Thursday, July 14, 2016

Art as activism (#BlackLivesMatter)

I wasn't alive in 1968 but I sure do feel like we're going back in time. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated that year, as was Robert F. Kennedy. Two black athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, staged a silent demonstration against racial discrimination during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Star Trek aired American television's first interracial kiss.

In 2016 the volatility feels as thick as a relentlessly muggy summer evening. Suffocating. Oppressive. Inescapable.

Race relations is hitting a boiling point this year. Perhaps it was most horrifically portrayed in the Dallas sniper attack last week, where a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally turned into the massacre of five white police officers.

The world seems like it's going mad.

When I don't know what to do with my emotions -- anger, fear, deep sadness, hopelessness -- I often turn to words, art and images to help me cope. I came across this cathartic article in today's New York Times.

"The best that art can do is force us to face our problems," says writer Angelica Rogers. "Within ourselves and within our society."

Here is some of the most striking artwork coming out of the Black Lives Matter movement right now:

When you look at these images, what kind of emotions do they evoke? Anger, validation, healing? 

Would love to know your thoughts.

#MLK by Nikkolas Smith. (via BuzzFeed)
"A Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday" by Dread Scott. (via The New York Times)
"Stay Woke," "Stop Killing Us," "No Breathing" and "More Than a Hashtag" 
by Nikkolas Smith.
"Don't Shoot" by Maria Maria Acha-Kutscher. (via Sojo)