The difficulty with becoming a successful artist as a minority
Besides writing for The Pacifican, I write poetry and attempt to write short stories and novels.
My ultimate goal is to become an artist who makes a living off of telling stories and sharing my imagination. However, there is one hurdle I will inevitably have to overcome: the color of my skin.
I am a Mexican American, and by turning on the news, it is apparent there are people who want me out of this country because they assume I am not American.
Many people are considered minorities in America because of their race, religion, sexuality or gender; for these individuals, life will not be as easy, especially for those trying to be successful artists.
To be an artist is not an easy task. Even for someone who is white, cisgender and heterosexual, becoming an artist is not as simple as filling out an application and submitting a resume to an employer.
Artists must work hard to perfect their work and work just as hard to get their art noticed. After that, they must garner enough support so they can financially care for themselves and for future projects.
With each piece, the whole process starts again until the artist becomes famous in the highly subjective art world or until they die and become famous post-mortem, if at all. Put frankly, the life of the artist is the life of a gambler — but those who are successful and talented enough shape American culture and history.
For a minority, it is even more difficult to make an impact in the art community. Just think back to high school, and consider all the artists and writers taught in class.
Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury: All talented writers, to be sure, but it is also quite clear all of them are white men.
Female writers like Emily Dickinson and Charlotte Perkins Gilman might be briefly covered, as well as black writers like Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright. But there are some students who never even hear of gay writers like Allen Ginsberg or Latino writers like Gabriel García Márquez or Asian American writers like Maxine Hong Kingston.
The literary canon does little to shine the spotlight on minorities, leaving many in the dark and only a few to bear witness to the narratives of the Other.
That is why it is important for Pacific students to support one another, especially in the arts and the humanities.
Whether it be in theatre or graphic design, or whether a student is white or Asian, everyone should work together so everyone’s voice has a chance to be heard.
When students graduate from the University of the Pacific, they should have the opportunity to become artists who change the world.