Thoughts on Democracy

By Imagining America | September 13, 2017

By Jay Simple, a M.F.A. student in Photography at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a 2017-2018 Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) Fellow. This PAGE Blog Salon explores themes of intersectionality and public scholarship, important topics of the upcoming Imagining America national conference, Oct. 12-14, 2017, in Davis, California.

The Unholy Trinity (Installation View)

What does it mean to live in a true democracy, defined as a group controlled by a majority of it’s members. A democracy is built to appease the majority not the minority. If then the majority are appeased through nepotistic sharing of social capital and economic wealth, the minority must use the tool of social justice if they desire to work within the system of governance to reach a middle ground. Social justice, defined as actions created to battle against insular sharing of social capital and economic power among the majority of a group’s members, is essential to a democracy which inevitably creates inequality between the majority and minority. Under the guise of doing justice to a majority the minority are left relegated to the outskirts of society physically and mentally within a democracy.

Untitled (Installation View)

Common among minority groups living under the rule of democracy is a sense of oppression imposed onto them by the majority. This feeling of oppression comes from both the system of nepotism as well as physical and mental violence. Physical violence like legalized slave labor in privately owned prison systems filled with a disproportionate number of a economically disenfranchised group, or mental violence like the perpetuation of being a criminal pushed through a media organization with ties to social hate groups against a minority member of the society. Where does the hate come from? Isn’t it a bit of a peculiarity, when the majority of a democracy keep everything for themselves and then hate another for having nothing? Hate them because they want more. Hate them for living. Hate them for dying. And then the final hypocrisy, they hate them for hating them back.

Richmond Slave Trail

Democracy is a word used often void of its actual meaning, it seems like a stand in for equality, which is antithetical to its definition or operation. Living in a democracy either socially or economically works for the majority. This is to say that if you’re poor and a member of the majority you at least have social supremacy to rely on, and inversely if you’re not in the highest standing socially among the majority you can still have economic stability. However, if you are a member of a minority group success socially or economically have odds in commonality with playing the lottery. So what it means to live under a democracy depends entirely upon who you ask. It can mean truth, liberty and justice, or hypocrisy, disenfranchisement, and inequity.

A Safe Place