Last night I shared an article about the hypocrisy of Western Hollywood with regards to its portrayal of Wonder Woman. Shortly after, I received a message from a follower of my public page stating, “I liked your page for beautiful poetry, not political bullshit.”
This is not the first time I’ve gotten such a complaint. It isn’t even the most violent or abusive message I’ve received. For instance, last month a couple of people sent e-mails and wrote posts on my private social media to say I am stupid, a little b*tch, less evolved compared to white people, and much worse for something so small as an article on depression. These unnecessary insults are often accompanied by a “You are a disappointment for writing about X topic that is not poetry or positive, and I will now stop following you” statement.
Somehow, over time, this became a regular occurrence.
Person: I like your poetry! So honest, political, raw, feminist, and personal, wow.
Me: *shares articles that coincides with the same views that drive my poetry and writing*
Also Person: Uuuuum you are A WRITER. I came to this page FOR POETRY. Stop talking about your opinions on feminism/racism/politics/capitalism etc, this is bullshit and so are you. i will stop following now BYE
People normally find my public poetry page by relating to a love poem or inspirational quote I wrote once upon a time. They follow it in hopes of repeating that connection, only to be annoyed when I share news articles or posts about topics which are personally important such as feminism and mental health.
My artist-of-color friends have more or less received the same reaction at least a few times.
I know a Pakistani poet who repeatedly talks about self-care, and for it received detractors who believe anything but her poetry is uninteresting and unprofessional. An online writer from India has gotten into heated discussions with strangers who have implied writers and artists should always live an uplifting life. Meanwhile, a Filipina graphic artist is scared of voicing her opinion with regards to the injustice and violence occurring in her country, because she says she knows it would result to her image, and consequently business, being negatively affected.
It would be a different story if these objections were voiced at our workplaces. However most of the time these people seek us out in other platforms where we share some of our art without pay, then protest if they perceive us as not acting 100% inspiring, or stepping out of our roles as simply entertainers.
For us, the phrase “Stick to your job! Stay out of politics!” has become all too familiar.
People may think it’s noble for one to stand by one’s principles and forego the customers or audience. However some of us can’t afford that idealism. Some of us are forced to keep our hungry mouths shut as we worry over where we can get our next paycheck from.
On the other hand, others assume that artists should separate their individual politics and opinions from their work. This sounds almost impossible. Many artists’ work stems from their politics and real-life burdens.
My poetry is drawn from my experiences, thoughts, and principles. Other poets’ writing are also rooted in their respective journeys, societies, and encounters. Painters and graphic artists create artwork to reflect the realities they see and the emotions they feel.
We are not your “entertain me and just shut up if it’s not poetry or art or inspirational” machines.
We are our own persons, and we’ll write and paint and post whatever we want. So as long as we are not purposefully inflicting suffering or malice upon others. If you like our craft, great! But make no mistake –
It is NOT our responsibility to entertain or inspire you.
Especially if you’re a white person complaining about us sharing issues that affect people of color like us, that you find annoying or irrelevant because they do not disturb you.
You do not pay online poets for reading their free poetry. You do not pay online artists for having the opportunity to see and enjoy their free art. The least you can do is not be rude to us if you feel like you no longer relate to our posts and art.
The unfollow button exists on our public pages. Unless we actually do or say something hateful, ignorant, irresponsible, or out-of-line, there is no need to announce your departure in such cheeky “I am a disappointed customer!” ways. You being rude to online artists who have different harmless ideals than you contributes nothing of substance.
It’s a bit strange how these same people who criticize online artists for having an opinion will literally defend their like and consumption of problematic celebrities like John Lennon, Mel Gibson, and Bill Cosby with a casual “I don’t care what issues surround them because I like their movies/music, and they entertain me.”
Are we non-celebrities the exceptions to the rule?