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A Spectator

November 15, 2016

I attended a meeting of artists, gathered in the immediate wake of the election of Donald Trump to commiserate and brainstorm our potential role in a post-Trump world.

Predictably in an open-discussion of free-thinking liberals, the topics went all over the place.

We need to understand the other side.

We need to create art as protest.

We need to educate a broader audience about art.

We need to escape our bubbles.

We’re preaching to the choir.

Must mostly…..we don’t know what to do.

We are a group accustomed to control. Creative people make things. We express. We control the ideas that we bring to fruition. This election left us without control, a feeling that is jarring to a group of mainly Anglo-Saxon, well-educated, liberal, progressive, active adults, populating the inner-Lafayette clique inside our red state.

We do what we’re supposed to do. We watch Frontline documentaries. We are well versed on the current events and foreign affairs. We do not discriminate based on race or gender or sexual orientation or religion or country of origin or accent, many times despite our upbringing. We speak aloud when faced with hate or discrimination even when it’s just an off-color joke. We read the New York Times and the Guardian and the Economist. We listen to National Public Radio. We laugh with Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah. We read, we think, we discuss. We do what we’re supposed to do.

And we voted.

And this happened anyway.

What else are we supposed to do?

The confusion and pain comes from being spectators. We’re not members of disenfranchised minorities. (Excluding for the moment that being a woman puts some of us in this category.) We’re not in the streets screaming for justice. We’re not on the front lines and we don’t how to be.

When you look in the mirror and you see pale skin and blue eyes and you know that you look exactly like the people who are clinging to the nostalgia of their ancestor’s power, a power based on discrimination, hate and injustice…..when your face looks just like the one that yelled obscenities to a woman with a hijab or told a brown person to go back to their country…..you want a disclaimer. You want a sign that says, “It’s not me, really. I’m one of the good guys.” 

So, we write and paint and create. We keep informing ourselves, we keep thinking and discussing and we keep spreading our ideas, our fear and our pain the only way we know how, by making good art. And we hope that our songs, belted out to the choir, are heard beyond our bubble like the little Whos in Whoville and we remember the words of Ms. Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And we wonder how exactly we can do just that.

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From → Rantings

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