I’m on the Right Track Baby I was Born this Black
I began the day in which I made this image singing along with a neighbor’s loud music singing to “I’m on the right track baby I was born this way”. And then there was an ah ha moment where not only did I quickly see the song for what it is; a manifestation of white privilege translated in my head to “I’m white bitch, and born with privilege, and I’m so happy to make a song to force others to accept my privilege”, I also realized that my work has been dealing with the issues of the black body, and the ideals of attempting to combat invisibility of people of color. I, at that moment realized that I had a chance to use their own medicine against them. But lets be clear when I began singing along with the song; initially “I’m on the wrong track baby I was born black” which then shifted to “I’m on the right track baby, I was born this black”, I didn’t really connect my putting on of make up and preparing for professional selfy with my singing.
It was a day that I’d decided that it had been long enough, I love my I’m every man project, but I was ready to start something new and exciting. I think I was initially attempting to be some sort of classical looking super hero… but for queer folks of color. And I guess one can ague that maybe I accomplished that being a super hero part of that goal… or at least I hope. But I ended the day with what looked like gold foundation, but what was actually the darkest color in Maybelline’s Dream Matte Mouse Series. The Color was “Cocoa Dark 3”.
The world is an interesting place… I was reading an article in the New York Time “Addressing the Many Shades of Women”. And the article highlighted several make-up companies who are starting to make darker shades of make-up…. You know some 100 plus years after the invention of make-up…. They think they’re doing something big. But what I found particularly interesting about that article was the strategic bashing of Opal, one of the only make-up companies that make foundation for skin my dark. In fact, Iman, the super model who has started her own make up line, goes far as to differentiate her line from “a cosmetic line that’s for women of color”. As I said the world is an interesting place. I guess I should not be surprised that the idea of anything that is made just for people of color, or “black women” as Iman states in this article is worthy of criticism, but when unveiling the long time history of racism on many levels to people of color is not a subject to even be mentioned in mainstream media. This article attempts to say it’s a brand-new day we’re including “Asian women” and women with slightly darker skin tones in our brand, But I see it for what it is.
When I began the day I was trying to be a super hero, trying to make something like the “I am Every Man” Series, but more relevant to me now that I realize that I’m gender-queer, but as the day went on, and after the 6th time of totally cleaning my face and saying maybe I’m doing something wrong, because this is the darkest colors of foundation I found on amazon by just typing in the words foundation make-up. I quickly realized what this image aught to look like. I was furious and to say the least hurt to have been fooled into buying this foundation which on the screen looked like my complexion, which, also exhibited a black women with my same skin tone. And at that point, I was also furious at the mass genderfication of the sale of make-up.
“I’m on the Right Track baby I was born this Black” attempts to speak to several issues including race, class, and gender. I’m a Gender-Queer Afro-Latino working class Sista/Brotha.
With this image I’m not attempting, but I am creating contradiction to a societal set role of Gender. Why is it that I choose to buy make-up online rather then going to the local store and choosing to buy make-up in person… that is while feeling the judgmental eyes all around me and the scornful and shameful look in the cashiers eyes when I walk up to the counter as a male embodied person with make-up, that in their cis-gender mind “should be for women”. I can see that they’re attempting to justify in their mind a reasonable reason for a male to be approaching the counter with “feminine products”. “maybe they’re for his mom, sister, or girlfriend”, “OMG, he’s gay, he’s feminine, He’s this or that…. Shame shame shame.”
I am creating contradiction to deeply rooted systemic racism. When a whole slew of make-up companies purposely do not make products for people of color, especially given that we live in a society that is overwhelmingly diverse, in my opinion that’s hitting home pretty close without even having to put on their door “Whites only”. Iman, I love you sister, but when you shame Opal for simply attempting to have women of color not feel left out and I do mean of color, not just “black women”, It comes off to me, and dare I say many people in our communities that you’re not attempting to create diversity, but instead your doing exactly what many make-up companies have done for years by excluding dark complexions from their products; that is “shaming us for having dark skin.”
I am creating contradiction of internalized classist structures within communities of color. That is to say that “Black is beautiful”, but that doesn’t mean that everything else isn’t. Why is it that many Drag houses separate themselves by race and class? Why is it that the ultimate mantra of Drag, is assailing to be as much as one can like a white woman. Because lets be honest, my remodels are all powerful black women. “Black is beautiful” not to be shamed by white supremacy, and the drive in many communities of color to desire to be more included in white culture, or simply wanting to look more white. With the mantra of the Los Angeles Drag scene, dark skinned black peps stand no chance; you see unlike our lighter skinned counter parts there is no attempting to look like adele, or Britney spears, or any of these “famous white women”. “Black is beautiful” how many times must I say it in order to drive the main point home that “I’m on the right track baby I was Born this Black” Strives to say that “Black is beautiful, and that is what I strive to be”.
Raise your voice to say:
Hey, Mayor Garcetti & MTA Board, No Toxic Fare Increase and end the criminalization of fare evasion!
Los Angeles generates massive quantities of greenhouse gases & air toxins from the automobile, with 8 million cars on the road in a county of 10 million people. The only way to reduce these toxins, and save ourselves and the planet is to significantly restrict the auto and improve public transportation. The MTA’s proposed fare increase would generate more greenhouse gases by driving people off of public transit and into their cars. Join us on Saturday, March 29th in voicing our demands.
-Restrict auto use—bus only lanes on surface streets and freeways, auto free rush hours, auto free days, auto free zones
-No Fare: Stop Any MTA Fare Increases
-No Fare: Free Public Transportation
-No Fare: Free Student Bus Pass
-No Fare: Stop MTA Sheriffs -No Stop and Frisk on buses and trains. No Fare: There is no such crime as “fare evasion”
-Restore 1 million hours of bus service that the Bus Riders Union won during our ten year Civil Rights Consent Decree –that the MTA cut as soon as federal oversight was lifted.
-Purchase 5,000 zero emission buses for a total fleet of 7,500 zero emission, no fare buses running 24/7 throughout Los Angeles County
-Stop the great train robbery. A moratorium on all new rail projects. We can use the existing rail lines as part of a bus centered multi-modal system but no mas, no more.
-A moratorium on highway expansion
-Stop the MTA as gentrification developer
-Stop the MTA attacks on transit riders who speak at MTA meetings.
-A code of conduct for the MTA board demanding rights and respect for transit riders at all public forums.
Pictures from my new house
The Hood Series Additions.
More photos are being updated to my website monthly….to get updates please subscribe to my mailing list: http://www.channinglmartinez.com
I Am Every Man Project: Painted Dashiki
The latest working addition to my I am every man project
The Hood Series Continues
(top) Former Cite of Hyde Park Library, Abandoned in 2006 for the newly built structure on Florence Ave and Van Ness Ave. This Property has sat here destitute ever since…. Currently a homeless member of our community uses the location as her shelter.
(Bottom) Former Cite of Jacks Chili Bowl (research yet to be done) and recent former location of Earl’s Grill restaurant. The building has recently been boarded up and gated off by MTALA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority of Los Angeles) and was abandoned mid-2013 when metro bought the plaza property from the owner. The word on the street is that metro plans to build expensive apartment buildings and bring more retailers to the area effectively gentrifying the area for the new coming train to run down Crenshaw Blvd. All of the business in this plaza have closed (that is a laundry mat, donut shop, a flower shop, another, older burger restaurant, and a small muslim school. Many of the workers in these shops weren’t aware of the closing till the week of, a woman who worked at the laundry mat stood at the door talking to Organizers Channing L Martinez, and Aracely Barboza. We asked what she fought about the closing and the gentrification, She responded saying that it was ok, people can find laundry mats close by elsewhere. It was then that i realized many people in my community have no idea the dept that this gentrification will have.
I’m not sure why this image excites me, but it does.. I think maybe its the perception, the way the image makes the viewer focus on something other than what “should be in focus”…. anyways I took it and just sat and looked at it in aww for 2 mins right after.
Pictures from my hike in Kenneth Hahn Park today