No Matter How Tired You Are, Press On! Anderson .Paak Shows Us What Creative Resistance Looks Like!
It’s been about 3 months since we started dealing with COVID. It’s been 4 weeks since George Floyd was murdered. There have been vigils, protests, riots. People have fought hard to advance the cause of racial equality. Others have fought tooth and nail to hold onto the status quo of white supremacy. It’s been A LOT and many of us are exhausted, left wondering what else can we do?
Well, more often than most of us would like to admit, when we get tired we retreat to the comfort of our screens. Social media is a powerful drug and none of us are immune. And, hey, it’s not all bad! Social media can be used as an invaluable tool to spread anti-racism. But we need to be careful in how we let that tool impact the message. Because the message comes through loud and clear at a protest but that’s not always the case when it comes to social media.
On social media we see a sort of recontextualising of the message in an effort to make it easier for our opposition to understand us. But the horrors of racism are often stripped away when we do so. For instance, an American Pastor named Louie Giglio recently came under fire for suggesting that instead of calling it, “White Privilege” we should refer to it as, “White Blessings” because that would be more palatable for white people and therefore would make the situation easier for them to understand. He was rightly called out for this in dramatic fashion.
While Giglio’s case seems extreme, there are myriad other examples that are much more commonplace. For example, one twitter user, @absurdistwords recently wrote,
It goes to show that the words we use to explain what has happened, what is happening, and what must never happen again hold immense power and we need to resist the urge to use anything but the purest distilled forms of truth in our arguments.
Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Between the World and Me, “But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.”
But how do we do this? Stay connected to what’s happening in a human way. Don’t just intellectualise what’s happening. Don’t pander to people who aren’t ready to hear the truth. Look to the artists who are using their creative gifts to speak truth to power, to memorialise the good and the bad and the disgusting about what is happening in our society and sit with it. Let the art bypass your logic centre and make a lasting impression on your heart.
Because it’s right that we protest, that we write songs and poems and letters to elected officials, that we speak out in person, and online, when our friends and family and heroes let their masks slip and their racism shows. But in all of that fighting, all of those words, all of this protest please make sure that everyone remembers racism isn’t simply a bad idea or a corrupted philosophy it is life and death; it is rape and murder and every kind of evil that has ever been visited upon a people. And that is why we can’t stop and must never forget.