By Kai Lock
On Nov. 8, 2016 our country elected a man who plans to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. That day half of our country wept in sorrow and half of the country celebrated in joy. People in the public eye began to use their position to help immigrants talk about the problems they would be facing.
Those of us who wept, which was most in my community, were truly confused as to why we would pick such a man whose next action would be to separate us and Mexico. Lots of people, including myself, in my community are part of the immigrant community, and we were confused as to why there were so many people ready to kick us out of the country and build a wall. This hatred toward us made it clear that we did not feel wanted in this country that has been our home for many years.
During this difficult time, the people who made us feel like we did matter in this country were the people who used their voice for good – the people who were very often in the spotlight. They used their voice to protect us and show us that there are others in this country who want us to stay. Those people are the people in the arts, music and theater program. They use the power that they have and they use it for the good.
Nurcan Sumbul, a Sequoia High School freshman who is in the theater program, said she believes artists should be allowed to say their political affiliation. “Artists are all about self expression, and that’s a part of their self expression, and they can turn politics into art.”
Cailin Wright, a Woodside High School freshman, agreed that art can spark dialogue. “I have been in discussions with other people about certain issues or personal experiences I have had, and I have received a lot of positive feedback from people in my community,” she said.
Sumbul stated that artists should be able to protest against certain people because their message can reach more people.
Wright said, “Once again it’s their political belief; they’re entitled to the decision of whether they want to share it or not. And once again, so as long as they are not causing harm to another person, they should do whatever they think is necessary for them.”
When it comes to talking about what she thinks of artists who are publicly feuding with our current president, Sumbul said, “I think that is a good thing. It’s important so that Trump is not normalized and seen as OK just because people around you don’t dislike him, and if you see some stars bringing up things that make him look bad can give you a more well-rounded opinion of him.”
We then talked about if she had witnessed any examples of artists who have not been using their popularity as a good thing, and Sumbul explained, “Maybe, stars who use their popularity who abuse women. Chris Brown, Bill Cosby.”
I asked Sumbul if she thought artists were using their popularity to their advantage, and Sumbul responded, “Yes, they can endorse things. They can affect businesses, whether negatively or positively. Trump is an example that comes to mind.”
When talking about what she would she would do if she had the same power as artists, Sumbul explained that she would share her political opinions to get messages across that she thinks are important for everybody to know, such as voters.
Artists are those who are talented in music, arts and theater nationwide who are using their voice for the greater good. They give us a more powerful voice. They make us feel heard.
Meryl Streep won an award at the Golden Globes this year and graciously accepted her award, presenting a very meaningful and powerful speech. She gave a moving speech on why it matters that this country is filled with people all over the world. “So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
She spoke about the foreigners in this country, and her words made it so that immigrants felt more visible and felt that we are important in this country.
Ms. Streep took to the stage and explained the responsibility that comes with being an actor, and the privilege as well, because she knows that she is being watched by millions all over the world. “We have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy.”
Ms. Streep’s speech was one of the biggest moments in which an artist has made sure that the immigrant community is heard and allowed to contribute to this never-ending discussion of immigration.
Donald Trump is our president and will be for the next four years; although that won’t change, we as a country have. This sudden change in power has shown the different sides of America, and that spotlight has shown the best side of the arts industry.
Featured Image (at the top of this post): Summit Prep piano that students will play during their break PHOTO CREDIT: Alexis Sanchez