Saturday, June 20, 2020
This small painting, "Dolor de Corazon" (Pain of the Heart ©10-2013), is from one of my journals. Today it expresses the sorrow I feel over the violent murders happening across this country. Our law books save the death penalty as the ultimate price to be paid for certain violent crimes; that I know of, no state or federal law designates skin color as such a crime. Yet our Black sisters and brothers have been dying by the hands of the police without evidence other than skin color. Rather, their crime seems to be a combination of victimless behaviors: jogging while Black, sleeping at home while Black, dozing in one’s car while Black, or driving legally to a new job on a sunny morning, while Black.
The great divide in American culture is the abyss between those who live with the threat of extermination every day and those who never give it a thought.
I am a Roman Catholic, at least that’s the discipline in which I grew up. And in that tradition we recognize martyrs, their sainthood stands as testimony to their bravery against villainy. Our Black brothers and sisters are nothing short of modern day martyrs, recent victims in a long history of African American martyrs whose lives were taken viciously, for no “good” reason. Why has this country endured the long and brutal subjugation of citizens whose progenitors were brought to this country under even more brutal and unjustified events?
At least now we seem to have come to the place in our history where those who ‘never give it a thought’ can no longer stand witness to this villainy. The American people are witnessing genocide and they cannot wash it out of their minds or conscience.
Just as women could not vote until men decided that we could, Black people will stop being brutalized when a white system stops brutalizing them. Days and nights of protests around the country are a powerful cease and desist order.
As a brown-skinned person I have known the sting of racism when it unexpectedly slapped my face. So I flinch every now and then, protecting myself in situations where I read a facial expression or catch a sideways glance. Maybe that’s why I have always embraced and celebrated the mosaic of people that make up this world. In a poem called Too Many Names, Pablo Neruda says “I know only the skin of the earth and I know it is without a name.” We are the human race, children of this beautiful and amazing planet. Let’s appreciate our differences as we value mountains from desert, river from ocean, and valley from seashore.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Growing up, I was discouraged from any type of boasting or self-aggrandizement. Good grades were expected, and pride about accomplishments was kept quietly within the family. Self-promotion was bragging, and even blogging would qualify. I often feel embarrassed for people who push themselves into the public limelight even though self-promotion seems to be an essential part of modern life. Even people who have no talent, no skill, no accomplishments, nor even a profession now create their own "brand", to promote their face, body, personality, or their pet hamster.
Being shy or modest (not a word we hear very often) or just introverted is a definite detriment to success. If Vincent Van Gogh were painting today, he might be just as unknown as he was in his own time. The only thing that might make a difference would be if his brother Theo had computer skills and the attitude of a promoter.
So, maybe this entry speaks to some of you who share this issue with me. If so, it may be encouraging to know that someone else struggles with it as you do. Unfortunately, I don't have any tips for turning the tables. I have no suggestions for transforming you into a promotion-loving social media star. But then, we have Oprah Winfrey as our cheerleader, and there are many social media gurus. I've heard them, but it's my attitude toward self-promotion that remains an issue. I have attended meetings, conferences, and conventions for women in business hoping that something I learned there would teach me that self-promotion is fun and nourishing. I have listened earnestly, taken notes, I've even kept special notebooks. I once hired a personal business consultant. But after years of pushing myself to overcome what I have always considered a significant shortcoming, I have to recognize, that for good or bad, I am who I am. I am an artist. I am not a business person, I'm not a good promoter of my work.
I am deeply envious of those I see who have someone in their life who is happy to do the work of promotion for them. Sisters, brothers, husbands, children . . . any artist who has 'a someone' who believes in them and who takes pleasure in showing their work to the world, is twice blessed. If you are that fortunate, your gratitude to that person(s) should be unending.
I've never written publicly about the issue of self-promotion. In fact, this post feels like a confession. It shines a light on one of my faults, and in this society it is nearly a sin to fail in self-promotion. I don't know any one with some type of ambition who is not on Facebook, for example. I took myself off of Facebook for a reason: I am appalled by Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to rein in the Russian hackers who smear that open forum with lies and misleading ads and posts. If everyone took a stand against that refusal to contribute positively to our democracy, the inventor of Facebook would at least have to question his role in the last presidential election. So there you are, I am not afraid to take a stand for what I believe in, good for me. Except that in this case it also takes me out of an easy place to promote oneself without too much embarrassment.
If this is an issue for you, maybe this post will catalyze some deeper thought, or maybe it will kick you into gear. For me, I continue to take small steps. I do want the world to know I exist. I want people to read my book on creativity, and my novel. I want people to see my paintings, and buy them. I am proud of what I do, but self-promotion embarrasses me, no matter how ambitious I get. So perhaps all my small steps will create a path.