By Darby Farr
Data News Weekly Contributor
If not us, who? If not now, when?”
Those words floated in the horizon of the mural painted by New Orleans Artist, Brandan “Bmike” Odums. The mural featured Quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the front wearing his football jersey with his fist held high, safety Eric Reid kneeling to the right of him, and various other scenes of young Black men and women with their fists also held high while the police and angry mobs stand in the background. On Feb. 3, 2019, Odums, the “Queen Sugar” featured visual artist, hosted a live stream as he painted a mural in real time during the Super Bowl. Studio Be on Royal Street opened its doors so that viewers could get an inside look into the making of a mural in solidarity with the players.
“Knowing Kap [Colin Kaepernick] and Eric [Eric Reid],” Odums said, “it’s important for them to know that people are with them and that their sacrifices, especially Kap’s, are not in vain,” he added.
Odums said that he believes art can make such a powerful statement, especially in the Black community, because African-Americans are visual people, continuously communicating through culture, food, music and art. He hopes to be a part of a group of people that will do something to help generations to come, so much so that people will look back in amazement at the impact they made.
It was certainly no coincidence that the live stream painting of the mural took place during halftime of Super Bowl LIII. Odums tweeted earlier that day that he was painting in solidarity with his brothers, Kaepernick and Reid. The quarterback immediately retweeted Odums’ live stream to his millions of followers, thanking the artist for his support. While some Saints fans were protesting the Super Bowl because of a controversial no-call made by a referee, other fans were protesting the NFL because Kaepernick has not been signed to a team, since his refusal to stand during the National Anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Sports fans said they remain conflicted about how to support Kaepernick and their love of the game. An uptown New Orleans resident Terri Searcy said that although she supports the painting of the mural and the movement started by Kaepernick, she does not believe that she has to boycott the NFL to show her support. Searcy said that she watches football and will continue to watch football to also support the players, who benefit from a major opportunity to play their sport, at such a large scale.
“I think some people watch it, not just because they’re supporting some type of entity or organization, but more so because it makes me feel good or this is the only time I can be with my family,” said Victoria Alexis, a Marrero, LA native and supporter of the mural.
She said she does not watch the NFL; however, she believes that whether or not someone chooses to watch it is a personal choice. Alexis added that even when she worked in sports advertising, she still did not fully support the NFL, but since football is synonymous with America, she does not judge anyone for continuing to watch the NFL. She said she supports Kaepernick like the majority of the Black community because he stood for social and political change. He had the courage to do something that most public figures do not have the courage to do, she said.
“To see someone that’s outside of politics that actually cares, inspired all of us to do something different,” she said.