Artist Uses Her Work To Challenge Racism

Kara Walker artwork
Shonda Buchanan
January 27, 2021

New to this middle school, Kara Walker tried to fit in – until a white boy laughed, saying she looked like a monkey! Hurt, she started skipping classes instead, hiding in the library. But what she found there angered her even more.

Her father’s books showed positive Black images, but white books in the library showed us as savages or simple-minded chattel! She vowed to one day become an artist so she could set the record straight. But it wasn’t that easy.

Even when she got to art school, she nearly cried – she was expected to study these racist lies! How could she fight this?

After college, she decided to confront how they romanticized slavery and perpetuated stereotypes of Black people as sub-human and natural servants – by inserting the Black presence in historical white art! 

Her provocative work re-established our presence where previously we were made invisible. In essence, she told the truth!

Walker’s work has been embraced worldwide for its honesty. No one would again look at antebellum art and not see the blatant brutality, subjugation and hypocrisy.

If we honestly challenge stereotypes in artwork that romanticizes slavery, we can confront our racist system while empowering ourselves and our communities with the truth!

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