By Danette Clark:
WARNING: CONTAINS NUDITY
Buck naked (with the exception of a pair of white pumps), Nona Fuastine poses with both hands pushing against one of the two massive columns that frame the front door of City Hall in New York City, as though attempting to topple the massive building. The caption beneath the photo — ‘They Tagged the Land With Trophies and Institutions From Their Conquests.’
According to The Guardian, Faustine posed naked in the streets of New York as a reminder of the vulnerability of the slaves once sold there and “the violence against humanity that still troubles the nation today”.
In another photo, Faustine is seen standing nude on a wooden box, reminiscent of an auction block, in the middle of an intersection on Wall Street. This photo caption says ‘From Her Body Came Their Greatest Wealth’.
Admittedly, Faustine’s “White Shoes” series is intended to serve as more than a just a reminder that individual racism exists. It’s a public declaration of her belief that America’s “financial systems are founded in blood“.
These kinds of public statements, this narrative that the American system is inherently and systemically racist, have become increasingly common in recent years. But why?
According to reparation activist Charles Ogletree, this is a narrative that must be, not only introduced to, but incessantly imposed upon society so that the reparations movement, specifically reparations lawsuits, can succeed.
Last week, I wrote about the new Slavery Memorial and Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University and how they contribute to the advancement of this narrative.
Specifically, as Charles Ogletree wrote in Tulsa Reparations: The Survivor’s Story, in order to succeed in obtaining reparations for African-Americans, there is a need to “promote the convergence of interests between reparationists and the reluctant majority population by forcing the majority population to confront past and present injustices against African Americans. ” It’s a strategy being used to literally, in the words of Ogletree, “transform the American debate about race” and “re-orient the public’s perception”.
According to Jon Levin at mic.com, Nona Faustine says the white heels she wore in each of her photos symbolize “the white patriarchy that people of color can never escape”.
Levin goes on to suggest that:
Much of that patriarchy can be seen in the practical manifestations of race in America. Slavery and the cruelty of the Jim Crow era left a staggering wealth gap between black Americans and their white counterparts.
Apparently, Levin too got the memo from the reparations movement that says the majority population must see inequality and disparities all around them and then come to believe that those disparities exist as a direct result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, or else African-Americans won’t get paid.
To read more on the reparations movement in America, start here.