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Snapshots of How Art Helps Movements

by Dayanara Almon

The year 2020 has only highlighted the experiences we in Black and Brown communities face. We are always impacted by systemic racism, classism, and its effects on members of our community. We know these things didn’t start this year just because some people woke up to the oppressive issues in our country. These things have been happening for years, before my lifetime and before yours.

This year we have seen issues highlighted like police brutality, the importance of voting but also the challenges that come with it, and ongoing challenges for Black and Brown students in the education system due to systemic racism. COVID-19 has only created more obstacles (a high number of BIPOCs are essential workers and/or unequal access to health care/necessary resources). These inequities have sparked on-the-ground protests physically and in forms of art. I was interested to see how this showed up in our neighborhood.

While driving around the neighborhood, the following pieces of art caught my attention. The message behind the art was very inspiring to me, especially through these times. Through this photo project, I wanted to help uplift this art by showing how important art is to social justice movements. The following photos show how stories from BIPOC culture and experiences are ingrained in the Central District area and South End of Seattle. I would like to make it clear that I did not create the art in the photos I took, and I’ve given credit to the amazing artists and organizations responsible when that information was made available. As you look through these photos, think about the meaning behind the art and what we as a community need and can do to positively contribute to solutions towards the themes brought up, like empowerment, police brutality/defunding police, respecting the native land we are on, and more. I also recommend learning more about the artists who created this work.

This is a mural in Rainier Valley at the cross streets: Genesee & Rainier. As shown in a photos above, the artists (and organizations) are @snekeism, @dantedizrock, and @sng_seattle. It reads POWER TO THE PEOPLE. I’m not sure exactly when the mural was created but it was created recently this year.

This sign details the new property being built. On the sign “DEFUND SPD” is written in Black and underneath, in green, “STOLEN LAND” is written. I don’t know who created this, but it can be found along Rainier Ave S (just north of the Rainier Beach Community Center).

This was some artwork I found in Rainier Beach close to Bear Sheva park. I don’t know who the artists are or if these two pieces were created by the same people. One sign reads “MAKE TRUTH GREAT AGAIN," which clearly references/calls out Trump’s slogan. The other says “We The People Deserve Better!" If you live in Rainier Beach or drive by there often you’ve probably seen this recently.

This artwork, called the “HashtagMask," is really powerful. It’s a mask and on that mask, it says: “#Pay The Fee, #Equity Now, #Free The Land." This can be found near the Central District area. The cross streets are Madison St & John St. The creators are Brandon Thomas (@artbreakerbt) and Luke Kennedy (@luketheduke1234), sponsored by Africatown Community Land Trust and Smith + Lowney PLLC.

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