Baingor Joiner – Gone Too Soon
Bai was a young man with an old soul and big ideas. He understood the power of art to transform the world and when he spoke of his work, it was wasn’t just about pushing his own creative boundaries but about telling untold stories that would contribute to a Pan-African sense of pride.
Our mentoring sessions were meant to last an hour, but usually we’d speak for twice that amount of time. Bai was a philosopher and he needed time to expound on his ideas. In his latest work, he wanted to tell the story of Thomas Joiner, a Gambian man enslaved and forcibly taken to Virginia, USA in the late 1700’s who eventually bought his freedom and made his way back to his homeland and started a flourishing business, one which, Bai emphasized, ‘traded in goods, not people’. Telling this story was not only about discovering his own ancestry. I remember him saying, and I wrote it down because I found it so profound - ‘you have to grieve your enslavement in order to start the journey towards freedom’.
He wanted to put right the lack of historical documentation of black lives - ‘its deliberate obfuscation’, he said. ‘I want to talk about the difficult choices black men have had to make in the fight for freedom’. Ultimately, he wanted to uplift us as a people by telling the story of one man who rose from the depths of despair and reinvented himself. As we mourn Bai’s untimely and senseless passing, we can find solace in his own relentless drive to turn pain into beauty by never forgetting.
Bai, you will remain forever in our hearts.
Emerging Artists Fellows Mentor