Vandalism is not uncommon. Racism is not uncommon. Racism expressed as vandalism is probably also not uncommon. Getting off the subway Friday morning, I expected advertisements for movies, shows, and things to do around NYC. I did not expect them to be so heavily altered with a sharpie that you did not notice the original advertisement. It had been covered with advice to the question, “how do we get rid of niggaz?!”
A numbered list fills the speech bubble of a pondering news reporter with ten answers: crack, H.I.V, prisons, police brutality, black on black killing advice, mis- education, unemployment, gang promotion, mixed marriage, and gentrification, with slots 11-12 left as question marks.
Looking at the other posters,one of RuPaul crowned “King Homo”, one of Madea’s Witness Protection with Denise Richard’s neck proclaiming “white Hollywood whore”, one of NY Film Academy warning to “film niggaz only”, and one of a woman rockclimbing to screaming “help me there’s a niggah on my ass!!”, I immediately thought it must have been some sheltered over-parented kid trying to express himself. No actual threat, no big deal. Looking at the language for more than a first reaction, I became sick to my stomach. These words sound as if they are coming from someone of color. I questioned the racism occurring within minority communities. Competition based on skin color or hair texture is nothing new, and neither is ignorance from indoctrination. But offering solutions for the extermination of a group of people with no claim as to which group these sentiments belonged to had me thinking even further. I hadn’t given the author enough credit. I had reacted emotionally instead of intellectually. Satire draws attention to a subject through ridicule and shame in an attempt to improve the situation or cause. In this case, if interpreted as satire, these posters bring much negative attention to the African American community but cry for the situation to be changed. It is no question that the infiltration of cocaine and the spread of H.I.V into minority communities have caused grave damage and suppression. With ‘stop and frisk’ a hot topic, police brutality headlines many articles of civil rights organizations. Unemployment rates are at all-time highs for minorities, and education-retention rates are at all-time lows. These posters should be wake-up calls. They call for education, jobs, testing, and non-violence. They call for understanding and inclusion. They are a cry to minorities to change the perception of minorities. I say, thanks, tyrannical teenager. Thanks, artistic activist. Thanks, subway satirist. I AM AWAKE.