There has been a lot of horribleness in the news lately. There have been shootings, bombs, vehicular homicides…. The amount of violence, especially in places long considered safe has been overwhelming. The thing that hits us the hardest, though, is the undercurrent of racism and bigotry that has risen to the surface.
Many people are shocked that not only do these ideas persist, but that they are so strongly held. They can’t understand how, in a world that is so connected that one group can so hate another that they would call for a shutdown of their rights. And indiscriminately cause their deaths. It is enraging to watch it all happen. And it is frightening to be a member of not one, but several of the groups being targeted.
I am a Black, queer woman who is part of a mixed race couple. This doesn’t feel like a safe climate for me and my wife. There are those around me, ready to take up arms, to do battle. They are on the front lines at protests. They send calls to action to the powers that be, beseeching them to do the right thing and pass legislation to combat what feels like the rising tide of hatred and bigotry. These are the warriors, and we need them.
Five years in the Marine Corps have taught me that I am no warrior. I am an artist, a creator. As such, direct confrontation doesn’t work for me. My medium is subversion. I want to make people think, to reconsider their positions. Tell a person they are wrong, and they get instantly defensive. Tell a person a story, and they cannot help but look for themselves in that story.
I started to tell the stories of women from all races, nationalities, and walks of life through my series Women Behaving Badly. I want people to see themselves in those stories, to consider how they may be like those women, and think differently about women in general. Originally, I aimed these stories and this art at women and girls. I wanted to inspire them to be more than they thought they could be. Now, I see that these pieces can become a vehicle to combat an ideology that puts people into a box with an incorrect label in order to stop them being their full selves.
To quote the Netflix series The Get Down, “when you know better/ then you gotta do better/ each one teach one/ come together”. Warriors, stay on the front lines, we need you there. But, if like me, you know you don’t fit in a the front, we still need your help. Spread art, spread knowledge, spread the stories that tell of our mutual humanity. Reach out with your heart.