By Michael McDermott
30 Days Hath September.2020 is to give voice to artists speaking to events around us in this difficult and even unprecedented time. Beyond horror and hope lies something more basic, something that grows by the day and that is fear. Lovecraft Country is a current show that takes themes of H.P. Lovecraft and redoes them away from the overt racism of the original author. A Black family is pursued by monsters of both the racist sheriff type and multitentacled ones that take off a head in an instant. Fear is ever present along with horror. That pretty much sets the emotions for the real present. Looking deeper into our present we can find hope as well from the Black Lives Matter movement and even in the resistance to taking away voting.
There was consistent violence and repression during the civil rights movement and similar could be said for anti-war activities during Vietnam. FBI infiltration was common against the Black Panthers and radical organizations. It was often necessary to investigate many comrades to determine if they were agents. In many ways this seemed to be an expected and part of the movements and response. The developments of our time are very different and of a more serious nature. In spite of the degree of repression and some manipulation of the laws and democratic norms, there were never the steps at dismantling state institutions that we see now, never attacks against the “deep state” in the interest of an incompetent would-be authoritarian ruler. Even the present voter suppression is on a greater scale than anything since the gains of women’s and Black voting rights. Our democracy has always been incomplete and selective. Those on the short end are the first to be deprived even more than they have been. The attack on democratic institutions raises the legitimate fear of the f word (no, not the one about sex).
The streets are seen with armed rightwing militia whose numbers grow in what is a foreshadowing of November when many thousands will support Trump with arms displayed as used. New police murders of Black citizens haunt us daily. COVID continues to infect thousands each day. Christianity has been hijacked by practices of hate and forgetting about love and serving the least among us. The degradation of the environment escalates with ugly and harmful results. In each of these there is resistance and alternatives that give ground for hope and a better future. In all of these arts are an essential ingredient in overcoming fear and leading us to hope.
The key issue these days is the election. Even resistance on the streets is less likely to bear fruit with the incumbent for another 4 years. Changing street resistance into organization leading voting is needed. That organization will be needed however the outcome in November.
30 Days Hath September.2020 will present such art each day. Black Earth fellows, current and emeritus, scholars, and friends of BEI have volunteered to offer their views of all this for reflection, exposure, and hope. The daily postings will include a variety of approaches and insights. We hope that these have an effect on the writers and readers alike.