PYRAMIDS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE ARTIST STATEMENTS

Who’s Really Uncivilized? | by Kylie O’Donell

I wanted to highlight Native American rights and the hypocrisy of how they are portrayed in the media. The silhouette of the person kicking the man on the ground represents how Native people are oppressed in America. Until recently, it was legal for someone to rape a Native woman on tribal land because it was not technically on U.S. property and it’s reported that 56% of Native women reported experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives. The injustices Native people face are disturbing, but what makes it worse is how invisible their issues are to the media and to our country. I learned of these injustices after taking a U.S. Native Americans class and I intentionally chose to make the only distinguishing feature of the Native person their headdress because they are also American.

 

Glass Ceiling | by Marisa Mathó

The glass ceiling is the concept that, no matter how qualified or successful a woman is, she is never as “good” as her male peers solely because she is a women. The glass ceiling leads to fewer women in high corporate positions and positions of leadership in general. Around the edge I embroidered a definition of the glass ceiling and in the center I illustrated a manicured hand reaching up towards a splintering glass ceiling. The glass ceiling is splintered, in the way that women have opportunities, but it is still very real and continues to prevent successful women from getting the positions they deserve. Gender bias exists and the idea that women are less capable than male counterparts is false and needs to change.

 

Ban Redlining | by Sarah Buta

I have contrasted a thriving city against a non-thriving city in my social justice triangle. The cities are divided by a metaphorical and physical red line to represent the unjust housing practices where people of color were denied access to housing by over discrimination or by selectively misrepresenting prices to make a home inaccessible to a person of color. Living in Boston, redlining is an issue I have been surrounded and impacted by my whole life. Even though this issue has been judicially banished, it still goes on in many inconspicuous ways.

 

#Black Lives Matter | by Hannah Liebscher

At the height of the civil rights movement in the 1950’s, its external facing leaders were mainly heterosexual black men. Presently, the largest and most prominent social justice movement is led by three queer black women who are prioritizing visibility for the LGBTQ people and people of color that live at the intersection of many facets of identity. The founders of Black Lives Matter are redefining the image of leadership by standing as true examples of intersectionality. They stand before us as an incredible force that helps empower the voices of our community and those that are disenfranchised while also challenging us all to lead an inclusive movement that is representative of all people.

 

Stokely Carmichael | by Lindsey Gould

In 1966 at University of California, Berkeley, Stokely Carmichael, gave his famous Black Power speech where he framed racism in a completely different way than society has in the past and still does today: racism is white people’s problem and so it is white people’s responsibility to fix it. In his speech, Carmichael illustrates this beautifully:

“I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people. For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black I am a man being. Therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people don’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a public place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, "He’s a human being; don’t stop him." That bill was for the white man, not for me. I knew I could vote all the time and that it wasn’t a privilege but my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived. So somebody had to write a bill to tell white people, "When a black man comes to vote, don’t bother him." That bill was for white people. I know I can live anyplace I want to live. It is white people across this country who are incapable of allowing me to live where I want. You need a civil rights bill, not me. The failure of the civil rights bill isn’t because of Black Power or because of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or because of the rebellions that are occurring in the major cities. That failure is due to the white’s incapacity to deal with their own problems inside their own communities.”

Because of this speech and understanding a different perspective on racism, I now understand that black people have deserved rights all along and that white people have historically stood in the way of accessing those rights. Carmichael stated that, “In order to understand white supremacy we must dismiss the fallacious notion that white people can give anybody his freedom. A man is born free. You may enslave a man after he is born free, and that is in fact what this country does. It enslaves blacks after they’re born. The only thing white people can do is stop denying black people their freedom.” This perspective is as true today as it was in 1966.

 

Bathrooms For All | by Lizzie Clackson

My social justice triangle focuses on the issue of bathroom usage for trans people. I chose to do a mosaic of the rainbow flag as to represent the unstableness and controversy and added the bathroom sign that shows any and all genders are welcome. When adding the black mosaic inside the outline of the bathroom sign, it distorts the image of the sign to show gender should not matter at all. We must respect everyone’s gender identity and accept it as valid, allowing them to use the bathroom of the gender with whom they identify.

 

Nina Simone | by Lizzie Clackson

Nina challenged the system of Jim Crow with her music, calling out the racist systems of oppression. I used the album cover for Forever Young, Gifted & Black for the image and I added the layered texture of her hair to create contrast against her brown skin that I left sewn flat against the base triangle. Nina did so much to advocate for not only Black people during the Jim Crow era, but also for Black women and the hardships they endured.

 

Incarcerated Black Man | by Liam Baxter-Healey

Incarcerated Black Man is my social justice triangle that depicts the criminal justice system in the United States. The embroidery of this piece reads “Except as a punishment for crime 13,” because the 13th Amendment says that slavery is illegal in the United States except for criminals. It is legal in our country to make prisoners slaves and it has become a corporatized business where private prisons are paid to hold a certain number of criminals at all times, in order to sell their free labor to large corporations. I chose to have a man of color as the prisoner because despite white people making up the majority of people in the United States, 1 in 3 black males will go to prison at some point in their life, compared to only 1 in 17 white males. The disproportionate incarceration of people of color is due to institutional racism where harsh sentences are dolled out disproportionately to people of color who commit minor crimes. I chose to use a marbled brown and gold fabric for the prisoner to represent how there is a personality in every prisoner because they are humans. I hope that this block brings attention to the modern slavery that goes on in our prisons.

 

Teach Sex Ed | by Sylvia Minehan

I focused on sex ed because the lack of awareness is causing so much harm for young people. Many people do not know that:

  • 1 in 2 sexually active people will get a STI by the age of 25

  • Abstinence-based sex education has been proven to be ineffective

  • While teen pregnancy rates are down, there is a rise in pregnancies for black teens

These are all issues rooted in many lies, misinformation and/or biased information given during one’s upbringing or lack of education in school. I chose to depict the first lie we are told as children, which is “where babies come from.” In theory parents say “the crane who carries the baby down in a blanket” or “the baby that was seen when the flower bloomed” or the “bamboo was cut only to have a baby inside.” It is dangerous and puts young people at risk to perpetuate these lies about pregnancy and sex.  This year I have an internship at Planned Parenthood where I teach to high school and middle schools about sex education, including workshops on STIs, methods of protection, and relationships and consent. America has a A LOT of work to do when it comes to teaching sex education comprehensively, honestly, and without bias.