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The Importance of Acknowledging and Supporting African American Innovation

Undoubtedly, African-Americans are a highly creative, inspirational, and dynamic people. Despite being one of the most marginalized and socio-economically oppressed groups in America, no group has contributed more to America’s rich historical and cultural landscape than African-Americans. And of course African-Americans are descents of Africa, which is well known for its ageless history of first inventions and unparalleled world wonders. During the Harlem Renaissance Movement, for example, many immensely talented African-Americans artists and thinkers expressed themselves through art, music, dance, and literature. African-Americans are responsible for the invention of jazz music, rhythm & blues, rap, hip-hop, soul, neo-soul, rock and roll and an ever-evolving host of creative dance styles. However, I can visit some African-American homes and see no evidence of African-Americans embracing who they are and what they’ve contributed to the world.

It is important, especially for African-Americans, to acknowledge and support African-American innovation. There is no excuse for why African-American children cannot name at least one African-American invention, at least one African-American author and has read his or her book, and at least one African-American humanitarian who has led or is leading the African-American community. It is frightening to me when I visit an African-American home and I see nothing in the home that would affirm the self worth and identities of the people who live there: no African-American art, no African-American books in the home library, no African-American music, nothing that says to visitors how proud the residents are to be who they are. Essentially, people are what they think. And there’s no better way to know what people think than with what and with whom they associate. And if African-Americans can’t even acknowledge and support the members of their own communities, then tell me, who will? The American majority willingly supports African-Americans who are talented entertainers, comedians, and athletes, because the American majority financially benefits from African-Americans who are talented in these fields. But very few successful African-Americans outside of entertainment and sports are ever acknowledged. This leaves the general public believing that African-Americans aren’t good at anything else but entertainment and sports. But in every African-American home, there should be evidence that counteracts these beliefs so that African-American youth won’t fall prey to social and racist engineering.

How Can We Support African-American Innovation?

First and foremost, because attending church is still a very important traditional practice in the African-American community, African-American churches must stop embracing and adulating images that don’t reflect the congregation or the members of the community in which the church resides. Whether we know it or not, photographs and images are very powerful messages of influence. They visually communicate to us, and especially to youth, what is important and who is important in the African-American community. What message are we sending when we worship and praise life-like images of someone who looks nothing like the people attending the church? Also, African-American homes should showcase African-American art and other artifacts that clearly show pride and support of the community. I cannot tell you how often I go into African-American homes and see evidence of every culture on the planet, from Asian to European, but nothing and no one who looks like the home’s resident. This makes absolutely no sense. In fact, it screams insanity. Local African-American art and book stores are very common, especially in close-knit African-American communities. If every other race can have art and literature in their home that show pride in their race, then why does this seem so awkward and difficult for African-Americans to do? African-Americans must support one another to show respect for themselves.

Adam Guichard is a Howard University graduate who owns and operates Art By Guichard, an African-American art business in Chicago. Explaining what art means to him, he says, “Art allows me to express myself through visual media. I create abstract artworks that convey life experiences and ideas using various themes. My artwork is very animated. I not only want the viewers to see my artwork but I also want them to feel the emotion that comes through the canvas. My art expresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. I enjoy putting my life on canvas.”

Would it be so difficult to support African-American artists like Adam, to seek them out, purchase their art, and post up them proudly in African-American homes? Would it be so difficult to seek out African-American inventors, scientists, researchers, and other African- Americans whose work will never be publicized or recognized on the nightly news because it can’t be criminalized. It is every African-American person’s responsibility to learn about what makes him or her unique, what his or her talents and skills are, and how these talents and skills can advance or improve the local community and the world. And this starts by appreciating yourself and the people in your community. Adam Guichard and his work can be contacted by visiting https://www.facebook.com/Guichard17/.