Is art a good way to fight discrimination ?

Publié le par Jodie

I'm back to talk a bit about discrimination, which is a very important topic even/above all these days. Cause despite all the progress that has been done throughout the centuries, it still hasn't desappear. On the contrary, hatred is more present than ever in our society : racism, sex and gender discrimination, religious persecutions... Too many forms of discriminations, everywhere.

What can possibly inspire this hatred ? Fear. The fear of "someone else", of someone different. People easily get scared of difference and of what they can't unserstand, what they're not used to and that's what causes so many terrible and beyond understanding things...

In class, we discussed whether art is an effective way to fight prejudices or not, which I think is a particularly interesting subject. According to me, yes, it is. It definitely is.

What is art if not a better way to understand the world we live in ? The reality of it ? Our own existence ? That's what Aristotle used to say and I agree with the guy on this. This could be a great philosophical debate anyway. As I see it, art, by expressing all sorts of feelings, has always been a form of understanding of reality, responding to many functions : a cathartic one, to raise awareness, to denounce things as well... It's what art does best because it's what communicates the best with the human kind.

Some people were told we were all born equal, others grew up hearing that a group of individuals is superior to another one. In the end, the only one who can tell you what to think is yourself. But you can't achieve that unless  you understand with a perfect clarity what things truly are or what they should be. And I feel like art can help you with it, not by telling you what to think, but by teaching you how to think.

There have indeed been many forms of art struggling against discrimination : literature, poetry, painting, cinema...

Everybody knows John Lennon's famous song Imagine, seeking universal peace and through that questionning the omnipresence of hatred in this world.

"Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one"

This song has become a, if not THE, peace anthem all around the world, therefore the impact it had of people living in different countries, part of different cultures was considerable and has still an importance today. It shows that we're not so different in the end, we're all citizens of the Earth.

Cinema also takes its part in the struggle.

12 Years a Slave, for example, denounces the hard reality of slavery. Directed in 2013 by Steve McQueen and based on Solomon Northup's autobiography, it explains how Northup (who therefore really existed and is here played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), who used to be a free black American man, was kidnapped and sold as a slave to a white owner, during the 19th century. The horror of black slaves's conditions is so well represented and so shocking that it is almost unbearable to watch. This movie actually had a massive effect on me and some scenes were particularly difficult to watch yet they were still worth being watched as we all have a duty of memory and we should never forget what these people went through.

Trailer :

I think that movies and paintings are even more effective as they're visual. It's easier for people to get the meaning of what they see than what can be implicit in a book.

Photographs have that power too.

This one was taken under the Jim Craw Laws and is the perfect example of what segregation was, giving account of the way black people were treated like cattle and couldn't use the same places than white people.

So yes, in my opinion we do need art to keep fighting in a peaceful way. In this case, art has always been struggling against discrimination and it has always helped people to understand the absurdity of violence better than anything else. It leaves a mark on us, on history, one that can't be erased. It still does and I hope it always will.

Perhaps one day, everyone will come to understand that our differences are not threats but what makes us rich. You call this a "false hope", I call it faith.

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