I did not start drawing anything political until high school. Before high school all I drew were comics, cartoons and superheroes. Even then there was still the issue of drawing a majority of White characters. I did happen to focus my artwork on female characters, but I had almost no male characters of color either. I remember my father questioning me often as to why I had so few characters who looked like me.
It didn’t seem like there was any particular reason, but to be honest, it would have been hard to do so because all of the superheroes in anime, manga, comics and cartoons that I saw were fair skinned Whites or Asians.
Now I draw a majority of Black characters in my artwork which makes me very proud because I never would have predicted that I would ever have made the switch.
It’s not an arbitrary switch, it’s a switch of pride and really it’s quite natural for a person to draw themselves. What is unfortunate for too many artists of color is that too many of us infrequently do draw our own selves. White people have a massive myriad of representation of many different types of Whiteness to choose from. They have their own role models and bada$$es and idols of beauty to choose from. People of color only have a few.
In the superhero industry this is why Black Panther means so much to the Black African-American and African communities.
As far as beginning to draw political things, the first issue that I became passionate about was immigration. I am strongly pro-amnesty when it comes to immigration issues. I have a huge empathy for immigrant families.
I felt very alone in my feelings about it because most of my peers at school were hatefully anti-immigrant, anti Mexican, anti Spanish, pro English only, pro American only (White American) and pro-citizen exclusively.
This brought forth a feeling of great silencing. I felt like I did not have a space vocally and that I wasn’t being listened to or acknowledged. I know that images speak louder than words and so I drew what I consider to be my greatest piece: “We Cannot See Alone/ No Podemos Ver Solos.”
This piece actually got me the attention of Enrique Morones: president of Border Angels. Border Angels is an organization that puts water out in the desert to help immigrants survive as they cross. Even though it is a controversial act, it has been said that immigrants will cross with or without water and subsequently many die on their way. It is a humanitarian act to assist them in my eyes because they are escaping a place that is extremely dangerous and economically and politically unfit to raise a family in.
I support Border Angels, and one day, at my first college, I got to meet Enrique Morones after his speech on immigrant struggles. I sent him and email of my work and accidentally sent it to the entire Google group of Border Angels. Everyone saw it. A school in California asked my permission to put it on their honor wall. A Chicana Indigenous professor in Colorado asked me to come and make a speech about it at her university the Metropolitan School of Denver Colorado for their Lalo Delgado Festival.
I felt so moved and so honored that they thought that much of me to ask me to come out and do that. I will return one day.
I think that moment confirmed that my art has an influence on people and can take me places. It is one of my favorite memories. At that time I was actually quite broken emotionally and I really needed the validation. I know in reality I cannot depend on recognition to fuel me to keep on, but I am only human and we crave those pats on the back by our peers. It is hard to make art that challenges societal norms. It is hard to live a life unmasked. It is hard to swim upstream against the mainstream current but I do it because it must be done to change anything. It also inspires others to do the same.
So I am proud to say that I am finally branching out and drawing raw real things that I have wanted to depict for sometime. I am drawing my heart, my soul and the hearts and souls of others I have encountered who are too afraid to reveal themselves. I want humans to know, they do not have to hide their colors because we are all hue-mans and we have something beautiful to share with the world. That beauty should not be hidden. Not. Ever.