Just like the culture at large, the arts in our country are being re-energized by our recent encounter with pivotal history--in this case, a kind of quantification of individuals who have taken upon themselves to make the promise of American liberty and justice a living and breathing reality.
This exercise will always be somewhat arbitrary, with questions arising about who should and should not be included in such a pantheon, yet that very arbitrariness is at the heart of that American promise: our different points of view bring the strength and energy of diversity to our enterprise and result in our defining our national character. Yes to Abraham, Martin, John; yes to Malcolm and Bobby and Chief Joseph, and yes to Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson and Harvey Milk--each of them stood up and did something that mattered, actions which have given us reminders of who we can be.
African American Heritage month has just come and gone, and there are stirrings out there that our culture is poised for a rebirth that focuses on some of the deeper hopes within our democracy. For instance, I recently came across an astonishing piece of folk art online from The Old Soul Doll Company that takes the image of Uncle Sam into the twenty-first century. He's black. There was a time that such an image would have been considered racist--and now I'm wondering why? After all, why should Uncle Sam be white?
The planets are being rearranged, and aren't we lucky to be along for the ride?
Los Angeles, CA
Mar 12 2009 - 1:01pm