The plight of artists in 2017 is nothing short of damn near towering. If we bypass fluff in exchange for real issues, we can clearly see creatives are left with a plate that's not only full, but weighty, disposable, sopping and wilting in our laps.
For LA-based artist Ashley Lukashevsky, speaking for a multitude of marginalized voices is a large job, but it, but comes with the territory of partaking in arts. She tells Konbini:
"America has so many unrepaired breaches of justice in its past that have caused deep racial and class inequality in our country... Art can magnify voices. It’s 2017 and there is so much noise.
Activist art creates the space and opportunity to take a moment to reflect on social issues, whether it's gender rights, immigrant rights, racial equality, civil disobedience or ending the for-profit prison industry."
In this day-and-age, it can feel as if being an American is synonymous with having to pick teams or to bluntly pick sides. And in a way, this is entirely true; forced to choose which side of history, we must choose where we fall when it comes down to how we will actually view and treat our peers around us.
For Lukashevsky – someone who describes herself as "very political" since a young age – a need for others to hear and know the voices of the disregarded is something she can't back down on.
One area where flaws on progress can visibly be seen by Lukashevsky is in the media, where there appears to be a discrepancy in how we communicate and interpret who gets empathy and who will continue to be an expected threat.
"This is just one example, but the biases in word choice and coverage when it comes to the race of suspects and perpetrators of crime is so evident. After the Las Vegas attack last month by a white man, media organizations were calling him a “lone wolf” and a grandfather who liked long walks and country music.
Those same media publications never grant suspects who are people of color that same treatment. When someone who commits a crime is black, he is framed as a thug. When an attacker is of Middle-eastern descent, he is a terrorist.
The weak language used to report on white male terrorists fails to piece together a pattern of violence caused by a powerful gun-lobby and toxic masculinity that continues to cause these attacks."
Statistically speaking, Lukashevsky's words have merit. Out of 135 mass shooters since 1966, all but three were male. The statistics go on to show that of the 94 mass shootings committed since 1982, 54 percent of the perpetrators were white males.
But as immigrants continue to be ostracized, Muslims continue to be demonized and women continue to be regulated over like barnyard animals, Lukashevsky knows that what will help strengthen the prospect of social change is to listen, learn and then act.
"There are so many ways to take a stand against social injustice. You can join a local group that is organizing around issues that you are passionate about, attend rallies and protests, organize for civil disobedience, call your representatives, or even run for office!
Change starts from within, and there is so much to learn– about the history of our country, social movements of the past, and actions being taken now. It’s never too late to catch yourself up to speed so that you can be an informed activist.
I would say that it is more overwhelming to stand by and do nothing while communities around you are being attacked by this administration. If you care about this country and the people in it, please show up."
Follow Ashley on Instagram and keep up with her art and activism online.