This photo was taken at The East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall in Germany. It is one of many paintings there that have political and social messages. Many of these paintings’ meanings are driven home by the fact that they are on the wall that separated East and West Berlin. While each of these paintings are photo worthy, “How’s God? She’s Black” stuck out to me. It was the only painting I saw on the wall that had an obvious feminist message that went against the assumptions of everyday life. In the image’s description, which I couldn’t fit in the original photo, explains how this piece was dedicated to the civil courage for the oppressed and brought light to how a black lesbian woman was almost gassed in a train station in 1990. This painting shows that women, regardless of color, are just as capable and strong, and should be respected in the same regard as men.
This painting, or graffiti might be a better word for it, does not need to be analyzed or examined by a specialist to understand the intended message. Four words are all that it takes to create the feminist meaning in this painting. “How’s God? She’s black.” These two sentences would be considered basic by an English speaker, but their juxtaposition exposes a strong feminist message to the audience that is hard to ignore, especially when the words take up half of the painting’s designated area. One of my favorite parts is the handwriting. It’s nothing special, even childlike, much like the sentences themselves. This gives off the impression that the idea that God is a black woman is plain and simple, just a normal idea.
Examining the first sentence, “How’s God?” shows nothing of real interest. How’s God? God is everywhere. God is great. God loves you. In my head, those are the typical responses, but the response of “She’s black” challenges the idea of who God is and his typical image. Is God a bearded white man? Or is God a black woman? God is constantly described with words such as all-powerful, righteous, strong, the ruler of the universe, etc. Throughout history, these words have had no association with either women or black communities, but this painting does just that. It forces the image of God to be a black woman who is powerful, divine, and strong. This painting challenges the way we view women, and it normalizes women in a “man’s role” using the most important job imaginable. The image of God being a white man is an assumption commonly accepted, but this painting demands that theory to be questioned.
The ideas put forth by “How’s God? She’s Black,” encourages social change by going against stereotypical ideas of gender and race. This painting identifies the assumptions of today and forces women and women of color to be seen in the same light as men, to be seen as equals. “How’s God? She’s Black” focuses on the images of race and gender, but in a sense, it gives the message we are all equal and can accomplish anything, which brings in the significance of the Berlin Wall. Men and Women, East and West Berliners, yellow, black, white, purple people… In the end, we are all human beings and we should be treated and respected as equals.