Protest Songs and the #USElection

Like a goodly number of people around the globe, I can't stop thinking about the #postelection reality we face. I have a tendency to dooms day thinking (and am constantly told how negative my outlook is (did any of those people see my paintings??)), but I grew up with stories of the impact of world war 2 on my family, and I know full well the damage one unhinged white supremacist can wreak on the world, so I'm pretty damn freaked out about what this means firstly for my values, my beliefs, but more importantly for all the people on the shit end of this shitstick.  

I've always been interested in the role of art and music in #revolution and in #protest, and started thinking about what I can do, and what others are doing in response to the results of the #USelection. How do we standup for our values? To get me deeper into this headspace I started by searching civil rights playlists on spotify and found a few playlists that are all about #blacklivesmatter. The song above is one that I really liked.

I think music especially plays a role which is why I share this song. Music has a way of cutting through class, through colour, through religion in a way that other art forms don't, or cant. Music also is particularly awesome in creating a rallying cry. Look at all the amazing protest songs that hang around in the back catalogues of our own sweet memories. Off the top of my head Australian Artists like Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil, and global artists like Bob Geldoff, but beyond the mainstream there are so many. Folk, Rap, and all those urban genres I don't even know the names of. I'm a painter, not a muso, so I'm waiting to hear the new protest songs, I want to hear the music that creates a new rallying cry, and I want to hear them now.....

I'm a white woman. My early childhood was in PNG. I was a white kid in a melanesian country. For me ideas about diversity are tinged with the colours of my childhood and inherited memories of my parents time living in Africa. With the photography in books about Africa, with photos my parents took, of proud, beautiful african people and my own memories of PNG. 

For me art is extremely personal, and the more I paint, the more personal it gets. It is about identity, and belief. My paintings are usually colourful, celebrating the colours of nature, and of humanity. I am consciously the white kid of my childhood, in awe and loving every moment of being surrounded by diversity. I paint to try and pay homage to the beauty, complexity and resilience of the diverse cultures impacted by colonialism. Now, after this goddamn sunnofabitch election outcome, over the last few days I've been thinking about fighting back, about resilience in the face of a tidal wave (I hope the last dying gasp) of the negative values of the far right, and how those of us who give a shit about human rights, about equality, and frankly about human decency, how we need more than ever to #standup for what we believe in, and for those that need our voices joining theirs.

I looked around the studio this morning and found myself sketching this elephant, which is as old as I am, carved from Ebony, and has travelled with my family around the world. It's missing it's trunks and is polished black, not by the carver, but by my hands, from childhood to now, years of picking it up and thinking about it. I think of an elephant as something wise and resilient, persistantly continuing to plod along, but strong and powerful, even playful when it needs to.

I piled up these stones, for the elephant to carry, and the words 'Chardi Kala' came to mind, something I read about a sikh who had been persecuted for some imagined crime in the US, and how he talked about 'Chardi Kala', a sikh belief in 'relentless optimisim'. Anyway, somehow it all resonated....that we all must keep moving forward, with the wisdom of our predecessors, and carry this load, the hopes, the responsibilities and the fight for our values - all the time with 'relentless optimism'.

I don't know what I personally will do in response to the fucked up election result but I'm not staying silent that is for sure. It's not my country  but the results of this election are already playing out across the globe as leaders either (like Merkel) say to trump 'I will only work with you if you hold to humane values' or (as many Australian leaders did) they suck up to this new demagogue, panting for his approval. Our leaders lack of leadership on this emboldens the ugliest side of our communities. And I don't think I will be able to, nor want to shut up about it.

Je suis je suis

#JeSuisCharlie The words are ringing out around the world.  I am numbed by the events of the last week. Not angered, not impassioned, just numbed. France, plastered all over the world's media, Nigeria near to ignored. Maybe it's compassion fatigue. Maybe I'm just sick of humans being bloody idiots. I have no comprehension that people can justify their hate, their violent insanity with some sense of offense on behalf of a long dead prophet, who if he was as prophetic and wise as they believe would probably not have condoned their violence in the first place. 

I have a sense that sometimes the anger of the worlds extremists is just too there no answer to their hate, to their wrongheadedness, to their ignorance.

I find myself wondering if their anger is the fallout from the catapulting of ancient cultures into modernity. Is this what happens when a culture skips the age of enlightenment and is catapulted wholesale out of subsistence life in adobe villages into a world of sex, drugs, rock'n'roll and the internet?

These extremists stand at the border between a modern and an ancient world, with a foot in each, and with a fundamentally flawed view, belonging in neither the ancient world or the modern. They live not the simplistic lives of the old traditions nor the secular life of the new.  Meanwhile, the western world breeds a kind of regression where leaders of the western world unlearn the lessons of the enlightenment...

Or is this what happens when the Global North, wholesale, whether by good intentions or bad, mistreats the Global South? Is this violence fuelled by ongoing millitary interventions; by the negative effects of dodgy free trade deals and trade sanctions; by the wreckage of colonial political architectures; by the ongoing sanctioning of the behaviour of Israel toward Palestinians, by decade upon decade of interventions in one way or another of the Global North into the Global South. Is this all the unseen hand which stokes the fires of ignorance and hate, a malignancy deeper than the offense of religious disrespect?

For the first time I find myself shaking my head and throwing my arms up in the air. What to do. Which way out of this age old mess. How to protect the innocents, and even those that aren't so much innocent as ignorant or naiive? Or even those that are brave?

How to turn the attention of these angry people to the more important things like the future of life on this planet?

**If you are unsure what this post is about...I refer you to or friend google. Google 2000 dead in Nigeria, Google #Je Suis Charlie, Google 'Global North and Global South".