The past couple of weeks have been painful for us to see as events have unfolded over the death of George Floyd. It has put into perspective the countless deaths of innocent lives. It has instilled distrust with government and law enforcement. It has brought up critical questions I ask of my leaders, of myself. How did it get to this place? How did we fail so badly as a society?
I struggle to find my activist place. I’ve had countless conversations with my friends and artist-colleagues. The questions that keep arising are, what can we do? Activism doesn’t have one shade. There are many ways of activism that are effective. I chose to donate to the NAACP and the Color of Change organization. I chose to talk about it with my friends and family. I felt it was important to encourage and ensure that the people who are best equipped to handle finding the solution are well funded. I chose to sign my name on petitions and to write my local politicians. I feel that is making change. I feel that I am helping the movement. But I can do more. I can use my art to continue the mission.
As cultural artists, we engage in the art of our heritage and strive to connect our culture with our American identity; Art that is Indian-American. How do we incorporate the context of the world outside our window into the art that we make? Where does art live?
Out of the civil rights movement, some of the greatest works of art, literature, and film were created. Out of despair, hope was renewed. The Indian arts inherently teaches mindfulness, intense concentration, and focus - and with that comes clarity. We can be inspired to create and utilize our art to emote the feelings of anguish and renewal.
Ultimately, to create the change that our society seeks requires that we listen and have conversations about the movement. We must be mindful. We have to continue to educate and advocate whether through or art or otherwise to create change.