Artivism Can Save The World!
Would you believe me if I told you that artivism can save the world? Art can be used a mobile forms of protest that can reach far and wide. The act of storytelling is so vital to social justice movements, especially surrounding decriminalization because it gives people with lived experience a platform to talk about their lives to people who have been captivated by traditional narratives that often don't speak from personal experience.
The criminalization of sex work, drug use, and other non-violent or "quality of life" offenses can often send people through a criminal justice system with no real resources. While these systems may have the intention of helping people in these situations, they are poorly executed. Programs that are set up as diversion have the potential to provide some assistance but often ignore the root causes of why a person may choose to engage in those activities in first place and lack the compassionate understanding of the trials and tribulations a person faces while operating in a criminalized state.
Storytelling has always been a powerful healing tool. I have written poetry and stories since I was 16 years old, I was mentored by a team of spoken word artists through a learning to work program at my High School. I went to Urban Word in New York City, competed in youth poetry slams, practiced at The Nuyorican Poetry Cafe and all of this gave me the opportunity to be honest about the reality of being a young black mother in foster care, my experiences of having drug dependent parents, death, and assaults that happened on many different levels. I started to heal and people understood me better because of my ability to share my story.
Poetry was a way for me to advocate for myself and others, to create a compassionate dialogue about taboo situations such as sex work. It created a dynamic that made people listen to the issue in a way that wasn't confrontational. From there I worked at a community based non-profit that hosted storytelling workshops that centered those stories to create political advocacy. In those sessions is where I really understood the nuances of the industry I participated in, Those stories and lived experiences shifted based on who, what, where, and how. Depending on who you were, what you were doing, where you were doing it and how dictated how close you were to interacting with law enforcement. These stories at times also stayed the same, shitty clients, pushed boundaries, health problems and the lack of trust in health care settings, and family dynamics.
We performed these stories for the general population at different bars or in classrooms. Each story unique and also connected. It gave people we worked with a first hand account about the things that they have been curious about. A doorway so professionals such as lawyers and those working in the medical field a base of knowledge to bring down stigma and truly be able to serve a person who may be in similar circumstances with compassion.
All of these experiences have led me to the conclusion that art can save the world. Art just hits a person differently, I have achieved more successful conversations about change through storytelling even at places such a City Hall and Yale than I have debating with anybody about my lived experiences. Art is so vital to our movements. The biggest take away from this is support artist being artist! Buy their books, go to their shows, book them for engagements, show them love on social media!
Confession! Social media isn't really my thing but i'm getting better at it, I really enjoy in-person interaction such as conferences, panels, meetings and more. Which is probably how a lot of us have connected in the first place. This year has been eventful to say the least! I've gained a new business, had my first contract, experienced a pregnancy with multiples that unfortunately ended in a loss, continued to be in community, experienced my current pregnancy, had a job loss and have now arrived to this moment.
Recognizing that I am in a odd position as the main provider for my household, having health issues seriously impacts my ability to fulfill that need. I have applied to many jobs but quickly realized anything I do outside of my home for now will inherently put myself and my pregnancy at risk. I have come to the conclusion that although I can not physically do the work that I am used to without serious accommodation, I have many skills!
I have brainstormed my skills such as writing, creative arts, educating to fund-raise finances for a year to safely deliver my child and recover from my surgery (Cesarean), in order to continue to do the work I love with my community. I would like to create digital training for those who are service providers about working with marginalized folks such as those who may be in the sex industry, activities to assist in transforming intersecting issues into community guided solutions, develop a retreat for my community to spark quality of life changes by addresses the harms and trauma we face, so we can get back to community and most importantly creating opportunities to address equity within people of color communities.
I want this year to be able to restructure my life, to have the ability to take care of my health and continue to do the work I love without the stress of unpaid rent or bills that impact my credit. I have the goal of raising 40k over the next 12 months to achieve my dream. In return, amazing programs will be created and launched (some already underway), training will be booked, shifting narratives and creating change will continue and it has and will continue to be paid forward through allowing me to invite other folks as helping hands into my projects.Through out this year, you will get updates about ongoing projects and get special invited to upcoming events.
How to donate: Lysistrata Mutual Care Collective is currently hosting my fundraiser click here to donate.
I also have cashapp, and paypal.....venmo always gives me a hard time thanks to political reason.
cashapp is $jtmk95
Paypal is email@example.com
Literally anything helps! Please share. If you want to see more of the work I have done please follow me on Instagram @poeticglitterheart or Twitter @poeticglitter
Blogs by Jenna Torres
My name is Jenna and these blogs are life lessons I've learned the hard way. From parenting to advocacy and some of everything in between this is just the reality of my life in written form.