Kendra Lee

“A Middle Child’s Distorted Self

16in x 20in Image”

When I heard J. Cole’s “Middle Child,” I immediately caught goose bumps and thought, “this man done did it again.” Listening to this song later in life and remembering those I’ve visited in jail, hit a little closer to home, once jail visitations became a part of my reality.

The verse “Too many niggas in cycle of jail

Spending they birthdays inside of a cell…

We killing our brothers, they poisoned the well–Distorted self image, we set up to fail

I'ma make sure that the real gon' prevail, nigga,” served as inspiration for this art. I can’t help but paint hard realities in vivid color, so I didn’t hold back on this one either.

Birthdays are meant to be celebrated, but the space in which you do it makes a difference. Incarceration is a life changing event for those personally affected and their loved ones. I don’t know what it’s like to spend a birthday in jail, but J. Cole offered a clear image of what that feeling looks like.




A middle child's distorted self image