CREATIVE JUSTICE USES ART AS A VEHICLE TO:
Prepare young people to be leaders in community and the workplace;
Amplify youth voice as a source of community transformation;
Promote teamwork, collaboration, and community engagement;
Help lift up the power of young people of color, youth from low-income families, and LGBTQA youth;
Increase youth and community understanding of the histories and conditions that create racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism and other forms of oppression;
and Enhance skills that help young people reflect on their social position, choices, and personal power so they can stay out of jail.
Read more here and explore their website. See also Crosscut blog:
Published in email from Crosscut on 28 June 2020
When Nikkita Oliver conceded in the primary election for Seattle mayor in summer 2017, my mind immediately began mapping out her possible political future. I thought she might stage a successful city council run. Or maybe she’d hold off until the next mayoral race since in 2017 she was just 1,300 votes short of advancing to the general election. With the right political atmosphere, maybe the attorney and community organizer could find herself toe to toe with Jenny Durkan come November 2021.
This is how journalists so often think about emergent figures in electoral politics. Whether it’s a vice presidential candidate on a failed ticket or a young senator whose rise was as swift as it was unexpected, we often think in terms of political narrative; how, we wonder, will this person leverage newfound political capital into greater electoral success?
But that, it turns out, was the wrong way to think about Oliver’s future. Rather than fixating on electoral success, she has put her energies into community organizing and her work with Creative Justice, a program that offers alternatives to incarceration for young people. When protesters first took to the streets last month to speak out against systemic racism and killings by police, she was there. On June 3, she stood on the steps of Seattle City Hall before a sea of protesters, toe to toe with Mayor Durkan.
As she and I discussed in this week’s episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, Oliver delivered to the mayor a list of demands on behalf of the protesters. Among them was a call to “defund the police,” a measure that has been largely dismissed by Durkan but is being seriously considered by the Seattle City Council.
It has been a startling development for a city government that has long been committed to incremental reform. Even Oliver, who didn’t include defunding the police in her 2017 platform, has been surprised at the shift.
“Mostly what I feel right now is that we have a significant opportunity to make a huge leap forward into a radically different future, something I did not think was going to happen in my lifetime,” she told me.
My focus on electoral politics in the wake of Oliver’s 2017 defeat revealed a lack of imagination on my part, or perhaps it was a lack of knowledge about how Black liberation actually works. My ignorance perhaps reflects a larger problem with the bubble that has formed around newsrooms that are predominantly white and, though independent, woven into the institutional matrix that manages power in this country. We are at times too focused on the official avenues of redress and lack the curiosity, or life experience, to see another way.
Certainly Oliver’s run for the mayorship elevated her message. But it’s looking more and more like winning at the ballot box isn’t a requirement to affect real change in this city.
Crosscut Managing Editor