I’m the mother and so one might suspect me of prejudice but I will deny it. I have no reason to inflate falsely. The facts stand for themselves. The person stands for herself and stands tall. She asks the same question so many of us are asking: What can I do to resist the rise of distrust and hatred? What can I do to defend the values I hold dear?
What she doesn’t do is give herself the credit she deserves. Miriam’s head holds one of the most creative minds I’ve had the pleasure and honor of knowing well. I am often in awe.
As you ask yourselves, “What the Hell can a person like me do against a Hellish person like that?,” don’t deny your abilities. Don’t cut yourself short. Each one of us is a wall against which those who spread fear and hatred and suspicion must pass. No going around, over, through, or under us. We are broad, tall, strong, and deep. We are the power known as Human Compassion, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Creativity.
Remember this as you continue reading:
In November I stood in Keflavic airport, Iceland, and had to painstakingly force myself to take each step. One step closer, one step more, onto the airplane bound for the US. Since the election I have found myself tempted to turn off NPR, to shut my eyes to the news, to flee to far away places and pretend this isn’t happening. But then I remember Sarah Ruhl’s Pickle Council – I detest pickles, but I think it might be worth a few bites. In the last couple of months I have kept coming back to this speech again and again. If you haven’t read Sarah Ruhl, do. If you haven’t heard this acceptance speech, please read it.
“What Do We Do?” I’m not a writer like my mother, I’m not an artist like so many dear friends, I’m not an activist or lobbyist. Years ago I left behind my ambitions to be a piano soloist and then theatre designer. So what can I do? I can recommit myself to championing the arts. I can dedicate my skills to engaging in any way possible, lending my strengths to those who are creators, writers artists.
“To be in a room where poetry matters, to be in a room where not everything can be monetized, to be in a room where culture and valor might have something to do with one another…Dig in your heels and stay.”
I can endure, I can step up to the challenge and stare down the small-thinkers, bigots, tyrants. I can use my innate sense of “fair” my parents tease me about, the business ecumen and entrepreneurial spirit gifted to me by my father, the creative sensibility bestowed on me by my mother. I can use my cultural agility, my awareness of people, my appreciation for arts and humanities, for diversity and meaningful engagement. I can support, encourage, drive, enable and strengthen the voice of every artist willing to be brave and create.
The Guardian published an article today ‘Trump Doesn’t Care About Culture’: How Will His Presidency Affect the Arts? “We will stand against any attempts to crack down on cultural dissent or inhibit freedom of creative expression. We know that artists and musicians worldwide are often among the first to be targeted when authoritarian leaders seek to consolidate their power.” –Kevin Erickson, the national organizing director at the Future of Music Coalition.
So let us all find the Common Rooms, form our own Pickle Councils (anyone else prefer Cheese Council?), dig in our heels and stay.
Dear all of the Attlees, Millers and Kushners, all of the Serranos and Abramovics, Deavere Smiths and Salingers… Artists, writers, creators and thinkers: take every threat to the NEA, to our identity, to our rights and let it fuel your creative fires. I’ll be right here supporting you in any (every) way that I can.
Miriam H Ackerman