Here we are

Do you feel included?

The arts are very important to me. Maybe it’s because I was born on Feb. 27. Every year, at the same time I celebrate my birthday, a group of talented human beings, with the goal of enhancing our lives, rejoice with their brand new shiny Oscars.

During the master’s program in social journalism, I’m going to focus my work on a community (what journalists not versed in the new way of doing things would call “beat”): arts and culture. I’m going to devote my time to listen to the people who use art to make our lives better. Art to heal, to think, to feel, to imagine, to engage; ultimately, art to reconnect.

I have to narrow the objective to be more productive, and I’m hesitating between arts therapy or art for social change. One focuses on the individual; the other works with the community. Both are intertwined.

Whichever I end up choosing, I first need to identify my biases and stereotypes, what Dori Maynard called faultlines. Even if I’m a consumer of and advocate for the arts, I’m far from knowing everything and I’m full of preconceived ideas based on my experience.

In this article, Serri Graslie says: “Reporting on communities that aren’t yours requires you to do more than just go to the soul food brunch or record a few audio bytes of a Chinese New Year celebration. Make an effort to connect before you start interviewing.”

One good way to connect is to ask, “Do you feel included here?”

In the last Oscar ceremony, I happily witnessed the social revolution we are experiencing that is (despite the obstacles) bringing all us closer together, because we are all one. Thank you, Buddha.

From the group visiting the Dolby Theater, making the experience and the celebrities look human and contributing to the evening’s laughs, to the Google Photos ad, technology is enabling inclusiveness. As journalists we have to make sure this really happens.

That is why I’m going to ask people working in the arts community, whether an art therapist or Tania Bruguera, if they feel included and how should we continue the conversation.