Hey hey hey! Rob here with another "something-to-get-off-of-his-chest"!
Time and again, I'm approached by some of my audience asking "Rob, why don't you ever
draw black people?" First off, they may have not even looked into my gallery for those people of color or what have you, because they're there, sure enough.
The long answer is:
Well... what gets me is that when they find out I'm black, they expect that I should hold some sort of allegiance to "my race" or "make a change" as a "popular" black artist who can, figuratively speaking, "put blacks on the map".
There's nothing wrong with that, of course, and there's nothing wrong with people whose main goal is doing that. It's their lives, they're free to believe in whatever they want to.
But to hold me to a certain level where people think I'm obligated to draw my race more often than others because of the "history", I don't agree with. I'm an African-American
born in the 80s
. I was not born during the times of the Civil Rights Movement and such, and though I HIGHLY
respect that time period and the changes it made to American society (not just the African-American race), I can't honestly say that it affected me in a "special", direct way. People still treat people bad, all races, it's not just a "black" thing.
Someone once told me I'm "contributing to the demographic that people of color should be shunned" based on the (racial) content of my work. This is foolish.
First off, I see people as one big family
. We're HUMANS. All different colors. We all have hearts, awesome brains, special traits and talents, etc. I don't exhibit partialness to anyone, or, I just don't think about it. I was raised (albeit not having a silver plate on the table every night at dinner) to not judge others from their race. (And though I hate to say it, sometimes my own race makes me sad, but I'm pretty sure any other race can say the same thing about theirs. It's all universal. Some groups of people make another group of people sad, s'just how it goes.) But overall, I was brought up never to judge even if others may judge me.
Secondly, if you haven't guessed by now, you prawwwwbabalee have struck me as an odd one
, "this black guy". You know how I can tell an artist that is very prideful of their race? In their gallery, every drawing is of a black person with cultural thematics spread all around, hip-hop being seen the most. And again I disclaim: there's nothing wrong with that. I fuggin' LOVE the Hip-Hop genre and music, ask any of my close peeps. I was in a crew for years and we made a ton of Rap music and such. But as a boy who grew up in the predominantly black neighborhood and going to the predominantly black school, if I liked anything beyond Hip-Hop/R&B, be it Classical, Folk, you name it, I was a "rebel" of some sorts. And that has always annoyed me. People still question me today, asking "you listen to video game music? What the F, bro?" What, a "brutha" (I kinda despise that term...) can't listen to Uematsu? Shame on me, then.
People try to keep "tradition" going on in their families to this very day, pressuring others to stay within their race like it's the rule
. Look, if that Asian girl is fine, that Asian girl is FOINE. If that Italian girl is fine, that Italian girl is FOINE. If that Black girl is fine, THAT BLACK GIRL IS FOINE. My parents always enforced that there aren't any boundaries and to see EVERYONE (even my potential partner) as a candidate, no racial chains binding.
As a kid, I loved anime, obscure video games that weren't the new-at-the-time Mortal Kombat, and other things that were not "racially correct". When fellow classmates would see my art, they would ask "why do you always draw white people?" (Obviously, if I drew in an Anime/Manga style growing up, they weren't necessarily "white" so a big SMH to you, fellow black classmates of the past...) Early on, they tried to tell me that basically I'm selling out "to my kind" since I don't always draw black characters and such. This is the most close-minded way of thinking. Pride just fuels differences and heats up disputes.
I can't be held accountable for that. I don't want to be. So it's why I don't "choose a side", I stay neutral to where the pride lies. So to this very day, I don't judge others even though they may judge me. It's just how I see things: EVERYONE'S AWESOME.
The short answer of the aforementioned question is basically: I DRAW WHAT THE F' I WANT TO DRAW.