Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

A few ideas and events converged into one train of thought starting on the Saturday evening of March 21, 2020 just a couple of days after winter had ended, as my wife and I first started hunkering down in earnest in Central New York. We were adhering to both local and national social distancing advisories during the early days of the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus outbreak across the United States.

The overnight temperature in Syracuse was dropping to a low of 22° Fahrenheit as it dawned on me that this outbreak was about to significantly change the…


Who signifies “cancel culture” as “cancel culture”? It does, of course. A culture that has been canceling other cultures for centuries is well-practiced not only at such cancellations but — like Keyser Söze, the self-mythologizing antagonist of the 1995 film The Usual Suspects — it is also adept at cancelling all evidence of its past and continued perpetrations. I’m calling out the supremacy of the West at the one thing it does not claim ownership over — its cancel culture. Instead, Western “cancel culture” and its contemporary right-wing media machinery attempts to redirect the discourse of who is “cancel culture”…


Portrait by James H. Rolling, Jr.

Kids know when a promise has been broken. You can see it in their eyes. At some point during my elementary schooling, I became convinced that the Pledge of Allegiance we were expected to recite each morning became a lie as it passed through my lips. I did not believe I lived in a nation with liberty and justice for all. Maybe for some, but not for people in my neighborhood. Not in Crown Heights. It’s not my nature to recite meaningless words. So I stopped saying the pledge as a child without any fanfare or bravado. I never mentioned…


Self-portrait by James H. Rolling, Jr.

I was once with a group of undergraduate classmates on a lithography class excursion to the Museum of Modern Art (called the MoMA for short) to see a special collection of prints on a day when the museum was closed to the public. We entered glass doors to the grand lobby and lined up at the large reception desk. Having started college when I was only 16 years old, I was still rather self-absorbed. So, I was not really paying attention to what our course instructor was doing at the head of the line as she facilitated our entry into…


I wrote out my open letter to fellow creatives in longhand first, just to get it out of my system.

This is Part 2 of an open letter written on June 8, 2020 to my field of fellow creatives — a letter challenging all artists, designers, and craftspersons, alongside educators and creative leaders at all levels of instruction, to come together in shaping an effective anti-racist agenda for the 21st century.

An Anti-Racist Approach to Artmaking and Art Education

According to systems theory, separate and distinct systems can sometimes be nested within one another — either parasitically like an infestation of fleas on a dog, or symbiotically like clownfish seeking protection amongst the stinging tentacles of a cluster of sea…


Yesterday, I finished writing an open letter to my field of fellow creatives — a field broad enough to include artists and designers who practice in all mediums, those who teach the visual art or design or media arts from kindergartens to colleges, those who collect art, those who critique art, and those who curate art in museums. The letter was one single train of thought — started on a Friday and completed the next Monday. …

James Haywood Rolling Jr

Creativity Educator | Artist | Counter-narrative Superhero | Rebel with a Cause | “Making something out of nothing every day”

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