1. The refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument
2. The ability not to be affected by something, especially adversely
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,” says Dr. César A. Cruz, an activist, author and Harvard professor. Art has historically been a tool for resistance. From the 1920s Mexican leftist muralists to Gordon Park’s civil rights photography to jazz and hip hop music to the Guerrilla Girls and beyond. We highlight three specific areas where art has influenced social movements: music, spoken word and the evolution of political fashion.
Resistance doesn’t just happen in the streets at protests. From bookstores to churches to gun ranges, activists seek refuge and create safe spaces where they build community, organize and take action for social change. Across New York City, these spaces have increasingly become vital for social movements giving outspoken activists a place of refuge. We look at the different types of spaces of resistance across the city to understand how physical space sustains political and social movements.
The shuffle of feet, the chants for justice, cardboard signs, often clashes with authorities - all the middle of public streets. This is what most associate “protest” with. From the March on Washington to Tiananmen Square, reclaiming of public streets has been a way to make oppression visible and hold the world accountable as a witness to injustice. We visualized how these street demonstrations have been taking shape since President Trump’s election. But in the technology age, protest in public space has broadened to social media. We analyze the influence of hashtags and social media on the social movements of today.
The Peace Poets are a group of artists that advocate for life through poetry and music. Originally from the Bronx, the five members perform nationwide and use their art to incite change, educate, connect, and liberate people everywhere.
MOVING PEOPLE BEYOND THE DANCE FLOOR
DJ Bembona is a Brooklyn-based Afro-Latina artist and activist who uses music to bring people together and shake up the status quo.
Andrea Arroyo is a Mexican American artist in New York. Arroyo felt crushed by the November election results and reached out to artists around the globe to react to the Trump presidency. “Unnatural Election” is 250 pieces strong and is on display at the NYU Kimmel Galleries through June. This video was originally produced for Voices of New York.
ITS ALWAYS SUNNY...
Sunny Gang is a band from Newark, NJ, whose politically-charged music serves both as a reminder of the cruel realities of our world and a reminder to have fun and challenge what you’re told. Having started the band in 2012, the band’s music is not aimed at a particular political figure or moment in time, but they believe the messages of their lyrics are applicable in any situation that calls for resistance or rebellion.
SAFE SPACE ON CAMPUS
At a time of growing anti-Muslim sentiments in the country in the wake of the election of Donald Trump as President, students of New York University (NYU) are finding solace in the University’s Islamic Center. The space is used for a variety of reasons including safe expression of thoughts and strengthening common bonds with other Muslims in the City.
WORDS OF RESISTANCE
“Word Up Community Bookshop” is in Washington Heights. Initially a temporary endeavor, the community quickly embraced the independent bookstore and fundraised to make it a permanent space. It’s now a 501(c)3 nonprofit and completely volunteer-run. Staff and community members say it’s more than just a bookstore. It’s a safe space for the community to come together.
GUN COUNTRY IN MANHATTAN
New York City is one of the country's least permissive locations for gun ownership, but a gun range nestled in Downtown Manhattan is a meeting place for gun owners.
The range serves as a training facility and social club. It gives members a place to relax with like-minded people, share information and celebrate their shared hobby.
ORGANIZING TO PROTECT TRANS RIGHTS
Violence against transgender people is on the rise in the United States. In New York, as in other areas of the country, the transgender community and allied advocates are organizing to end these hate crimes. They’re taking to the streets and building momentum in the movement to secure their full human rights.
CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
Youth have been at the forefront of resistance and social justice movements throughout history. But the truly young depend on others to expose them to activism. A group of Brooklyn-based mothers are teaching their daughters to speak up and speak out in the face of injustice. Liz and Kelly, two mothers from that group, focus their conversations and efforts around women’s rights, immigration, and climate change.
FROM SOCIAL MEDIA TO THE STREETS
Social media has emerged as a vital tool for activists to help spread the message of their cause. Skeptics disregard hashtag activism and identifies it as being lazy. But there are plenty of movements that started online and went on to have impact outside the virtual world.
We map three of them here.
A VIRTUAL TRIP TO THE RANGE
A 360 look at the Westside Rifle and Pistol Range