Winkelmann (1717-68)…the father of art history… [popularized] the
hard, pure, white aesthetic…making the issue of whiteness versus
color more than simply a question of taste…[He] declared the Apollo
Belvedere, already the most famous statue in Europe, the
embodiment of perfect human beauty…
Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People
In Rome, he had near at
hand a great many Roman copies of ancient Greek sculpture translated
into an Italian sculptural medium. Unaware that the Greek originals
were often dark in color, he did not know—or glossed over the
knowledge—that the Greeks routinely painted their sculpture. He saw
only Roman versions of beautiful young men carved of hard Italian
marble that shone a gleaming white.
Change is a
violent storm. It is rarely peaceful.
uncomfortable. The outcome alters perspective, sometimes charring,
almost always painful and often accompanied by rage or anger. Change
can give birth to enlightenment, and action, or a need to shield
oneself from the anguish of change.
This is the process of
learning to think and to be in relation to the consensus, to what is
taught and made to appear normal and true.
There is a “death”
that must take precedent over the notion of “living the dream.”
Too many people avoid this “death” but opt to sink among the
millions of past and present corpses surrounding them while
pretending those deaths are the necessary building blocks for a
foundation in which the “first Black,” “the First Latino,” or
the simply, naturally “Entitled” will build on “for the
Deceitful lies must
is uncomfortable. The outcome alters perspective, sometimes charring,
almost always painful and often accompanied by rage or anger.Reform rather than
change, softens the blow. You get to hold on to some elements of the
dream in this compromise with change. Drones still fall from the
skies on the few “terrorists” and the many “innocent” fellow
human beings; fellow citizens quietly forego cancer treatment for
lack of insurance; children cry as they wave goodbye to what was once
their new neighborhood, new home; other children, Black and Brown,
fall from police bullets at an alarming rate; and other children
still cry for mothers or fathers deported by the government’s crack
down on the “illegal.” Corporations still rake in billions to
build smarter weapons of mass destruction, prisons to house
“terrorists” and “dissidents,” and “criminals,” and ever
more shopping malls featuring Wal-Mart and Nike and the thousands of
“workers” in sweaty shops in Bangladesh are not invited. Banks
foreclose on homes while landlords cash in with “revitalization”
projects to justify huge rent increases and former home owners,
professionals preferably (rather than the disabled or seniors or
families with children).
But all of this is well
and good if a little bit of the dream remains for you and yours to
get ahead and rise above the fray—in the interim—before “the
market collapse” or “the Armageddon.”
In a culture where
surveillance is the rule, fellow citizens are suspect, everyone
including students are on the alert for the “subversive,” how
does anyone with a political conscious broach the subject of
change—that uncomfortable and painful kind of change?
The reality of
corporatocracy is real. The evolving evolution to totalitarianism is
So are the consequences
of trying to bring about change in a maximum security atmosphere
where the guards and a good chunk of inmates are fearful of change
that would deprive them of what has become for them a way of
life—since the “pilgrims” and then the “frontiers” men and
women confronted hostile “Indians” and then different darker
Europeans. It is a way of life as depicted in the discourse
surrounding plantation life.
Creatures lie in the
shadows waiting to radically alter the “good life.”
No matter how you cut
it, change is violent.
Despair gives us young
people who come to read their role in the narrative emptied of self
and filled with self-hate. Despair gives us the silenced masses.
Change can give birth to enlightenment, and action, or a need to shield oneself from the anguish of change.And all those who
proactively indulge the dream for their piece of the pie, hope a
savior will make his (can’t be a “her” for patriarchs, men and
women) appearance and right the wrong without doing much destroying
the dream. Just right it—because behind every Christopher Columbus
discovery of America are those Indigenous populations still in
existence, because dead Black, Brown, Yellow people, Iraqis,
Afghanis, Pakistanis youth will haunt the dream forever.
Save us from the pain!
How do you educate such
a mass of humanity so brutalized by the storm of capitalism’s
For hose who cannot
endure change, the illusion of the “gleaming white”
sculptures. For the rest of us, there are questions we must answer
and work to be done!
Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate
in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click
contact Dr. Daniels.