Monday, March 25, 2013

Silence Is Golden

Kia Sleet, visual and sonar artist, created this self portrait, which I find to be magical. For me, it communicates something almost cryptic that seems to be an underlying theme of my generation. I've seen the pictures where people put duct tape over their mouths and write various messages on the tape in order to communicate truths that have stronger vibrations when expressed in writing than when spoken aloud. This portrait illustrates a similar concept, only with the dysmorphia of having no mouth at all; the mouth being fused together, not unlike Neo's mouth in the scene from the first Matrix movie when he had the "dream" of getting the bug planted in his stomach. And despite the body being stoic, every hair in place, arms down, and a general stance of dignity and classic portraiture, the eyes scream "Get me the fuck out of here"...with a pink backdrop to boot: the conditioned and propagandized color of acceptable femininity. The mouth can be silenced and the body conformed, but the soul will always scream loudly. It's part of what makes Black people threatening in this culture. Despite what we may say, wear, or do under the guise of tranquility, our mere presence is a constant reminder of the transgressions of this nation against us. That truth in our collective history and consciousness will always be a threat to those whose demonic barbarism is protected from exposure by silencing us.

Yet, I do not think that this piece is necessarily a communication to a majority privileged culture of oppressors. I see this as being a curse that the parents and grandparents of our generation has placed on us. A curse of silence and fear that is so strong that we have completely lost our ability to part our lips. From a young Chicana girl being taught to "stay quiet, be a lady" to a young Black boy being taught to "not talk back to your teachers", our parents and grandparents have conditioned us into powerlessness and conformity. We create art to communicate our frustration and they call our music "noise" and our drawings "trash." When we become angry, frustrated, and lash out at society in unproductive ways, our elders call us unruly and disrespectful...but how can we be respectfully resistant to oppression and abuse when we have had our mouths disabled by the fear of our predecessors?

"It's 2013" is a myth that keeps the populous sedated by propaganda and television. It is still 1620 in America and it will be 1620 until America admits and rectifies its crimes against the Black and Brown people of this nation and world. In the meantime, may we uplift our communities, refrain from poisoning ourselves with nutritionless food and debilitating drugs, refrain from abusing our women and children in every way, and teach the people. Knowledge is the greatest weapon against tyranny.

Thank you, Kia Sleet, for blessing us with this amazing #message.