Photo by Quinn Rivenburgh
Artistic Expression as a Radical Act
By Rashanda Freeman

Often I wonder if my limited time on earth lends itself to my optimism. I live and work in a liberal city, many of my closest friends are artists, and I have always felt the most generous love from my mother. So, I think it’s fair to say, I’ve experienced a certain level of blindness when it comes to how the rest of the world thinks and feels. This blindness completely failed me, but I can no longer sit idle and not acknowledge the injustices I now unfortunately know all too well.

I’ve had conversations with friends and colleagues about things we should be doing to build community during such a contentious political climate. Should we be attending more protests? How do we organize like-minded individuals? And a more terrifying thought, are we ready to put our literal bodies on the line to move the cause forward? After all, this isn’t an unrealistic question to raise. Consider several leaders of the Civil Right Movement: Medgar Evers, Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. They were advocating for equality and ultimately paid with their lives.

But as we struggle for justice in these moments of terror and despair, I’m reminded of the beauty in artistic expression. We must hold tight to the various art forms that create healing. We must uplift the work of artists in our communities, find joy in our music, language, and art. If we don’t give ourselves permission to unapologetically deliver art through all its wonderful mediums we are giving power to the racist and misogynist.  

While I’m tired of being resilient and having to “go high, when they go low,” in this new political climate we must find ways to live truthfully and with purpose. Art gives the promise of something better. It connects us with people; instead of making us feel more alone. I am falling in love with a new vision of artistic expression where truth no matter how hard and even confrontational is always uplifted, in those moments we see real change. It's about going beyond the space where we hold all the answers to tap into the more vulnerable parts self. This is the medicine we now to heal.


The future of this Country, and how humans will interact in that future, is unknown. But art is a platform for change. It’s transformative and cuts deep. The next time everything seems dark or your feeling grief look to music, dance, painting, spoken word, stories and other artistic expressions for a glimpse of light.

Once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, we can feel joy then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy

Audre Lorde