When the culture gets toxic, art is the ultimate disruptor

Antigone in Ferguson is a profound social justice and theater project that brings law enforcement and the African American community together through dialogue and song.

As PBS NewsHour summarizes,

“In the Greek tragedy ‘Antigone,’ the title character is told that she cannot bury her brother, who has been killed. Echoes of the classical work rang out in 2014, when Michael Brown was shot by police and left dead in the street for hours. New York-based group Outside the Wire presents ‘Antigone in Ferguson,’ a pertinent take on Sophocles that’s encouraging discussion. ”

I’m fortunate enough to have witnessed a partial performance of this work this morning at PopTech, a conference I’m fortunate enough to be attending. That’s a lot of good fortune on my end, contrasted with Michael Brown and the suffering of the black community, and of our collective spirit. But my white self-consciousness and guilt isn’t interesting.

The mere existence of Antigone in Ferguson represents good fortune, for all of us: At a time when many of us, black and white, young and old, feel disgusted with the rampant racism and sexism that continues to thrive in this country, this project is an inspiring reminder of the power of art to disrupt a toxic culture and connect us to our better natures.

Earlier in the PopTech program, Rob Capps, editorial director of WIRED, talked about his belief, the magazine’s belief, and Barack Obama’s belief (POTUS is the guest editor of their November issue) in the importance of optimism to create a better future. And what is more optimistic than art? Than making?

We live in times that can feel toxic and bleak. But (and) we have power, every single one of us, to help make the world we want to live in. Maybe you don’t self-conceive as an artist, but you are a maker; we all are. Every act, every word, it’s part of the story of this world.

What kind of world will you make today?

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