Many people, myself included, have been in a state of devastation. We either stayed up to witness or woke up to the news of Donald Trump being elected our new president. We are afraid. Since the moment when I was watching electoral votes come in and knew Hilary had no chance, I’ve been existing on the verge of tears. Throughout his campaign, Trump has called Mexicans rapists, made fun of people with special needs, told women who get abortions should be punished, been endorced by the KKK, and has selected a Vice President who vouches for conversion camps for gay people. While he hasn’t taken any action yet, people are already using his campaign as a platform of hatred. Trump supporters have already verbally and physically assaulted Muslims, African Americans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Minorities are in danger of discrimination and losing rights that our country has worked hundreds of years to fight for. It’s a fact that we all need to accept in order to move forward.
We might be in danger, but I am tired of crying. I’m ready to stand strong and take action. Along with being a writer, I am an actress and singer. I am friends with many artists of all forms, and I want them to know how relevant we are right now. Despite how silenced we feel, we have the chance to speak volumes louder than we ever have before. The country needs us right now in all forms.
This is not the first crisis our country has ever faced nor will it be the last. In prior American hardtimes, music, movies, dance, plays, artwork, and literature were incredibly innovative and powerful. We need art to help cope and express our voices during tough times. During the Vietnam War, The Beatles and Bob Dylan wrote hit protest pieces, cries for peace, that topped the charts. Literature by Joseph Heller, Ernest Hemmingway, Anne Frank and Ellie Wiesel spoke volumes of the impact of World War II both on soldiers and the victims of the Holocaust. During the Civil Rights movement, poets like Maya Angleou and Langston Hughes spoke out against the injustice of that era. Classical composers captured the sound and devastation of 9/11 in a way that only art could. These artists used their gifts to speak volumes as the voices of those who felt fear, oppression, and injustice during their time, and they were heard. It’s important that us artists continue to do same now for these reasons:
Americans are in a very emotional state right now. Americans have a mixture of feelings about the direction that this country is headed. People are upset, afraid, hopeless, powerless, hopeful, angry, and so much more. Simply stating how we feel in solidarity is not enough. We need to use our platform as artitsts that we too are also having these feelings. When people go through a break up, they listen to Adele or Taylor Swift. People want to see, hear, and be apart of art that express these same feelings to know that they’re not alone. It’s important that we let them know that. And it’s important that we let the government know that people are terrified. We need to tell them that we’re feeling these strong emotions and it is not a state that we can exist in for the next 4 years. If we use this accessible platform to express ourselves, then people will feel empowered to do the same and know that they have support. Now is the time to express and be heard.
The results of the election have brought about some intense actions and feelings on both sides. It’s important that people are having opinions and are expressing them, but after a while they can take a toll on us. It’s important to take the time to look after our own well-being. Comedians poke jokes at and make light of the negative moments in their lives. Steve Colbert and Jon Stewart do this constantly on a political level, and there’s no reason why the rest of us artists can’t too. Also, people need a distraction from all of this fear and tension. When people want to cheer themselves up, what else do they turn to but their favorite movies, plays, music, books, and TV shows? Art gives people the opportunity to forget about their own problems for a bit and be transported to another world. We can use art to bring lightness in such a dark time as artists have done throughout the course of history.
Some people aren’t even aware about the details about the election or understand the magnitude of them. People don’t like to watch the news because while informative, it can get pretty negative with its matter-of-fact delivery. This is where art comes in. So many people become informed about both historic and current events because of movies and TV shows. Movies like Titanic, Selma, Shindler’s List, Sully, and many more not only explain the facts of what happened during these huge events, but get into the heart of how people during those times felt. It’s a much more empathetic and interesting source that doesn’t just engage with your mind but with your soul. It’s important that people know what’s in store for America for the next 4 years under Trump’s presidency.
We have an incredible power, as artists, to impact the way people see the world. We can motivate people to take the action necessary to create change during even the toughest times. If people see us artists expressing what’s going on the world and how we feel about it, it creates momentum. It gives people the strength and desire to fight for what they believe in just as passionately. People are inspired both by great art and the need to fight oppression—when the two are combined, it’s an unstoppable force. We, as artists, have the power to bring change, which to me is the most important reason why we need to use our superpowers. We need to pick up our paintbrushes, instruments, cameras, and pens. We need to use our voices, bodies, and ideas. And we need to use them to turn this fear and hopelessness into hope, inspiration, and change. Singers, artists, cartoonists, photographers, dancers, actors, poets, and writers, have a chance to use our talents to make a difference.