If you spotted a shiny chef’s knife on a sidewalk, what would you do?
(a) Pick it up and put it in your purse
(b) Walk past it
If you chose (a), could you imagine forgetting all about the knife in your purse, and go about your day, even when going through a security check the Empire State Building? If you chose (b), does being a person of color have any influence on the way you answered this question?
These were some of the questions that raced through my mind last fall after I read Roz Chast’s comic, The Knife, in the New Yorker. Though I love and admire her work and she remains one of my favorite cartoonists, her casual and humorous story about finding a knife on the streets of New York City got me thinking deeply about privilege. Weirdly enough, I had a very similar experience.
When I shared my thoughts about the piece in a Facebook post, many of my author and illustrator friends — black, white, brown, Asian — echoed my sentiments. We talked about privilege, about the perspectives that we don’t often get to hear or see in the media, and about the choices that people of color make about safety and civic responsibility in this post-9/11 world.
My friend April, an illustrator, said if I wanted to create a response piece, she would be happy to collaborate.
And so was born this comic.