It seems like exciting things are happening for oppressed peoples lately. Palestinians obtaining international support for statehood and recognition by the UN and various Native American movements gaining momentum. These are personal victories of mine as they hit very close to home. I’m of very mixed heritage involving Lebanese, Irish, Native American (Sioux) as well as my wife being Palestinian and Puerto Rican. One thing all our heritages share are oppression and great injustices which continue to the present day. Like Palestinians, Native Americans fully understand the frustration and anger of having a homeland occupied only then to be humiliated by a system that effectively prohibits social equality and economic freedom. The Idle No More movement is addressing the system, in specific a bill being proposed which has the potential to bring great harm to lands belonging to Natives in Canada. It has prompted action by activists throughout North America involving scuffles with law enforcement trying to silence protesters, the most recent and possibly appalling was a report of Mall of America security officials searching for anybody who looked Native American and kicking them out after a peaceful flash mob dance. These stories are not just somebody else’s problem, it goes much deeper than whats on the surface. After all, if they can oppress one person, they can oppress every person. It’s time we all inform ourselves and start demanding more from lawmakers and fight for ourselves instead of selecting people who fight for stock holders.
The recent aggression of Israeli forces on the Palestinians made me start thinking about the art that comes out of such a situation. Occupied Palestine is a place filled with sadness, anger, frustration, oppression, and hope. No doubt, the graffiti seen in Palestine is very powerful and thought provoking. People who have long been ignored by the international community risk their lives to express themselves in areas where martial law and strict curfews are in effect. Not everything is a pretty masterpiece which took hours to complete. Some are simple and gritty. Others full of hate and frustration being performed not by a seasoned writer but probably a pissed off kid who just wanted to be heard. There’s a lot of truth written on the walls that most people often overlook.
If you’ve been around the graffiti/street art scene then you may have heard the name Tracy 168. If not then keep reading. Tracy 168 is possibly one of the most influential writers of all time. As creator of the “Wildstyle” technique, his legacy is seen worldwide as one of the most recognizable styles among graffiti. This technique is also what many not “in-the-know” are most familiar with as it is very complex, abstract, and even avante garde at times. His loss leaves a big hole in the graffiti community but one cannot overlook the respect this O.G. has commanded. My thoughts are with his loved ones. Rest in Peace.