Art or Not?

Somewhere along my journey I heard that art is supposed to imitate life. If that’s true, an artist doesn’t have to make art real. The reality of life will intrinsically shine through within the art form.

If art is an imitation of real life experiences, how are artistic expressions validated? Who knows the endless spectrum of the variety of experiences an individual may or may not have in his or her life that bring about certain artistic expressions. Further, if our reality is shaped by social conditioning, is it still our reality or a delusion that we have accepted as reality due to cluelessness of the possibility for anything better? The Huffington Post October 2013, reported one in three Black men will go to prison in their lifetime. Is this their reality or a reality that is shaped by systematic oppression and racism? The slide show revelas the historical plight of the Black man in America which has shaped thier present reality.

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Further, have we abused art by using the stage, camera or microphone as platform for political messages as we exercise freedom of speech? Is there a thin line between artistic expression and public protest? Let’s consider this. Perhaps the definition of art depends upon cultural interpretation which in turn may change the definition of art in its entirety. For example, Janice E. Hale-Benson writes in the book Black Children: Their roots, culture, and learning styles describes the differences in Afro-American and Euro-American performer/audience styles that illustrate pervasiveness of artistic expression in the Black community.

“For the African-American the energy is called into play by the performer and his performance. The performer is regarded as the instigator of action only. He is appreciated for his ability to bring the group into the performance, thus sharing the energy source. In contrast, the Euro-American culture vitality comes from within the performer.  His energies and abilities are drawn out and focused upon by the audience.  He is appreciated for his virtuosity. He leads them by the hand”

As undervalued and marginalized African-Americans in this society do we have a personal responsibility to offer artistic expression that selectively promotes specific images about our community? Since statistics state 75% of Caucasians have no personal relationships with African-Americans are we responsible for always representing our best selves? As adults do we not have the freedom to live our lives on our own terms?

Much of current programming that caters to African-American audiences is categorized by some as coonery and buffoonery. Coonery and buffoonery are antics and behavior displayed in such a manner as to perpetuate black stereotypes and or ideologies of white superiority and African-American inferiority.  Carefully examine the pictures below. Are they coonery and buffoonery or artistic expressions? Perhaps, you think none of the above.

In peace and love,

Dr. Free

Authentic thoughts are thoughts that are genuine and sincerely expressed. Authentic thoughts reverberate with other authentic individuals so they have an irresistible urge to ponder and or respectfully respond from their own unique perspective.

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