By Ben Boruff
Read this comic book. APB: Artists against Police Brutality is a collection of drawings, short stories, essays, comics, poems, and political cartoons that spark conversations about race and the justice system in America. The pages of this anthology are filled with pain, frustration, longing, and anger. Poignant, profound anger. As Bill Campbell states in his introduction, “this project was borne out of anger.”
APB: Artists against Police Brutality discusses a variety of issues, including education, autism, clothing, police training, history, power, politics, parenting, violence, childhood, pop culture, and prison—and all these topics are viewed through the lens of race relations in America. The anthology begins with a portrait of eleven individuals who were killed by police officers, and it ends with a poem by Mondo we Langa that reflects on the deaths of individuals like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. These bookends hold together a collection of important ideas and sharp emotions, including a story by Afrofuturism scholar Ytasha L. Womack, an essay by the University of Georgia’s Dr. Bettina L. Love, and a short comic by Aaron Rand Freeman and J. Andrew World titled “The Problematic White Liberal” that asks white individuals to stop talking and “look at us. . . . Black people. Directly. And embrace the discomfort you feel so we can finally grow as people.”
With this in mind, I simply repeat my earlier plea: read this comic book. Think about the stories it shares, and consider the ideas it presents.
Bill Campbell explains the purpose of APB: Artists against Police Brutality in his introduction: “what we desire is to simply further the dialogue, make some people see this debate in a different light, perhaps change a mind or two, and, most importantly, exercise our freedom of speech in honor of all those who have had their voices silenced.”
These are the names of the eleven individuals in the portrait at the beginning of the book: Tanisha Anderson, Cary Ball Jr., Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Miriam Carey, John Crawford, Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
APB: Artists against Police Brutality
Editor: Bill Campbell
Designer: Jason Rodriguez, John Jennings
Publisher: Rosarium Publishing