On Pi Day 2016, Brandon Stanton took to facebook to share an opinion with his 17,128,451 followers. Brandon, the force behind Humans of New York, did not undertake this initiative lightly. As a photojournalist, he specializes in capturing the essence of his subjects and allowing them to shine through in the photos and words he shares. Normally, he does not editorialize.
On this occasion, though, he picked up his pen to write an open letter to — and indictment of — Donald Trump and Trump’s propensity toward encouraging violence, hatred, fear, racism and bigotry.
People paid attention. Within five hours, his post had gone viral and it had over 1 million likes and 600,000 shares.
He chose to follow his moral rather than his journalistic compass on this occasion. In doing so, a grand artistic tradition was upheld. From musicians, filmmakers and writers, to poets, painters and playwrights, artists have a long and strong record of protesting atrocities against humanity.
It’s encouraging that, never before in history, has virtually every artist had the power to make himself or herself heard. No artist needs to have as high a profile as Mr. Stanton to make a difference. Social media has given voice to everyone, even the most obscure, and as yet, unknown emerging artist. No one need stand by and quietly allow men such as Donald Trump to take us back into the dark ages of humanity. As artists, we have the power to flood those corners with light, and to banish the darkness. It’s quite possibly one of the highest callings an artist can undertake.
With this, I thank Brandon Stanton, and all artists who use their work to eradicate darkness, to inspire, and to illuminate beauty and a higher path.
Photo 0f Brandon Stanton, from Stanton facebook profile.