A deeper look at an artist who refused to be white

A deeper look at an artist who refused to be white
by Michael Kilian
Chicago Tribune
November 25, 2004

Romare Beardon (1911–1988) was not only one of the most talented American artists of the 20th Century but also one of the most complicated.

An extremely light-skinned African-American, he easily could have lived his life as white but refused to do so, devoting most of his art to African-American life and the struggles of blacks to achieve respect and equality.

Kilian is trying to make something heroic out of accepting the “one drop” myth. Beardon was only following orders, obeying the status quo, etc. What’s heroic about that? Courage lies in defying the status quo and rejecting the ODR.

One comment

  1. As a [post-grad]in [Anthropological] Art History Studies, I am familiar with Senor Romare Bearden, who spent much of his life in Central and other Latin American countries. I thought also he had lived some of his life in Haiti. I was taught design briefly by one of his former students (Mme. Lois Maillou Pierre-Noel. From the viewpoint that African heritages and cultures desparately needed recognition, I agree that he tried to address this as best as “socio-economics” allowed him to do at that time. However, I agree also that mixed-heritaged generation families would have fared better in the long run if he (and numerous others) had identified themselves as Creoles or Metis or Anglo-Latinos, Moxhaccine or some other term other than Mulatto/Quadroon/Octoroon or some other ODR-enforced term.

    12/7/2004 3:29:52 PM

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