August 1, 2016
Nina Simone once said that an artist’s duty is to reflect the times. It’s an impulse we can’t control; this sense of responsibility which compels us to hold the mirror up to nature and reflect society back to itself. Today, the act of holding up that mirror has taken a turn for the grotesque, as evidenced by the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and so many others whose final moments were filmed on smartphones and went viral online. Sadly, justice isn’t always served, even overwhelming evidence of injustice is on display for all to see.
Artists are and have always been at the forefront of change and there are many who have turned to activism as an avenue for combatting racism and injustice, joining movements like #BlackLivesMatter among others. When 18 year old Michael Brown was shot by the police, filmmaker and African Artists Association member Mobolaji Olambiwonnu went to Ferguson, Missouri to document the aftermath. “I had to do something to help transform the narrative of racism and division being played out by the media with regards to Ferguson and the world,” he says. “I wanted to see and experience a more human side to all this.”
The son of African and Jamaican immigrants, Olambiwonnu was framed by the police at the age of 19 and narrowly escaped a conviction. That the story of Michael Brown and so many like his have a deep resonance is obvious, but it’s fair to say that we’re dealing with a complicated, nuanced and very old problem. Olambiwonnu initiated the Hope, Love & Beauty project not necessarily as a solution, but as a means for creating a platform for healing. “You can’t just jump to hope, love and beauty without talking about the pain first.” This is what he hopes to accomplish with his documentary film project. To learn about how you can support Ferguson Rises, visit the website at http://hopelovebeauty.com/ and follow the film’s progress on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
– The African Artists’ Association Staff Writer