Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories

Shea Black

April 13, 2021 Shea Black Season 1 Episode 12
Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories
Shea Black
Show Notes Transcript

Mentioned:
sheablackenterprises.com
@sheablack.art (instagram)
@shea_black_art (twitter)

Langton Seattle

In this episode I speak with visual artist, Shea Black. We ended up talking about the importance of art and creativity in getting through difficult times and finding hope. Shea discusses her family as well as the joy in her new surroundings.

Shea Black is a Seattle artist looking to spread love, positivity, empowerment and unity through her art. She believes that now is the time for serious change so that we may all evolve and that expression through art and love is just what we need to deeply improve the future of humanity. 




Take Notice w Shea Black 



[00:01 – 05:01]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Welcome to Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories. I am your host Allison Preisinger-Heggins. The mission of this project is to Take Notice, to listen, to hold space by amplifying Black stories, experiences and voices, conversations on family life, finding joy, and interests of folks in our country and around the world, who encounter racism on a daily basis. A portion of these discussions will be dedicated to holding space for guests who are comfortable sharing their personal experiences with racism. Stories help us all learn and connect; we are here to listen, to Take Notice. Thank you for being with us. Let us take a moment to recognize, to Take Notice of the voices that are so often unheard. Land acknowledgement statements are an important part of honoring those whose land, we now live and work on. I have chosen to begin each episode this way to spark ideas and keep these conversations in the front of our minds, so that we may learn how to do better. 

I would like to acknowledge the land on which this episode was created. I would like to show gratitude to the traditional ancestral land of the Shoalwater Bay and Chinook tribes, recognizing that these names are not the original names of the people of these areas. As I continue to learn how to better acknowledge the native people of these lands, I will adjust the wording of the beginning of each episode. I encourage listeners to research the land on which you live and are listening right now, recognizing this is just the beginning. Welcome to another episode of Take Notice, and thank you for being here with us. In this episode, I speak with visual artist Shea Black. We ended up talking about the importance of art and creativity in getting through difficult times and finding hope. We talk about her family life, and we connected on a multitude of things. So, Shea Black is a Seattle artist looking to spread love, positivity, empowerment and unity through her art. 

She believes that now is the time for serious change, so that we may all evolve and that expression through art and love is just what we need to deeply improve the future of humanity. You can find her website and where to follow her online in the show notes or on our website under guests. Thanks again for being here and please enjoy my conversation with Shea Black. Take Notice would like to take the time to acknowledge Black owned businesses, organizations and artists. If you have a suggestion of, who we should highlight during our episodes, please find us on social media or visit our website. Take Notice invites you to follow and support Langston. Langston is a 501C3 nonprofit arts organization, established in 2016 to lead programming within the historic Langston Hughes performing arts institute in Seattle. Langston guides regenerative programs and community partnerships that center Black art, artists and audiences and honor the ongoing legacy of Seattle’s Black central area. 

They support a variety of enriching programs across multiple disciplines, rooted in the following mission and values to strengthen and advance our community through Black arts and culture to cultivate Black brilliance by sharing culture, promoting artistic expression, encouraging artistic excellence, facilitating cultural education and possibility, cultivating leaders, practicing radical inclusivity, thriving as a self-determined community. To follow and support, visit langstonseattle.org. Well, thank you Shea for joining me on Take Notice. How are you doing today? 


Shea Black 

I am well. Thank you. Thank you for having me. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Thanks for being here. It is nice to see your face, and to meet you. Are you able to get out and about it all or are you kind of stuck still? 


Shea Black 

Yeah. Just the every now and then grocery trips but, otherwise I have just been in here cranking out art and stuff. So, I just started… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins  

Awesome! 


Shea Black 

Doing more paint parties, so that is awesome. I have been able to like interface with people, so… Yeah. We are getting there. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Are you doing that in person and or is it on zoom and stuff? 


Shea Black 

No, in person, I am looking to do more virtual parties. I have people out of state that are interested, so I am hoping to do that pretty soon but I have got a few projects going on, so it is like baby steps, we will be there eventually. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Totally! Oh, that sounds fun. I like that. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I have never done a paint party but I always thought it would be pretty cool. I know a lot of people who have so. How does that work? How do you run it? 


Shea Black 

So, I actually, like most people will come up with a, like templates or something like that but it is more of a class for me, like I break down barriers because a lot of people have been discouraged from art for one reason or another, either they were told to color in the lines only when they were a kid or that their SpongeBob looks like a just formed little alien. I do not know. 

[05:02 – 10:32]

Shea Black 

But like some, you know, a lot of people have been really discouraged about even creating anything. So, most of the time when I have a group, the whole group starts out with, I cannot draw a stick figure, I cannot even draw a straight line, all this stuff. But then they come out with these crazy amazing pieces and I have some like a piece that I will start with and then I just tell them like come up with your own interpretation of it, I want to see your perspective of this, I do not want to just give you a template that I have drawn out, and it is just a coloring party. I want you to use your mind and bring out your creativity and by the end of it, like everyone has these amazing pieces and that they are proud of and then they can take that and apply that to other aspects of their lives, and they feel more confident than the fact that they can actually do this to something that they never thought they had the ability to do and it is been really awesome! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I love that approach that is really cool. 


Shea Black 

Thank you. It is different, for sure but… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. No, it totally makes sense. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

To like be able to pull out something that people, like I am one of those that I am like I do not think I am very visual but then I do something here or there, and I am like oh maybe I can do something that is not like a human face or something.  


Shea Black 

Everybody is an artist so… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

I believe that. Everybody has it in them to be Van Gogh, if they want to be. But, it is just, you know, sometimes it just takes some encouragement, and somebody telling you, you can do it and I will help you out. But, I am not going to do it for you, you know, just how I do my sons, like I am not going to do it for you, you are going to get in there and you are going to do it, you know. Because otherwise it is just going to be me doing everything for you and you just were expecting that out of life and that is not the reality, like you can do anything. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. So where did you grow up? You are currently in Seattle. Did you grow up in Seattle? 


Shea Black 

Yes. I am in native Seattleite. I grew up out north, went to school out north, up until I was 10, and then we had to move to, like over by the bitter lake area. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, Yeah. Okay. 


Shea Black 

And then I went to African American academy out in magnolia, and then moved to the one in the south end of our on beacon hill. But, yeah, primarily been north Seattle, my whole life, I just moved out to Des Moines, which is a couple of shifts but I love it out here. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I do not know much about Des Moines but I have heard nice things. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. It is beautiful! We live actually at the end of our block, we have a trail that takes us down to the marina, it is gorgeous, even on a nasty day, and it is just so beautiful and serene and where we are at, it is just a good place for the boys, they can go and ride their bikes in the street, we do not have to worry about it that kind of thing. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. That is nice. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. We have settled into peace out here, which is really nice. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is good. 


Shea Black 

Yeah and I mean it is crazy because we will go up the hill and that is pack highway and that is still a mess, you know. But, we are at the bottom of the hill, so it is a lot calmer down here. But just the other day, we are just driving down the street, and there are like 10 cop cars surrounding a metro bus, and I am like oh my goodness what happened and here comes a-cars and all this other kind of stuff and that is just typical. But, in our little pocket, we do not hear any of that; we do not have to experience any of that. So we are grateful for that part at least but I mean, it is still around, I mean everywhere really, you know, we are just lucky to find a little Zen spot. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is great! So, you said north Seattle in the bitter lake areas where you spent your first 10 years. What kind of family were you surrounded by at that time? 


Shea Black 

My family was awesome for the most part. I am the middle of seven. At first it was just my mom and four girls, we would have our like Friday girl out days, and all kinds of stuff and then she met my twin brother's dad, and he was great for the most part, but he was an abusive alcoholic. And, so we had to deal with a lot of that and then I was five, when my mom was pregnant with the twins, and I was super excited at first, I was like, yeah, I am going to have twin brothers and everything. But then they come out, they come home and I am like, oh man, like it sounds kind of sucky to say this, but as a five-year-old kid, I was like shoot, one of them is broken, one of the twins has cerebral palsy. And, we have the best relationship now but as a five-year-old, looking at this already chaotic situation, and he came home, and he could not express himself properly. He would bang his head on the ground because he could not talk, he could not walk, you know. 

And I am like, oh man, what is wrong with this kid, like I want to love him, I want to be able to help him but like how and of course that added another element to, like I said an already chaotic situation with my mom and their dad. 

[10:33 – 15:06]

Shea Black 

And so, it was just, I do not know it was just kind of a whirlwind. I found myself like on the outskirts of everything a lot. My sisters were older, so they had their friends and they would escape as much as they possibly could. But then that left me at home with my mom and my brothers. Growing through that, of course, like I am insanely close with my brothers, and my mom, and I was always like right there with them and even when I did not want to be, but had to do what I had to do, so, yeah. I mean it was very chaotic, a lot of turmoil, a lot of, you knows, really hard situations to have to deal with, having to talk to CPS at school and like those kinds of things. So, it took a while to feel okay with that part of my life. I am still working through things and recently called their dad out on some things, which I needed to do, standing up to my bully, essentially. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

But, you know, we are here. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. That is a lot. Yeah. Especially, I am the youngest of two but I imagine that as a five-year-old after being used to being the youngest or just your unit, like adding on all the rest of that on top of, oh new kids coming along that I need to learn how to be a big sister for. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That sounds like a lot… 


Shea Black 

And I never… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

I never had to learn how to be around anyone with special needs or how to approach them, you know, being five, I just that is not something I have to deal with yet and so, when my brother came home, and I was like man! Like what is going on here, like just trying to wrap my five-year-old mind around everything that was going on and I was like, man he is so adorable, like he is so awesome, but like why not he would stop banging his head on the ground and screaming and his therapist was always out there and she was amazing and trying to help him walk, he had to go through a crazy amount of surgeries, so my mom was always away. So, like it was a lot to take in, and then also having to deal with this person, who I viewed as my dad, he is the only person I knew as dad at the time. But then he had a switch, and it would go… he would go from zero to 60. 

And at one moment, I was like, oh yeah, this is my dad, he is totally awesome, like I am sitting on his shoulders or walking to the store and then the next minute he is like holding us at gunpoint in the room and it was just… it is a lot, it was a lot to take in… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

As a child but it is also brought us to where we are, and molded us in a certain way, and strengthened me, and my siblings, and my mom in a way. So, as much as I want to keep rehashing, and dwelling on it, I kind of try to be as positive as I can about it, and realize that it is molded me. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I mean you cannot really change anything about how that went. So, it sounds like dealing with it and then being able to express some of your own stuff with him, that is a huge thing, that is not easy, so… 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I mean alcoholism and drug addiction, I think you said just alcoholism but like… 


Shea Black 

You know, I do not know… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Anyway… 


Shea Black 

Or even something else, yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay. One holds the other's hand a lot of times for sure. 


Shea Black 

Exactly!


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I mean that is no small thing, especially for kids to have to go through and try to sort out emotionally. 


Shea Black 

Yeah and my mom was amazing, it is amazing and she is done the very best that she could with what she was given and I do not want to take anything away from her. Like I understand being a parent now, I mean I was in an abusive relationship, not physically but verbally, emotionally, all that, and with my son as well. So, I mean I understand a little bit of what she went through and how she felt trapped in that situation. So, like I do not fault her for anything, I just… but being a kid, I was like man, this sucks, you know.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. It is a lot. Yeah. Wow! Yeah. What did your mom do as you are growing up… did she hold a job or was she mostly like needing to take? 


[15:07 – 20:18]

Shea Black 

Yeah. I mean she had a couple jobs when I was young, but pretty much after my brothers came, she was just a stay-at-home mom, and taking care of all of us. Like I said my brother needed a lot of surgeries and throughout the years, I think his last one was when he was like, I do not know like 13 or like early teens or something. So, he is 27 now, but she had to go back and forth to Portland, to his hospital with Shriners. So, she had to go back and forth to Portland when he was having a surgery, so coming back on a train with her son, with cerebral palsy, and he is got cast from his feet up to his hips. Yeah. At one point they had to like go in and break his bones and put pins in, both of his legs. So, he was in full leg casts and he already was like, man, I cannot really move around and express myself as much as I want to and he is so full of life. So, to see him, just so restrained and restricted was really difficult. But now looking at whom he is and he is the most amazing guy. I know he is awesome. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is awesome! Yeah. Is he in the Seattle area too or…? 


Shea Black 

Yeah. All of my siblings are in in Washington; my oldest sister is out in Marysville. But then I have another sister, who she is been bouncing around. I think she is in Kansas now but she is moving to Tennessee soon. I can never keep up with where she is going. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

What do they do? What are your siblings up to now? 


Shea Black 

My oldest sister, she is in insurance, health insurance. The next one, she is a dental assistant, she is been doing that for years, she is crazy, amazing. My other sister that is bouncing around, she is got all kinds of businesses, and she is an interior decorator, and she does the full like HGTV, like remodels and all that kind of stuff. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh wow! Yeah. 


Shea Black 

That is really awesome. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is awesome! 


Shea Black 

And then my older twin brother Allen passed away in 2018, and he was just trying to figure himself out, he just signed up for art school. That was crazy. I did not even know that he was so artistic until after he passed away and he found like all of his sketches and his enrollment paperwork and all that stuff. I knew he was into like graphic designing and computer stuff, but I did not realize that he was like a really good visual artist. He was really into anime and stuff. So, he is got like all these like… I actually, I still have some of them, but my mom really like tucked all of his stuff away, she wants to preserve it as much as possible and then Allan, that is cerebral palsy, he worked for QFC, for like six years before COVID, and so he is been off work, and he is been going nuts, he is like I am trying to get back. He needs to be like doing stuff. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

And my youngest brother, Jevons, he is 20, and he is trying to figure himself out now. He is into modeling and he is a skater and he is just like this super cool dude that you cannot tell anything about. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Of course! Yeah. Oh, cool! That sounds like a great big family. It is wonderful! 


Shea Black 

Yeah. We are pretty tight and we have had our ups and downs but we, you know, through all of it, we managed to come back together, and no matter what we go through we end up stronger than ever because of it. So, I am very thankful and grateful for that. We have a pretty good foundation. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Sounds like it. Yeah. Was there a specific story you had in mind that you wanted to share? I know you maybe, you mentioned maybe talking about your brother that passed in 2018, but we can talk about that or we can talk about something else. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. No, I love talking about him, he was an amazing guy, and his name was Allan. I do not like to talk about him in the past tense because he is here, so present and I am like literally looking at a picture that I painted of him right now. He hangs out in my studio and watches over me and stuff. He was just a great guy. We were not super close the last eight months that he was alive because of the past relationship that I was in. He just really isolated me from my family and stirred up all kinds of mess and it was just a weird thing because I, that whole year leading up to his death. I just had this nagging feeling that he was going to pass away that year and I could not explain it but I kept having dreams and just feelings and the day that he passed away. I was actually getting out of that relationship. I had a friend of mine, who lived down the street, and we had already come up with an escape plan, and all kinds of stuff. 

She was going to rent a room or a downstairs apartment to me, whichever I wanted and that would have been perfect, my son was still being able to go to school and all this stuff. 

[20:19 – 25:11]

Shea Black 

So, we actually had a whole plan in line, in case I needed to leave and that morning, we had gotten into a huge argument and then it was about nothing, like I actually got up and was super jovial, like hey you want some breakfast, like but of course he would start something out of nothing and I was like, you know what, this is it, I am done. So, I grabbed my son, got in my old Cadillac, and hoofed it over to my friend's house, and we were there from about 11:00 in the morning. Actually it was 11:11 when I left because those are like my spirit numbers and I remember checking my phone, like as I was leaving, it was 11:11 and actually my brother passed on 11:11; he passed on November 11th, 2018 and so, I get over to my friend's house and we are there until about two, and my phone is just going off, like crazy. But, it was getting ready to die. 

So, I am looking at the phone, it is my mom and my grandmother, and I am like what the heck, like I was not even talking to my mom at this time. So, I was like alright, I am going to go home and grab some things and grab my charger because I just left me and my son, we just got out of there and we did not bring anything. I was like, so I am just going to go home, he should be defused by now, I am just going to grab some stuff and I am going to come right back here. So, I go home, like I said it is about five minutes away, and I plug in my phone for a second go, use the restroom, come back, call my mom and she is like Alan is in the hospital and I was like, okay, that is it, I am on my way. She had called me before he was in the hospital, probably like two months before. But, I did not feel anything then, I was like I am not coming, he is going to be fine, he is going to go home, he will be okay and he did. But this time, I was like no, I am on my way and then, like, as I am leaving. My ex like started up some more drama, and I am like dude get out of here. 

So, like the whole time I am on my way to the hospital, walking into the hospital, he is like texting me and messaging me with all kinds of nonsense and I am like dude, like let me deal with this. So, I get to the hospital, and he is up at Harborview, and I go to the front desk and like I am here for Allen Jefferson, and immediately the guy is like, oh, okay, so what you are going to want to do is go through these doors and I was like oh shit, like excuse me, something is up and so, I walk through the doors, and see my mom and her husband, social worker, my grandmother, and they are just like Alan has gone and that I literally like hit the floor, lost all feeling, and I have honestly been... I have been pretty numb ever since and like he was my best friend, he was just… I am very grateful for an experience that I had with him, like two months before he passed. I happened to go over to my mom's house and I knew he was there and I was dreading, you know, seeing him, and then he came out and I just like dropped, and then he just came up and like swooped me up. 

And he is like it is okay, it is alright, he is like it is alright,  and I am like I am so sorry, I am so sorry, he is like no, it is okay, it is okay and that was like five minutes but I can hold on to that and say; I did get a last embrace with him and we had a mutual clearance as brother and sister and we were good. So, fast forward, like after his death, we were trying to figure out what happened. Like he was he was a 24 year old, healthy male. Yeah, he drank but he was he was good. The thing that is so perplexing to us is that he was the only Black male in a house, full of five of his white friends, friends quote unquote I say this, because friends would not have done the things that they did. I would not divulge too much just because this is still very open. But, there was no investigation done, he was dead in that apartment with them for upwards of two hours before they even called 911, they were not even going to call 911, they were in the process of moving his body outside when one of their roommates came home and was like what the hell. 

And she is a good friend of my brothers and she was like did you guys call 911, and they are all like no and she is like no, call 911, so she actually called 911 on her phone and gave it to the… and this is like a 40 year old man's apartment and he is known for being like the flop house and having like all these young kids come and hang out, and he will supply whatever they want, and all kinds of stuff. 

[25:12 – 30:15]

Shea Black 

He actually just got into a hit and run a serious hit and run. I think like three weeks before this and lied his way out of it. So, I mean, he should have been in prison for that, and not even able to have been around my brother at that point. His kids were in the home. We met with him later on and he essentially said that his kids were like playing around with my brother, and all kinds of stuff. But, he was gone for a good amount of time. So, I do not know, there are just a lot of intricacies to this and the fact that no investigation was ever formed. It just blows my mind, there were 12 EMT responders at the scene, and it was game day though. I think they just saw it as a cut and dry case. This Black guy said it is all good and the fire chief actually told us that the reason why they did not dispatch the police was because there was no threat detected. So, the Black guy is dead, now there is no threat and I am like out of 12 responders, there was a fire chief, two road chiefs. 

And then I think the rest were EMTs. So, out of all those 12 people, not one person can dispatch a police officer to go in and check out the scene. When he got to the hospital, he was cold, they had him identified as doe, even though his ID was in his pocket, none of his so-called friends even gave them his name, they pretty much just all dissociated from him, they have all refused to speak with us about anything and we have contacted everybody, we have contacted all kinds of government officials, no one will respond to us about it, we have given them all the documentation, they requested from us. Once they get the documents, they just write us off and it is because they know that something is up and something from this and then drop the ball somewhere but no one wants to acknowledge it and so, it is been two and a half years and we are just stuck, like my mom cannot move on, his twin who already has cerebral palsy and super sensitive to everything, just lost his best friend, like they were, literally like practically attached to the side. 

And he tried to kill himself afterwards, like oh my family has been through so much since this and like no one will even take the time to listen to his story. And, it is so aggravating and it just makes me want to… I do not know what I want to do; I do not know what my next steps are because we are still going. My mom is still reaching out to whoever she can reach out; she is reached out to the Supreme Court, like oh… I mean we have gone everywhere and no one will respond. So, at this point, we just keep his story alive and keep his memory alive. But, there is got to be more than that, like these people should be held accountable for something. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Yeah. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, man! I cannot imagine. Oh, I am sorry to hear about your loss, and I cannot imagine, not being able to get anybody to listen, you know, that would be able to do something or help try to figure out what happened or… 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I cannot imagine how hard that would be because you cannot have any kind of closure and even when you do have closure with the deaf and family, you are still, it is an open wound forever kind of something. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I can only… 


Shea Black 

So many things, so many things, they intubated this dead body. Those kinds of things, just unethical things and… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

I believe that is the reason why we are not getting a response from anyone, it is because they know exactly what was done or not done. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right and more than just the folks that were in the house would have to answer for it. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. Exactly! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Wow! Yeah. I mean somebody who is 24 and healthy and I would imagine that somebody would be called or to come check it out and investigate. So, the reason why, what is the reason why not, what is the only reason there is, you know. Somebody that is higher up is going to get in trouble, it sounds like… 


Shea Black 

Yeah. It is hard not to point out the obvious, there is like, he was the only Black guy and if they are not giving us any other explanation then that is what we are running off. I do not… I honestly believe that if the roles were reversed and there were five Black guys in the house and the one white guy died, I highly believe that there would have been at least one police officer out there to question the living people, so… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely, it just should have happened. 


[30:16 – 35:08]

Shea Black 

Yeah. Just it makes me wonder, we are just… we are in a limbo right now. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Man! Well, I hope that you find somebody that can help you all out. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. That is what I have been hoping for, I have been, like I have put his story out on Facebook, I have done like live feeds and I was really close to calling, everyone out that was with him by name and my mom was on board and everything but then she got a little headway from an attorney and she was like okay, do not say names yet. I was like alright but I mean I have put a story out there, a few times just seeing if anybody out there would be able to help out and I will continue to do that, we will continue to fight for him until me seek some answers. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That makes sense that is what I would be doing. Yeah. I would not even know where to begin if I were you. Yeah. That is I cannot imagine how hard that would be. Thanks for sharing that. I imagine it is not easy to talk about. But, I definitely understand the importance of talking about it but… 


Shea Black 

Yeah. I have gone through a lot of transformation since he passed away and honestly, like I thank him in so many ways. I look back on the day he passed away, and when I was getting out of that relationship, and I sometimes wonder if I would have gone back to my friend's house or if I just would have been like okay, you know what, I will just stick out my lease here, if my brother had not passed away because I ended up back at my mom's house that day or the next day, I went to my uncle's house that night. But, my son and I were back living with my mom after that for the next year and I sometimes wonder like if I would have actually gotten out of that situation, and how that would have ended, had my brother not passed away. He was always looking out for me, when he was alive and now he is always been my guardian, he is my younger brother but he is always been my older brother, you know. Yeah, with gasoline or whatever, he was just that kind of guy. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

And he is been guiding me so much, I was not a super strong person before he passed away but from that day, I had to like hold my family up. It placed me in a role that I never thought I was capable of being in. He was always the rock. So, I had to step up and be much stronger of a person, definitely hard and I miss him so much every day. But, like I thank him for continuously guiding me and showing me things, he is been coming through my art and all kinds of things. He has transformed my life in so many ways. So, I am very grateful for him and I like to look at it as him being in peace and no longer in turmoil and having to deal with the things that he was tormented with and now he is able to be beyond the stars and make those power moves that he was not able to make when he was here on earth. 

So, I look at him as my man on the moon, I have another… I have two paintings of them in front of me, and one of them, he is in the universe and he is like holding on to the moon and there is a UFO like that is trying to take him off because we are like, man, come back, what are you doing? So, the UFO is us but he is like, he is up there, he is got his iPod on, like he is got his music, his Arizona tea, he is got his hoodie on, like he had this, he is like silicone octopus tentacles, he was such a jokester. So, like he is got his octopus tentacles, he is like what are you guys doing, man. That is my man on the moon, he is up there chilling and… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is great! 


Shea Black 

Yeah. So, he is a puppet master up there and I am sure that we are going to get the justice that he deserves. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is great! Your paintings sound great is what I mean to say. 


Shea Black 

Thank you. Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah, art and being creative is the only thing, maybe not the only thing but, you know what I mean. Yeah. 


Shea Black 

You know, honestly I, that is one of the only things that has brought me out of these really depressive states. Allison Preisinger-Heggins year ago, we were in a whole different place, we were dealing with homelessness, and after being with my mom for so long, and things were a bit tense, for sure and having to deal with the fact that we were not close and what I was going through with my brother before he passed, like things kind of came to a head last year and we were not able to be there anymore. 


[35:09 – 40:52]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Sure. 


Shea Black 

It just was not a very warming environment at that time. So, we were in a shelter, and I was so depressed, and I could not like lift myself out of it, my partner is like just paint, just get back into your painting. I woke up one morning at like five o'clock in the morning, and I cranked out three of my favorite paintings that I have and I call them my beauties and they are so strong and positive and bright and that really got me back into my art, again. I tried right after my brother pass and I painted his portrait, which was like the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I was not even like really able to finish it in the way that I wanted to. So, I was like, it is starting to look just like him and it is just, like it was too much, you know. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Sure. 


Shea Black 

So, after that I stopped painting for a while but when my partner got me back into it, I am like now I cannot, now I cannot stop, and now every time I am feeling in a down moment, I just immerse myself into my art that helps. Now being able to share it with so many other people, and make them feel happy and bring them out of their depression. Or I have done a lot of memorial portraits and humans and animals and it just… it takes somebody to a whole different place. Having their portrait, something that they can look at every day, and memorialize that person or pet, usually before it is done, they will come to me crying and saddened but then afterwards they are just beaming with joy and but what you are able to do with art is just so incredible, art like audio visual, whatever, like it is just, it is a feeling, and it is so needed for this world. 

Especially everything that we are going through right now, it is so needed, music makes you feel good, to see a beautiful piece of art makes you feel good, it just gives you this inner like jolt of emotion that is unexplainable. So, if I can do that through something that I am able to create, now coming from somebody who like all I used to do was destroy that is huge. I cannot stop now if I wanted to. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Yeah. It would not let you no. 


Shea Black 

No, not at all... 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I was on your website a bit ago and I saw the first paintings that you have up there, they are just so vibrant, and full of life and those… are they… okay, I was wondering if they were, oh man, they are so beautiful. 


Shea Black 

Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And I just love the colors; they are so rich in color and… Yeah. 


Shea Black 

Yes. Those are the ones that I painted in the shelter that really brought me out of that depression. It was just so dark and dank in there and just the spirit around was just so dreary and hopeless and I was like, no, I need something vibrant, something alive in here, and that is what came out, and typically like I would… like most of my paintings are on Black backgrounds, and are darker and for a reason, like I like the contrast that it gives and it draws your eye into it. But, for those particular ones, I know they need a shine, you know, they need bright and they speak to… they spoke to my soul and everything that I wanted for myself and everything I knew I was capable of and… yeah, those are my beauties, the one with the short hair. I actually shaved my head. I went straight up 07 Brittany on my head, and this was like… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

There you go. 


Shea Black 

It was like two weeks before my brother passed away, two, which was, it meant a lot in that moment because I was like, and I do not know I do not have to worry about my hair. I used to be like so like into it and it has to be perfect and all that. But what are you going to do when you do not have any. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

It was a very empowering moment. So, yeah, my art usually has something to do with the things that I am going through and they all have stories and I am more than willing to share with anybody who wants to know. But, yeah they are all connected to a different part of my life and for a different reason. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

So, I would like to ask you the couple questions that I ask everybody and then I would love to hear about all the places that we can find you online and support you and anybody else that you would like us to check out and support as well. But, first I would love to hear… well, so there is this one question that has gone kind of back and forth with some of my guests on how they feel about it and I will kind of describe it, just so you are aware because I do not think we talked about this ahead of time. It began as… the question was simply what would make you feel equal? And some people think a certain way about that question and other people think a different way. So, I changed it to what would make you feel seen as equal because the essence of the question is of course! Everybody is equal and you are equal and everybody individually feels equal. 

Of course! But given how things are in our society, the question is what would make you feel seen by our society as and treated as equal. So that is the question but if you prefer to answer more about, just comment on how things are in our society currently and leave it at that, then that is totally fine too. I am totally open to however you feel like answering that question. 


[40:53 – 45:12]

Shea Black 

No, and I totally understand that question for exactly what it is because we are not equal and I think it is very obvious that we are not all equal and it is really unfortunate, it is really disheartening. Of course! I feel… well, no, I honestly, because I do not feel equal, a lot, I feel I should be, but walking down the street, I know I am not equal and I guess that is what I would want to see change is to be able to walk down the street with my head held high and know that if I pass someone that is the complete opposite of me, color wise that we would be able to have the same rights and respect. But, that is not the case right now. So, I do not 100 percent feel equal. I would love to be able to say that I do. But, I have gone through a lot of racial situations in my life. I highlighted my brother but I have been dealing with race since I was a kid, being ostracized at school and honestly that came from both white people and Black people. 

Coming from north Seattle when I switched over to African American academy, I was not seen as a Black person, I was seen as an Oreo, like I spoke with eloquence and that was frowned upon, so that is always been disheartening. So, it goes across the board, honestly and the only way that we are going to ever be able to get past all of the atrocities of the world is to like come together and understand that, yes, we are all equal, we are all people, just because you are white and I am Black or vice versa, does not mean that we are not on the same plane, that does not mean that I have gone through more than you have as a person, your hardships are your own, and you have every right to feel the way that you do about what has happened to you in your life, as do I. So, once we can actually see that and understand that then we will be able to move forward. So, I, oh goodness, I hope I did not go off on a tangent about the question but I do not know… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

No, that is great! Yeah. No, I appreciate that. 


Shea Black 

I think once we do that then we will all be seen but at this point everyone is just so focused about what they have going on that is totally understandable, it is your life and everything you are going through is detrimental or monumental for your life. However, it is best to look at the world as a whole. The only way that we are going to survive and succeed as a whole, is if we band together and I see you, you see me, you see my struggles and my hardships and what I can overcome and vice versa and help each other get to the next step but until that happens, we are all just going to be walking around blind. It is unfortunate but I do not really know exactly what to do about that and just being one single person, only thing I do is spread the message of inclusion and love and positivity and kindness as much as possible. I preach it till I am blue in the face, even if I do not feel it 100 percent but that is the only way it is going to work out. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I agree thanks for sharing that. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. For sure! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

So, what brings you joy or fun? 


Shea Black 

Being with my family, I have got an amazing little family, we have all gone through a lot and to be here right now where we are and just like I said in our own little pocket, we are just, we shut all the negativity out, and we are just this little home positive energy, and it is amazing. We sage and we sing and we do all that stuff. When I am having my hardest moments, I can turn to my family, I can look at my boys, and aunt, and I can go snuggle up with my man, and he will let me know everything is okay. 

[45:13 – 50:12]

Shea Black 

And, you know, like I said even though my mom and I were not really in the best place a couple years ago. I look at her and I am so very proud of her and the fact that she is still pushing forward, dealing with everything and so, just, I think my family and my art, it makes me happy, not in my space right now because it is super chaotic in here. But, I just look at all my paintings and I am like man, like you are doing it. I never thought I was good enough at first, and now pushing all of that aside and I am able to actually see myself for who I am and what I am capable of. That alone makes me just over the moon. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is wonderful! Good. You say you have two boys. Is that right? 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 13 and 8… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, okay. 


Shea Black 

The 8 year old is my biological son but my 13 year old is my son also, so… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Shea Black 

We have all been separate and doing our own things and in the last couple years, we have been able to just come back together, stronger than ever and it is been amazing, just building and between my partner and me, we have got five businesses that we are working on and… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wow! 


Shea Black 

Continuously building each other up, and wanting more, and not only for us but for people around us, we want to be able to help build other people up as well. So, we are getting there, babysitting over again there. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Where can we find you all online or elsewhere? 


Shea Black 

Shoot! I mean, I am on every single platform practically, it is a little exhausting, but it is, my name is a variation of Shea Black art on all platforms, it is a sheaBlack.art on Instagram. I think it is sheaBlack/art on Facebook but just… Yeah. I actually just got my website up, it is live, it is still under construction, so do not judge me people but… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

It looks good. I was saying, I would see your images and your paintings, it looks good. Yeah. 


Shea Black 

So that is SheaBlackenterprises.com. I am working on a clothing line right now, so that should be up on my website pretty soon. So, yeah, I just, I am all over the place. I have a YouTube, come follow me on YouTube. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Good! Yes your website looks great and then people can find all the Facebook, Instagram from your website I think, but also we will put it in the show notes too. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. For sure! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. So, if people can find it there, definitely recommend following you and I am really glad we connected. I think I found you through Instagram actually. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Because you follow our podcast, so thanks for following our podcast. 


Shea Black 

Absolutely, yeah, thank you for doing this podcast, like it is an amazing platform and I appreciate you wanting to hear us, that is rare, that is very rare. So, I appreciate you for standing and aiding and being a part of our journey and our culture because it is strong and we are live, we are here, like we are not going anywhere. So, I am just glad to know that there are people that actually want to know. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, absolutely! Yeah. I hope to make it less rare for sure too. 


Shea Black 

Yeah, for sure! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, man! I mean, yeah, I think communicating and listening is one of the big ways, we can move forward and everybody has such great, you know, has such an important story to share. So, I appreciate you sharing yours for us today and hopefully we can connect in the future; some more either for art things or for more Take Notice things and I can tell I was going to say I can tell that you are in Des Moines because I hear the plane sometimes. 


Shea Black 

Goodness! I know it is and of course, I am in my garage, so you hear them a little more, they have to double-pane all the windows and everything in the house just found out some of the noise, right under the flight pattern. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is probably like the one downside to the pleasant neighborhood and stuff, right? 


Shea Black 

And, you know, like it is the point where we just ignore them completely but we… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I bet. Yeah. 


Shea Black 

Like we have our plane voice and then we have our plane boys, like we have to shout at people outside or like just a conversation completely until they pass… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

And just like wait. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. People are like what is up. I am like oh we got to wait for this plane to go by, again. But, it is nice… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I am used to that with the trains. Yeah. 


Shea Black 

Oh, Yeah. I just like to think like okay well people are traveling, so that is a good thing, so I cannot be mad. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Yeah. That is true. I guess it probably got kind of quiet last year, did not it? 


[50:13 – 53:30]

Shea Black 

Yeah. It did, it did actually. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That would be weird. 


Shea Black 

It was because like one day I, like we were outside just having a conversation, an actual conversation, it was like probably like 20 minutes into it, I was like, we have actually been able to talk this whole time, there have been no planes here. Yeah. It was a really weird feeling actually. So, I actually from that moment I missed the plane. So, I was like oh man that made me think about what was going on in the world and the fact that everything was so stagnant and people were not able to travel and that made me sad. So, I actually missed the planes… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Weird! That is pretty good. Something you thought you would never say. 


Shea Black 

I bet I know I missed those games. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Well, they sound like they are back now and hopefully I mentioned that just, it is totally fine but you it might come through on the audio. 


Shea Black 

Okay. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

So, I might be able to pull it out but… Yeah. Everybody knows what that is and why because they are right by C-Tec. All good! Yeah. Oh, it is hilarious! That is how it goes. 


Shea Black 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, man! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining me and hopefully we get to connect again very soon. 


Shea Black 

Absolutely! I am sure we will. Thank you. Thank you for having me again. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Thank you for joining us for Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories. Please subscribe and follow us on social media. We are at Take Notice podcast; it would really help us out if you could take a couple of minutes to review our podcast. Thank you for your support. Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories is produced, hosted and edited by Allison Preisinger-Heggins, co-produced by Amanda Rae, music by Version Big Fi featuring Darius Heggins. Thank you for being with us and thank you for taking notice. 


Song

“Do you want to say what are your rights and why they take away your human rights, do you want to say they are wrong or right, realize and together, there is now the time to centralize, and you deserve to… Why they take away your human rights; do you want to say they are wrong or right, so make sure that what you do is prolong here.”