For nearly 100 years America has seen its historic moments reflected on the cover of TIME magazine, and this week the cover reflects what happens when a nation ignores its own history.
The red border around the cover lists the names of 35 Black people killed by fellow Americans and systemic racism and centers the pain of Black mothers as represented in a painting by artist Titus Kaphar.
“In her expression, I see the Black mothers who are unseen, and rendered helpless in this fury against their babies,” Kaphar writes in a piece accompanying his painting. “As I listlessly wade through another cycle of violence against Black people, I paint a Black mother … eyes closed, furrowed brow, holding the contour of her loss.”
The oil painting is titled Analogous Colors, and Kaphar cut his canvas to symbolize lives cut too short, leaving so many mothers’ arms empty.
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The names of just a few of the deceased border Kaphar’s painting. They are:
Danny Ray Thomas
When George Floyd was killed he called out for his mother, who died two years before he did. He called “Mama!… Mama, I’m through.”
Kaphar’s painting and his accompanying words tell the story that has been ignored throughout American history. “This black mother understands the fire. Black mothers understand despair. I can change nothing in this world, but in paint, I can realize her. That brings me solace … not hope, but solace. She walks me through the flames of rage. My black mother rescues me yet again. I need to be sure that they can see her. I want to be certain that her story is told. And so this time, America needs to hear her voice.”