Art is a Metaphor for Life

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Excuse the mess.
As a kid, I loved art in all its shapes and forms.  I loved to draw, sing, and I even played the piano and the violin for a bit.  The arts were my escape: they were the one thing that calmed me down and allowed me to really be free. 

When I was a kid, the only art that mattered was mine.  But as I got older, I became more aware of other people's art.  I realized that my drawings would never be the best.  There would always be someone who was better than I was.  So I laid down my pencils, gave away my instruments, and in doing so silenced my voice.  And for almost ten years, the arts were no longer my escape.  They were my hell.

I seem to take this approach in other areas of my life as well.  Living as a dougla who took a long time to understand where I fit in racially left me in some sort of racial limbo for a long time.  It was hard to find my voice, because I felt that my voice didn't belong anywhere.  I retreated further into myself, because I had so much to say and I felt I had no appropriate audience.  Not only did I love to share my opinions, but I felt that the knowledge I had to share was valuable.  However as I feared it would not be valued, I kept my opinions to myself.  

I had a bit of a revelation recently, both relating to my love for the arts, and my love for speaking out and sharing my voice with others.  I realized that someone will always be better, faster, stronger, smarter than I am.  And even if they aren't. in my fear I will make them out to be more worthy of taking up space than myself.  I will never be Maya Angelou or StaceyAnn Chin regardless of how well I write or perform.  But by silencing my voice, do I make "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" a better poem?  Does my silence elevate the wonderful spoken word pieces by StaceyAnn Chin?  Does my artistic silence increase the value of "Phenomenal Woman"?  Or by silencing myself, am I closing the door on the potential for me to create my own masterpiece and live my own empowered life?

I think the answer there is quite ovbious.  I do not raise the value or importance of another person's life by allowing myself to believe that my voice is not important.  In fact, I actually set back the work done by women like Maya Angelou and StaceyAnn Chin when I do not take the opportunity to follow their lead and speak out.  These strong women (mixed-race women in the case of Chin) have made room for my voice to be heard.  Why then am I not sharing?

Are you like me?  Do you silence yourself and instead sit back and listen to what others have to share?  Why not let your voice be heard?  Your words are just as important as someone else's!

Jenell
The Defiant Dougla

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