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For all of the Black people who are disturbed and upset over BBQ Becky, a painting that Sean Diddy Combs bought this week should lift your spirits.

The mogul and art collector dropped $21.1 million for artwork by painter Kerry James Marshall at international art dealer Sotheby’s on Wednesday (May 16). Diddy is believed to have purchased the painting, which is called “Past Times” and was created in 1997 by Marshall, for the highest price ever bestowed on artwork by a living African-American artist, Fortune reported.

But what does this epic painting show that Diddy paid major coins to purchase?

The work depicts Black people enjoying a lakefront park on a beautiful day. They are jet-skiing, golfing, riding in boats and eating good food without any law enforcement on the scene. The family epitomizes a beautiful image of Blackness—one that Jennifer Schulte, aka BBQ Becky, and those who would call the cops on Black folks for just living their lives don’t understand.

Art and imagery have proven to be powerful tools for Black people to express their frustrations with society. While white people call the cops on Black folks, paintings show us living beautifully while Black. While police officers stop and frisk African Americans on the streets, watercolors show us walking down golden lanes. While Black men and women are kept in jail for being poor, drawings depict us as truly free.

Artists like Marshall, born in 1955 during the civil rights era, know how to embrace the Black experience. In the troubling times that Black folks live in, art like his can be healing for the soul.


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