Just the Beginning
Protesters flooded downtown LA night after night post-election to stand in solidarity against Trump's hateful world. The protestors had many critics, but in the several nights I was out there I saw something very different than the violent, whiny image presented by many of my more *Texan* facebook friends. Between the chants of "Fuck Donald Trump," came the real heart of the protests--expressions of solidarity. Among many in a similar vein: "Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here," "Black Lives Matter," "Trans Lives Matter," and a call and response of female voices raising up in "My body my choice" followed by the men's response of "Her body, her choice." It was about a group of people from wildly different backgrounds and walks of life coming together to support one another in a time that is scary and confusing for many. I've heard a lot of people question what protesting can actually accomplish. In terms of changing the outcome, nothing much. But that's not why we're out there. What it really does is bring together a group of people with a common goal: sending the message that Trump's hatred will not be accepted. It lays the groundwork and from there we have the chance to keep the fire alive by mobilizing and taking more tangible action.
The election results left me reeling, and it's been a difficult and ongoing process to try and gather all my thoughts. Some friends and I began working on a documentary this weekend as a way to sort through some of the election responses out there right now and get more of a grasp on what's going on. We chose to focus on art--as healing, as protest, as a political statement, whatever it is--and our first stop was an open mic night hosted by students. We heard a lot of young liberals very much in shock, feeling the dizzying effects of that crazy bubble we're in. The question that came up that I found most interesting was concerning why we see far more art (music, street art, films, whatever) coming from the left than we do the right. We heard a variety of guesses that I didn't necessarily agree with--fewer economic incentives, less value placed on art, but what stood out to me was the overall feeling that a great deal of art came from oppression, many spurred by the need to make their voice heard through art when it might otherwise be silenced. The next day, we headed downtown to talk to a right wing political street artist, Sabo (he's as much a rarity as it sounds), and on a certain level this motivation seemed to remain true, just seen through a very different lens. He felt that in the art community, conservative perspectives were silenced and because of this he was driven to create his art and raise some hell. I've been realizing how much many on the conservative side see themselves in danger of being disadvantaged and ignored too, by immigrants, the establishment, by "new" people and ideals--not those who have historically been (or are) the oppressors. I can't help but hope that more empathy, more conversation, more art, might help bridge this gap of perspective even a little and help us try and understand each other's struggles. A lesson for all of us: how easy it is to be so caught up in your own side, validated by everything you consume.