Look, y’all. I truly, madly, deeply care about arts funding in Oklahoma. I really do. And because of the nature of my Internet bubble, I saw the news about HB1895 and the dude who introduced it and his weird mission to de-fund arts programs in Oklahoma, and I thought to myself, “I really hope that doesn’t pass. In fact, I hope some other group takes this up and makes a lil’ stink about it so that it doesn’t, in fact, pass.” I thought that! But here I am, making frustrated noises at the precise people who made that very successful stink.
After the past several days, I can say with certainty that young, social media-savvy Oklahomans have the energy, intelligence, passion, and willpower to execute a grassroots media campaign protesting a specific piece of legislation. A specific piece of legislation, in fact, that because of its very nature has engendered discussions rife with the rhetoric of social justice. I drew a maddening conclusion: everything is and has been in place for us to create mass movements for justice in Oklahoma. I do not imagine that our resources are inexhaustible – picking battles is still wise.
And I harbor no illusions that speaking out against HB1895 is as politically difficult as advocating for abortion care or contraceptive access. But you, the privileged creative class of Oklahoma, are notorious for defensively hoarding social/political capital, throwing other residents of the state under the bus over and over to gain Internet cynicism cred, eyerolling, “hell-hole”-ing*, and apologizing for “Oklahoma” as if we have control over Sally Kern’s homophobia and Jim Inhofe’s climate denialism.
The campaign to stop HB1895 has been an education, perhaps teaching those who participated that contributing to struggles for justice pays back. HB1895 will not make it out of committee. As a very real bonus: you’ve felt power – not of being recognized for individual accomplishments, but of contributing noise to a massive and powerful din.
Rescuing arts education is undeniably a more mediagenic cause than defeating fetal personhood and parental consent laws. However, recent events have disproved my long-held belief that red state activism receives less attention because of its defensive nature. Defeating unjust state legislation is not particularly attention-grabbing, even though nothing could be more dramatically important to our state’s most vulnerable residents. Also, yes, Rep. Cockroft is incompetent, but Rep. James Lankford is straight-up detestable plus: not even afraid to air his detestability in public. And he has a Twitter account.
*”‘hell-hole’-ing” is a term I just made up to describe the exhausting phenomenon of Oklahomans referring to their only home state as a hell-hole.
Pearl had two paragraphs of a single extended metaphor about overwatering succulents and she deleted them so you can thank her on twitter for that
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