Updated: Jun 18
We Wear the Mask
By Paul Laurence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS CREATIVE CULTURE
Before Covid 19, morning rides to school would be filled with the sounds of Hip Hop Speaks to Children, poetry, songs, and joy with my child. Now, there are no more morning rides and we have to place masks on our faces when we are in public spaces. I’m reminded of one of the poems from Hip Hop Speaks to Children, We Wear The Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar performed by Oni Lasana. If masks are the protection from COVID-19, what are the masks of protection from environmental injustices? What about chronic racial injustices? Or is it time to remove all of the masks so that we can get to SOLutions?
This month Sol Nation is delving into Creative Culture and at this moment it is needed more than ever. Those who make up Creative Culture serve as translators of the moment, the feelings, and the thoughts that are spoken and unspoken.They are unrecognized historians that are able to capture a moment in time that not only preserves it, but serves as lessons for the future. When those in the culture create, they can start a conversation or they can start a revolution.
When singers sing our lips, feet, and body move
When dancers dance our eyes watch the story they tell
When writers write, our minds begin to ponder
When poets speak we remember
When artists create we discover
The story of Environmental Justice must be interpreted in different ways so that everyone can be a part of the movement because the inequities are killing us. And just like the conversation of Black people and police brutality, Black people and other vulnerable communities are hurting the worst when it comes to environmental injustices. We can’t Breathe the air. We can’t Drink the water. We can’t Eat the food. We do not have access to the basic essentials to live life.
We can’t LIVE without being poisoned!
We could have just said Environmental Justice is Arts & Culture, but as our Creative Director, Marcus Kiser explained, “There are people that think art is just painting and drawing ..they forget all the other things that come with it.” We are digging deeper with Creative Culture as it can be the spark that shifts culture and the material condition of Black people, and ultimately all people. Creative Culture should not be considered an afterthought because it is an integral aspect that connects our intentions to actions.
What is Creative Culture?
It is the lyrics of MuMu Fresh’s song “Good Fight”, performances like Intergalactic Soul, imagery from LHAXX that is constantly evolving, the poetry of the former Mayor of Charlotte Jennifer Roberts it is the embodiment of creativity to give life to the message of environ
mental justice. It is the 16 letters that formed the Black Lives Matter mural directly juxtaposed to the heart of the banking district in Charlotte, NC and the capitalism it represents. It is the activation of the arts as a direct and immediate response to injustice.
The movement needs more than facts and figures. The movement needs music. The movement needs storytellers. The movement needs dance. The movement needs creatives.
As translators we have to tell the story of SOLutions.
Who's going to use hip hop to talk about renewable energy?
Who's going to write a poem about closing the green gap?
Who’s going to write the children’s book that captures a child’s imagination for a green future?
Who’s going to create the dopest sustainable fashion line?
Who’s going to write the songs, play the music, and create the mixtapes that create the soundtrack that will activate our bodies to demand change?
Who’s ready to dream up the future?
We invite you to listen and enjoy this exploration into Creative Culture in the Environmental Justice Is Mixtape Vol. 2 Creative Culture.May the sounds inspire your creativity. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about the latest Environmental Justice Is campaign information.
For the Land, the Air, the Water, and the PEOPLE!
Nakisa & Tiffany (Tag Teamed)