“Why I am Participating in the Social Justice Art Festival”

As an outsider to violence, it has always been difficult to process the motives of hate, discrimination, and injustice. I would think to myself, “I don’t believe in these things and neither do the people in my life.”

I used to be naïve.

Growing up in a predominately middle-class environment I had many luxuries and advantages I figured every individual had an opportunity to experience. I didn’t understand gender, race, economic status, religious beliefs, or one’s sexual preference was used as justification for hate.

I used to be sheltered.

Every evening I failed to see the reality of the world because I knew the mantra of “If it bleeds, it leads,” and assumed I was witnessing a byproduct of a culture that fetishized violence and that it couldn’t really be that bad.

I used to be ignorant.

My introduction to the realities of violence occurred in San Francisco where I witnessed a homeless person physically assaulted outside a restaurant for no apparent reason. I had never seen another person’s blood sprawled across the pavement before and it was a jarring experience that stays with me to this day.

I used to make excuses.

My introduction to the realities of vulnerability occurred here in Michigan, my home. On any given day, there are over 3,000 children in the Michigan Foster Care System. Many of these children experienced unspeakable neglect, emotional and physical abuse and it was my job to write about them in hopes of finding them a forever family and a chance at a better life.

I was awakened.

Those kids opened my eyes to importance of advocacy and the necessity of being a voice for those who do not have one. Making excuses and remaining quiet are no longer an option for me. My hope is that the Social Justice Art Festival provides us with thought-provoking works of art that will inspire us all to be vocal leaders within our own communities for those most vulnerable.

Brandon Monzon
Volunteer and Supporter