Black Lives Matter: Art as Allyship
I wasn't going to post a new blog this week, mostly because none of my usual topics seemed appropriate for the state our world is (and really, has been) in. I also didn't feel I had anything valuable to contribute to the discussion. As a white woman, this week has been a practice in listening more than I speak; in creating space for the voices that truly need to be heard, because right now mine is not one of them.
So why is this post still being shared? Well, after doing my best to simply shut up, donate, and share resources, I began wondering what else I could do to be a better ally. And I quickly realized that everyone has an opportunity to use their platform for good, regardless of their skin color. Being surrounded by writers, artists, and small business owners has helped me see that it's possible (and necessary) to continue our work in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I came to understand that as a blogger, I not only have the means to spread awareness, but the privilege of doing so while free of the prejudice which writers, artists, and business owners of color face everyday.
While I certainly do not want to overstep or take focus from the truly important voices, I felt it was time for me to do my part. I want to reiterate that (obviously) no one can help the skin they are born into. I can't change the fact that I'm white, but I can certainly recognize how this inherently makes my life an easier, safer one than that of any POC. I can use this privilege to help those who are born without it. I can use this privilege to speak up; to rally those around me; to refuse to accept the injustices upon which this nation was founded.
But with this realization comes the question of navigating my allyship. In the last week,
I've seen countless debates about what is and is not right to be posting on social media right now. And for the most part, I agree with those who say that BLM content is just about all that's appropriate. However, I don't think this means we have to completely shut up about our projects, our art, or our businesses. Instead, we can choose to use these as tools to further support this movement. Now is not the time to maintain a division between art and politics or business and politics- because the truth is that this is becoming less and less of a politic matter. Each day it is a simple question of life and death, of humanity and morality. Do you believe innocent lives deserve to be taken, or do you believe murderers must be held accountable?
It's time for each of us to use our platforms to effect real change. Writers, lend your voice to those being silenced. Photographers, bear witness to and provide context for these injustices. Artists, donate your proceeds to bail funds and BLM organizations. Business owners, make your stances known. These are human beings, and each of their lives matters more than your audience or sales ever will. Whatever your craft, whatever your skin color, it's time to stand up and speak out.
And to that end, I want to highlight a few people who are using their platforms in an effective way. This is far from an exhaustive list, but I intend to add to it and welcome any suggestions readers might have.
Lifting Up Black Voices
First, I want to reiterate the importance of this video which has been circulating. Zoe Amira had the incredible idea to create this project, which allows those who are not financially able to donate still raise money for BLM organizations. Not only is this one of the simplest ways to help the cause, but the video itself features many black artists and provides them with a necessary platform.
The video works by generating revenue through AdSense (100% of which will be donated to a number of bail funds and campaigns listed at the start of the video). All you have to do is simply watch without ad blocker and allow these breaks to play uninterrupted. Once the video ends, refresh ads by clicking away before retuning to the video. At this point you don't have to watch/listen directly, but should absolutely keep the video playing in a separate tab. I personally will have this on a loop whenever I'm on my laptop, and urge others to do the same. It's one of the easiest, least expensive ways to make a genuine impact.
If you're white and continuing to create art during this time, do not forget the reason behind this movement. If you're promoting white artists or white-run businesses (as I will be below), please only do so if their work further contributes to this cause. Ultimately our job right now is to use our privilege to call out injustice and to raise up black voices, black artists, and black business owners.
I also want to share some photos taken of ongoing protests in Chicago. These are shot by my friend Jeremy, and I think they set a great example for how we can all use art as a means of allyship:
Because of the countless people spreading misinformation, and because the media rarely reports the truth abut these protests, photographers are crucial in showing the peaceful side of things. You can check out more of these photos over @jeremotographs on Instagram. Jeremy would also like me to remind fellow photo/videographers to be cognizant about deleting metadata and concealing protestor identities. Many editors have been offering their services to help with the latter; two other friends of mine are doing so and can be contacted @atsamstenson and @LinusSchill on Twitter.
All Proceeds Go to...
And lastly, I've compiled a brief list of some artists and businesses who are also contributing their proceeds to BLM organizations. Again, please reach out if there are names I can add. If you work in a creative field or run your own business, please, please follow suit and consider how you can use your work as a BLM resource and/or support system.
@lmhydrick - Painting commissions open, proceeds to BLM org of your choice
@masoodle - Profile picture illustrations in exchange for proof of donation
Harpy - Proceeds to BLM & 25% off art prints with code DBQMY9GO until June 6th
Sealfarts - $3-10 Overwatch buttons, stickers, prints, etc.
@amphimbian - $5 art commissions, proceeds to Reclaim the Block
@soft_hardboy - $5 sketch commissions
@Riceballdoesnot - $5, $12, and $20 sketch commissions, proceeds to Black Visions Collective
@scumvillain - $15 minimum sketch commissions for donations to Reclaim the Block
@julieguaan - $1 Avatar (animal) stickers
Sadie Apples Stickers- $2-4 BLM stickers
@jabbaghs - $5 stickers, proceeds to Black Visions Collective & BLM Boston
BareSkinBareBeauty - $10 BLM Sticker Trio
The Philippine Union Student Organization - BLM bracelets
@blairebear1122 - Custom beaded bras, all proceeds to BLM for the month of July
Gamer Girl Gloss - All proceeds to the Chicago Bond Fun until June 15th
@amalthearhea - Various divination services, all proceeds to BLM for the month of June
@Macks_oddities - Auction including BLM totes, keychains, magnets, a necklace and a canvas (ends the evening of June 5th)
Now is the time for major change. Now is the time for educating yourself, then educating others. Do not trust what the police, our government, or the media outlets tell you. These protests are a culmination of centuries of abuse, mistreatment, and inequality. This movement is an effort to reclaim the stolen land this country was founded on; an effort to stop history from repeating itself yet again. Know that now more than ever, your words and your actions are setting the future in motion. Make no mistake that ignorance makes you complicit. Silence makes you complicit. Failure to act makes you complicit. No matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from, you have the power to stand on the side of justice and equity.