Defining The Definition Series| What It Means To Be Black in America?

Happy One Year Anniversary to my Definition Series, which I started one year from today! I have explained this series concept many times at art shows, pop up shops, lectures, and workshops but I have never sat down and written the meaning behind this series. It's important for me to share what inspires me to those of you who support my artistic journey, it is equally as important for Black Americans to have a voice to express how we feel about what is continuously happening in our communities.

Last year, summer of 2016 there was a massive amount of injust police shootings, arrests which led to deaths, and murder of black and brown Americans. This has been happening for as long as I can remember but it seems there was a purge of some sort last summer! Black communities were in an uproar, protests were just about every single night, social media+news and radio outlets were finally covering these injust killings of black people and we were determined to receive our due of equal rights by having those responsible for murder based on racial discrimination held accountable for their actions. 

These killings did not stop with our black men, they continued with our women and children. I was so angry and afraid! Angry because no amount of writing, protesting, rioting, or crying was going to fix what was happening. How could I a mother of two black boys protect my children from those who are supposed to be protecting them? How could I not be afraid every single time my husband left our home? Would I see him again in the middle of the street, victim to the latest bullet from a "routine traffic stop"?

To make things worse, non-minority individuals seemed to feel we deserved to be shot in the street, dragged from our cars, choked on the sidewalks. We deserved these brutal deaths due to our living situations, or the " black on black crime" which supposedly wipes us all out each year anyways. We deserve to be arrested for no reason and found dead in our cells with no explanation. Our children deserve to be shot for playing outside or walking home from the store. We are lazy, dirty, ignorant and slavery was the best thing to ever happen to us! These were all things that felt like slaps in the face just listening to this nonsense was enough to anger anyone.

In the midst of all the anger and fear circulating in our community I had to do something! Anything to voice my concerns, to stand up for my people! To say to the world we are not who you think we are! We are not defined by our circumstances! We are royalty!


Defining the "Black Woman"

"Black Woman" was the first to emerge. The Bible tells us, women came from men. But the natural creation of life shows us that men come from women. The Principles of "Ma'at" tells us we are the original women and men.

The most disrespected women in America, is the black woman. The most unprotected woman in America, is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.
                                                                                                         -Malcom X

"Black Woman" defines the black woman through my eyes. I was raised by strong, resilient black women who passed those qualities down to me. The black woman is a teacher, mother, creator, etc. She instills unity and peace amongst her village, she encourages intelligence and knowledge in her children. This definition emerged through my research, experience, and thoughts.

Black Woman

\'blak wumen\

1.female human being of African descent. 2. subject to extreme abuse and oppression based upon the inaccurate or faulty (racist perception of inferiority by the oppressor. 3. Scientific: mother of civilization: one from whom all life comes forth. 4. one who subscribes and practices thoughts and deeds which promote unity among people of color. 

synonyms: wife, mother, sister, leader, teacher, warrior

adjectives: strong, intelligent, beautiful, compassionate, tireless


Defining the "Black Man"

"Black Man" was my next creation. He emerged from a Queen, determined, protective, a warrior. He protects the women and children of his community. I was raised by a black man, he taught me to respect myself, to be kind and giving yet strong and careful. He protected me and in turn I learned how to protect myself, how to choose a protective husband, and how to protect my young kings. He encouraged growth, love, peace, and prosperity. This definition emerged through my research, experience and my thoughts.

Black Man \'blak man\

1. Male human being of African descent. 2. Subject of extreme abuse and oppression based upon the inaccurate or faulty (racist) perception of threat by the oppressor. 3. Nation of Islam: original man; Father of the universe. 4. one who subscribes and practices thoughts and deeds which promote unity among people of color.

synonyms: husband, father, brother, teacher, soldier, organizer, leader

adjectives: strong, intelligent, creative, understanding

Black Love Destiney Powell Artist Poetically Illustrated Art

"Black Love" 

Through experience I have found "Black Love" to be an amazing experience. A connection between two people who accept each other regardless of skin tone, background, or flaws. This painting was inspired by the emotions i've felt being in love with a black man. Someone who supports me, provides for our family, cares for me deeply, and is my closest and most amazing friend and partner. He embraces my hair texture, and my chocolate skin. We understand that our ancestors had to fight and suffer for the black love they felt so we cherish the freedom we have to openly love each other. I created the definition below based on my experience with my black love.

Black Love

/'blak lev/

1. An intense feeling of deep affection between two people of African descent. 2. Suspected to be non existent due to the faulty perception of black families in society. 2. Scientific: original family, ones from which all life was created or evolved. 4. A commited partnership composed of lov, trust, loyalty, laughter, prayer, and support.

Synonyms: caring, deep affection for, adore, passion

Adjectives: strong, amorous, adoration, devotion, cherished, heartfelt

Black Child Destiney Powell Artist Poetically Illustrated Art

"Black Child" 

After welcoming love and partnership into your life sometimes we are blessed with a beautiful person who was created from that love. In this series the "Black Child" emerged. I did not base this child on a specific gender. This is a baby meant to relate to all children as children of love. Whether conceived or carried in love, our black children deserve to know how magical they are. I have 2 beautiful love children of my own, and we will be welcoming our third magical baby in September. This painting is for them to know how needed they are. How the black culture needs them to be educated and strong, unified and welcoming in order to continue the traditions of our ancestors. I created the definition below for our children. This is for you:

Black Child

/blak' CHild/

1.Male or female child of African American Descent. 2. Subject to extreme judgement and oppression by the faulty portrayal of black culture. Scientific: child of the mother and father of civilization; son or daughter of the original man and woman. One who is destined to enhance the future of a mighty nation.

Synonym: son, daughter, cousin, friend, brother, sister, student, warrior

Adjectives: intelligent, strong, beautiful, playful, friendly, courageous,  

Motherland Destiney Powell Artist Poetically Illustrated Art


We all originated from Africa. "The Motherland" was the beginning of our various shades of skin, texture of hair, spiritual beliefs, and physical features. Our history was stripped from our ancestors, although some of them preserved bits of it we slowly lost our roots. This piece "Motherland" is meant to take us back to where we belong. To inspire us to find out where we come from and to reconnect with who we are, to what our ancestors lost. We begin to find our real truth when we go back to our native land and open our eyes to what once was life for our people. The definition below is very simply put.




noun: motherland; plural noun: motherlands

  1. one's native country.

Thank you for getting closer to my definition series. I hope these pieces inspire you to embrace your culture. We are all different, we made different choices for our lives. But rather we live in the suburbs or the inner city projects we are all important to our culture, our history, and our communities. We should come together and help each other grow, sustain, and rebuild. There was once a time when all we had is each other. Being black in America today is not easy, but if we support each other we can make change happen. 


Love Destiney