The topic i chose to tackle was police brutality, in particular, the Black Lives Matter Movement. This movement stems from decades of institutionalised racism and white supremacy, it seeks to end the inequality that hinders our societies. BLM is often seen as exclusive to one race, but in reality, it represents all who are treated or have been treated unequally. Street art was my method of visual activism, i wanted to use a medium which encompasses all classes. The angel represents innocence and death, while the bullseye clearly communicates “target”. White and black representing races, and red representing the blood shed. After all, we all bleed the same colour.
My work responds to police brutality, i was heavily inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The movement is important as it provides clear evidence of the discrimination and inequality against African Americans within the States. BLM is a representative collective which supports all unequal groups. Matt McGorry tweeted “BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean other lives don’t. Like people who say “Save The Rainforests” aren’t saying “Fuck All Other Types of Forests”. The movement seeks to diminish the unequal treatment of those deemed less worthy as well as the dismantling of institutional racism and white supremacy, BLM “breaks the cycle of violence and silence” according to CNN.
According to Funk & Wagnalls police brutality is often categorised in “two forms: excessive force or unnecessary force”. BLM also raises awareness against the discrimination and fascist ideals which burden our era. Ben Shapiro exemplifies the use of fear, threat of force, and violence that equip today’s modern bully e.g. police. The consequences of power misuse and ill handling is exemplified in the deaths of African Americans such as Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland, just to name a few.
#BLM creates a communication channel from the centre of the issue to the outside world. According to The Centre For American Progress “people of color are significantly overrepresented” in the U.S. prison population, making up more than “60 percent of the people behind bars”. Statistics also point towards a disproportionate amount of affect towards Coloured people in the so-called “drug war”. As a collective global society, we all hold a proportion of social responsibility that is suppose to prevent such matters from developing and corrupting. Mirzoeff describes visual activism as the conversion of pixels to actions, #BlackLivesMatter does exactly just that. By creating an online presence, most notably on Twitter, they enabled themselves to be in two places at once, they created a global and local figure. Using the rapid expansion of social media, they chose a platform that appealed to the younger population – the leaders of tomorrow. As the online presence spilled out onto the streets, visual activism was undertaken (297).
Banksy. If Graffiti Changed Anything. Digital image. Unurth. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2016.
The illegality of street art stems from the power of the medium, street art reaches all classes of society, it stimulates viewing from beyond the walls of a gallery. It places art into context. Street artists like Banksy, Sampsa, and Ganzeer observe, analyse, and reflect today’s world, their work provokes thought in an immediate context. Mirzoeff calls the suppression of street art, Artocracy (261), one can only assume this is an attempt to retain power over the people. After all, anything that has a cause and effect has the power to sway people’s opinions and thoughts, thus in turn out powering the government and authorities. Street art’s power will always remain with the people, the bigger the audience the bigger the effect.
Wu, Annie. Bullseye Angel. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2016.
The idea behind my work is to create a stencil set signifying the innocence of those unarmed and fatally shot. The angel represents youth and innocence in death, the bullseye refers to the police officers mentality. The restricted usages of white and black represents race, and the bold red represents blood. The unity of the colours was inspired by the line – we all bleed the same colour. Using a stencil allows the artwork to be reproduced in different areas, thus raising more awareness against the issue of police brutality.
Question – with supporting evidence (research and images of art/design practices)
What is #blacklivesmatter and what does it communicate about our global society?
Throughout American history, discrimination has hindered the devolvement of safe and equal societies, in particular, the discriminations towards African American communities has had a substantial impact. #BLM creates a communication channel from the centre of the issue to the outside, it creates awareness regarding police brutality and begins to dismantle institutional racism and white supremacy. According to The Centre For American Progress, “people of colour are significantly overrepresented” in the U.S. prison population, making up more than 60 percent of the people behind bars”. Statistics also point towards a disproportionate amount of affect towards Coloured people in the so-called “drug war”. As a collective global society, we all hold a proportion of social responsibility that is suppose to prevent such matters from developing and corrupting. #BlackLivesMatter speaks for all inequality, and through education, it generates change.
Taking advantage of the rise of social media #BlackLivesMatter created a platform appealing to the younger generations, the generations that would eventually run today’s society. In an effort to create change, it must start with the children of the world – the leaders of tomorrow. The creation of #BlackLivesMatter was founded on Twitter, after “trending”, the movement gained momentum and soon became a heavily publicised movement which eventually outstretched to far corners of the world. The sheer mass of supporters created a sense of safety in numbers, the collective power of people’s voices is more influential than any medium.
Banksy. Piñata. Digital image. Banksy. Banksy, n.d. Web. 8 June 2016.
This artwork by Banksy represents the maltreatment of Rodney King, who was violently beaten by LAPD, and recorded by witnesses. On the 20th anniversary of King’s beating, Bansky reproduced a screenshot in a similar fashion to the recording.
Banksy uses the Piñata to represent King, Banksy encourages the reflection of the incident as well as the “dehumanisation of others leads to self-dehumanization”. The police are seen in a position of power, they out number and tower over the piñata, signifying vulnerability. Stencil revolution states, “The different colors on the pinata represent how people of all colors become victims of the erosion of civil liberties”.
Banksy. If Graffiti Changed Anything. Digital image. Unurth. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 June 2016.
The illegality of street art stems from the power of the medium, street art is able to reach all classes of society, it stimulates viewing from beyond the blank cube walls of a gallery. It places art into context, rather than the other way round. Street artists observe, analyse, and reflect the context and surroundings today, their work provokes thought in an immediate context. The suppression of street art is an attempt to retain power over the people, anything that has a cause and effect has the power to sway people’s opinions and thoughts, thus in turn dangerous for a government’s regime. Street art’s power remains with the people, the bigger the audience the bigger the effect, and thus setting the wheels of change in motion.
“LAPD Pinata by Banksy.” Stencil Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2016.
“8 Facts You Should Know About the Criminal Justice System and People of Color.” Name. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2016.
Harrington, Jaime Rojo & Steven. “The Power of Color Via Street Art, Graffiti and Murals.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 07 June 2016.
Focus research – The importance of understanding the context #BLM was created in.
Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Samuel DuBose. We know their names. Each of them died unarmed at the hands of police officers or in police custody. The chants are growing louder. People are angry and they have a right to be angry. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that this violence only affects those whose names have appeared on TV or in the newspaper. African Americans are twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police… – Bernie Sanders.
Influences – To understand the context of #BLM fully, it is vital to also understand the black civil rights movements throughout the U.S history. In today’s world, racism and inequality still exist. Through technology and social media, racist actions carried out by those of authority have been captured and shared globally, raising awareness for the cause. Police brutality has been brought forth into the light, along with patterns and trends of police activity such as shootings and harassment have now been identified. The targeting of African Americans and minorities is a major abuse of authority, as a public servant, police are meant to protect and serve.
“Timeline.” Civil Rights Movement Turning Point. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2016.
Impacts & consequences – There are pros and cons of #BLM.
Interesting read –
Ben Shapiro’s book Bullies examines how the left’s culture of fear and intimidation silences Americans.
“Ben Shapiro shows once and for all that the left is the single greatest source of bullying in modern American life” (Sean Hannity)
He exemplifies the “bullies” in today’s society, as well as the use of fear, threat of force, and violence that equip today’s modern bully.
Shapiro’s ideas can be applied to today’s police officer, the ill treatment of minorities is societies form of schoolyard bullying. #BLM opposes the bully, eventually standing up and fighting back.
“Bullies.” Staff Picks: Fiction & Nonfiction Books, Audio Books, Bestsellers & More. N.p., July 2014. Web. 01 June 2016.
Incarceration statistics – In relation to police brutality, where does incarceration sit?
Statistics show that African-American males are more likely to be incarcerated than the average white male. Police brutality and incarceration intersect as police are meant to protect and serve thus meaning to apprehend the dangerous and harmful. Prison is the final destination for those criminals deemed dangerous and harmful for society. The brutality of police stems from racism, and this continues throughout the sentencing process, the inequality that troubles our society is often enforced by those trusted with a higher power e.g. Police officials.
Incarceration is not an equal opportunity.
Mass incarceration in the U.S., Vlogbrothers.
We should really be focussing correcting rather than punishing on in correction facilities, as the objective is to eventually reintroduce these criminals back into society.
The Vlogbrother’s video exemplifies how prisons are not a permanent solution. The “failed experiment” costs extensive amounts of money to run. By treating prisons as permanent homes for criminals, we are essentially hindering our own society’s future, and in turn ourselves. These criminals are people, they offer skills to our communities, even if they themselves don’t know it.
Agency can refer to two things, it can be a business that provides a specific service. Or it can be a government department that oversees a particular activity or area.
Social responsibility directly translates to one’s responsibility to the environment and community, to act in the best interests of those around them. Social responsibility also ties in with ethics and sensitivity toward social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.
Transformative practices refer to undertaking activities and pursuits which develop and improve something e.g. yourself, the community. This can be related to transformative learning which leads to perspective transformation. This includes psychological (understanding of the self), convictional (belief systems), and behavioral (lifestyle) changes. This requires critical analysis of interpretations to then reinterpret their experience to make sense through a different process, eventually grasping an unforeseen perspective.
My audience – As this is issue affects almost everyone in our world, it should resonate and connect with all. This includes the minorities and the majorities among us. I hope my work speaks to many and becomes a two-way conversation, causing the viewer to question and examine the reality they live in.
Purpose – I aim to provoke thought and stimulate analysis of today’s justice systems as well as society’s norm. I aim to also gain in-depth knowledge on this seemingly contemporary movement. Emphasis on seemingly, as the inequality of African Americans projected by police, have been a prominent issue throughout history. I hope i can de-stigmatise the issue and bring about change.
Below is an interesting point made by a protester. Often the #blacklivesmatter movement can be seen as only caring about the African Americans within the U.S. but after research, they are really a representative collective which supports all unequal groups.
“Black Lives Matter: A Mini Deconstruction.” Odyssey. N.p., 24 Nov. 2015. Web. 01 June 2016.
Influential events to note leading up to the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
The shootings of unarmed African Americans by authority figures in the U.S., especially the youth.
In particular, the Ferguson unrest following Michael browns death.
“Hands up, don’t shoot”
“I am Mike Brown”
Darren Wilson fatally shot unarmed Brown sparking existing tensions in the predominantly black city, resulting in civil unrest. The images below, exemplify the excessive force used on Brown. Wilson was not charged.
Trayvon Martin (unarmed) fatally shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.
“Ferguson Protests: What We Know about Michael Brown’s Last Minutes.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2016
Peggy Hubbard’s response to unrest in Ferguson – exemplifies the consequences and the negative side of the BLM movement.
Black civil right figures to take note of; #BLM is essentially is another civil rights movement.
Claudette Colvin – 15-year old student arrested for her refusal to give up a bus seat in 1955. Nine months earlier than Rosa Park’s refusal to give up a bus seat. I believe both Colvin and Park’s actions contributed to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, ending segregation on buses.
Ruby Bridges – First coloured child to desegregate an all-white public school in Lousiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960.
Martin Luther King – American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Assassinated, April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee, United States. King was the head of SCLC. He was also key in ending legal segregation of African-American citizens in the U.S (most notable in the South). As well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Thurgood Marshall – First African-American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Repercussions of #BLM? YoungTurks response to Bill O’Reilly: Black Lives Matter is Killing Americans.
“race hustling” – systematic racism.
The importance of socioeconomic status among the coloured people of America.
Facts suggest unarmed shooting victims are more likely to be a minority.
“Millions of people think they are being hunted down by the police”.
This is not a race war – this is about people living in an unmilitarized country and not having to live in fear.
Police are public servants, they are a trusted with authority and power because they are allowed to make life or death calls. Thus meaning they have to hold a higher level of responsibility. “PROTECT AND SERVE”.