Convos over Art

Published by APSGS

Uncertainty, Loss and Protests

Is the world finally tired of racism and police brutality?

Dante Jamar Pirtle is a Twin-Cities based artist, Veteran, and a Special Education Professional. Who has been shaken up by the recent police brutality incident in Minnesota that resulted in George Floyd’s murder by a police officer. Dante met with Art Director, Curator and Program Manager Felicia Sherrod to share his thoughts and feelings.

FS The past six months have been interesting, to say the least. How have you been affected by all the latest events?

DP I have been held up in my home for the past 3 months, creating art in music and theatre.

FS What are some of the things that you have done?

DP Writing lyrics, doing video production, animations, networking. Networking is really important during this time.

FS Who do you talk to in times like this? Do African American men talk to people about your trauma that is associated with systemic racism and police brutality?

DP There aren't a lot of people that you can talk to about this. It feels like you are on your own so there is no one to talk to. It hurts, especially as a person that has been in uniform. For those who are supposed to protect and serve but are working on a team of people who keep silent and/or cooperate with brutality, it’s disheartening. The entire system needs to be dismantled and restructured. I want to love police officers, I want to believe that they will protect and serve me, but I don’t believe it.

FS What experiences have you had?

DP When I lived in Bloomington I was constantly pulled over because of the kind of car that I had.

Once, I was walking to Perkins Restaurant one day and I was stopped by a police officer and told to show my hands because I fit the description of a suspect in a gas station robbery. Because I’m black? What other evidence did he have? Why was I assumed to be the black guy that he was looking for?

FS I hear this same thing regularly from African American and Latino men.

DP This past week, Rev. Al Sharpton said that someone tugged at his leg and he looked down to see a little white girl who looked at him and said, “Black lives matter” That made me feel good. That was powerful. That generation will finally put an end to racism.

FS How do you feel when you hear people say that all lives matter when we say that black lives matter?

DP What I hear is you want to believe that racism is gone. It's over… But it's not. If you stop worrying about what you’re going to lose by empowering and uplifting others, you’ll be able to hear us. You’ll understand us. Perhaps, it's really that they see all of the injustice but want to see more evidence before jumping to conclusions.

FS Charlemagne tha God (The Breakfast club power 105.1) wrote a book called black Privilege. Do you believe that African American people have privileges?

DP I believe that we have the potential to be great but it's hard to be great and to see privilege when you get treated worse and worse the older and physically different you are. We’re not allotted many opportunities.

FS Equity is important. People talk about equality, but equity will put us all at an even playing field allowing the best MAN to prevail…. What is your opinion of white privilege?

DP Black man is asked for license and registration. Has a registered gun on his hip that he announces but he ends up shot dead. A white man roams the street waving a gun and he is tazed.

FS Any personal situations?

DP I have experienced it in the military, on auditions, in fact, I showed up to teach actors and was asked if I was there to work on the set. It was just assumed that I was a kid and that I wasn't there to earn a living.

FS Where do we go from here?

DP to hope, to peace, to understanding, to love, to racism ending once and for all. And we're going to fight for it until our last breath.

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