February celebrates the contributions made by African American people – their achievements, contributions, and historical journeys. Black History Month is about remembering and showcasing their contributions; to celebrate their success, value as well as the impact they have made in the United States, as well as the world.
And while it’s great that black people are given their day in the sun this month, it’s my hope that once the month is over, that conversations around diversity and culture continue. It’s not enough to see illustrations of black people in books, or in the media – that is only one part of the story. In order to drive change, we need to have black illustrators and artists be the one behind the creation of those works.
Having black people be represented does not mean just seeing them embedded in various medias around us – we want their voices to be heard as well. It’s important for the young generation of black people to grow up hearing other black people’s voices represented. They should also be able to see those who came before them carving out a name for themselves in the world; so that they too can dream big and aspire to greater heights. One way that this is can be put into motion, is to hire black illustrators to draw about stories, situations and experiences that only they know about. Let them tell the story through their own eyes, and let their work open yours.
In the case of our gang members; a look at Judith Rudd’s work will show you not only her skills in vector, but at how she references iconic moments in fashion, architecture, music, popular culture, as well as black and queer subcultures. Queenbe Monyei is passionate about drawing marginalized groups and people in all shades and colors in everyday situations. Having their voice represent their community is important to them, as it is to us.
Here at Anna Goodson Illustration Agency, our belief in the strength of cultural diversity is our calling card. Not only do we have a responsibility to share the skills and stories of our artists, but to also honor the black community in their fight to be heard, seen and to be known. It’s about remembering and showcasing their contributions; to celebrate their success, value as well as the impact they have made in the world. And it’s something that we’re proud to do, all year long.