Fire & ICE

I’ve been silent for the past several weeks. I haven’t written a story or posted a lesson plan, and I only made one or two comments on social media. To be 100, I’ve been struggling with some things. My father is sick and I need to head to Chicago to help care for him. I’ve been here, in Seattle, but I’ve yet to find a community. My kids are in a school where they are the brown children. There’s a few students, but no teachers look like them. But, what is most alarming is:

Children are still being separated from their parents.


Are being separated.

From their parents.

Several thousand families have been divided because of their origin of birth. They come to the US seeking a better life, and instead of that, children are being snatched from their loved ones because…

They don’t speak English?

They don’t have citizenship?

They aren’t safe in the country of their birth?

They aren’t white.

I’m also not white, yet I am an English speaking citizen. I am privileged. I am lucky. Yet I’ve been stuck wondering what can I do? Then I saw this on social media:

Screenshot reads: Shappi Khorsandi: If you’re a dancer, writer, comic, artist, singer… whatever creative thing you do… you can’t NOT do it. You will go mad. Imagine living in Iran where self-expression is banned. Unspeakable cruelty by a government who tries to crush culture. #FreeMaedeh


I remembered I am an artist.

And artists create. 

We make art because we must. It is our refuge from the evils of the world. When the Africans were enslaved, they still sang songs and danced. As did the people of the First Nations. The same can be said of Jews during the Holocaust. According to the NY Daily News, one survivor of the Holocaust, Edgar Krausa said this about singing with other inmates in Terezin, “Well, it kept our spirits lifted. We felt we wanted to go on. We were hungry, we were tired, we were sick. But we had something to live for.”

Art is rejuvenating. It is inspiring. I am reminded of something my Morehouse brother, and revolutionary journalist, Shaun King said about Kendrick Lamar’s album, DAMN: 

“During the most difficult and ugly periods of human history, artists have always helped us endure and overcome. I’m grateful that we have Kendrick during this time.”

I write all of this to say, it’s time for all of us to make art. As individuals, as a community, and as global citizens. Let’s turn this time of darkness and sadness into something positive. Make protest art. Sing songs of freedom. Dance unapologetically. Write until the pages bleed.

We can not stay silent. We can not be silenced. We will Rise.

I’ll end with a quote from one of my favorite writers, and ask that we all try to be like those Roman candles.

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

-Jack Kerouac, On the Road


By James Miles, Executive Director of Arts Corps