Elizabeth Axtman

The Ride Back to Black is an exhibition that explores the perilous journey of Black athletes, entertainers and public figures that attempt to transcend their race to be accepted by the majority (aka “Crossing Over”). The work exhibited attempts to capture the desires and illusions of wanting to belong to something that historically rejects the idea of Blackness in America. The inevitable “Ride Back” back to Blackness is taken when the subject has discovered they were not viewed anymore as manageable, polite, docile, or containable as at the height of their celebrity.

Artist Statement:
“I’m not Black I’m OJ” -----Orenthal James “OJ” Simpson

OJ Simpson isn’t the first Black person to believe he successfully transcended race and he won’t be the last but in 1994 he had a very important phone call ring in his ear.

There is a very well known saying in the Black community known as the, “Nigga Wake Up Call” (for those of you that don’t know what a NWUC is: it’s when a Black person forgets their Blackness in any given situation and then reminded rather brutally by an unpredicted act of racism), many Black people have answered the call (begrudgingly) but none rang more thunderously or publically than OJ Simpson’s did.

Personally my fascination began with OJ in PE class during my sophomore year in high school. I remember my white teacher came barreling onto the field mad as hell yelling, “HE’S NOT GUILTY”!! I distinctly recall smirking to myself and being happy for all the reasons every Black person I saw on the news that day were…..none of which really seemed to do with the facts of the case but more with the long sordid legacy of race in this county. I was only 15 but I was wise enough to understand what race in America was really about, and a spark had been lit. I was, am deeply fascinated by OJ and his kin who have been seduced by whiteness to their own peril and this is my work about it.

And OJ got paroled …………


UPDATE: OJ'S Spotted chatting with several white women in Vegas bar...some things never change, am I right?!