A Cross-Country Ripple Effect For Good

(Courtesy of Rafael Medeiros)

During the first days after Geoge Floyd’s murder, I felt an obligation to contribute to our fight against racism. I didn’t know exactly what to do but inertia was not an option. As a Brown, Queer Immigrant in the US, I feel deeply for minorities and want to help push our society positively forward.

I am originally from Brazil, and eight years ago I arrived in a forward-thinking and hopeful America to pursue my career as a graphic designer and illustrator after graduating in my country. I worked very hard to stand out and find employers that would sponsor my work visa.

After achieving success working for graphic design studios and creative agencies in Los Angeles and completing ten years in the industry, I decided to work independently as a freelancer so I could chase the projects that mattered to me the most.

January 2020 would be the start of my biggest dream. I worked so hard to be in a position where I could start my own business, and now all I needed was to continue to do so, but this time I was in the driver’s seat.

(Courtesy of Rafael Medeiros)

What was unimaginable is that this year would not only be one of the most challenging years of my life but also the entire world. But maybe all the adversities we have encountered this year are happening for a reason that we have yet to understand and the future will be better. I keep telling this to myself as I try to make the right decision about what to do next.

With this intention, on June 3rd, after 9 days had passed since Floyd’s murder, I put out in the world the kind of help I could materialize after a week of processing my feelings and thinking about what was happening. From my small desk in my apartment with big hopes, I worked on a print and digital antiracism campaign and donated to whoever resonated with the message, a publicly available Google Slide Document linked to files for free download.

I sent it out to everyone I know. Friends, family, former work colleagues etc. Then I started sending it to print shops I either knew from before or that I found through online research. I reached out to hundreds of emails with the subject line “Donated Antiracism Campaign” asking for help with the following message:

Dear Antiracist Printer,

I would be immensely grateful if you could join me on this project. As a graphic artist, I am donating to whoever resonates with this cause a small campaign against racism to reach as many people as possible.

By printing and distributing these posters and stickers you can help this campaign reach many more people.

As a Brown, Latino, Queer Immigrant in the US, I feel deeply for minorities and want to help push our society positively forward. Please, consider helping strengthen our fight against racism.

Please, get it touch if you have questions.

Access via this link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1hsKE7Qr6H79bKZLNIv4Tv_VCQ9fgHfqo199Qsn-lnqk/edit?usp=sharing

Sincerely,

Rafael

Positive and supportive responses started coming in. My posters and stickers stated very simply “BE ANTIRACIST”. It was my way of saying, this is enough, this needs to change and it will change if we take actions towards an antiracist society. And it starts by being an antiracist.

As emails arrived in different inboxes in several parts of the country, business owners offered their support and donated their services to print and distribute the campaign. As the days went by, more posters were printed and more donors participated. In big cities and small towns the words “BE ANTIRACIST” were spreading – Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Boston, Kansas City, Portland, Columbia, Cincinnati, Lancaster, Seattle, Austin and Miami.

(Courtesy of Rafael Medeiros)

The campaign gained its own life and the message has now reached thousands. Local communities have also used their own creativity to spread the message like volunteers-led museum The Rochester Museum of Fine Arts in New Hampshire which created a pop-up show to exhibit the work through June and July. Or LA-based non-profit Coco South that mailed posters to their members.

Individuals shared photos on social media of protests utilizing my art and shared thoughts about what those posters meant to them. In my whole career, I never felt like my designs spoke so strongly about something that really mattered. Seeing a picture of a five-year-old sent by his mom holding my poster, for example, filled me with hope and reassurance. Or reading others’ realization of how much homework needs to be done to understand what it means being an antiracist – including myself!

(Courtesy of Rafael Medeiros)              

Coined by American Author Ibram Xolani Kendi in his book ‘How To Be An Antiracist’ I came across a paragraph from his book that highlighted the need for being antiracist days before working on this project. It was like I was hit by a lightning bolt. If I was unaware of this term and what it meant, millions of others were as well.

The goal is to bring this message the awareness it deserves and for it to continue to live long after the peak of the ‘news cycle’ is over and use my art as a vehicle for antiracism. I want these posters and stickers to be in school hallways, office rooms, public spaces, gyms, town halls etc.

This project awakened a part of me that was dormant and showed me the impact and power my actions can have nationally. It is up to me to help shape the country I envision for myself and my community. As a creative, I am committed to building a better future, and this is the beginning of something greater as I connect with more people who share similar values.

I continue working every day to make this campaign reach more people and there are several ways to help. If you know of establishments or organizations that would like to receive this material and put them up in visible places, please get in touch. If you would like to fund the production of more posters and stickers, I will connect you with vendors who have already donated services and can produce more pieces. If you have ideas and questions and want to get involved, let’s start a conversation. Access the campaign in this link and consider helping make this reach more people.

Rafael Medeiros

Originally from Brazil and based in Los Angeles for the past eight years, Rafael has worked as an Art Director, Graphic Designer and Illustrator for various industries, combining 10 years of experience in the industry. His work has been awarded by Clio Entertainment and featured in design and advertising publications, both in print and digital.

You may also like...