We have to see each other

President* Trump,

I’m at the gallery today and because September is my show month I’m getting to sit here with my work on the walls and it’s pretty cool. Mostly people are walking by outside and not stopping, but my sense is there’s a bit more curiosity than usual and a bit more eye contact and smiles happening than usual. It’s probably because I’m more inclined to be looking to see whether people are looking, but still, it’s nice. A few friends have been by, but since the gallery is only open during the workday and we can’t have real openings anymore (4 + me in the gallery at one time is the limit), it’s been mostly quiet. In case you are wondering about the work, here’s a link to an online flipbook that goes through the pieces and gives some background: https://issuu.com/tracy-simpson/docs/core_2020_for_issuu_8-9-20. I know you won’t look, but maybe your threat detector might take a peek.

I’ll just say, I’m pleased with how the show turned out and am feeling happy that the LOVE/VOTE message is going to be up and visible all this month.

I also wanted to share with you that someone at work introduced me to the Tyler Merritt project. I’ve watched Merritt’s video twice now and both times I’ve cried. Here’s that link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKeITMzMn7w. It’s only 3 minutes and 7 seconds so even you could squeeze it in in between Tweets. Merritt is a 6’2” Black man with dreds. The video is a close up of his face, just him talking into the camera telling us earnest and/or quirky discrete things about himself and his upbringing as well as how much it pains him that anyone would be afraid of him, ever. He opens with “Before you call the cops, I just want you to know….” and then he tells us that he hates spiders, that bananas are disgusting, that his father is a veteran, and a couple of dozen additional tiny bits about himself. He ends by asking whether any of these things matter and he answers with “No. I just wanted you to get to know me better before you call the cops.”

He made the video in 2018 after Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were murdered by police. I didn’t see it then and I trust that you didn’t either. You might want to know, though, that Merritt tells us in “Before you call the cops” that he doesn’t hate you, that he prays for you.

I looked around online for more information about Merritt and found an article reminding me that he is the person who recorded “Playlist” in May of this year (https://twitter.com/nowthisnews/status/1266105211984240641), which I did see. I thought maybe I told you about it, but there’s no other instance of the word “playlist” in my mega letter document, so apparently I didn’t. You should watch the video; it’s only 3 minutes and 8 seconds (he clearly has the short, sweet, and to the point format down) so again, you should be able to spare the time. In case you blow me off, I’ll tell you that Merritt takes us along with him on his neighborhood walk and we get to listen to snippets from his playlist, which is some kind of varied. He’s grooving and we’re grooving for what feels (in a good way) a lot longer than nearly 3 minutes. I’m not going to tell you what happens at the end – you’ll have to watch it to see and really, you need to watch it to see. Those of us who never have our playlists interrupted need to watch it all the way through to the end and I think we need to breathe in, as best we can, what it’s like to never know whether your playlist (your life) is going to be interrupted by someone challenging your right to be who and where you are.

Please watch it. And please watch “Before you call the cops.” We need you to see this.

May we be safe through our whole playlists.
May those of us who’ve been allowed to traverse life relatively unmolested learn to see everyone.
May we muster the strength and the courage for this.
May we accept that we have to change this fundamentally not ok set of situations.

Tracy Simpson

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