Like so many of my friends and colleagues, I am profoundly saddened and dismayed by the results of the Presidential election. My heart and love goes out to all of you. I have been buoyed by friends and loved ones who have asserted that they or their parents have gone through times of greater trials, especially those who experienced segregation and the Jim Crow South and the other forms of racism so prevalent in the pre-Civil Rights era. I do not feel articulate today or able to think clearly or cogently. So I offer up a quotation from Jeff Chang’s Who We Be: The Colorization of America, his book about cultural changes in post-Civil Rights America:
“Here is where artists and those who work and play in the culture enter. They help people to see what cannot yet be seen, hear the unheard, tell the untold. They make change feel not just possible, but inevitable. Every moment of major social change requires a collective leap of imagination. Change presents itself not only in spontaneous and organized expressions of unrest and risk, but in explosions of mass creativity.
“So those interested in transforming society might assert: cultural change always precedes political change. Put another way, political change is the last manifestation of cultural shifts that have already occurred.”
This election demonstrates that a majority of whites desperately want to continue within a country where the assertion of white dominance and supremacy remains the norm. It demonstrates we have so far to go in terms of fighting sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and religious bigotry. Chang wrote Who We Be in the time of Obama’s presidency, and so, on November 9, 2016, his prophecy remains that–a prophecy.
For those of us who are artists and for those of us who are committed to justice, we must continue to see what others refuse to see, speak the unheard, tell the untold, we must continue to imagine a world of love, equity, justice, and truth, to imagine ways we can move beyond and above this disastrous moment in American history. Keep speaking out, keep creating your art, keep gathering and strengthening our ties. We have work to do.