My friend Tom runs a blog called The Good Men Project. He was putting together a edition of the blog on race. And he asked me to contribute.
I should say that Tom and I have been friends for well over a decade. I've held his children, he's seen me cry, we've have very similar experiences with mental illness in our families and have had to come to terms with a lot of our dreams and limitations as men. He's a great guy and I love him a great deal. So when he asked to me to write about race I knew that he was asking me, his friend, to write. He wasn't asking his "black" friend to write. He knows me, knows the range of my interests and thoughts and values that.
Tom may certainly look white, but he's never acted white. I will leave it to my hero, James Baldwin, to explain what I mean.
As a policy, I don't usually talk about race. It's too difficult. But as I said, Tom is my friend and because he asked me to, I figured I would tell him, in an unvarnished way, why I don't want to talk about race.
There's been a pretty wild response to my letter to Tom. I am really grateful to him for the opportunity to say things that I have been thinking for a long time. My friend Patrick sent me a link on tumblr that had "reblogged" a section of it over 300 times. I am sort of amazed that so many people are reading it. As of now, there about 700 reposts on Facebook. I know that isn't "viral" but people are sharing what I wrote. I didn't upload a cat video, I wrote a polemic and people are interested in it. That is really wild to me. The comments have been pretty interesting. Some people really don't get what I am saying and some people really need to not sit at the computer all day writing responses to blog posts. I have seen the same guy on a bunch of blogs. He really makes me glad that my home address isn't published with the article.
One of the reasons I started this blog, or rather why I came back to this blog, was to really start to try to write. I wanted to dismantle the notion that an artist is purely a visual person, that somehow I lost my voice because I make images. A lot of the artists I admire were terrific writers about art and culture. Fairfield Porter was the art critic for The Nation, at a time when the flavor of art had very little connection to his practice as a painter of the observed world. I always loved that he loved art so much that he could write about it as well as make it. I aspire to that.