May 2020 was a time of traumatic and collective Black pain, brought on by the horrific murder of George Floyd and further deepened by the pandemic. During this time, I discussed what was happening with other Black women across the world. It felt soothing to talk with women who could relate deeply to my lived experiences. These women were afraid and depleted. All of them were scared for Black children. A large majority of them didn't even have children. Some of them didn't want children. And yet, they still felt anxious for Black children. How could you find peace in turmoil?
The mobilization of the worldwide community for the protection of Black lives during a pandemic was—dare I say it—“unprecedented.” I felt that as a community we had a duty to remember and document this time. Were we going to be spoken about in history books? Were we going to be a fleeting moment or a defining movement? And again, what would we say to the children?
As the days passed, more testimonies of Black children surfaced. Funmi Fetto wrote on her Instagram: "But why do they hate Black people?", a question asked by her 7-year-old son. A few days later, in The New York Times, a story told by the mother of an 8-year-old Black boy really pained me. As he was going into the elevator with his face mask on, a lady who had gotten on before him clutched her handbag nervously. The young boy asked his mother, "How am I supposed to protect myself by using a face mask if people are getting scared of me?" I wanted to give him a massive hug. I wished I could have reassured him that he is seen, loved, and safe, that he shouldn't be scared even though he has all the reasons to be.
At that time, we heard a lot from eminent Black voices and I wanted to yell to the world "Look at how multifaceted we are! Listen to us and to our stories with an open heart!" Artists across the world were already creating art with the sole intention of surviving this time, but also as a way to amplify Black voices whether they were Black or not. A true proof of unity. And I wanted that.
This is how Dear Noah was born. A creative time capsule, a cathartic record of our time and a poignant love gesture to the next generation that documents and illustrates the civil rights movement and what it means to be born Black in the world during a pandemic. This project is a collection of 40 love letters from Black women to Black children, as well as artwork created during the pandemic. I send these love letters out to the world to help us heal and process what is happening right now. It's a heartfelt wave that I hope will bring us all a lot closer.