7 Ways Creatives Can Bounce Back in Trump's America

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#4 Millennials, let’s do adulting together to disrupt elections

Ok, everyone who is Adulting right now, please stop texting and driving, put down the selfie stick, and #ListenUp! 

It’s me, your lesbian auntie, Tania. Yes, even though my eyeglasses and cool old-school kicks suggest I might be one of you, I’m not; I’m 45 years old, and that’s how I can afford the glasses and sneakers!

Right now, you beautiful kids are about to rule the world and this makes me both exceedingly happy and totally terrified! Let’s start with the happy part, shall we? Great.

You cats are the most diverse and delightfully disruptive human beings that are poised and ready to take caring to the next level!

And here are some details to prove it. 

On Nov. 11, The Atlantic reported, “One common trait of younger voters, according to CIRCLE researchers, is they tend to put greater stock in the causes they care about rather than the appeal of a particular candidate’s personality.”

And a few months ago, in June, the Brookings Institute backed that up with:

“Plainly, the millennial generation is ushering in the nation’s broader racial diversity. Overall, millennials are 55.8 percent white and nearly 30 percent “new minorities” (Hispanics, Asians, and those identifying as two or more races). Back in 2000, when millennials were just beginning to impact demographics, this young-adult age group was 63 percent white, whereas in 1990 it was 73 percent white.” 

Okay, “mills” (can your auntie call you that? Thanks). Here is the terrifying part, according to a piece in Bloomberg on Nov. 10:

“Among the younger portion of the millennial generation, 18 to 29 year olds, Trump earned 37 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 55 percent. Millennials of color were considerably more likely to support Clinton than Trump, Circle found, while young white voters actually threw more support behind the winner. Trump secured 48 percent of the white vote in the 18-to-29 age group, while Clinton won just 43 percent. Still, Republicans fared poorly with youth vote overall. The election had the fourth-lowest turnout by young voters for a GOP nominee since 1972.”

The fourth-lowest turnout.

WTF?! You are better than that, mills! You are our freaking future, you are our country’s future, you are global citizens, you care, you’ve got great hair (that’s why I’ve stolen so many of your hairstyles), and now it’s time to use your beautiful, bold, angry, excited, transcendent voices at the polls.

To Do:

Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, it is our job to help mills out! 

When you see a millennial texting at a red light, scream, “Right on! Texting is connecting! Now connect to your community, your country, and your purpose, and drive over to the voting booth and VOTE!” 

If said millennial flips you off after your rabble-rousing, just say, “Yes! We need that kind of passion in politics!”

Share resources with our millennial friends that might inspire them to run for office or use technology to amplify empathy, like She Should Run, an organization dedicated inspiring and providing resources for girls and women to run for public office. And Black Girls Code, committed to increasing the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields and leaders in their communities.

#5 Challenge injustices, ists, and obics like an artist

Hate to break it to you, but reported hate crimes didn’t just pop up post-election; they’ve been around (and steady) for years now. Those of us who are a part of communities where anger and violence are openly directed, dictated, aimed, and fired at our bodies are well aware of this fact. 

The difference is now all communities are hearing about it. The world is watching videos of our bodies being pulled over, beaten, torn apart, and shot. The profound difference in this election cycle is social media and its power to turn everyday citizens into documentarians, megaphones, activists, and artists. This is the strength of online, and in the streets, movements like Black Lives Matters and The Body is Not an Apology.

The silver lining? Now, we can all see hate crimes. 

Now, we can all feel hate crimes. 

Now, we can do something about it. 

So, for all those who are convinced that hate crimes don’t happen in our offices, neighborhoods, communities, supermarkets, and homes; for those who believe that protecting one’s own is being a global citizen; for those who flinch when words like “racist” or “homophobic” or “sexist” or “xenophobic” brush against the ears; for all those who would rather not deal with injustices, ists, isms, and obics, here is a chance to take on the challenge like freaking artists do every day! 

And Lord knows, we all need “3 Easy Tips to Change the World” or “3 Fun Steps For Creatively Combating Hate Crimes,” so — you’re welcome:

Practice radical silence.

Performance artist and social choreographer Ernesto Pujol writes, teaches, and engages people in everyday space with a concept and practice called Radical Silence. In Pujol’s words:

“Radical silence is the space between two words: our rights. The silence that is but a pause between moving sentences is as deep as an ocean. That is the silence I embrace. It’s always full of love expressed as empathy. It’s never full of hate, but it may be filled with healthy anger, with the strong tone and high volume that protects the weakest in society. I invite you to engage in this deep and complex radical silence that is always listening, always gathering words. Radical silence is the territory where we prepare to speak against injustice.” 

To Do:

The next time one of our Friends on FB or Twitter or in real life starts spewing hateful, hurtful, harmful language aimed at someone or an entire community, read what they have to say, sit with it for a day, try to understand where they are coming from, and write them a personal message addressing how it made you feel. 

When an antagonistic family member smugly asks you, “Who did you vote for, Tania, huh?” Take a few deep breaths and, when calm, say, “Our rights.” (Wish me luck at Thanksgiving!)

• Call attention to everyday injustices in a way that opens up a dialogue instead of shutting it down.

Recently, I attended a talk by an artist named Micol Hebron, who was discussing the lack of women artists represented in art galleries and museums and she said, “If you DON’T see something, say something.” 

Hebron has an active art project called “Gallery Tally,” which is a crowd-sourced, social engagement art project where artists from around the world collect and visualize data regarding ratios of male and female artists in contemporary art galleries. They then make a poster visualizing these statistics. 

To Do:

When you get the catalog for your local art center’s new season and, after excitedly thumbing through pages, realize that 80 percent of all the performers are men and/or Caucasian folks, call up the art center and ask them if they were aware of this inequity and if they might consider having a more diverse lineup for next season. 

(Spoiler alert: they might not be aware, so your phone call is super important!)

When touring the hip, new dtartup company, note all the inspirational quotes printed on the walls from Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and P.T. Barnum, and ask your tour guide, “Hey, I’m a big fan of white dudes — my dad is one. Alas, diversity in the workforce has been proven to give companies the competitive edges, so ... got diverse quotes?”

Let telemarketers know that not everyone is a Mr. and Mrs. When that fateful 8 p.m. call comes through and you answer it (in all of your woman-ness) and the overly eager voice on the other end asks, “May I speak to your husband?” simply answer them honestly, “She’s at work.” Or “We’re in a polygamist arrangement, so … he’s pretty busy.” Or “Marriage is so deeply rooted in patriarchy, ownership, and gender inequality that even if you were offering us a brand-new home, I would never be married! Wait, are you offering us a brand-new home? Never mind.” 

• Create spaces for and with people whose bodies are aimed at every day.

Theaster Gates (Dorchester Projects) and Anne Morton (Street Gems) are both artists. They don’t work in the same medium or space or neighborhood, and probably have never met in real life. But what connects them is their work’s focus. Both work with people and places that have been discarded and forgotten. The aim of their work is to enliven neglected people and spaces making both relevant cultural centers. 

Gates transforms abandoned buildings into community hubs that connect and inspire the people who live in Chicago’s South Side. These new community spaces are activated with public programming ranging from art-making to gardening to communal neighborhood dinners. 

Morton works with individuals with a history of chronic homelessness; together, they make art from discarded plastic like soft drink bottles, cups, and lids. The art takes the form of necklaces, earrings, and whimsical flowers. This once-discarded plastic is now transformed into something that looks like it could be sold in a museum store, and it is.

To Do:

In order to create a space for someone, we have to see them first. So let’s create an award for someone who is often overlooked, passed up, or just plain left out. Maybe it’s the guy in your office who is always championing diversity in the workplace, or the cook at your son’s school who sneaks veggies in from her garden to make sure the kids are eating nutritiously, or the crossing guard who stands in the cold, shivering, making sure your children get to school safely. Come up with an Award, cut it out of construction paper, print it on paper, or simple say it, and present it to the Awardee! Here is your Inclusionary Visionary Award! I’d like to present you with the unofficial/official From Gruel to You Rule Award. Please accept this award for all the work you do at crosswalks and beyond: The Brighter Than Your Fluorescent Vest Award!

#6 National Adopt An Adversary Day!

Moping around in your pajamas and angrily deleting all of your Friends who voted for opposing politicians is not, in fact, going to change anything — it simply makes the chasm wider and that, my Friends, is why we are here today. So, it’s time to make some new Friends. 

And who better to have as a Friend than someone who is open about what makes them unique and awesome?! Divergent points of view, um, RULE! Let’s burst the bubble and actually engage in a generative dialogue, not just a monologue to delight all of our homogenized Friends so they can stick their smug blue thumbs up and “Like” us; let’s make some real waves and surf ’em together! Deal? Deal!

To Do:

Friend Ivanka Trump. There, I said it. Seriously, can you imagine how cute our “Tania and Ivanka are celebrating 5 years of friendship on Facebook!” video will be?! Plus, in addition to having some wildly divergent views, we actually have a lot in common: We’re both women who work. We both love to inspire and empower workingwomen. She married a Jew. I’m Jewish, too. I’m constantly telling my father not to dye his hair and I’m sure she does the same.

Make “National Adopt An Adversary Day!” a reality. Get it on some registry or calendar or offer it up to online Friends as a challenge. Kind of like the Ice Bucket Challenge, only someone else throws freezing ice on your head!

#7 Silver Linings Playlist

If all else fails, make a playlist. Lose yourself in music. Find yourself there, too.

Here’s my playlist for finding a silver lining, riling me up, and making me feel less alone in this world. Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and try not to be moved. I dare you.

The Smiths, “Bigmouth Strikes Again”

First Aid Kit, “Emmylou”

Peaches, “Rock Show”

Leonard Cohen, “Anthem” 

Whitney Houston, “So Emotional”

Joan Baez, “We Shall Overcome”

Queen, “We Are The Champions”

Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddam”

Bronski Bet, “Smalltown Boy”

Lou Reed, “Magic and Loss”

Michael Jackson, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”

Gloria Estefan, “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”

Chaka Khan, “I Feel For You”

The Charlie Daniels Band, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”

Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”

Grace Jones, “Pull Up To The Bumper”

Kate Bush, “This Woman’s Work”

Joan Jett, “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”

Jonny McGovern, “Soccer Practice”

Missy Elliott, “We Run This”

Prince, “Starfish & Coffee”


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Tania Katan