My mixed media painting Clarence Thomas is inspired by the unfair and exploitative treatment of people of color, especially black males, within the American criminal justice system.
We’ve all heard these troubling statistics; one in three black men can expect to go prison at some point in their lifetime, once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders, while people of color make up about 30 percent of the American population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.http://www.michaeloart.com/store/politics/
Clarence Thomas, my response to these statistics, is a tragi-comic exploration of the so-called prison-industrial complex, in other words it pokes serious fun at those who are profiting off black misery. These exploiters are aided by a legal system that is increasingly influenced by corporate greed, believing more in the humanity of huge conglomerates than the humanity of actual men and women. In time this will lead to more privitization of the ever growing prison indusrtry, because these bought and paid for courts will relentlessly back anything that is profitable for their corporate masters. I accuse Justice Thomas and his conservative judicial brethren of providing the legal bedrock on which the foundation of this industry is built.
So how does this impact America? What differnece does it make?
These racial disparities continue to deprive people of color of our most basic civil rights, making criminal-justice reform one of the most important the human rights issues of our time. Through mass imprisonment and over- representation within the criminal justice system, we have experienced an adverse impact on ourselves and on our communities.
These impacts include but are not limited to; the stripping of voting rights in an era of what should be ever-increasing black and brown political power, loss of financial and job opportunities, the injection of prison culture into popular youth culture, and the creation of barriers for re – entry into society for those who have already been incarcerated.
I hope this painitng plays a small role to inspire people to fight for the elimination of the racial disparities that infect our nation’s criminal-justice policies and practices. I want my artwork to be at the heart of a renewed, refocused, and reenergized movement for racial justice in America. Fight on!