Three years ago, Carlos Walker walked out of a federal prison after serving 13 years of a 20-year sentence. Armed with new hope, determination, and passion, he had one desire: to have African Americans see themselves and to gain strength and to think about their lives.
His platform would not be the pulpit nor the street corner. Rather, his platform would be a paint brush, canvas, and a provocative idea. His paintings display the atrocities of dehumanization that people of color have endured for centuries with a twist: The victims are White.
In one oil pastel painting, two African American police officers thrust their knees on the chest of a bleeding White man. Another shows a young White boy holding up a sign that depicts two bloody hands and what has become the Black Lives Matter anthem “Don’t Shoot.” It’s a radical role reversal to the prejudice, violence. and injustice that continues to define the United States.
Walker’s unique perspective has its inception birthed in prison following an incident between an African American correctional officer (C0) and a White inmate.
His vision may cause some to release a dreamy grin and others to scowl. Whatever the response, the images do make a poignant statement. He believes that his art helps us to understand the most difficult, unsettled, and controversial issues of our day, in real time.
Walker’s unique perspective has its inception birthed in prison following an incident between an African American correctional officer (C0) and a White inmate. The CO berated the inmate in front of throng of onlookers. The scene of a Black man in the position of authority caused Walker to imagine a world of African Americans holding power over Whites on a grander scale. Although only a fantasy, to date, the thought inspired the artist to create thus far 48 paintings.
I met the 40-year-old at his home in Northern Virginia. He proudly displayed a room of amazing paintings stacked from the floor to the ceiling. I listened as he described his work in detail, releasing a huge grin like a father cradling his new born. We took a photo with one of his newest works of President Obama and a lion. The caption across the painting read: Endangered Species.