Nigerian-American poet Ayoinmotion is one of many using the power of art to express the carnage people of color are dealing with every day at the hands of State-sanctioned violence. His latest piece is a short film entitled “Outrage on the Front Page.” Ayo pairs an incisive poem with a 6-minute video which serves as a strong augmentation of his message.
“How does heaven deal with an overflow of souls arriving before their time?,” Ayoinmotion ponders, before surging into an impassioned spoken word analysis of a predacious police system that has Black communities on edge and parents prematurely burying their children. Along with his critique of the system, he demands more from his people, expressing the oft-raised opinion that our collective emotion after events of police brutality amount to little more than a front page headline before we “go back to living our lives.” He urges everyone to “do more than just talk if we want change.”
As Ayo delivers his words, light piano play and mournful harmonizing accentuates them.
The visual also strengthens the impact of Ayo’s prose. We see him running through Harlem as people protest—including a woman wearing a purposeful “Brooklyn is not for sale” shirt. He juxtaposes the reaction that police have to a white woman running past them against that of him, a Black man. Throughout the video, clips are shown of a Black woman being painted with the red, white, and blue of the flag. It’s hard to miss the similarities between the red paint droplets and the blood that so many have shed at the hands of trigger-happy cops.
Ayo says that “the goal behind Outrage is to highlight the problematic issue of police brutality in an artistic way, while also initiating a powerful conversation on how our initial outrage and frustration quickly dissipates after such incidents, instead of transforming into sustained action for change.”
Not one to merely call for change and fade into the background, his website is one venue people can visit for information if they would like to be more socially active.