Starting this week we are delighted to announce a series of blog posts by High School Students from the Gotham Professional Arts Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The students attended our public art performance by Dread Scott this past October in DUMBO. Over the course of the following weeks the students organized a series of “Town Hall” meetings to address the recent racial tension and social injustice. Today’s guest blogger is Saragine Edouard. Saragine has written a piece called The Art of Storytelling.
The Art of Storytelling
by Saragine Edouard
“A child that is only educated at school, is an uneducated child” – George Santayana.
It is always important to educate a child on what’s going on in the community, not only at school but at home as well. The mind can be clouded by external negativity from the media, lack of education, and people with the same mentality, making someone blind to the positive changes around them. Now with all that’s going on, I’m writing about the importance of educating the younger and older individuals within the community about the issues that we face, and why it is worth addressing them.
We all face issues in our day to day lives, but being an African American like myself, we may sometimes face racism, stereotypes, violence within the community, and lack of understanding about ourselves and the history being taught to us. Born into a world of chaos, and division amongst race, color, ethnic background, and many other things in the world, it becomes a fight for survival not only physically but mentally, and emotionally. This year I have seen performances that impacted my view on society. One of the performances that impacted me was called The Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide by an artist named Dread Scott. In his performance he re-enacted what happened to African Americans during the Civil Rights Era, where fire fighters (people who are suppose to be here to “protect us”) are using water hoses against innocent African Americans who stood up to make a change against racism, and injustice. This impacted me because in that moment I felt as if I was the one being fired with a water cannon. I’ve read about and seen videos of these horrific acts by authority, but to see it in front of me I felt shunned and helpless because in eyes of law, authority seems to always be right even if the injustice committed was completely wrong and inhumane.
After seeing the performance, and a month later hearing that Darren Wilson, the murderer of Michael Brown was not getting indicted, I decided to do something positive. The negative energy became too much and I saw the youth and my generation around me with no hope in their eyes. It affected me because I knew that giving up was not an option. With the help of some teachers, students, and other leaders and I created a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the Dread Scott performance and find out people’s reactions to the Michael Brown case, and the injustices towards black and brown people. Some of the reactions left me speechless and somewhat frustrated because my generation wanted things to change but believed that everything would always remain the same. I couldn’t blame my generation for having such a mentality since some of us have been brainwashed to believe that we can cannot make positive changes. Although I knew that I couldn’t change everyone’s way of thinking, I knew that it starts with one person to make a change so I began participating in protests and the “Millions March” because it meant a lot to me to make a change and let others know that things can change. It motivated me to let my generation, younger youth, and older generation know that in the great words of Abraham Lincoln “United we stand… Divided we fall”, meaning that as a community we need to educate each other and stand together in a positive way to break that down the barriers that were put to keep us down.
Learning about what’s going on is important to know, but being educated should not only happen in school because not every school will be open to discuss the horrific injustice and abuse that cops use against people. We should be learning how to protect ourselves from this abuse not physically but mentally, and know that racism is not yet over, we also need to learn that we do not need to fall victim to the stereotypes put against us black and brown people. I’ve learned that the world we live in is corrupted by a widespread brainwashing of the youth. This is achieved through examples including as negative images in the media about the protest in Ferguson; TV shows degrading black brown people and the education system; learning false and distorted history; and creating systems to keep us down. However, I’ve also learned that we can change this if we continue to educate and motivate each other, and that great things can happen when our voices are heard in a positive way.