On a blustery afternoon in January, a group of artists gathered at an East Village park in New York City. They lined-up black silhouette shooting range targets against a wall and fired-away with spray-paint.
Cypha, the artist leading the nascent movement to eliminate black targets, told NewsOne that the artists are “taking action and showing that art can change things.” No More Black Targets, as the movement is called, is raising awareness about how unconscious bias leads to the shooting of innocent Black males.
A 2015 study by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign inspired the movement. Yara Mekawi and co-author Konrad Bresin analyzed 42 different studies on how unconscious racial bias impacts a person’s decision to shoot a target depicting a Black person or White person.
Mekawi explained the findings to NPR:
“In our study, we found two main things: First, people were quicker to shoot Black targets with a gun, relative to White targets with a gun. And … people were more trigger-happy when shooting Black targets compared to shooting White targets.”
No More Black Targets launched in January and is already creating quite a buzz. Its website explains the campaign and offers an opportunity to create a colorful target using design tools. The site also has a petition, urging visitors to vote to end the use of human black targets at shooting ranges.
The petition states:
“Young black men are 3X more likely to be shot by trained shooters than their white peers. A disturbing potential correlation: The most popular target for shooters to learn to use their firearm is a black silhouette. Unconscious bias can be deadly.”
Cypha said the collective of racially diverse artists have held several exhibits and events across the city, with plans to expand outside New York. He underscored that this movement is strictly about creating awareness toward reducing–if not eliminating–the fatal shooting of unarmed Black males.
“I’m a Black man and I think about these things. No one should wake up in the morning and think ‘are you next,’” said the artist, emphasizing that No More Black Targets is not an anti-police movement.
Art has a proven ability to effect change, said Cypha, who lectures about art and participates in exposing at-risk kids to art to keep them on the right path.
Another artist at the mural painting events, who’s known as 2 Cents, said she got involved in the movement because it’s focused on making positive change.
“When Cypha mentioned it to us at first, it was like, wow, why hasn’t anyone done this before, and then there’s the scientific research that backs up everything,” she stated to NewsOne. “People need to join forces and put something positive out there to the world.”
The growing movement formed a partnership with the New York Society for Ethical Culture. One of the organization’s leaders, Anne Klaeysen, told NewsOne that the Society knew immediately that a partnership with No More Black Targets would be “a perfect match for us.”
Klaeysen, who described herself as “a child of the 1960s,” views No More Black Targets as part of a larger movement that has picked up momentum since the election of Donald Trump. “It’s about finding common ground,” she explained.
The Society provides event space, promotion and connections. “It’s about empowering the movement,” Klaeysen stated.
She learned about No More Black Targets from the mother of her son’s best friend from kindergarten.
“My son is White and his friend Adam is Puerto Rican and Black,” she noted. “Adam is a target; my son is not. That’s not fair.”
Klaeysen, who is the Ethical Humanist Religious Life Adviser at Columbia University and Humanist Chaplain at New York University, said we’re all susceptible to unconscious racial bias.
She applauded No More Black Targets for “planting a seed” about this issue.
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1. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 211 of 52
2. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 2 of 52
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6. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 6 of 52
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8. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 8 of 52
9. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 9 of 52
10. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 10 of 52
11. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 11 of 52
12. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 12 of 52
13. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 13 of 52
14. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 14 of 52
15. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 15 of 52
16. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 16 of 52
17. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 17 of 52
18. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 18 of 52
19. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 19 of 52
20. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 20 of 52
21. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 21 of 52
22. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 22 of 52
23. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 23 of 52
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26. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 26 of 52
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30. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 30 of 52
31. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 31 of 52
32. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 32 of 52
33. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 33 of 52
34. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 34 of 52
35. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 35 of 52
36. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 36 of 52
37. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 37 of 52
38. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 38 of 52
39. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 39 of 52
40. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 40 of 52
41. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 41 of 52
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51. Patrick Harmon, 5051 of 52
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Artists Armed With Spray-Paint Cans Take Aim At Black Targets was originally published on newsone.com