"Pull Yourself up by Your Bootstraps"
Updated: Jun 9, 2020
By Jamilah W.
In my English class, I was asked to visually present a common myth regarding race, class, and gender. The Bootstrap Myth (“the belief that a person in the United States who works hard, assumes personal responsibility, and maintains a strong moral center can accomplish anything” (naspa.org)) was one that seemed to be my motivation as well as my downfall growing up. While the idea that I could overcome my family’s poverty and tumultuous childhood by working hard comforted me greatly during the rough times, this myth failed to prepare me for the harsh reality of many people of color: institutionalized racism makes it nearly impossible for us to simply pull ourselves out of these disenfranchising situations. Growing up, I had a lot of teachers and mentors tell me that I can do whatever I put my mind to do and that if I work hard I can achieve and be successful. And while I don’t blame by teachers for being positive and encouraging me, I realized later on in life that success isn’t that simple. My family members and I have personally lost opportunities or were denied for reasons that were behind our control, whether that be from our race, gender, or socioeconomic status.
About the piece-
With all these events throughout history, I chose to let them surround the white woman in the picture, to let her pop against the harsh imagery in the back. This and her laughing symbolizes the way that some of the privileged people in this country fail to see or even acknowledge the ways that their horrible history actually helps them with their success today. On the other hand, for the black woman beside her, I chose to let the images nearly consume her, making her hardly visible to the audience. This symbolizes the way that history fails to be behind a lot of people of color, with it often times making its way into more modern times (examples being Black Lives Matter, the many police brutality cases, etc.). This piece represents my frustration with the lack of change going on in this country with the continuous mistreatment of people of color, specifically with Black Americans.
RESOURCES - via blacklivesmatters.carrd.co
EDUCATE YOURSELF - via Twitter
read more about Jamilah here