The Space Between Imagining and Making Real Is Very Small

NOTE: On Saturday, 21 January 2017, Judy Baca, Minister of Sites of Public Memory on the USDAC National Cabinet, delivered these inspiring remarks to 750,000 marchers at Los Angeles' Women's March. 

Hello marchers! Hello Angelitos! Welcome to the official inauguration of President Trump!

My name is Judy Baca and I am cofounder of a woman-founded arts and social justice organization—SPARC—that has been fighting for human rights for 40 years.

For me today all of you are the best news I have heard since November.  I look out and see every generation that has historically stood for justice on every front, united today. And perhaps that is what we must be grateful for at this heart-clenching moment.

We outnumber by millions those who would make America whites-only again. Remember that we once stopped a war. We changed profoundly women’s roles in society. We fought for acknowledgement and fair treatment of immigrant laborers in our nation of immigrants. We pressed for the rights of the LGBTQ community.

What is important at this moment is to not underestimate the powerful role of artists. Witness all of our pussy hats, handmade, behind them are hours of people making them. It is our job as artists to:

  • visualize in the broad strokes of a brush,
  • to articulate in the spoken word or the stories we tell,
  • to lift hearts with song; and
  • to create a vision of a humane and just world.

In my 40 years as an activist artist at SPARC I have come to understand that the space between imagining and making real is very small. Together, we can imagine and make real the vision of a country that is respectful of all its people, particularly women and of Mother Earth that gives us our very life. To quote our former President, “In our increasingly interconnected world, the arts play an important role in both shaping the character that defines us and reminds us of our shared humanity.”

Each day that passes, with each egregious action of the Trump administration that would dismantle all of our hard-won progress, it is important to know that we need to resist each attack one by one and stop every action, every move toward fascism. And we must do it sustainably, with joy and certainty that we can and will win.

We are already seeing the beginnings of official actions by the current administration to undermine all that we have worked for. We cannot allow these backward hateful, misogynist, racist, ideas to become the new normal. This is not normal. The building of walls, actual or metaphoric, forecasts a future of division between peoples.

I remind us that the only wall that should be built is the one we build with our bodies and our resistance against the destruction of our dignity and our democracy.

 Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press