MANIFEST:JUSTICE - Art as the tip of the spear for hope, resilience, and change.
Apr 6, 2014
is the fifth installment in a large-scale public event, bringing together artists, activists and designers to lift the voices of those who have been disenfranchised because of race, gender or sexual orientation. Our goal is to elevate their experience in the highest way possible: through art. Whether it is through Nina Simone bravely singing her civil rights anthem Mississippi Goddamn to a crowd of 40,000 after the Selma marches in 1965, or Banksy's painting Cave Man Fast Food pointing out the degradation of our health through the image of a caveman holding a fast food tray, art has always made it’s point. Where issues of racism, sexism and implicit bias tend to alienate us from each other, art brings us together, and allows us to successfully express the plight of the human condition in ways that language fails us. Art is the universal language, it is the tip of the spear of social change and has existed as long as humankind; long before issues of inequality stood in the way of our basic freedoms.
Our goal is to use art and music to create an inclusive event that not only educates the community about inequality and health issues, but propels radical dreaming into tangible goals. It is not enough to join the conversation, we must create an action plan that changes the narrative. Action is not violence, or ignorance; it is intelligence, dignity and vigor in the face of discrimination. Through art, we prove to be the most resilient, allowing our pain and frustrations to give a voice to an entire group of people who are suffering. Art leads to action, and together in action, we are unbreakable. We re-define our potential, and break the lethal absence of hope. We must inspire our most vulnerable communities to come together for the common goal of providing healthier and safer neighborhoods regardless of socioeconomic status. Human Rights can no longer be thought of as separate, or belonging to a lucky privileged few. Our rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Human rights are equal rights, and they are key to our survival. Survival is attainable in a world where, instead of subjugating marginalized groups, they are seen as human beings worthy of our deepest investments. We need better schools, not more prisons. We need to work to break the school to prison pipeline so our young people of color aren’t shuffled from calculus to county because of a broken system. We have allowed implicit biases and institutionalized discrimination run unchecked and it is literally threatening the lives of our children. We will challenge stereotypes, reject underlying biases, and demand access to comprehensive health care for our low income citizens to insure they live a long and prosperous life. We define what our future looks like, and hold accountable a system that has been failing us. Our personal power is not given to us by those in power, but raised up by our collective voices. It is time to re-assert this power through creative expression. The artist’s most important work is done when discrimination is at it’s most entrenched. Only then is there hope, resilience and change.
Photo credit: Aaron Sandnes