Ernie Barnes' My Miss America

I couldn't sit with myself if I didn't offer an official farewell to painter Ernie Barnes.  The prolific and talented painter passed away Monday.  I don't know about you, but I grew up watching reruns of Good Times and gazing at the cover of Marvin Gaye's I Want You as my parents listened and grooved to the music.  Barnes and his art were the main attraction for both.  Although Good Times was a weekly presentation of theater-quality TV that examined social issues within the Black underlcass, it was Barnes' Sugar Shack painting in the closing credits that stuck to my soul.  In a very sublte or maybe not-so-subtle way, Ernie Barnes' art asked me to study and observe "blackness" with a serious eye and heart.  It was like he was saying, Yeah, this is TV and Hollywood is white and J.J. is funny, but I'm [Barnes] putting my mark on this to assure you we are real.  Thanks, Ernie Barnes.  I'm keeping you close!

Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.