Creating a Culture of Racial Justice at Facing Race

By Adrienne Maree Brown Nov 15, 2008

I’m sitting here at the tail end of a wonderful panel at Facing Race called Creating a Culture of Racial Justice. This is the panel that in many ways most excites me, because I think so much of the framing of racial justice is a cultural framing. We look for art that makes us feel one, or beautiful, or illuminated. How do we make racial justice a beautiful image, full of righteous anger when that justice is not achieved, and gives people a vision of what that justice looks like, making it desirable. Taller Tupac Amaru is doing some of the best work in the world along this vein – commissioned to make bright and gorgeous images that are politically astute. Favianna Rodriguez of Taller Tupac Amaru just broke down how arts funding and public support, and the strength of art in movement, was in the 60s, how Reaganism really brought that to a hard stop and made it an underresourced arena. Now, Favi has a book called Reproduce and Revolt which has 200 political art pieces which they are going to put up as a database online. Melanie Cervantes was just talking about how interconnected artists need to be in the work of organizers, of social justice lawyers. "We need to understand the legal battles, we need to be out at the marches, we need to be connected." Samantha Chanse is speaking about how, as an artist, you can choose two paths – narratives that incorporate a lot of the issues we deal with; or art and stories that overtly reframe and issue – both are powerful. She focuses on the former: "You don’t want to be dogmatic, where people feel like stop hitting me over the head! I came to be entertained – you want to strike a balance." She went on to say, "I feel like being pissed off, for a lot of us, is a way of life – it fuels everything I do. But you may not like it! Artists are out there trying to change things. And you can show that you support or don’t support the art, and support the art that works for you. There’s the power of the local artist though, support the artist, help them get better!" Here is contact information for these panelists: