Graffiti for Good

It’s understandable that most people view graffiti in a negative light, because that is mostly what they are exposed to. The taboo behind graffiti is that it is associated with gangs and punk kids that just want to deface other peoples property, but alot of the times it can be quite beautiful.

Graffiti artists like Laila Ajjawi use her graffiti to empower the women in her male dominated society at a Palestinian refugee camp. Born into poverty, her art has given her an outlet to opportunities beyond the camp. “All these female symbols are new for the street. Usually street art is dominated by men in general”, stated Laila. In her murals she has featured women that have survived gender-based violence and has even been asked to create peices for organizations such as a women’s only martial arts facility and Woman on Walls for Womens rights conferences.

Graffiti has given Laila a voice to inspire and advocate for change in a place where destruction surrounds her. Despite the negative stigma where graffiti is placed, she has obtained permission for all of the murals she has painted on public and private walls. If graffiti were to be made legal then there would be opportunity for street artists like Laila to make a difference in the communities in places such as Los Angles and New York.

Not only will the social aspect of graffiti change should it become legal but the financial aspect will be dramatically affected. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent annually on graffiti removal in cities across the country. Money that is taken from city budgets that could possibly be going to other departments such as public transportation or public parks are being spent cleaning up street art.

Cleaning up street art is mostly associated with the idea that graffiti represents gangs. People who oppose graffiti believe gangs will overrun the cities if it is not cleaned up. However legalizing graffiti can curb gang affiliated street art and allow artists for recreation and activism still be possible. Legalizing graffiti will allow guidelines for street art. This could include paying a fee for painting in public places; this will cover the costs of cleaning it up for the next graffiti artist and help city funding. More possibilities like this one could be beneficial to communities and rising artists across the country if graffiti was legal.

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