Wear White Protest
In Collaboration with DSAW, photography by Billy Ross
The Wear White Demonstra(c)tion served as a public performance and art installation. In recent months, large-scale protests have been widely criminalized and met with state/federal opposition. As a result, more subversive forms of demonstration needed to be enacted in order for messages surrounding police brutality and injustices. For many protests across the world, it became common to wear all black. This tactic affords protesters a sense of anonymity. Although, according to the psychological effects of colors, by wearing black, it is possible to internalize a wide range of emotions, including feelings of aggression and discontent that are often present in protest. The color white however, symbolizes reflection, peace, and the transparency of truth. When everyone wears white, collectively anonymity can still be retained, while sending an impactful message. Our use of mirrors in this demonstra(c)tion is representative of the personal reflection and introspection that must be manifested to bring about a better future.
This project acknowledges that it is not rare for the color white to be used as symbolism for the ideals previously mentioned. The color white has been used by cultures and belief systems across the globe including (but not limited to): Christianity, Islam, Santeria, Brujeria, Mandean, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, and Candomblé.
In addition to the symbolism of the color white, the potency of language was crucial. The brief phrases on the banners were concise but incited various responses from passersby, ranging from happiness, hope, gratefulness, discomfort, even anger.
Onlookers were encouraged to participate in this demonstra(c)tion by wearing white outfits in the future to symbolize solidarity with the movement and to help bring about a more fair and just society for everybody.
As many revolutionaries have experienced, the typical format of protest and marching is becoming widely criminalized and met with federal opposition by the nation and the state. This means alternate, more subversive forms of demonstrations may need to be enacted in order to get messages across to our fellow citizens and the nation at large. I think this is where we come in as an arts collective and overall talented-as-fuck-group of individuals.
There is an understood protocol when participating in actions is to wear all Black due to the ability for protesters to maintain a sense of anonymity by the masses.
Wearing white has been practiced in the cultures of:
Santería: Initiates in Santería are required to wear white clothing for a year, white clothing is also standard attire for attending Santería religious services.
Voodoo: Entire white clothing is considered a default attire for lay worshippers attending Voodoo ceremonies as a sign of purity and modesty. White attire is also worn during initiation and ordination ceremonies. White is considered sacred to the Voodoo spirits of Dahomean origin and is sometimes worn by Voodoo adherents on days sacred to Dahomean spirits.
Wicca: Ritual robes are often made from white cloth, with little or no decoration, according to the customs of certain traditions. White represents holiness and purity.
Candomblé: An Afro-Brazilian religion that developed in Brazil during the early 19th century. It arose through a process of syncretism between the traditional Yoruba religion of West Africa and the Roman Catholic form of Christianity. Candomblé is monotheistic, involving the veneration of sprits known as orishas who work as intermediaries for a supreme being. These are often identified both as Yoruban Orishas as well as Roman Catholic saints.
Mandean: Adherents dress in the Rasta, a required white garment worn during baptisms and other ordinances.
For this project, a group of 20 wearing all white, separated into 5 groups of 4, along the Ponce City Market beltline, standing in formation in populated locations (Krog Market, Ponce City Market’s Shed, etc.) concentrated with tourists and Atlanta residents who, in many cases, have the privilege of ignorance to world issues pertaining to Black lives and the corrupted system we live in. This action has the potential to bring awareness and mild uncomfortability to people in passing. By using mirrors we want people to see themselves, for who they are, whether they are activists themselves, or complacent members of a society that has become desensitized to a system that is violent to Black and Brown people.
The banners including the following phrases: what ways do you protest?
complacency is an obstacle to change
We were silenced by the police, now we're here