In an article that is inherently political and actively criticizes the left, preaching about the dangers of partisanship and politics while advocating for Americans to be more apolitical will likely not accomplish anything. The concept of encountering politics daily is not new, not for this generation nor the last nor the one before that. After all, Aristotle argues in his work "Politics" that human beings are, by nature, political animals. Hence, humanity has long held the belief that the presence of politics is not only inescapable but also innate to how we interact with one another.
While the most well-known examples of the politicization of everyday American life is through popular social movements (i.e the women's suffrage movement, the Civil Rights movement and various LGBTQ movements), something as subversive as the act of writing literature by women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community was and is to this day an inherently political statement, especially considering the deprivation of basic human dignity many have experienced and still experience. With all the authors, actors and artists who are part of marginalized groups and have made overtly or subversive political stands, saying our particular political climate is different insofar as it entrenches in our lives in ways never before is not only historically very inaccurate but also very privileged.
One of the biggest arguments against political activism by celebrities is the myth they are more political now than ever. History, on the other hand, refutes that claim.
CBC Radio wrote, "In the '40s, crooner Frank Sinatra campaigned for Franklin Roosevelt. Years later, he — along with Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland — would support John F. Kennedy."
We do not have a newfound rise of celebrity activism. From Frank Sinatra to Oprah, celebrities have been outspoken with their support for presidential candidates and policies.
Not to mention, our president-elect was a celebrity himself. What makes Beyoncé and Jay Z bailing out protesters who participated in anti-police brutality demonstrations or suing Mississippi Department of Corrections over the gross mistreatment of inmates more toxic than, say, our president-elect's racist, sexist and xenophobic campaign?
Shontavia Johnson of The Conversation wrote, "Whatever you think of how well thought out their opinions are (or aren't), celebrities have the ability to draw attention to social issues in a way others do not. Their large platforms through film, music, sports and other media provide significant amplification for the initiatives they support."
Although a lot of residents of Mississippi had heard about the gross mistreatment of inmates at Parchman Prison, Jay Z and Yo Gotti's advocation on behalf of the prisoners prompted Governor Tate Reeves to make changes less than 10 days after they filed their lawsuits, according to Alissa Zhu of The Clarion Ledger.
Standing silent in the face of homophobia, racism and sexism is dangerous. I do not agree with disliking anyone over their political beliefs, but I do believe there is a clear difference between disliking someone because of his or her political beliefs and calling out homophobic, racist and sexist behavior or rhetoric. When advocating for others to stop talking about politics and embrace an apolitical lifestyle, you are put into a very privileged group. A lot of policies today, as they always have, affect marginalized groups in America. Others, due to the reality of their lives, have no other choice but to care and speak out against injustice.
When you are not affected by police brutality, it is easier for you to accept more black men were killed by police in 2015 than by being lynched at the height of Jim Crow, as reported by Jerome Karabel with The Huffington Post. Therefore, it is also easy for you to advocate for Colin Kaepernick and other celebrities to stop encroaching on your favorite sport, late-night talk show or awards ceremony simply because you do not want to take a side. Silence allows oppressors to continue to oppress because silence is tacit acceptance of their actions.
No action by everyday citizens or celebrities has ever been apolitical. The only difference between the level of politicization in everybody's lives is, now, people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community do not have to be subversive and quiet with their political statements or their blossoming political movements.
Today, the entertainment industry is as diverse as it has ever been. Although there are still problems and hardly what someone could describe as being perfect, the voices of those who do have power can speak about their experience as a person of color, as a woman or as a member of the LGBTQ community. If they are not part of those groups themselves, they have the ability to advocate for them. Not only does it give a sense of community by hearing the stories of others who have shared some of your experiences, but it also highlights the pervasive issues of inequality that we can only begin to fix when we verbally acknowledge they are there.