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Creativity as Resistance

As we feel shocked by the escalating exposure of hate and racism in our country, we can take heart that creative voices offer an important alternative to mean spirited, one-dimensional ignorance. Visual artists, musicians, actors and poets offer perspectives on history, and on the present, that disempower evil with images that speak truth.

The production of “Madame Butterfly” by the Seattle Opera countered the historical racism of the story. The Japanese singer Yasko Sato, playing Cio Cio San, reminded us that her character was a descendant of a Samurai Warrior. For three years, as Cio Cio San awaited the return of her American husband, she sustained herself with an unshakable belief that he would return. She seemed to draw him back by the force of her will.

Likewise music and poetry as resistance dominated the two evenings of performances that accompanied the exhibition I curated on “Immigration: Hopes Realized, Dreams Denied” in Tacoma, one mile from the notorious Northwest Detention Center. The performers helped us to understand and therefore resist racism. Particularly moving were the songs and poetry of Eduardo Trujillo, a former detainee, who calls himself a “passionate refugee who seeks for a way to bring peace of mind to those incarcerated and or in fear of deportation.” In his singing, we could hear the heart of a person who has survived the depths to come back with a deep understanding of life. You can hear him online here

Tello Hernandez also sang from the heart what he called “La Nueva Cancan” (New Song) which, as he explained, “has its roots in folk music and expresses the conc