What Black Is This?

An artist’s series asks us to consider the color and the culture

Adrienne Gibbs
Momentum
Published in
3 min readDec 10, 2020

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Photos courtesy of courtesy of Rhona Hoffman Gallery and Amanda Williams

The Instagram post started with a question.

“What black is this you say?”

“‘Apparently even Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s Lives Matter now’–black’”

The inquiry, and the answers, became part of an art installation that celebrates Black culture and identity while also highlighting the moments of 2020 that America will not soon forget. Chicago-based artist Amanda Williams kicked off the multiplatform series in June 2020, not long after George Floyd’s death. She would post an inky image; sometimes with form, sometimes without, and then type in her ask. The answer always merged color with culture.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CHVL2_aFkZN/?igshid=1sz96xfx2gprq

The response on June 22, 2020, was this: “‘Your love of bird watching could have caused your death that day. Your Harvard degree does not insure your safety’ — black.” September 24 answered in this way: “‘You wish you could see the black on the inside of Stevie Wonder’s eyelids so you too could have inner visions’ — black.” There is this one: “‘You once told me you wanted to live somewhere there are more than 4 or 5 ways to be black’ black.”

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Adrienne Gibbs
Momentum

Director of Content @Medium. Award-winning journalist. Featured in a Beyoncé reel. Before now? EBONY, Netflix, Sun-Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe.