At first I thought the answer was racism. That was enough to begin the process but a little further down the line I realized there was something more specific. Silence. The silencing of voices. That realization birthed the concept of “The Sunken Place.” In the film, The Sunken Place is the endless dark void in which the lead character, Chris, is trapped. From its depths, he can scream all he wants to, but he can’t be heard. For me, The Sunken Place is a metaphor for the system that silences black people, women and all marginalized groups. It’s the system that has prevented diverse representation in movies and TV. It’s the myth of “Post- Racial America” that seemed to prevent us from having a meaningful conversation about race for eight years. It’s the system that keeps black voices behind bars at a disproportionate rate. It’s the system that calls athletes “sons of bitches” for engaging in peaceful protest at the injustice of police brutality going ignored. The Sunken Place is the system that silences the cries for clean water in Flint, basic disaster relief in Puerto Rico and basic dignity and respect for Haiti.
Every day there is something that shows we are in The Sunken Place, with the systematic oppression of our voices. Shortly after Get Out premiered, I noticed on Instagram that the film had inspired one young woman to create her own painting of the film’s Sunken Place. I was blown away by this art, that someone felt so connected to this movie that she could make something so beautiful and personal. This was just the beginning. The next day there were more pieces from more people. This continued day after day —the pieces were often visual but sometimes prose, poetry or music. A year later, people whom I have never met, of all races, creeds and genders continue to send me images of artworks like the ones you will see in the pages ahead. My greatest joy as an artist is that Get Out has helped spark expression and conversation about racism and otherness that will hopefully continue to inspire others long into the future. The film is my voice, but this book celebrates a chorus of voices. It gives me hope that together, we can climb out of The Sunken Place.