Artist Naa Ahinee Mensah tells us about her George Floyd triptych...
Two weeks ago I was in the park with a six-year-old friend when she said to me: “Ahinee, you know you should never go to America.” I asked her why, “Because you are black and I am black and they keep killing black people.” I explained to her they are not killing all black people, and that there’s just a few racist and prejudiced people around. Her older sister then turned to me and said, “I don’t get it, people are just people.” She is ten years old. I told them most humans are good, there are just a few crazy ones.
I thought it was beautiful to see the rainbow of humanity come out and protest. I saw people from Asia, India, and many white people as well as black. The first thing that came into my mind after hearing that George Floyd died after apparently using a fake $20 bill was to put his portrait on one, using an ordinary biro pen and then placed on the $20 note using Photoshop. On the note, I have included some words from a poem I wrote. The letters and numbers all represent facts about his life: birth date, date of death, the minutes that the police officer had his knee on his neck. He is wearing a kente cloth which is a traditional African print from Ghana.
I watched a documentary about Nina Simone called What Happened, Miss Simone? She was part of the civil rights movement and struggled a lot with the racism in America, but she dated and married white men too. The reference to the United Snakes of America was from this documentary – it gave me the idea for the third dollar design. I have coloured the White House with blood, for the bloodshed not only of African Americans but the Native Americans too. All the anguish, the rape, the lynching, the killing, the slavery is what has made America what it is today. The White House depiction dollar is obvious I think. I made the White House the Black House, because it is the slavery of the black people that built America.
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