Creative Justice:Up From The Table
I have often thought of being a photojournalist and wondered how I would tell a story or have a conversation through photos alone. Well the exhibit by Creative Justice that recently closed at Seattle University's Hedreen Gallery, inspired me to try to do just that. Creative Justice builds community with youth most impacted by the school-to-prison-(to-deportation) pipeline. Participants and mentor artists work together to examine the root causes of incarceration, like systemic racism and other forms of oppression, creating art that articulates the power and potential of our communities. I personally believe that their has NEVER been a reason to incarcerate youth. We have begun to use youth jails as a holding place for those we have not made time to help more extensively. There are no bad children, simply adverse circumstances that they are trying to cope with using their limited life experiences. Because of this they are often labeled and cast aside for the city to deal with. We want to bring our children home. Abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction, are all commonalities of incarcerated youth, all factors that need professional intervention from qualified adults over an extended period of time. Psychologists, counselors, and youth specialist have all acknowledged that youth respond best to creative stimulants that both challenge the brain’s perception of reality and allows them the space to help shape it. Lack of control over one’s life is a unique struggle for youth who have no legal rights or autonomy.We have to reshape our ideas of what it means to be penalized for a crime, and the efforts be acclimated to society after that term has been served. Criminals are defined by their inability to get away with breaking the law. As people of color, this is an intrinsic barrier that sends a disproportionate amount of black and brown youth to prison every year based on their skin color alone, not to mention any other adverse circumstances (Juvenile Disposition Manual). The call for change is now and it is directly to the communities from which these youth were uprooted. View these photos from the exhibit with this in mind.
Reflect on what you think makes a person a criminal, and if you yourself would fall under that same category on any given day. Do you think you deserve to be caged? Do you think children should be caged? Do you think cages are useful for humans for anything other than turning them into animals?