In life oftentimes we try to overlook or ignore the things that make us uncomfortable. We sugarcoat things and gloss over them because we convince ourselves that it’s easier to do that than to face them. We sometimes stand back as injustice happens because we somehow decide that being passive is the smart choice, or at the very least the safe(st) choice. We refrain from speaking up and instead, we go silent. We close our eyes and we move into a state of denial or we bury it away until something happens causing a mixture of emotions to rise up within us, sometimes so fast we don’t know how to contain them.
But sometimes, there are issues that can’t be ignored. Not necessarily because you want to face them (perhaps you do but just don’t know how), but because they stare you in the face and are made so visible that no matter how hard you try you can’t. They are there. And perhaps, if they stare you in the face hard enough or long enough you will stand up. You will rise. And, you will decide that silence will not be your legacy.
Racism — its impact currently plastered all over billboards in New York City staring countless people in the face. These billboards, created by RISE, are designed to draw attention to the fact that “racism still exists.” With verbiage such as “Don’t want to get stopped by the NYPD? Stop being Black,” on places ranging from subways to taxis you can’t help but see that racism still plagues our society.
Each month RISE highlights “racial disparities that impact black people in America” addressing issues such as education, law enforcement, and the entertainment industry. According to their website:
“RISE is a project designed to illuminate some of the ways in which racism operates in this country.”
At this time the person or persons behind the project are unknown but the message they are sending is well known and reaching many people who might otherwise try to close their eyes to an issue that is just as real today as it was over a 100 years ago.
To read more about RISE’s use of billboards in New York City visit Ebony. For detailed information on each monthly highlight visit RISE on Tumblr.