewers into his own space. Since researching Satterwhite, I have been able to expose myself to other queer BIPOC artists and understand the importance of artist representation in media, scholarship, and academia.

Photo via Penguin Books
James Baldwin’s Just Above My Head: Changing perspective on systemic racial violence (by Account Director Trevor Mundt) 

At one point in Baldwin’s story, protagonist Arthur Montana travels to the South on a singing tour and is met with violence from White locals and smugness from the police. Having fallen in love with Arthur - the queer protagonist - I was moved by Baldwin’s telling of this experience. I knew that these incidents occurred, but watching it happen to someone - even a fictional character - that I knew personally caused a shift in my perspective: violence against Black people and inequitable criminal justice policies was and is undoubtedly systemic. I set up a monthly recurring donation to The Marshall Project to support their journalism that creates and sustains a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. 



Billie Holliday’s Strange Fruit: Listening to Black queer pain (by Cofounder Drew Train)

Rationale: I chose this song because our theme was amplifying Black Queer voices in the hope it would create change.  I wonder if we had spent more time amplifying these voices earlier, particularly when delivering messages like the one in this song, how many lives could have been saved.  The ability to ignore someone else's pain is a privilege we must all divorce ourselves from if we are to build the more just society we long for.  The pain of hundreds of years is in her voice.  Listen to the song, understand its metaphor, and try to imagine the pain.  It's the only thing that will motivate a lasting change of heart.

Header Image: The Cut/Getty Images



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