Silence=Death

-Kieth Haring

What I saw today, April 5, 2017, was genuine counter cultural art presented in the most academic but also fringe of senses. It was genuinely refreshing as well as controversial. Crochet handbags which infringe upon bourgeoisie copyright, clever & deviant yet conceptually immersive designs placed on Silicon Valley bound busses, and historically artistic artifices of a seemingly unceasing disease which afflicts only those in which the elderly white man hates (interestingly enough). Today’s presentation reminded me of the system in which I am bound to. Namely, the system that was designed for someone who looks like me (white male) to flourish. A system that I am privileged to exist within, yet ever so frustrated to call my place of solace.

I heard the emotion in the voice of today’s speaker. I felt it genuinely. I was reminded of the night that Trump secured the presidency and the subsequent protests in the streets of San Francisco. Themes of normalization, gentrification, and a general disregard for common sense health care flooded my brain. What is going on in 2017 America? Are we dealing with anything new? Or is it just the same old problems we’ve be habituated to deal with? I wonder then about populist rhetoric and its negative influence upon the cognition of the masses. What does this regime have in mind? The little guy? The disenfranchised? Those who are situated in what we may call the popular vote? The top 1%? What are lies anymore? Does the popular vote have in mind the interests those folks who we may be inclined to categorize as moral and motivated yet even still can be considered fringe? Or rather is the regime aimed at plutocracy? I’d suggest it’s the latter.

Keith Haring was a young gay artist who lived through the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s. HIs message was simple, and the above image was and is still all encompassing with regard to the meaning of his artistic movement. To see it again today reminds me of Harvey Milk’s message. It’s a message that strikes upon the notion of identity and transparency. To paraphrase: in remaining within the bounds of the closet is to be silent. To be silent is to allow for suffering as well as death. Furthermore, to maintain ignorance is to remain rooted in fear of understanding that which is foreign. To fear understanding that which is foreign will consequently render you silent or even worse, bigoted. I’ll let you do the the remaining logic.

Today’s presentation reminded me of the genuine worries in which I, as well as many others are rationally entitled to hold with regard to our current state of affairs. In the time prior to Haring’s death, major steps had been taken in order to level the playing field and improve the well being for and of LGBTQ individuals. And what’s more; the steps taken for the sake of women’s reproductive rights cannot be understated. Trump is backtracking, erasing, deleting, negating, and eviscerating all efforts rooted in progressivism. Human rights? Planned Parenthood? Employment non-discrimination act? Fuck that, he says (but not overtly of course, he leaves that to legislation). All for the sake of the disenfranchised little guy he says; the all American man perpetuated and emboldened by populist rhetoric who works in a coal mine or a manufacturing company on American soil. But is that even true? Steven Mnuchin is the secretary of treasury for Trump’s administration. You know about his ‘drained swamp’. I’ll let you decide whose interests he’s got in mind.