The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture has no connection whatsoever to the government. It is a people-powered department—a grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging. The USDAC is calling on artists, creative organizers, concerned citizens, and all community members to join together from April 2-8, 2018, to draw inspiration from and breathe new life into the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., strengthening our commitment to speak truth to power and sparking creative action in the year ahead. Below are some ideas that the USDAC has provided to help spark the imagination.
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“Radical” is a much maligned word: it comes from the Latin radix (root), and refers to anything that goes to the root of the matter, rather than tinkering with the leaves and branches. Many people have downplayed Dr. King’s deep spiritual and political radicalism, trying to whitewash his true views. Now it is more important than ever to use our creativity to nourish the roots of love and justice. Continue reading
From the conclusion of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent in Utah, Petitioner v. Edward Joseph Strieff, Jr. (June 20, 2016):
This case involves a suspicionless stop, one in which the officer initiated this chain of events without justification. As the Justice Department notes, supra, at 8, many innocent people are subjected to the humiliations of these unconstitutional searches. The white defendant in this case shows that anyone’s dignity can be violated in this manner. But it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny. For generations, black and brown parents have given their children “the talk”–instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger–all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them. Continue reading
From a young Alice Walker in “From An Interview” (1973):
If there is one thing African-Americans and Native Americans have retained of their African and ancient American heritage, it is probably the belief that everything is inhabited by spirit. This belief encourages knowledge perceived intuitively. It does not surprise me, personally, that scientists now are discovering that trees, plants, flowers, have feelings…emotions, that they shrink when yelled at; that they faint when an evil person is about who might hurt them.
From The Undefeated and ESPN collaborating on a tremendous series called The State of the Black Athlete:
Martin Luther King Jr. penned his Letter from Birmingham Jail in a narrow cell on newspaper margins, scraps of paper and smuggled-in legal pads. He had no notes or reference materials. Yet, King’s eloquent defense of nonviolent protest and searing critique of moderation continues to resonate in a nation still divided by race. Continue reading
A [re]post from Ijeoma Oluo’s speech at “Interrupting Whiteness,” an event held on June 1, 2017 at the Central Library in Seattle, co-hosted by KUOW Public Radio.
Hi, I am Ijeoma Oluo, and I am a mixed race black woman who was raised by a white mother in this very white city.
I have a Ph.D. in whiteness, and I was raised in “Seattle nice.” I was steeped in the good intentions of this city and I hate it. I love this city. I love you guys. Also, I hate it. I really do.
And I’m going to talk a little bit about why. I write about race, and I’m regularly reached out to by really well-meaning white people who want to explain to me what my work is like to them as a white person and the white perspective that I’m missing.
And the only part of the white perspective I’m missing is the ability to be unaware of the white perspective. Continue reading
From Gloria Anzaldua in “How To Tame A Wild Tongue:”
So, if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity – I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself. Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex-Mex, and all the other languages I speak, I cannot accept the legitimacy of myself. Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate.
I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue — my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.