It’s Not Over, It’s Just One Down

Senate Bill 1062 got vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and. . . not so fast.

Arizona is not out of the woods. And while I rarely write about politics, it’s time I did. One of the reasons I moved here is to work on social justice issues, of which there are many.

One of the scary facts in the story of SB1062 is that the three original proponents suddenly were against it when the “media made a fuss.” Which, in my humble opinion, is what the media is supposed to do.

All of us are complicit. As artists, we have an obligation to be involved in politics. Too many artists I know don’t watch any national news. I mean real news. Instead, we share bumper-sticker slogans on Facebook and think we’ve done something.

The excuse for not knowing what your own legislature is doing is “so much violence,” or “it’s all the same.”  The result of ignorance is far worse. It’s a lack of ability to see consequences and prevent them. If you are not informed,  you get a legislative clown car that is about to drive the future of your state off a cliff because they didn’t have a clue to what their action was making possible. And no one stopped them.

Think I’m on a senseless rant? Here’s what Maya Angelou says on art and politics:

“All of that art-for-art’s-sake stuff is BS,” she declares. “What are these people talking about? Are you really telling me that Shakespeare and Aeschylus weren’t writing about kings? All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, ‘We love the status quo.’ We’ve just dirtied the word ‘politics,’ made it sound like it’s unpatriotic or something.” Morrison laughs derisively. “That all started in the period of state art, when you had the communists and fascists running around doing this poster stuff, and the reaction was ‘No, no, no; there’s only aesthetics.’ My point is that is has to be both: beautiful and political at the same time. I’m not interested in art that is not in the world. And it’s not just the narrative, it’s not just the story; it’s the language and the structure and what’s going on behind it. Anybody can make up a story.”

“All politics are local.” –Tip O’Neill

—Quinn McDonald is a writer and social justice advocate.

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18 thoughts on “It’s Not Over, It’s Just One Down

  1. I’ve been pondering this since you wrote this post. It keeps coming back to me. Time spent time working with immigrant rights groups, doing humanitarian work in the desert, protesting Operation Streamline is perhaps not as much as I might do, but that I should also write about it. Use my artist/writer skills. I used to worry that it would off-put readers, even strangers, but now I realize that it will not anger the people I choose to work with, want to work with. I create books on this topic, why not share them on my blog? Fear of showing up? Causing controversy? Being in a minority? I feel like I should be willingly writing about values that are meaningful to me. And yet, I haven;t. Confusing. Very confusing. Even this comment was hard to write…

    • If you’ve written books on social justice and spend time working with multiple groups, doing humanitarian work, attending protests, I’m amazed you have any time left to do artwork. You seem to be fully booked with activities. That’s a lot of effort, and I’m sure the people you are working with and helping appreciate your efforts.

      • How kind you are in your comment, but perhaps you misunderstand or perhaps I did not make myself clear. i volunteer for a single group that offers different opportunities, not like I;m walking the desert every day, and I create simple artist books, not lengthy treatises. I have plenty of time for my art and other activities, thank you, but I do no art that publicly promotes social justice issues. That was the point I was trying to figure out. And so I thank you for your interesting post discussing the arts and social justice.

  2. Right on, Quinn. You discount those of us who are signing petitions, reading (not watching) the news, yet the main control lies up there in Maricopa county and the people who voted for those seemingly uneducated people are apparently just as uneducated. We are paying those fools!

  3. I must admit I know little of SB1062, I have been following the proposed law allowing businesses to refuse service to gay people on religious grounds . . . words fail me! Well they don’t really, it’s just that I’m not about to take over your comments speaaking my mind.
    As for hearing art for arts sake or art as only a personal expression, I’m taken right back to the late 60s and the catchphrase ‘the personal is political’ and the quote ‘the future depends entirely on what each of us every day’ (Gloria Steinem). Unless you’re a hermit, completely self-sufficient, living on an unidentified island somewhere, you are part of a society and even if your role is apolitical, it is a role where, by your inaction, you are in effect actively giving more power to someone else to wield . . . over you!
    p.s. Gloria Steinem also said: “The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” You’ve got to be able to identify the truth though.

  4. Well said Quinn – we are of “an age” {I believe} and remember when women did not have all the advantages we do now… that is what pains me about the gynoticians who think they know what women need. And I just moved back to Dallas and am appalled by the atmosphere here…it’s like myopia of the electorate! And Arizona is only the most visible THIS WEEK. As Nancy said we all must stay vigilant.I plan to be a thorn in the side of most of the elected officials who have inherited me from more liberal New Mexico.

  5. I’m so glad to see this post, Quinn.

    As for me I just took a break from Facebook for the weekend because I couldn’t handle the onslaught of bumpersticker sentiments streaming by my face, even if they WERE raising my awareness about OTHER bills being considered here in AZ. I did my utmost to spread the word about fighting SB1062, through Facebook and other venues. I now have compassion fatigue of sorts. Sometimes the fighting just gets so very tiring. Not as tiring as tyranny, though, so “seven times down eight times up”!

    And YES! Art is political. Artists are a type of media. We can promote, as you say, the status quo, or we can raise questions, awareness, and hell, if we have to.

    So glad to know you, and know that social justice is something you are involved in.

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Quinn! Shortly (and I do mean within hours) of Jan Brewer’s veto, someone in the MO legislature introduced a similar bill! Sigh.

  7. In this house, a lot of time this week was spent on the phone questioning and addressing the elected officals that presented this insidious bill. These folks are not finished presenting and pushing to get these kinds of bills enacted. Stay vigilant, question, pick up the phone and push to elect better officials.

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