I am proud of my fellow Americans out in the streets this week. I am angry, frustrated and sick of the direction this country has gone. I remember 1968. I protested the Vietnam War with my parents and I’m proud to have been raised to express my First Amendment rights. Those times held within them hope for improving our country. We witnessed horrible actions and all of America was aggrieved by the Kent State killings. If those events occurred today our Tweeter in Chief would call the students thugs and his followers would agree. Today’s protesters are NOT thugs – they have legitimate anger. I do not condone violence and believe Martin Luther King was right – nonviolent protest is far more effective.
It’s difficult for those of us at risk for severe coronavirus to willingly put our very lives at risk to join the protesters. Now that I’m over 60 and not in perfect health, the virus could end my life as I know it. I will not risk my future and even retired early to avoid that fate. Yet each of us has a responsibility to speak out against racism, injustice, inequality, mass incarceration, and inadequate health care in this country. We each must find a way to speak up. Not everyone can march but we all can do something.
For a number of years I have been disturbed by the senseless killing of unarmed black Americans. I’ve made art to honor the names of those killed. This piece is titled, “The Fire This Time”, influenced by James Baldwin’s writings. As an artist, I believe I have a responsibility to make art that is relevant to my time – not to merely decorate or merely express emotion. Join me in making art that speaks out against racial injustice.