30, Richmond, Va.
Most hated stereotype:
The idea that we are uneducated and mostly dangerous.
A son of the south, artist, architectural and graphic designer David G. is no stranger to racism and stereotypes.
The presence of the Ku Klux Klan, racially motivated violence, and the anger and confusion of being unfairly treated all marked his journey to adulthood.
“It took a long time for me to realize that all white people weren’t out to set me up,” David said.
But he wouldn’t trade his experiences, counting them as one of his most prized possessions.
Surrounded by a supportive family, David obtained a degree in architecture from Hampton University, an environment he says changed him.
“When I came to Hampton I had to recondition myself and learn to open myself up more,” he said. “If I continued to hold the anger inside that I felt then it would have eventually eaten me alive. That was my first challenge with forgiveness but I’m glad I was able to do it. It allowed me to let some great people into my life.”
And it produced a transition in his artwork.
Originally, his art reflected the dark themes of some of his negative experiences, but he’s figured a new angle.
“The best way to counter ignorance is through awareness,” he said. “My art now takes on more themes of empowerment rather than oppression.”
David’s colorful sketches and paintings of brown faces range in themes, many an ode to music.
Pieces with titles like “Breaking the Mold,” “Dare to Be,” and “Elevate. Awake” show the artist’s current attitude and passion for inspiring people.
Passing the gift of art on to younger generations is a contribution he strives to make.
“I always dreamed of starting an organization that could help foster the creativity of the youth,” he said. “I would create a space where these kids have an outlet for expression and hopefully give them a chance to seek higher education through scholarship funding.”
In the end, David said he wants to be remembered as “a man who was a great husband and father, a man who stood for what he believed in, and a man who tried his best to leave a positive mark in the world.”
While some may see him as a dangerous black man, or assume that his pigment grants him advanced basketball skills, David works to define and establish himself through his art.
What is a stereotype that has been directly applied to you before?
For some strange reason every white person assumes that I can play basketball. I can, but why assume? But on a more serious note, in the past I’ve been in situations where I have been perceived as being dangerous simply because of my race.
A stereotype that bothers you the most:
If I had to pick one it would be the idea that we are uneducated and mostly dangerous (I know… that’s really two I gave you). I sincerely hate when I hear someone say “he really speaks well or eloquently”. Just because the media and reality television portrays us as being violent, slang talking, irresponsible hood rats doesn’t give you the right to put all black people in the same box. Ignorance is a cancer.
What you wish you could be doing as a career:
Full time Artist/Gallery Owner or, oddly enough, an actor. (Denzel status… but with no training whatsoever).