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My first challenge was to find a way to shoot Paris, this well-photographed city, and produce narrative images which carried my artistic signature. So, I looked for helpers and found them in transient moments of natural light, as the sky morphed and changed the palates of bricks and skin tones. I used city signage, both fleeting and permanent. I was assisted by society, nature, and circumstance in personalizing highly publicized landmarks and images, to turn new pages on an old script and bring you into my contemporary journey to Paris, France in 2005.
It was riveting to see the great extent of Egyptian influences in art, architectural design, architectural arrangement (meridians) upon which the city was built. France, Italy, Greece, and England covet a significant amount of African treasure, artifacts, historical data, and other culturally significant items. If children learned in school the truth about the past and the significant contributions which originated from ancient Kemet (Egypt) and many other parts of the Motherland (aka Africa,) we would live in a healthier world. There would be a substantial drop in superiority and inferiority complexes, hate, separation, violence, and war. Of course, this means world history (his story) will have to be re-written... which, in my opinion, is one form of reparation.
My research in art, history, and culture is as painful as it is empowering… as fanatic as it is freeing… as temporarily debilitating as it is permanently liberating. The bittersweet wave which washes over me makes complacency impossible.
I must say, Paris was a surprising journey of agony and ecstasy. Each day, down every street, in every view and vantage point, inside every museum and cathedral, I saw Africa. And, I saw Europe take credit for being originators of art, architecture, food, fashion, and an abundance of societal resources… which are, in fact, stolen from ancient Kemet, the first civilization. I saw priceless artifacts, which were stolen from ancient Kemet, standing in museums, palaces, and galleries, in plain sight while housed locked behind extensive security systems.
Visiting each museum, my mind was flooded with thoughts. “How are you going to steal my family’s jewels, our art, ancestral artifacts… my birthright and inheritance… like it is alright? How can you exhume the well-preserved bodies of my ancestors, and ask me pay to see the evidence of this crime displayed, behind glass, for all to see?” This was absurd, ludicrous, and the humiliation was overwhelming.
The emotional roller coaster ride I was on, while in Paris, was more horrifying, thrilling, exhausting, and invigorating than I had ever expected. I was thrilled to see the actual belongings and artifacts which once belonged to members of my family, my ancestors. I was, simultaneously, horrified and enraged at the circumstances under which I was seeing them. As I stood there gazing, feeling, and thinking, people talked, pointed and milled around me as if these treasures and the circumstances that brought them to a place, far away from the Motherland, had nothing to do with me, my journey, my plight, or the reasons for so much of what’s wrong in the world. I wondered if any of the people who visited, who were watching and guarding these items ever made the connection between what they were guarding and how it came to be under lock and key. I wondered if they thought it acceptable to be so disrespectful to me, my family, and my ancestors. And, I wondered if they would behave the same and find these crimes acceptable if the tables were turned.
While looking at some of the antiquities from Kemet, I felt something going on inside me. It was if some activation was happening in my genetic coding, a firing of DNA, or perhaps the triggering of exo and ancient codes and symbols. I actually recognized and recalled some of the items as personal belongings from my past life and the lives of my family. I gained access to primal memory which brought me to my long-gone relatives and the lives we lead in ancient times.
Every day of my life, I fantasize and wonder about how my life and the lives of my family would be if we did not have the link severed to our truth, identity, heritage, culture, and inheritance. My Parisian catharsis: discovering evidence of a stolen legacy was more of the same. I am thankful, each day, for strong, powerful genetic coding, cosmic re-membering, and triggering of exo and ancient codes and symbols. I am thankful for everything we were able to salvage, nurture, grow, and create.
Every step of my journey was a reminder of my stolen legacy and the perpetuation of a future filled with lies and crime. I faced constant reminders of how the value of art is determined by people who steal original art, repackage it, claim it, and send the value skyrocketing, whereby creating a false value system. I also saw paintings which were narratives specializing in prevarication. And, these lies are taught to children whom regurgitate the erroneous information as if grounded in fact. This reinforces superiority and inferiority complexes and the vicious cycle of racial turmoil persists.
Children of my lineage experience the agonizing emotion of humiliation when they are fed lies about who they are… and what they are not. The truth would begin their healing process. The truth would allow them the birthright of a healthy self-image and a healthy life. The truth of our heritage and the major, global contributions of our people would breathe life and hope into the hearts of young Black children and alter the statistics of our names on tombstones and rosters of prisons.
Every day I wonder about what it will it take in order for a Black person to have a natural, care-free, fresh, unencumbered experience on the planet Earth.
On several occasions, I just stopped and left the buildings which housed all of this mind-boggling input. I had to escape the pain… just go and seek simple pleasures. I would grab a snack and meander down to the Latin Quarter. There, I would sit on The Left Bank of The Seine River. The moving river helped assuage the weight of the controversy and the continuous processing of historic madness which ran through my mind. At the river, I slipped, easily, into the groove of the music, voices, sights, and sounds. There, I would experience the Paris which I had seen in movies and magazines, and read about in books… the Paris my heart longed to see as a little girl. There I would sit under a Parisian sky and watch the boats sail by… thoughtlessly disconnected from all of the hurt and pain brought on by the truth of my reality. There, I would sit, unencumbered by the theft of a stolen legacy. There, I would sit as an African American tourist in Paris and smile.