Monday, January 25, 2021

Reaching People; Alienating People; Being Unheard

This video by Rage Against the Machine x the Umma Chroma brings up something I struggle with a lot in my own work and in the work of people I really respect, like RATM. You try so hard to help people see their own strength in changemaking; their own worth and their own ability to make postive change, then you look out at the crowd of people supporting you, and you know a large percentage don't hear the message. They go home shouting about it, but they didn't hear it. Maybe that's because they didn't go there to be educated--I get that. But we keep telling ourselves, as artists, as educators, as community organizers, that even if just one person in that crowd goes home and makes some kind of positive change, we've been successful, but how is that really enough?

The most successful instagram post I've ever made was an in-progress shot of a dress that's about oppression of women; the objectification of the female body. In a very brief time it got thousands of views, and was worked into a German graffiti artist's work. The vast majority of the people sharing it were men. You know why? Because the breasts of the mannequin it sat on were visible. For the handful of women who felt seen, understood, and the smaller handful of men who understood the message, there were thousands who just consumed it like a piece of meat.

I love this video because they're not allowing us to just revel in the anger of the song and not question our lives, our heritage, our thoughts; our whiteness. Putting out something so blatant runs the risk of people choosing not to watch--of alienating any and all of the audience that didn't already understand or agree. Please watch this video if you think it looks stupid. Watch it if you think you already understand, or you don't need to know. Watch it if you think RATM is too white. Watch it if you think you're too white.

Anyway. These are my thoughts for the moment. This is something I struggle with in life and living and art.