On December 21, with the generous help of our community partner, Barclays School Supplies, we were able to offer free art supplies and opportunities to create for children of community members as an alternative to purchasing gifts this holiday season. We wanted to provide this service in our working-class communities and high volume shopping areas to disrupt the capitalist, media-fed pressure to spend money needed for survival to buy fleeting gifts. These gifts are an alternative way to show love, celebrate together, and care for each other. The Freedom Arts Movement strives to inspire creativity and improve material conditions through projects like this.
Under capitalism, we are born into a culture of consumption. Value is ascribed to what we buy instead of who we are. We are born with an inherent economic value (our power to purchase and work) but not human value (our ability to create, share, and live without exploitation). Poor and working-class folks are made to feel lesser if they can’t keep up with the current trends the advertising agencies and media say are necessary to prove you care about your family. The ruling class - the rich folks who make all the money off our misery - don’t care about raising the quality of life of your family during the holidays. They just want more money. This means people will have to choose between getting food for their family or getting them presents; keeping on the heat or getting a Christmas tree.
Cultural movements like Kwanzaa, are rooted in anti-consumerism, self-creation, self-determination and, above all else, community. The thousands of people who celebrate this holiday are proof of an alternative to consumer-capitalist Christmas. We, at FAM, believes that the act of creation for creation's sake, or for the betterment of your community - not for the profit of the already rich - helps alleviate the feeling of disconnection inherent in the exploitative practice of wage labor. We create the products and services with our labor but only get a very small fraction of the profit through our wage while someone else, who is not working, reaps the benefit of what we create.
By providing programs, services, and events around the act of creating we are able to give the working class a glimpse of an economy based on community solidarity (workers owning and democratically controlling their own workplaces and sharing resources), a collaborative future, and a way of life-based on reciprocity.