God Bless The Artists: A Frustrated Plea To The Masses

God Bless The Artists: A Frustrated Plea To The Masses

It's time to celebrate artists the way we celebrate athletes
27
views

Once when I was in high school, I went with my mother to my little brother’s football practice. Having never really been into sports, I was sitting with my notebook writing down movie ideas when my mom was suddenly approached by a friend of hers whom she had gone to school with. They caught up with each other, and my Mom introduced me to the guy who, being at a football practice, asked me what kind of sports I played. As always, I smiled awkwardly and stated that athletics “weren’t really my thing.” His brow furrowed and he asked me what was "my thing?" I told him that I did theatre, and acting, and singing. “Oh,” he replied not missing a beat, “you do the pretty boy stuff.”

This is an experience that my mother perhaps wouldn’t remember, but one that made a huge impact on me at the time. In the 2005 film “Guess Who,” Bernie Mac’s character states: “A man who doesn’t play sports isn’t really a man as far as I’m concerned.” This popular mindset – one that idolizes sports, and dismisses art – is one that I have seen prevail my entire life, and even recently when I discovered that one of my professors' strict attendance policy applied only to “non-athletes.” It has always been fascinating to me that the public is so quick to trivialize arts, and entertainment when our lives are submerged in music, movies, books, and – yes – even televised sports. Certain politicians seem to be committed to cutting funding for arts programs in schools, U.S. News and World Report states that 80 percent of U.S. school districts have cut funds since 2008, while it's customary for universities to put their entire budgets into football and basketball programs at the expense of their music and theatre programs. Our society has taught us that art is simply unimportant, as if we could live in a world without music or television.

80 percent of U.S. School Districts have cut arts funding since 2008

As a young African-American male, not enjoying sports makes me an alien of sorts. As a kid, I often tried to pretend or force myself to be interested, even though my interests were clearly unrelated. I grew up enjoying my artistic activities and the success that came with them, but there was always a chip on my shoulder regarding my lack of excitement for the country’s favorite pastime. Still, the issue has nothing to do with the fact that people enjoy athletic events as, ultimately, everyone should be allowed to like what they like. The issue is the declaration of importance for one passion over another.

In my four year education at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C., my classmates and I attended school from 8:30 to 5 everyday. In the theatre department, we took rigorous movement classes where we trained in dance, fighting, and all kinds of physical activities in addition to training in acting, voice, and technical production. Being an actor/singer/writer/director has required bodily discipline, emotional intelligence, vocal technique, and plenty of other unique skills, and yet I’m told constantly – either explicitly or implied – that what I do is easy or simple or “pretty.”

In December of last year, clothing retail store Old Navy released a line of graphic tees for toddlers featuring the phrases “Young Aspiring Artist Astronaut,” and “Young Aspiring Artist President”. After social media outrage, the shirts were taken out of circulation, but the creation of them reveals that the problem is more than indifference. In this 21st Century that we live in, the real problem here is that, like telling girls that they should seek out a man to handle things for them or telling gay youth that they’ll never be accepted by society, children are going to digest these ignorant statements as gospel. They will believe that they have to like sports even if they don’t, or that they’re not contributing anything to the world by singing or dancing Unless, of course, they “make it big”, which seems to be the only condition where this path is considered okay. Young people will believe that being an artist is not a “real job.” Young boys, specifically, will continue to think that choosing art is “girly,” which is still equated with “weak” in today’s society, and they won’t do it.

Because sports is one of the most successful and supported industries in the country and the world, this conversation is not one likely to be prioritized by the public. Make no mistake, however, it is an important conversation; one that if handled properly, could lead to more young artists moving confidently forward into the world instead of being held back by outdated mindsets that dismiss their passions. Sports are fun, popular, challenging, and they bring people together. For this reason, they deserve to be celebrated. However, it is possible (and necessary) to support one institution without bringing down another. Famed author and poet Langston Hughes stated, “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.” The goal here is to allow people to be confident in their talents, especially when those talents lead them to entertaining the very people who attempt to marginalize them.

Cover Image Credit: Arts Rising

Popular Right Now

6 Things You Should Know About The Woman Who Can't Stand Modern Feminism

Yes, she wants to be heard too.

72236
views

2018 is sort of a trap for this woman. She believes in women with all of the fire inside of her, but it is hard for her to offer support when people are making fools of themselves and disguising it as feminism.

The fact of the matter is that women possess qualities that men don't and men possess qualities that women don't. That is natural. Plus, no one sees men parading the streets in penis costumes complaining that they don't get to carry their own fetus for nine months.

1. She really loves and values women.

She is incredibly proud to be a woman.

She knows the amount of power than a woman's presence alone can hold. She sees when a woman walks into a room and makes the whole place light up. She begs that you won't make her feel like a "lady hater" because she doesn't want to follow a trend that she doesn't agree with.

2. She wants equality, too

She has seen the fundamental issues in the corporate world, where women and men are not receiving equal pay.

She doesn't cheer on the businesses that don't see women and men as equivalents. But she does recognize that if she works her butt off, she can be as successful as she wants to.

3. She wears a bra.

While she knows the "I don't have to wear a bra for society" trend isn't a new one, but she doesn't quite get it. Like maybe she wants to wear a bra because it makes her feel better. Maybe she wears a bra because it is the normal things to do... And that's OK.

Maybe she wants to put wear a lacy bra and pretty makeup to feel girly on .a date night. She is confused by the women who claim to be "fighting for women," because sometimes they make her feel bad for expressing her ladyhood in a different way than them.

4. She hates creeps just as much as you do. .

Just because she isn't a feminist does not mean that she is cool with the gruesome reality that 1 in 5 women are sexually abused.

In fact, this makes her stomach turn inside out to think about. She knows and loves people who have been through such a tragedy and wants to put the terrible, creepy, sexually charged criminals behind bars just as bad as the next woman.

Remember that just because she isn't a feminist doesn't mean she thinks awful men can do whatever they want.

5. There is a reason she is ashamed of 2018's version of feminism.

She looks at women in history who have made a difference and is miserably blown away by modern feminism's performance.

Not only have women in the past won themselves the right to vote, but also the right to buy birth control and have credit cards in their names and EVEN saw marital rape become a criminal offense.

None of them dressed in vagina costumes to win anyone over though... Crazy, right?

6. She isn't going to dress in a lady parts costume to prove a point.

This leaves her speechless. It is like the women around her have absolutely lost their minds and their agendas, only lessening their own credibility.

"Mom, what are those ladies on TV dressed up as?"

"Ummm... it looks to me like they are pink taco's honey."

She loves who she is and she cherished what makes her different from the men around her. She doesn't want to compromise who she is as a woman just so she can be "equal with men."

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I've Had PTSD, And I'll Be The First To Say I Did Not Need A Gun While I Was Sick

My opinion on gun control not from my political opinions, but from my experiences as a mentally ill person.

17
views

On November 7th, 2018, a gunman armed with a .45-caliber Glock handgun walked into Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California and killed 12 people.

In addition to the 11 slain and 18 injured in the bar, the gunman killed a sheriff's sergeant responding to the 911 call before committing suicide.

The gunman was Ian David Long, a former U.S. Marine apparently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

While all of the 307 mass shootings that make it onto the news make my soul ache, this one particularly hit home for me for two reasons.

One: I lived in California for about five years and had indeed spent time in the area.

Two: these atrocities were committed by someone of whom PTSD had gotten the better of.

Having had PTSD for 15 years myself, it baffles me that he had a legally-owned gun at all.

I know first-hand how much anger can develop when this disorder is left unchecked, and violence is the most delicious release from it all.

From self-harm to physical fighting in school, I looked for any way to curb my appetite for destruction. As soon as my body sensed an opportunity to expel some of my pent-up aggression on someone who'd even mildly taunted the beast, my brain would enter into a hazy fog of emotion and a nothing-to-lose attitude. My fight-or-flight was constantly engaged, and I really had never been much of a runner.

I felt like my temper was a bottle rocket that could be set off at any moment and I had next to no control over whether or not I reacted. I remember loving the power of people being afraid of me and relishing in my ability to win at all costs, especially if it were in defense of myself or someone who needed help.

Since the opportunities to let my feelings out physically were few and far between, my brain provided a platform for the rest of them without an outlet. The majority of my life, I was plagued with violent fantasies as much––if not more––than the sexual ones, which should've been my sole focus as a horny teenager.

In these fantasies, I would be defending myself and others from unknown assailants, escaping from situations where I was being detained as a sex slave, or else exacting revenge on someone who'd wronged me. Every movement of the altercation I would replay over and over again in my head until it was almost a memory.

These fantasies bordered on an obsession while I suffered from paranoia. Every waking and even unconscious moment was filled with the absolute certainty that someone was waiting behind the corner to physically assault or rape me, and I would not entertain the idea of letting that happen.

I used to boast that the next time someone attacked me, only one of us would come out of it alive.

I imagined these him-or-me altercations constantly—before I went to sleep, day-dreaming in class or else in places where I felt especially uneasy—and sometimes the story lines would continue on all week until they finished off with me emerging victorious.

Every fantasy would not be considered complete until I had won and gone insane. For some reason, my brain rationalized that as soon as the inevitable attack came and everyone became aware of it, my mind could finally be at rest.

These fantasies were so intense that I would have physical reactions to them. I was basically powerless to shut them down once my imagination got going, so I would sweat excessively, tremble with anticipation and sometimes even laugh out loud with the adrenaline they inspired. It got to the point where I could actually taste the iron in my mouth, as if my body was already preparing for the taste of blood.

This mindset didn't come without an intense fascination in weapons. My fantasies would include actual weapons, random items I employed in resourcefulness to defend myself or merely fighting to the death with my bare hands.

I collected the few I could afford at the time and ached for the days when I could own my own gun. I had never fired one, but I was entranced by the idea of owning the ultimate fighting utensil; an end-all to any threats that may come my way, with the power to take a life at the tip of my finger.

My gravitation towards violence ended after two years of recovering from PTSD. One day I realized I hadn't thought about it in a while, and just like that, the freakish obsession I'd harbored since childhood was gone.

I experienced all of this, yet the trauma that provided me with the disorder didn't have one single thing to do with guns.

So why on the Goddess' green earth did an ex-machine gunner, who developed his PTSD from shooting people, have legal access to one?

Though California does have a law asserting that families concerned with their loved ones' safety can request their guns be taken away for a period of time, this was not enough to spare the lives of those 12 innocent people that Wednesday night.

I shiver at the thought of what would've happened if I had gotten my hands on a gun when I had wanted one. So based on my expertise, neither Long nor anyone else with PTSD has any business owning a gun.

Who better to weigh in on these issues than the ones posing an obvious threat?

Yet, even after this testimony of how much I wanted to pull the trigger at one point, there will still be people who insist on loading the bullets and cocking it for me.

Related Content

Facebook Comments