Pardon The Miss. By Yasmin Agilah Hood

07/08/2020

In June we commissioned visual artist, Yasmin Agilah Hood, to produce a new piece of work in response to the Black Lives Matters movement.

Yasmin’s bold and compelling work is entitled ‘Pardon The Miss’ and we heard more from Yasmin about the completed work and the process of making it.

‘Pardon the Miss’
2020
Posca and Spray on MDF

I have never felt that inclined to give descriptions or explanations of my work. I guess because it’s much easier to swallow a beautiful image, or even an image that appears to have overcome a situation; see my previous body of work ‘The Heavy Flow” which is about using art as meditation and overcoming anxiety and depression. In life when we see a happy person, we don’t ask why they are happy because it doesn’t disturb us in any way. When we see someone upset, it evokes an emotion or concern. Hence, why I’m writing this lengthy one. 

I have come to realise with my very recent openness about my experiences with racism and public speaking that those with higher levels of melanin have to scream until their blue in the face and short of breathe to be heard and even when that happens there is such dissonance that even evidence of our pain is dismissed. Any one shouting ‘All Lives Matter’ will tell us just that and to echo Azza Corbett’s poignant spoken word piece, ‘All Live Matter But Mine’; am I not part of that ‘All’ too? 

During the process of creating I have felt sad and hopeless, hundreds of years of violence and ignorance contained in my body and it’s been unshakeable. Every book I’ve read, every documentary, smart phone recording has fuelled a raging fire in my gut. The memory of every insult, micro-aggression and blatant prejudice that I have been on the receiving end of keeps appearing in the forefront of my mind. That feeling of being unsafe as the far right are given voices by world leaders who don’t consider my existence of value. Being stuck in during lockdown and the repetition of violence against black people on my timeline which I don’t have the right to ignore, while friends do and the criticism upon us for exercising our right to freedom of speech in the midst of a pandemic while refusing to recognise that racism is a pandemic that has lasted for 400 years. 

The constant headache, the part of my brain which isn’t used to fighting this hard because I’m not used to throwing kindness and education at people and nothing sticking. It’s felt like despair. I’ve had to cut ties with those I’ve held close and formed new allegiances. My anger and sadness has bred support in allies and the strength and courage I’ve summoned by reaching out to my friends of all colours and the kindness of strangers, has been a beautiful tonic during a disturbing time. 

‘Pardon the Miss’ is complex. It’s brutal and beautiful. There has never been a part of my life where I’ve felt growth that hasn’t been painful in some part, but this isn’t personal, this is collective. It shows the light and shade, the shards of pain and disappointment alongside the beauty of being able to let this go, the yin yang, the darkness in the light and the light in the darkness. The continuous scream that will be heard from the mouths of black folks until the truth is out, education tells a whole story and there is justice for those murdered at the hands of those employed to protect. 

To quote the words of the wonderful Carleen Anderson, ‘Pardon the Miss, she’s got the right to have a nervous breakdown’.

Yasmin Agilah Hood

Author: Eleanor Miles

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