Dear Mr. Bridgers,
As a community, we should strive to encourage and facilitate conversation among our neighbors. When we perceive injustice, when we have an opinion, when we are curious what others think, publication is an excellent way to start a conversation. As is art – be it the graphic arts, language arts or theatre.
Artistic expression is an opportunity for the individual and the group to address many things, and that certainly includes the demons of social injustice. Whether it is the artist’s intent or not, a piece may take a life of its own and when it is at its most effective will breathe fire into the creativity of those who witness or partake in it, inspiring further art and greater action.
While I am happy to know that you have been inspired by “Yo Mama” – so much so that you have spoken out against it – I would encourage you to attend a showing this coming weekend, Thursday through Saturday, to see for yourself the art on display.
Moab’s culture is not to be found in the reading rooms of East Carolina University. As a citizen of this valley, I know you understand this. Our diverse country diversely relates itself. And our responsibility as citizens is to speak, contest, discuss and ultimately determine ourselves through our work and art and conversation. Too much of what we engage in these days is spar for spar, oneupmanship. This, Lee, is the same Trumpian tactic that continues to take hold of our friends and neighbors to the detriment of all. Let us speak differently.
It is not my assumption that you are a white man. But I am. And I recognize that there is an inherent relationship to American racism, misogyny and other forms of bigotry within me. This is not a comfortable thought, but it is one that I confront and, absolutely, seek to address. What it comes down to, for me, is how I manage the fear bred into me. How I manage the anxiety of societal presumption built into our social institutions. American history designed itself through a process that was deliberately and devastatingly racist. We have all to confront this reality.
Like art, personal growth is inextricably linked to community health. I encourage you to reach out to your neighbors and fellow artists – myself included. We grow stronger for our connections, not our disassociation.
This letter to the editor was written in response to Lee Bridgers’ letter in the Jan. 26 – Feb. 1, 2017 edition of the Moab Sun News (“’Yo Mama’ is embarrassing theatre”).