The emergence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the national recognition of Black American Sign Language (BASL) came together at a liberating time in the early 2010s. Black Deaf people said “Finally!” Yet, we are still ignored and brushed away as if racism never exists within the deaf marginalized communities. Intersectionality plays a vital role in the lives of many Black Deaf people. We do not only experience racism. We face multiple oppressions simultaneously. Several instances are sexism, misogynoir, classism, vidism, and so much more. Racism is not just about prejudice. It is ingrained in every system from the corporations to the medical field. Fetishization, exploitation, emotional and physical labor, stereotypes, microaggressions, and cultural appropriation are present either in a subtle or overt form within the black deaf community. Historical and linguistic deprivations are often left unsaid.
The exhibition of Black is Black: Blackity AF is not only about celebrating our blackness. Blackness is black deaf people’s survival and happiness. It demonstrates the rawness and vulnerability of each black deaf person’s pain through arts. The generational and ongoing traumas of multi-layered violence will be revealed to understand the impacts resulting from various oppressions within our community. We have the unquestionable pride in our blackness through centuries-old dances, music, and works. The exhibition is a cry to keep reclaiming our blackness. It is a cry for the works to be paid attention with honor as their ancestors want it. The artworks from deaf black artists you will witness in the exhibition show there are no limits. The decades of concealing their works is over. Their arts determine the healing journey. The artworks will be immeasurable and provoking. This is what makes the exhibition unique and powerful. We welcome you to look, think, and discuss along your counterparts because this is very far from finished. This is only the beginning.