The result of the U.S. Presidential election came as a shock and remains a sourness that doesn’t go away. Like many others, I took it personally. I felt guilty of not having more active participation in preventing this result. This feeling may become a scar that won’t heal, but perhaps it’s not a bad thing. One should never get used to the normalization of racism, sexism, and bigotry. I feel it is necessary to talk about how we see today. I’d like to take an opportunity to make a pledge for the next four years.
We live with images of dark futures. It is no doubt that next four years seem bleak. There is also general disappointment that the progress we’ve made, on race and gender equality, access to health care, support of arts and culture, have returned to the futility. We doubt perhaps the progress was a temporary suspension of disbelief. However, progress comes, not as a linear progression but recursive movements of forward and backward motions, propagation of ideas over time. Some friends told me, their creative work feels unimportant in this time of austerity. As artists and storytellers, we need to create counter narratives of our time. The first thing when a racist leader takes power is to change the history. History is mechanics of the present and the past, a vehicle for the future. I pledge to create art that speaks honestly about our time. I will continue making art and participate in activism with warm heart–to bring justice and equity to everyday life.
When Trump promised to build a wall in the Mexico–the U.S. border, he started building a wall in people’s hearts. We need to unlearn the wall. “Not my president” is not an answer, because individual dissent needs to transform into collective action. “It doesn’t matter because I’m not a citizen of the U.S.” is not an excuse. The brutal racism and misogyny, exploit of the people will extend beyond the U.S. border and affect many parts of the world. Saying “Trump is not the problem. It’s the system which allowed him to reign.” discredits the material reality and symbolic potency he’s gained. Cynicism is a sign of laziness. Instead, I suggest we say YES! to solidarity and friendship with the Others, anyone who’s considered minority based on gender, race, ability, financial resource. I suggest we say YES! to empowerment and YES! to perseverance.
Let’s take learning and unlearning seriously. When we widen access to knowledge and growth of others, teaching practice becomes a political praxis. The task of an educator is to empower students. Teaching is not a matter of changing how students think or making them feel the same way. Teachers can guide students in an arduous adventure, lift their vision to a wider horizon. In the journey of learning, student garners information and experience to make artistic, personal and political decision on their behalf. It is a teacher’s duty to give students the language to disavow the power structure. Their ability to challenge the authority is the source of empowerment. Teachers can give students time and space to grow the essential habit of questioning what they are learning. This exercise leads to muscle memory for unlearning the walls.
I believe one should take care of oneself, and we should take care of each other. Our survival, wellness, happiness–our perseverance will help future generations hear different stories about our time. I pledge for trust and responsibility for interdependence among people, the environment, and our history, for the next four years and a future we want to live.
I made a few pickets and asked my friends at NEW.INC to pose for pictures. I gave the pickets to a friend going to Washington D.C. to participate in the Women’s March. Wherever you are, I suggest you join the march, protest, gatherings. Let’s organize!
January 20. 2017