Originally launched in Cincinnati, the AwesomeNYC grant will help bring Michael Coppage's Black Box project to New York City to continue the dialog here in partnership with local community partners. With installation of the murals coming before the winter, you can follow along with the project on Instagram at prosper_jones_ and watch the TED Talk that serves as the spearhead for this project.
Black Box is a community impact and engagement platform comprised of five elements aimed at making black men more accessible outside of the workplace and play space. The ultimate goal is demystification, understanding, and connection through discourse and to replace the “learned” with authentic firsthand experience.
Part 1: A community impact project designed to positively highlight Black men, promote understanding and empathy, foster education and healing. Community members come into a safe intimate space to dialogue with a diverse group of 13 black men one-on-one. Each man wears a shirt with an assigned noun preceded by the word BLACK, which becomes a prompt for discussion. Nouns preceded by black are negatively connoted and what we learn during our American enculturation is black most often implies “bad”.
Black Ice, Black Heart, Black Cloud, Black Sheep, Blackout, Black Head, Blackball, Black List, Black Man, Black Death, Black Magic, Blackguard
There is bias implicit in the designation of the color black to most nouns as opposed to “white” which is positively connoted even when attached to negative nouns and verbs.
Part 2: A large scale (48” X 21” by 13 images) photo project highlighting how the black is negatively connoted in almost every literal iteration and the real life impact this has on black people
Part 3: A multi-channel video sharing the perspective of black males ages 12-92 without interruption, dismissal, contention, minimization, comparison. Part three functions as a listening tool. Viewers are meant to absorb information rather than converse
Part 4: A 13-episode podcast housing complete interviews of each of the participants, their perspectives, beliefs, barriers, and experience living in the United States. Listen on Spotify
Part 5: Life-sized (72” X 32” by 13 images) wheat paste posters
Michael Coppage headshot courtesy of Jennifer Santos.
Funded by New York City, NY (August 2021)