The Power Within Art In the Political Realm

Writing these blogs can get a little hard sometimes to some extent because many of the themes I see for writing can seem monotonous and I feel like if I write each, I am doing nothing more than beating a dead horse.

However, I plan to write about it because poverty is something close and very real to me. But more specifically I wanted to write about a piece of art at the Truth to Power event that just really made me numb almost.

First of all, the Truth of Power was an art exhibit and also a stage of which many people spoke about a variety of issues. Wake the Vote sponsored the event and it was truly the highlight of my experience at the DNC.

We walked for a while in the streets of Phily as a large group, all in our same shirts looking like tourists, and we were unsure where we were really going or what it was. However, we were all astonished when we arrived and looked around. Though out the trip we got to go to the building of which the exhibit was held and each time I went back to the same piece. It was a collections of signs from homeless people from cities the artist went to. After talking to the curator I was informed that the artist actually bought the signs from people. The piece was a collection of at least 40 or so different real signs. And in some ways it really hurt to see. It was so real, and while some of the signs were comical many were honest pleas for help. I was hard for me not to cry.

Throughout childhood I have defended homelessness and homeless people when I hear people either discrediting them as being fake or calling them lazy or what not. My parents taught me that I should never be rude or talk badly of beggars because even if they are lying (which is a very slim chance because beggars don’t make big bucks) it is so hard to be so vulnerable in front of so many. There is so much shame in poverty and to have a sign and beg is succumbing even more so to be ridiculed and judged. Most if not all of beggars are in horrid situations, so bad they are seeking scraps of money from strangers. While my family didn’t ever beg on the street for money in our homelessness, we did have to beg for shelter, food, and support from every source we could see. I know how it feels to be so trapped and scared that the only way to survive is to become truly vulnerable to everyone to see to live. I have so much pain in my heart from those times, as well as sadness for the many who deal with it today.

One of the biggest lessons I know from childhood was that poor people were the most likely to help other poor. Or only people who understand what it is like to be poor will help. Most times the people who did help us, were hurting themselves as well. From this I have a rule to always give homeless people asking for money or what not something if I can or if I have cash. Because these little acts that really help people. Countless times in Phily I encountered beggars and more so than I usually see which made the trip hard because I hate to face the reality that while we had one of the biggest events of the year going on and so much money within Phily at this moment, people were still on the streets stuck in the sick cycle of poverty.

So when we arrived at the exhibit and I saw the collections of signs it really hit me in a much more substantive way. Because as we walk to our next location it’s easy to see someone homeless asking and get past it, but this was a piece of work from a countless number of people that all understand what it’s like to feel the pain of homelessness. Whenever I look at the signs from pictures I feel all the pain I felt for so many years. And it’s important that I remember what I went through so I can help others get past that pain. Homelessness and poverty is a part of me, sometimes I think I am beating a dead horse talking about but it’s crucial to who I am. So I must talk about it.

That piece was the highlight of my trip at the DNC. Both highlights of the conventions dealt with me addressing my past and the struggles of poverty and homelessness. And I am so happy for these two instances. Because both allowed me to further understand who I am as a now very privileged college student coming from a sinking boat that felt like I was always drowning.

The democrats may have been my savior so long ago but it’s the real people fighting to end poverty through non-profits and social movements within our cities, states, country, and world that are my saviors. They are the people fighting for real change for the right reasons, not just a putting a platform up for show and then doing nothing but making for money and consolidating more power for themselves.

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-David Ajamy II

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