words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Art

linear data | the shape of water | make america great again | the rise of the minority and the rainbow coalition

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The Shape of Water won numerous awards at the 2018 Academy Awards. Most notably for Best Picture and Best Director. As with his earlier film Pan’s Labyrinth, Director Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water continues the exploration of individual disenfranchisement and national conflict.

The Shape of Water was set in Baltimore, MD in the 1950’s. A period of time that our current President, Donald J. Trump presumably feels we need to return to—in order to “Make America Great Again”. I believe undoubtedly that the thought of his idea and many others like him in making America great again refers to the dominance of white nationalism, white privilege, and white supremacy in our national identity.

The Shape of Water intelligently turns the concept of the “monster” as “villain” into the embodiment of beauty found in the “other”. In a sharp contrast, there was the pundits—the alt-right propagandists/commentators on FOX News. Their description and analysis of the film was one of simply referencing “a woman having sex with a fish”. Debasing the motives of the film by decimating it and declaring it as a freak show. They also tried to politicize it by focusing their attacks on so-called “Hollywood Elites” and Liberals alike. Promoting the idea that the low viewership of the awards were due to the “American people” (I never feel they are talking about me or the vast majority of the America population when this phase is uttered on the political right)—being tired of politics in their entertainment. In reality, the film spoke truth to the oppressed, and marginalized: That they had a voice, even when unable to literally speak; that they weren’t second class citizens, a minority; and were free to be who they were in sexual orientation. In this regard the film was about freedom, the love that encapsulates freedom and the struggle we must undertake to possess that freedom.

In conclusion, I thought the film was masterly done and beautifully crafted. The lovely shades of green that permeated throughout the film. And the various ways in which water was manipulated was imaginative and powerful. True art.

In my interpretation of the film’s central visual construct (that being the ending sequence with the Amphibian Man and Eliza Esposito floating together in all-consuming rapture beneath the surface of the water), I wanted to create a rainbow coalition of linear and cubistic form to mirror this moment.

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linear data | machinations | the complexity of white supremacy outside my window | part one : incarceration

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Machinations: A scheming or crafty action or artful design intended to accomplish some usually evil end.

“Outside My Window” is a sub-series within “Linear Data” where the focus will be on statistical data with respect to various findings that convey elements of white supremacy, white privilege, and institutional racism etc., in our society. I will attempt to subjectively interject with my own commentary as little as possible.

Privatization of prisons: A private prison or for profit prison is a place in which individuals are physically confined or incarcerated by a third party that is contracted by a government agency.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE FACT SHEET

Incarceration Trends in America

Between 1980 and 2015, the number of people incarcerated in America increased from roughly 500,000 to< over 2.2 million. Today, the United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population and has 21% of the world’s prisoners. 1 in every 37 adults in the United States, or 2.7% of the adult population, is under some form of correctional supervision.

Racial Disparities in Incarceration

In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population. African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites. The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women. Nationwide, African American children represent 32% of children who are arrested, 42% of children who are detained, and 52% of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court. Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015. If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40%.

Drug Sentencing Disparities

In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month. African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites. African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

Contributing Factors

Inner city crime prompted by social and economic isolation. Crime/drug arrest rates: African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession. “Get tough on crime” and “war on drugs” policies. Mandatory minimum sentencing, especially disparities in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession. In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did whites, despite that fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic. “Three Strikes”/habitual offender policies. Zero Tolerance policies as a result of perceived problems of school violence; adverse affect on black children. 35% of black children grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers compared to 20% of Hispanics and 15% of whites.

Effects of Incarceration

A criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants. Infectious diseases are highly concentrated in corrections facilities: 15% of jail inmates and 22% of prisoners – compared to 5% of the general population – reported ever having tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, or other STDs. In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre-K-12 public education in the last thirty years.

SOURCE: NAACP


linear data | AR 15 | the white identity extremist’s weapon of choice

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In an American society dominated by white supremacy, we often fail to call out the violent act of terrorism and of mass murder mostly perpetuated by the white identity extremist.


linear data | debate

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Debate: A discussion between people in which they express different opinions about something.

In September 1963 James Baldwin debated Malcolm X on the subjects of race, class, black identity, theology, integration, and white supremacy. I recently listened to the debate on YouTube (see link below), and found it riveting and constructive. Here we have two of the most celebrated, and articulate intellectuals of the time, in a civilized, yet powerful debate: Malcolm X defended his position of the sit-in movement as passive and non productive. He did so by injecting the need for forceful intervention by what he suggested as being “any means necessary”. While simultaneously being opposed to the concept of passively waiting for freedom—and inherent civil rights, and recognition as human beings as “something to be given” to the “American Negro” by the “White man”. In contrast, in reference to the sit-in protests and any violent response as a solution, “Baldwin argued that maintaining calm in the face of vitriol demands a tremendous amount of power.” He continued by expressing the belief that “when the sit-in movement started in the western world, I think it had a great deal less to do with equality than with power.” As a result of this analysis, it can be noted that Baldwin began to contemplate the important distinction between “power and equality” and “power and freedom.” Also, interwoven throughout the debate between Malcolm and Baldwin, was a civil discussion on the validity of segregation (and pure independence; in political, and economic constructs), or integration as the valid means of advancement in a dominant white society. And of course that debate continues to today: Taking its place on various social media platforms and newly authored independent (non-white owned media) online black commentary sites and publications.

 


linear data | supremacy

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Supremacy : the quality or state of having more power, authority, or status than anyone else : the state of being supreme

In light of recent and historical events involving privilege, supremacy, oppression, and the obsession with the GUN, I am beginning a new series in which I hope to explore the psychosis and almost god-like transcendental link the white male (as the main component of supremacy) has, and has had, with societal domination, the psychology of entitlement, the innate will to conquer/subjugate others, and the inherent consequences of such machinations on society, women, and people of color.


linear data | sacred poems

sacred poems 200 dpi text.jpgIn our interior rooms, I would start by sharing some sacred poems maybe….


linear data | a room full of things we left behind

a room full of things you left behind text 200 dpiThe interior room of things. Colorful. Composed of data and moments. The beautiful memories we left behind.


linear data | in a room of things

in a room of things 200 dpi textHere in the interior rooms, we find the things we left behind. The data of memories and moments.


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linear data | 20 minutes

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linear data | in love with a ghost

linear data in love with a ghost text 200 dpi