On the Map: Creatively Fighting Racism

Mandy Van Deven
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On March 21, 1960, sixty-nine people in Sharpeville, South Africa were killed and 180 were injured when police opened fire on a crowd of 20,000 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid. Five years later, the General Assembly of the United Nations issued a resolution creating the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and proclaiming the date as the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.

The poster for this year’s commemoration was made by one of my favorite artists, Favianna Rodriguez, who utilized the feedback she received while meeting with the Ethnic Diversity Committee of the Hospital Employees’ Union in Vancouver when creating the poster’s design. A digital artist and printmaker, Rodriguez uses her work to promote social justice movements by creating images whose political messages are accessible, and encouraging other artists to do the same. She tours the globe facilitating workshops to share her knowledge and skills, and allows the free reproduction (à la Creative Commons) of particular creations for non-commercial, radical, and revolutionary purposes. (Full disclosure: My blog is currently using one of those images.)

Rodriguez’s work bridges the gap between social justice movements and the marginalized individuals with which community organizers work. “I use art to transform global politics,” she says. The poster for the International Day for the Elimination of Racism is just one of her recent projects. To stay up to date on her work, check out Favianna’s blog.

Artwork by Favianna Rodriguez

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