Throughout America’s history, the most transformative cultural shifts—from slavery abolition to Reconstruction, “I Have A Dream” to “Yes We Can,” #BlackLivesMatter, the DREAM-ers, and Love Is Love—have been achieved by movements and leaders who have awakened people’s deep yearning to belong in a pluralist America. In each case, the tug-of-war between belonging and exclusion sparked a portal moment—a cracking open of the public imagination about what this nation is capable of becoming.
We believe our nation is on the precipice of another historic breakthrough: a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the American people to decisively choose to move in the direction of pluralism and justice. How will we respond to this call for transformation? Will we submit to authoritarian narratives that entice us to retreat back into the systems of exclusion and violence that stain our past, or will we step boldly through the portal and onto the path towards our pluralist future?
Americans have the opportunity to ask: What society do we yearn to create and who can we empower to lead the way? If, as civil rights scholar Vincent Harding once said, America is “a country that has yet to be born,” the pop culture for social change field can help prepare and guide millions of people through this process of becoming something new by clearing away the detritus of our nation’s past, replacing fetid, crumbling ideas and norms with ones rooted in justice, care, and connection.
Together, artists, organizers, strategists, and researchers can create the stories that help the American public understand and interpret the choices we face—from social distancing to protesting injustice and participating in America’s democratic process—through the lens of our shared commitment to becoming a pluralist nation.
If we who believe in justice do not activate public imagination in this portal moment, rest assured—others will.
Who are we becoming? Let’s tell our story.