‘I’m an Immigrant – Am I a Threat to Your Liberty?’

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A recent piece by Laolu Senbanjo – most famous for his Yoruba-inspired body paintings in Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” – results from his experiences as a human rights lawyer in Nigeria turned immigrant and artist in Brooklyn.

BKLYNER‘s Carly Miller speaks to the Ditmas Park resident, who describes the piece, created following the November election – “Am I a Threat to Your Liberty?”

Inspired by an origin story of the statue of liberty as a Muslim woman in chains, Senbanjo went further and reimagined her holding out an offering — his counter reaction to Trump’s travel ban, which he said has had the effect of pitting immigrants against each other.

“You don’t fight ideas by banning human beings, people with flesh and blood,” he said, discussing the fundamentalism targeted by Trump’s travel ban. But, he said, art has the power to translate ideas, and through this image he hopes to reflect a New York City which embraces its people’s histories.

“I’m an immigrant — am I a threat to your liberty? Am I lazy? Everything that Trump says an immigrant represents is what we are not,” he said.

Senbanjo goes on to talk about prejudice and how “before I came to the United States I never knew I was Black.” For more on this and what “no one prepares you for” as an African immigrant in the U.S., go to BKLYNER.

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