Crystal Valentine, CUBA, Marshall Weber

On Evaluating Black Privilege

Crystal Valentine, CUBA, Marshall Weber

On Evaluating Black Privilege

Date

2017

Edition Size

unique

Media

Collage, Hand-painting, Ink, Monoprint, Photo, Rubbing, Silkscreen

Binding

Accordion

Dimensions

21 × 15 × 1 in

Collection

$ 24,000.00

Out of Print


View Collectors

University of Colorado at Boulder

Poet/activist, Crystal Valentine, the 2015 New York City Youth Poet Laureate, and winner of numerous poetry slams, lit the fuse for this monumental 30 feet long (double-sided) artists’ book with her explosive poem “On Evaluating Black Privilege“.

Marshall Weber invited Valentine and San Fransisco grafitti Godfather CUBA (AKA Clarence Robbs) to collaborate on a unique artist book that would honor and provide a unique vehicle for their acclaimed work.

Weber constructed the mammoth accordion fold book with a substrate of his mono-prints and rubbings featuring the Statue of Liberty, the diagram of the ‘Brookes’ slave ship, and the Chrysler building. He also added a Stephen Dupont gelatin silver photograph of a Port Moresby ‘Raskol’ gang member and a vintage Malcolm X / Ho Chi Minh 1978 screen-print from the People’s Press in Berkeley, CA (Jerry Biggs/John Jernegan).

Over the course of recovering from a broken hip, CUBA used acrylic pens to illuminate the poem writing multiple graffiti styles treating the page spreads as if they were walls, and bringing the power of street art to Valentine’s words.

The book is available for exhibition rental, upon request. The artists can be booked through Booklyn to lecture, do workshops, panels, general assemblies, town hall meetings, and performances as part of exhibition programming.

On Evaluating Black Privilege,”
by Crystal Valentine

Black Privilege is the hung elephant swinging in the room
Is the memory of a slave ship, preying for the Alzheimer’s to kick in

Black Privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy,
My brother’s eulogy,
My father’s eulogy
My un-conceived child’s eulogy

Black Privilege is me thinking my sister’s name safe from this list

Black Privilege is me pretending to know Travyon Martin on a first name basis
Is me using a dead boy’s name to win a poetry slam
Is me carrying a mouth full of other people’s skeletons to use at my own convenience

Black Privilege is the concrete that holds my breath better than my lungs do

Black Privilege is always having to be the strong one,
Is having a crow bar for a spine,
Is fighting, even when you have no more blood to give
Even when you have lost sight of your bones
Even when your mother prayed for you 
Even after they’ve prepared your body for the funeral

Black Privilege is being so unique that not even God will look like you,
Black Privilege is still being the first person in line to meet him

Black Privilege is having the same sense of humor as Jesus
Remember how he smiled on the cross?
The same way Malcolm X laughed at his bullet 
And there I go again, asserting my Black Privilege, using a dead man’s name without his permission 
I can feel his maggots congregating in my mouth

Black Privilege is a myth,
Is a joke, is a punchline
Is that time a teacher asked a little boy what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said alive 
Is the way she laughed and said “there’s no college for that”

Ignorance is the only thing that won’t discrimination against you,
Is the only thing that don’t need a tombstone to learn your name

And it’s tiring, you know, for everything about my skin to be a metaphor
For everything black to be pun intended, to be death intended

Black Privilege is the applause at the end of this poem

Is me giving you a dead boy’s body and you giving me a ten 10
Is me being okay with that

I tired writing a love poem the other day, but my fingers wouldn’t move
My skin started to blister 
Like it didn’t trust me any more
Like it thought I’ve forsaken it for something prettier
Something smoother to wrap around my bones
Like I was trading in my noose for a pearl necklace

Some days I’m afraid to look into the mirror 
For fear that a bullet George Zimmerman-ed its way into my chest while I was asleep

The breath in my mouth is weapon enough to scare a courtroom 
I’ll be lucky if I’m alive to make it to the stand
For some people, their trials live longer than they do
Black Privilege is knowing that if I die, 
At least Al Sharpton will show up to my funeral 
At least Al Sharpton will mason jar my mother’s tears

Remind us that the only thing we are worthy of is our death
We are judged by the number of people it takes to carry our casket

Black Privilege is me think that’s enough
Is me thinking this poem is enough

Black Privilege is this 
Is this breath in my lungs right now
Is me
Standing right here 
With a crowd full of witnesses
To my heartbeat