NOBODY’S SAFE: My Beef With The Modern Day Black “Creative”

I got a slab of on-sale sirloin that’s been sitting in the freezer and I’m in the mood to finally sizzle it on the skillet. So I hope you can handle the heat, ladies and gents, because it’s about to get real wa-wa-wa-wa-well done *Cue Tyga ad lib.*

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Somewhere out there, a friend, coworker, fellow brother/sister, or even distant cousin with missing front teeth you only know you’re related to through Facebook posts, is sitting in their room extra cozy working on their 12th pear-shaped naked black woman with natural hair and rose petals covering her goodies at this very moment.

And I get it and I’m going to let them finish, but sweetie here’s a poem:

“Though thou hath went to one paint-and-sip,
thou is not warranted
the title of “Artist”
in thou’s bio.”
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I remember a simpler time when being an artist was only reserved for losers who didn’t mind staying inside and being alone creating majestic pieces. Art served as refuge since they couldn’t dribble a basketball or Moss a catch with one hand from their best friend. Now, being an artist is for anyone who can color inside the lines and wants to make a quick dollar.

I’ve seen so many unoriginal, and barely mediocre, canvas strokers post their pics and hashtag, “#BlackArt” and/or “#SupportBlackBusinesses” as their crutch to make a sale and add validation to their hobby, but did we forget the beauty and utter ingenuity of the black art era, the Harlem Renaissance? Did we forget Jacob Lawrence? Aaron Douglass? Did we forget the power behind the term “black art” and just use it to cash out on a bland trend and ride a dying wave?

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It’s not just pretentious canvas strokers that grind my gears. Unfortunately, there’s an over-saturation of “I’m just trying to get next week’s gas” folks. They are giving themselves the title of “Creative” and I notice it a lot with people who start these short-lived and hardly buzzing clothing lines. To me, when starting a clothing line, I believe the aim should be to surpass the test of time. A clothing brand is supposed to build stature and express the youth. It should lead the modern trends and be the spokesman of style for the hip generation. But we’ve made it far too easy for culture vultures to scroll through Twitter and iron the most trending catch phrases that’ll die within the next 48hrs on to cheap mall tees that’ll only last one wash.



And lets not get started on these “photographers” who just got their camera yesterday and are already messaging their IG fantasies claiming they specialize in “natural body images” because if I did, I’d have to get on the aspiring Instagram models who fall for it.

My biggest problem with a lot of modern-day “creatives” is that they never actually studied their art, and it’s not hard to tell. If you haven’t elevated in the slightest since you first started, you’re one of the culprits. To be an artist, you have to be a student of the craft first and foremost. You have to channel inspiration from everyday events people can relate to. You have to be willing to express yourself through vulnerability. You must learn from techniques proven to work by well versed artists that came before you and techniques never dared to have been tried. I know some are trying, but I see a lot attempting to “draw from”  and ending up “drawing as.” Keep in mind it is very possible to be inspired and still create something totally different from who you gained your inspiration from.

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Remember, being creative is tapping into realms tapped into before, but creating your own style and adding your own voice. Being creative is taking the time to learn how to make every new thing you do better than the last. I’m not here to talk down on those grinding and trying to become their own entrepreneurs, but I do want to help them realize that though they’re saying “F**k a 9-5” and chasing that black owned business bag, if they don’t stand out from the others doing the same, corporate America is in fact chasing that black ass and will not hesitate to suck them into a cubicle.

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My mama always said, “If you knew better, you’d do better.” So think of this as your know better and your indication to do better. Now that the sirloin is all cooked, it’s time I go sprinkle it with some parsley… ’cause you know… black folk love parsley.


Stay blessed and give love,

Jodi <3

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