First Friday, Bixby Knolls, Long Beach. Dropped by the EXPO Art Center tonight to see this month’s art, not expecting anything that would interest us, but found a most absorbing, though painful and haunting display of racist America. Not that the African Americans who put it on and stood around casually discussing other subjects with each other made it painful or made us feel guilty. Maybe these realities were too familiar to haunt them.
But for me, actually seeing for the very first time shackles and manacles used on slaves, a white Ku Klux Klan robe, and grinning caricatures of black people on movie posters, bales of cotton and cookie jars was appalling.
A man named Duke Givens had a line of photographs on the wall and in a glass case. Duke grew up in Long Beach. He chose to go into the military and when he came home he found many of his friends had made other choices. Some of them had become gang-bangers. Of those who chose gangs, some were dead by rival gang members, others in prison for shooting them.
Duke got permission to photograph young black men in the ‘hood–and in the funeral home. He didn’t know what to do with these pictures, he says. He didn’t want them around. But instead of getting rid of them he is going to use them as illustrations in a coffee table book. He has made a 90-minute DVD, The Game Don’t Change–Just the Players, “about the power of choice, education, and accountability” He wants to use the book and film to communicate the message: Don’t do this. Don’t make these choices! There are better options and there is hope, through the “healing power and life-changing dynamics of Jesus Christ.”
Out of his shock and grief at the waste and loss of the lives of young black men he knew personally he is hoping to reach and save others. http://godideaphoto.com/