Second-line and Sanctus

Dr. McCoy offered an extra credit opportunity to the class about a month ago. This entitled us to meet Steve Prince, an artist from New Orleans who creates charcoal art depicting a blend of his African American experiences with historical attributes of discrimination. When I went to meet Steve Prince during his presentation of all of his famous works and his explanations, I remembered one specific piece–“Second Line.”

As I was flipping through Fortunes Bones by Marilyn Nelson I found an image that looked pretty similar to “Second Line”, it had the same name “Second line” (28). It was a photograph taken by Leo Touchet. On the next page (29), the poem Sanctus there. It represents “Second-line” in the fact that it has to do with a funeral but yet the people in the image are dancing and singing “Call us home, Lord, call us home. Call us home, Lord, set us free.”

(In a way, this connects to my previous Blog Post “7000 bodies deepbecause the people who seem like they are celebrating are actually in pain because of their loss of a close friend or relative. )

In Steve Prince’s portrait, “Single-line” the people also have umbrellas in their hands, instead of dancing, they’re playing the trumpet. According Prince it had to do with their faith in Christianity and trumpets happen to be biblical in the book of Revelations. I remember Steve saying that no matter how sad black people are, they will find a way to celebrate and reveal their happiness, rather than pain because the person is now assumed to be in Heaven.

This similarity is important and relates to the class because of the name of the course “Race & Medicine.” Although we mean medicine in a literal sense, now that we’ve completed the semester I view this class as medication for those who don’t know enough about Race. There is one race and that is the human race, but during this generation for some, race is still a black and white thing. We as humans are still segregated in our own ways whether it be politically, economically, status wise or racially.

The opportunity to meet Steve Prince was like a test to see how much the medication helped me as a student in Dr. McCoy’s “Race and Medicine” class. It was a chance to understand race from a deeper and literal perspective, rather than imagining what happened to African Americans through books that we read in class.

Second-line, Second-line and Sanctus all helped me understand the idea that what we define race as, is actually a cultural aspect to humanity.

We all suffer. We all bleed. We are all human.

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