Weekly Howl: How do current social & political events impact our role as artists?

First, I was grateful when Dominic D’Andrea wrote this amazing post for the TCG Circle salon, and then I was grateful again when he asked me to join him in co-moderating
Weekly Howl on hashtag #newplay: How do current social and political events impact our role as artists? 

I was especially grateful to be included in the Howl because I, like so many others, am reeling from the verdict of Trayvon Martin’s murder trial, and it is….

Not just the irreplaceable loss of a young student who “majored in cheerfulness” and it is

Not just learning that the “the man who shot him said he mounted him and stretched his arms out wide, preventing him from even clutching the spot that hurt” and it is

Not just the 40 plus days it took to arrest the man who shot him and it is

Not just the public grace his parents have shown in the face of such a graceless tragedy, and it is

Not just the message of fear sent to young black men and it is

Not just the message of “you ain’t shit” sent to people of color and it is

Not just my own complicity as a white male in the systems that privilege and keep me safe and always remind that I can do anything, be anything, and it is

Not just the Facebook posts from some white friends who try to make this about something other than Trayon’s dying arms trying to clutch the spot that hurt and it is

Not just all the other cases of racial  injustice pouring forth again in the news, reminding us of the injustice woven into every stitch of our flag, that great symbol of freedom and oppression, of equality and Manifest Destiny, and it is

Not just the verdict and the almost-book deal and the articles praising the man who shot him and the comments slandering the young man he shot and it is

Not just the laws that aid and abet the hunting and confronting and murdering and walking free and it is

Not just the bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea and it is

Not just Stand Your Ground instead of Turn the Other Cheek and it is

Not just An Armed Society Is A Polite Society instead of Love Thy Neighbor As They Self and it is

Not Just. It is. Not Just. And it is

Not just that it is not just

But that I doubt the tools that I have been given as an artist, as a human, to change things because

I am afraid that I won’t reach the spot that hurts and help to heal because

I am afraid that I value the shine of personal accomplishment more than the warmth of communal strength and because

I am afraid that I will default to the old patters of pleasure and contentment and because

I am afraid that my voice might be the wrong voice anyway, and because

I am afraid that I am not just,

I am not just.

********************

So, that’s what I’m bringing to the conversation. Also, some limited experience with theatre for social justice, and a desire to listen and learn from the courage and wisdom that it out there. There are many fierce and compassionate agents of change in the theatre world, and if you’re one, or you’d like to be, join us tomorrow to ask:

How do current social and political events impact our role as artists? 

Categories: Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. thank you gus. i needed to read this. i’ve gone through days and stages of accepting the reality of the verdict have this morning was very emotional for me as i scoured the facebook pages of my white friends, artists, co-workers and allies and found so very little about their thoughts regarding this trial and its implications. it was bringing me to tears. and i began to feel alone in the fight. and i began to feel paranoid because if my white friend weren’t outraged or at least thinking about the impact, then all of the safe spaces i thought i had with white people were no longer safe. and then i felt scared. and then i felt angry. and then i felt silly for believing that my white friends, artists, co-workers, and allies were any different from the larger white supremist institution we are all a part of. i too was reeling this morning. i understand that this is a difficult situation to accept, process and digest. i understand that it can leave us speechless. but in this moment of our history , the silence i was hearing from white people felt deafening and threatening. i want white people to say something. the conversation, if it is to have any impact on the larger institution i mention before, needs white people to say something. so thank you, gus, for saying something. may you continue to find the fearlessness needed to keep saying something. because you can in fact do anything, including undoing the stitch of the fabric of racism in this country.

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