In a previous column I wrote about a meeting I had attended in our community to discuss the use of offensive language and images in rap music. I also wrote earlier about the concerns and misunderstandings people had about graffiti art. Recent events in the U.S. have further heightened the need for these discussions.
A few day ago I rented and watched a documentary about the impressionist artists and their struggle for acceptance in the French salons. Seen as outsiders because they painted outdoors, these now famous artists had to develop their own ways and studios to have their work viewed by the public.
In relating all this to youth and their
development in contemporary societies and cultures, I could not help but
wonder if in the midst of debates and efforts to discourage offensive
language and images we might also be stifling very legitimate forms of
expression? In the proper contexts, graffiti art, rap, and hip hop are
beautiful and power vehicles of expression for young people. It is sad
and infuriating that they have been appropriated by gangs and greedy
corporations. So I wrote this fragment poem to frame the questions in a
slightly different way.
The New Salons
"Nobody wants it
on their garage door"
ďbut itís art"
this is my court
the hip hopster tells
politicians, neighbors and
skateboard shop owners
sitting in review
on streets, traffic signs
and park benches
and high fashion
appropriated by gangs
deafened and blinded
by misogyny and greed without self
like Cezanne reach
over and over
and over again
and leave behind
of light and dark
on urban landscapes