Resources on Justice – Aymar Jean Christian

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

Aymar Jean “AJ” Christian is an assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and a Fellow at the Peabody Media Center. Dr. Christian’s first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television on New York University Press, argues the web brought innovation to television by opening development to independent producers. His work has been published in numerous academic journals, including The International Journal of Communication, Cinema Journal, Continuum, and Transformative Works and Cultures. He leads Open TV (beta), a research project and platform for television by queer, trans and cis-women and artists of color. His blog, Televisual, is an archive of over 500 posts chronicling the rise of the web TV market, and he has written regular reports on TV and new media for Indiewire, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Tubefilter. He received PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

1. Independent News

Getting quality information and informed opinion is increasingly important and challenging. Cable news has been terrible for television journalism, though the broadcast era standard of “objectivity” very often meant marginalizing real experiences of people living through difference and ignoring progressive ideas altogether. On the web you can find excellent written and documentary work that better reflect America’s political complexity and social realities from Mic (particularly The Movement series), The Intercept, and even established outlets like Democracy Now!. These treat the fight for equality as an objective position and often report from intersectional perspectives. In print, there are plenty of quality sources. Chicago may be more known for In These Times but blogs like the Black Youth Project and Rad Fag offer necessary, critical viewpoints.  

  1. Hyperallergic

I get most of my news of the art world from Hyperallergic, which not only covers artists and exhibits, but is one of the few art-based publications to regularly address inequality. Whether it’s W.A.G.E.’s newest report, gentrification in Boyle Heights, or studies on racial and gender inequality in art gallery representation, Hyperallergic presents a fuller, more justice-oriented perspective on the art market.

  1. Creative Commons

Every artist should know about Creative Commons. In the United States, original works are automatically copyrighted, protecting intellectual property upon creation. Most artists view this as an asset – indeed there’s even increasing talk among artists about collecting residuals, or secondary payments, on sales of their work. However, not every artist is interested in retaining intellectual property rights, and Creative Commons allows them to clearly signal to others that their works can be borrowed, manipulated, even profited from. Creative Commons offers tiers of licenses for original works, specifying varying levels of acceptable use of the original, thus opening up the public domain to more creative works, which spurs more creativity and collaboration in society.  

  1. Open TV (beta)

Justice must also involve entertainment industries, which have unfair and unequal supply chains. We have to continually push our TV habits beyond only corporate media like Netflix and HBO to support emerging and independent artists working toward more robust representations of cultures. Moreover, justice-oriented media consumption should not only support independent and community-minded artists, but also organizations committed to supporting them. My project Open TV (beta) is designed to create pipelines for intersectional artists, mostly in Chicago, investing in the development of new stories by queer, trans, cis-women and artists of color. I’m not the only one. You can subscribe to indie TV by and about diverse communities through Black & Sexy TV, SLAY TV, Revry, Section II, among others. Outside of TV, podcast network Postloudness features shows like Black Girl In Om, focusing on wellness for black women and women of color, and AirGo, a talk show featuring Chicago’s community-based artists and activists.                

  1. Chani Nicholas

Mainstream astrology can be overly prescriptive, solipsistic, and locked into traditional gender roles. Chani Nicholas prefers to ask questions and suggest affirmations, connecting personal concerns to political currents including misogyny, racism, transphobia and homophobia. She is as likely to inspire you to organize a demonstration as construct an altar or meditate.