In support of the Black Lives Matter movement that is currently underway in America and across the world, British artist Banksy has shared a symbolic piece of art depicting the impending demise of freedom, justice, and equality.
Consistent with the poignancy of his oeuvre at large, the new piece pays homage to the tragic murder of George Floyd, the African American man who was killed in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a police officer, knelt on his neck for nine minutes.
Taking to Instagram to share the piece, the anonymous artist posted the illustration sans caption to his page of nine million followers. Depicting the vigil of a faceless, identity-less member of the black community, the piece proposes commentary around tropes of freedom, justice, and equality, or rather the lack thereof, as symbolized with the backdrop of an American flag which has been set aflame. The presence of the flowers and candles in the piece provides some semblance of sympathy, however, set at against a burning American flag, Banksy contests that perhaps the sympathy is senseless, when there is so much more to be done.
In a three-part post featuring a close-up and zoomed out photograph of the piece, the third image provides a snapshot into Banksy’s mind, and the thoughts that informed their artistic process. “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue,” the text begins. “But why would I do that? It’s not their problem. It’s mine.”
Going on to say that “people of color are being failed by the system,” the artist clarifies that it is indeed the system of white supremacy that is failing them. “Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t – no-one will let them in the apartment upstairs.”
Ending with a simple but fearful call to action, the artist says “this is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”
Banksy is the latest addition to a growing list of public personalities who have spoken out against racial injustice within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. Among them; Meghan Markle, who recently issued an emotional statement noting her grief and devastation at the situation, and Beyoncé, who took to Instagram in a video saying she is “broken and disgusted.”