Dear Black Parents: Art is A Career

by - August 17, 2017

Copyright Ocean_snx

It’s 2017 and despite this, most parents’ & People in general are unaware of the fact that a BA Degree/education within the arts, is an ACTUAL Career.
Most Highschool leavers or children (really, this whole entire generation) have been brainwashed to think that a career in art is futile. Granted, to thrive in this industry an immense amount of creativity, hard-work and the in-betweens’ is required, and maybe even some talent. Art is not futile, especially if you love it.

Dear Black Parents: Art IS A Career

It’s true though, that an increase of creatives have emerged, recently from our generation, but despite this, the stigma around black children especially, being involved or studying the arts is still there. At a creatives conference I recently attended, a speaker from the department of education, who studied within the arts, mentioned how he was mocked, and asked why he paid 50 000 (Fees back then?) to study music (I think it was music) and although that was probably, a couple of years back, maybe even more (the guy looks old, but not that old, but old) the stigma is still there.
South Africa's focus as a country is on mathematics and science, which isn’t (entirely) wrong but what if the reason some children aren’t made for school is because they are more creative than numerical?

I decided to have a digital interview with Ocean_snx & he forwarded the questions to the lovely Aaliyah Ahmed to gain their perspective on the matter at hand.



Copyright Ocean_snx
Copyright Ocean_snx
What are you currently studying and what inspired you to get involved in the arts?

AA: I’m currently studying History and Anthropology. Although I do not study "arts" per say, history is still considered as a " Bachelor of Arts" degree. The BA degree is also known as "liberal arts" which, when translated, means " worthy of a free person". This essentially means essential for a free person. Having said this, the arts has been exactly this, freedom. I grew up being encouraged to appreciate art and therefore I was always inspired to partake in it even in a small way. Through art, I can voice things that cannot be said, feel things that have no rationality. Art makes my life lighter.

OS: I study fine arts at UCT. It was never really a choice to be honest, more like a fucken (side note from me: Apologies for the bad language but it fully expresses Ocean_snx’s Love For Art) random blessing and curse at the same time…all you do is feel and understand everything which drives you crazy so you find an outlet which allows you to pour out this craziness in the most beautiful and purist way possible. In return, you stay sane and live another day
Are your parents supportive of what you study?

AA: Yes, they have encouraged me to explore my passions because we have passions for a reason.

OS: My mother does. My dad is typical about it.

Do you sometimes feel that black (any race that is not white) parents restrict their children in terms of what they can study, that they look up to and praise degrees where lots of money can be made and relatives can praise them?

AA: Yes! Coming from an Indian background, many of the parents, of my friends, do not understand why I’m studying what I’m studying. My family in Joburg always cross question me about what I'll do with my degree. For most people, security is the main goal which is understandable considering the struggle they had to endure in order to make something out of their lives.

OS: Yeah, I do which really isn’t their fault, they fought too hard to get where they are. Problem is all these kids just end up in offices, instead of living life with a purpose.

I was blessed to have a mother who raised my brothers and I in a household that allowed us to be free from racial prejudices forced upon us by our elders, family members and my father who’s in the dark when it comes to art. We were taught to perceive the world in a more internal way, a way that allowed us to block out negativity and feed off the positivity inside of us.

As artists, it is our responsibility to be strong willed and focused because people have little light about this industry especially those closer to us. Their misfortunes and upbringing shouldn’t strip you away from your God given talents, you’ll always go far in anything if you put your mind to it, but there’s no telling how far you could go with your talents.

Copyright Ocean_snx
Copyright Ocean_snx

What’s your view of the misconception black people have that you cannot make money through the arts or that studying it is futile??
AA: I disagree with anyone that says you cannot make money through studying the arts. Of course, you can! It also depends on what you place your value on. For some, being very wealthy is the aim, whereas if you are happy and enjoy what you do, you will not need to have truckloads of money because your value will be placed on something deeper than money. Just as there will always be a need for accountants, there will always be a need for artists. Everyone connects with some medium of art, whether it is music, film or clothing.

OSTo be honest the whole misconception has a million factors but one key factor I’ll point out is that Art is something that goes hand in hand with business. You’re not just painting or whatever art it is that you perform, you’re also creating a brand/business, something valuable that needs to be put out there not kept in there.

What would you like to say to young-aspiring black artists who are conflicted in terms of studying a degree in art or going the path, their parents want them to.

AA: When it comes down to it, many young people become the bread winner in a household and have to turn to jobs that guarantee "security". In that case, DO NOT lose your artistic side! No matter where you find yourself, do not suppress it. Too many times we are told that our creative side is not good enough or a waste of time but please do not let go of it! We need more people who are creative! So, whether you find yourself behind an office desk or a freelancer, do not compromise your creativity and keep on finding inspiration to keep that spark alight! If you have the option, go the "artsy" route, nothing worth having doesn't come without struggle!


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