Rock! Paper! Scissors!
Tools for anarchist + Christian thought and action
Vol 2. No. 1
Art Against Empire
Art Against Empire
Guest editor: Ewuare X. Osayande
By: Ewuare X. Osayande
One aspect of the radicality of Jesus’ ministry was that it was in constant conflict with the forces and forms of the Roman empire. His message of love and abiding concern for the least of these by affirming their needs, their hopes, and their aspirations for freedom and peace placed him in confrontation with those that wielded ruthless authority over the poor and despised. His criticism of their abuse of power was a prophetic act of insurrection against the economic, religious, political, and social structures that profited from the oppression that caused such suffering. His call to carry the cross is a call to us to confront the empire of our day – The United States of America.
This issue of Rock! Paper! Scissors! Tools for anarchist + Christian thought and action is a testament to the important and meaningful ways people of conscience are confronting empire and working to undermine and upend the structures of violent domination that are wreaking havoc here and all over the world. This issue carries the works of activists, artists and writers, all seeking to give critical voice to the suffering and to the loving resistance required to end the suffering.
This issue contains poems that bring us up close to the horrors of imperialist violence and the trauma it leaves in its bloody wake. An essay on the angelic work of providing manna for those migrating through deserts in search of sanctuary and the defiance of children’s laughter as exclamation of a new world bursting through their smiles. A probing essay on Ava Duvernay’s powerful drama “When They See Us” holds the light of Black liberation theology to expose the life-consequential contradictions of a society that has never lived up to its proclamation of liberty and justice for all. A poem about George Washington’s teeth takes us back to the formation of this country and the violence that brought its empire forth. A photograph of a painting of Mumia Abu-Jamal juxtaposed against a mural of depicting a more historically accurate Jesus challenges our perceptions of what salvation looks like and reminds us that the power of the Gospel is found all around us, not just in a book. And a series of watercolor paintings reminds us of the beauty that is present amid the chaos and the calm our spirits crave.
These works remind us of our shared humanity in the face of a global machine that exploits our labor and devours our world. Are imaginative subversions that challenge us to rethink the world around us and create community amid tragedy and chaos. These are poems, essays, paintings, video and photographs that embody and project the courage necessary to confront the monster that is U.S. empire and the imperialism it perpetuates all over the globe.
As I read and saw these works I was struck by their raw revelations, their courageous vulnerability and the vitality of their beauty. It is with profound humility and honor to now share them with you.
Ewuare X. Osayande