Caption: Swizz Beatz & Canon Team Up For “The Unknowns” Rebel With A Cause Project
I have so much respect and admiration for individuals that empower others. To me, empowerment is giving someone an opportunity, some training or some information that increases their ability to be successful… without you! Though I have been out of the classroom for going on two years now, at the center of my pedagogy was this quote:
“A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” ~ Thomas Carruthers
When I was in High School, I had the chance to participate in a Voyager Outward Bound Course through a program called Upward Bound. Voyager Outward Bound is basically survivor with safety measures. Essentially, you are dropped off with a small group, in the middle of nowhere, and you are your group have a certain number of days to navigate to your pick up location. You are not allowed to bring ANY technology. As a 16 year old, it was the scariest thing that I’d ever done. I learned so much, but the thing that stuck with me the most is:
“Do no harm.”
When we created “trash,” we had to bring it with us. When we saw animals, we were taught not to disturb them. We were taught to either leave the environment as we found it, and if we could better than we found it. If we came across a piece of trash that we didn’t create, it was still our responsibility to pick up the trash. Essentially, Voyager Outward Bound made the word ecosystem, come alive for me.
I’m obsessed with all things hip hop, so when I came across the article “Swizz Beatz and Canon Teamed Up To Bring Unknown Artists to New York’s Biggest Museums” my heart skipped a beat. In the last 10 – 15 years, Hip Hop has been so hallow! Excessive, dangerously materialistic and selfish… So anytime I come across an artist who is minimalistic, idealistic and generous, I am encouraged & inspired.
“We came up with the concept of—what if we could do a bunch of unknown artist I probably would never have a chance, and probably will never be seen in a gallery or in a museum or in an auction house,” Swizz says.
In most cases, all someone needs is an opportunity. Traditional institutions often reinforce class, gender and racial barriers and stereotypes. There doesn’t seem to be room in them for regular people because of barriers to access. Sometimes those who achieve that access create too much distance between those who don’t have access. Even more problematic is those who don’t have access are often blamed or shamed, but that’s another blog for another day.
What they were doing was holding a gallery showing, using a giant projector, on the exterior of the Brooklyn Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts as part of a campaign called #TheUnknowns, as well as filling the walls of Sotheby’s with the work of those unknown artists.
Swizz and Canon partnered to create a platform for unknown artists. Swizz was willing to use his social capital to validate a platform for lesser known artists & Canon was willing to use its corporate assets to support the platform. Read the full article.
We all have social capital and even if it’s just for one individual, we can validate them. Validation is a form of empowerment. For those of us in organizations (both for-profits and non-profits) it is our responsibility to not only pick up and carry our own trash, but to do no harm and try to leave people, communities and the organizations we find ourselves with and in, better than we found them. #TheUnknowns #Empower