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Dom Roberts    

Dom Roberts

BY MEADOWLARK MONAGHAN & SOPHIA EGRARI

HI DOM! FIRST AND FOREMOST, I KNOW THIS FEELS LIKE A LOADED QUESTION RIGHT NOW BUT HOW ARE YOU DOING? 

I’ve been doing pretty good! My life has changed considerably within the past couple of months. I’ve been trying to navigate through the highs and lows of my world and the world at large.

SHARE WITH US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AND WORK. 

My “journey” is a bit unorthodox, considering it wasn’t my goal to have a large platform or reach a large group of people. My goal was to reach people period. I didn’t care if it was just one person that I changed through my graphics. To start from the beginning, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I had posted a graphic that said, “don’t ignore something because it makes you uncomfortable.” The graphic went viral, so I kept posting/creating more, and my Instagram started growing like crazy. I would gain thousands and thousands of followers every week; it was insane considering when I posted that initial graphic, I barely had a thousand followers.

ADVOCATING FOR JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF UNJUSTIFIED POLICE BRUTALITY IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE BEEN DOING FOR A WHILE NOW. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE MOMENTUM SURROUNDING THE MOVEMENT CURRENTLY?

I’m genuinely amazed that so many people have stepped out of their comfort zone up to do their part. It’s crazy how a year ago there would not be this much traction around what’s happening, but I’m so happy people are finally starting to wake up.

THIS HAS BEEN A TIME OF MIXED SENTIMENTS OF PROGRESS AND REGRESSION FOR MANY, PARTICULARLY IN REFERENCE TO THE SOMETIMES INDISTINGUISHABLE ACTS OF GENUINE SUPPORT VERSUS PERFORMATISM. ON A PERSONAL AND MORE BROAD LEVEL, HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THIS? DO YOU AIR MORE ON THE SIDE OF HOPEFULNESS OR CAUTION?

I think that it is very typical for any movement to have gatekeeping allies, especially those who have been a part of the BLM movement for a while. For a lot of people, it's second nature to second guess new allies' intentions; I understand  their  perspective. Although, the reality is so many people are just now realizing the problem of racism and police brutality in America. Coming from that perspective, the best thing we can do is to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. We never know anyone's intentions until we ask.

 

WAS SPEAKING UP ABOUT INJUSTICE, OR MORE BROADLY THE UNCOMFORTABLE, SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS DID? IF NOT, WHEN DID IT BECOME ON THE FOREFRONT OF YOUR MIND?

I used to never speak out about injustice. I grew up in Chandler, Arizona, which is super white and incredibly conservative. It was tough to be anything outside of “normal.” I suppressed all of my emotions or feelings when it came to uncomfortable topics, especially racism, because of my conservative peers. I had a lot of self-hatred/internalized racism since I didn’t look like everyone around me. When I found out about Ahmaud Arbery’s death, something in me broke, the years of fear I had felt towards speaking out was gone. All that was left was anger and pain. The fear I was living in was selfish. My decision to not speak out was causing more harm than good. So I promised myself that I’ll always speak out about injustice. It is my privilege, honor, and conviction to speak out against injustice. 

THIS MONTH AT TLO OUR FOCUS IS ON ALL THINGS COMMUNICATION. THROUGH YOUR INSTAGRAM YOU'VE FOUND A REALLY NICHE FORM OF COMMUNICATION THAT IS RAW, MINIMALIST, AND ACTIONABLE. HOW DO YOU FIND THIS AESTHETIC WORKS FOR THE CAUSE? WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF KEEPING IT SIMPLE?

I think that any graphic that is trying to convey a message needs to be clear and pleasing to the eye. There are times when I feel my designs are too simple or not as complicated as other designers, and I start to discredit myself. I remind myself that the simplicity behind my designs is okay. I want my designs to be able to reach as many people as possible. There is a time and place for creativity or to go outside of the "safe zone." Still, for right now, I think keeping things simple/direct allows for higher shareability, so nothing comes across pretentious or over anyone's head.  

YOU CLEARLY WALK THE WALK WHEN IT COMES TO LIVING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVISM, WHILE A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE ONLY REALLY TALKING THE TALK RIGHT NOW BUT NOT APPLYING IT TO THEIR OWN LIVES. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THESE PEOPLE? HOW CAN PEOPLE DO A BETTER JOB OF BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN PERFORMATISM AND REAL ACTIVISM?

Integrity is what you do when no one is around. I have more respect for people who live in blatant racism or willful ignorance than the people who are silent when they see racism unfold in front of them. If you're willing to speak up online, but not speak up in person, then there is a problem. I understand there are tensions and awkwardness, but there is a way to call someone out in a loving way that doesn't have to cause conflict. I've been there, but this cause is too great and valuable to let fear hold us back from doing the right thing. This cause will only work when it's backed by integrity. 

TELL US ABOUT THE UNCOMFORTABLE. INSPIRATION, WHAT YOU'RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON, WHERE YOU HOPE TO SEE IT GO?

The uncomfortable is a collective of different artists that was created by my friend Quentin Swenke and I. We wanted to create our graphics and concepts into wearable pieces starting with ‘the uncomfortable tee,’ which is dropping soon! Our goal is that people would wear our designs, and it would create thought/ conversation for onlookers.

AT MADHAPPY, WE ARE DIEHARD OPTIMISTS. WE FEEL LIKE IF WE DIDN'T BELIEVE IN A BETTER FUTURE, WE WOULDN'T BE WORKING SO HARD TO CHALLENGE THE CURRENT SYSTEMS THAT AREN'T WORKING FOR US NOW. SO WITH THAT IN MIND, WHAT ARE YOU FEELING OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?

I’m feeling optimistic about the future of our country. I genuinely believe there is more good than bad. I think that more people want to change than those that are stuck in their ignorance. 

SPEED ROUND

FAVORITE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY

Sunset walks

IF YOU COULD GIFT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD ONE BOOK WHAT WOULD IT BE

A Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

LAST MEAL YOU COOKED AT HOME

Pasta with red sauce

ADMIT A GUILTY PLEASURE

The Trolls movies

LAST THING YOU SAID YES TO

A cinnamon roll

LAST THING YOU SAID NO TO 

A group hangout