I'll admit that I used to be jealous of my compadres who were minorities in my BFA Creative Writing program. The rest of us were just crusty white kids with no rhythm.
So, I used to be a little jealous of the amount of anger material these minority writers had access to. There is a lot of inspiration in one's cultural identity but if that inspiration doesn't allow the artist to create works that break past the illusory bonds of time and space to that oneness that unites us all then the art won't last and won't have quite the impact the artist hopes it will. In fact, here is a definition of good art you can copy paste into your brilliant quotes file. This one comes from yours' truly, Uncle Josh:
"Art (with a capital A) is all about using the contemporary forms of time and space (people, objects and their relationships) to blow apart the phenomenal differences that keep us each locked into what appears to be an inescapable prison (our own egos which are composed of our experience and emotional and intellectual reactions to the present moment, from which we project the future)."
But it is in this projection of the future where humanity's greatest certain unalienable right exists--the right of the choice about how to act this moment. It is freedom of choice about how to act in the moment (in other words, creating their reality in the moment through sheer will) that allowed people overcome atrocities like The Holocaust where every bit of security involved in associating through one's cultural identity was removed completely and the individual was reduced to a scrounging animal. This is the point where survival of the fittest and preservation of self becomes king and the social morays simply drop away like burning paper mache.
I have studied The Holocaust passionately now for sixteen years. I completed course upon course in college and have read book upon book about those twenty years in Germany that saw Hitler's rise to power and a decimation of a culture almost as old as humanity's recorded existence.
I have long asked why when thinking about the Holocaust. This is a very hard question because you are essentially asking for a sum value of millions of peoples' lives in terms of a historical lesson (and what historical lesson could be worth the lives of over 150 million who died in a World War which was the direct result of one man and his dream team of terror?).
But here is my why from The Holocaust--individual freedom emerged intact despite the fact that untold masses of individuals were murdered and had their most sacred identities taken away--their cultural or group identification.
There is enormous associative power in group identification--that is why we are constantly being told to choose, in the moment, which social group we define ourselves as--black, white, gay, christian, conservative, liberal, rich, poor, etc. There is a certain amount of creative inspiration to be derived from one's social group, but if you examine this inspiration closely you will see that the majority of art that comes from this source is usually so infused with the anger that comes from the tallying of group suffering that it has no breakthrough into the transcendent mystery which lies beyond time, space and our petty egos (which only last as long as we draw breath; the spirit is eternal and therefore incorruptible or haven't you got that memo yet?).
So, while minorities may have a lot of inspiration to draw from that produces some great Saturday Night Live and Dave Chappelle skits, most of these are without any true breakthrough; they are improper art, using the artistic aesthetics put forth by James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
In-group anger can only take an artist as far as they are willing to ultimately let it go completely. Only by willingly letting go of our social identify and, ultimately, our individual identities in the moment, can we touch the true source of inspiration which lies inside each of us like a platinum encased diamond nugget at the centers of our being.
In fact, this is the exact message that I wrote about in my short story Pyrite (http://www.joshuaminton.com/fiction.htm).
I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties being angry for other groups of people because my group identity (middle class white kid in a sea of other middle class white kids) was the system of oppression and the source of much of their anger. But I'm through being angry and I'm through defining myself with abstract concepts; I'll leave that to the hacks and has-beens. I'm going to do my best to teach this concept of artistic aesthetics to other talented artists so that they too may find that thorny and weeded path inside themselves that will take them to the platinum crusted diamond that waits for them within.
Joshua Minton is President of an Internet publishing and business consulting corporation, Family Bliss Enterprises, Inc. He is also author of two novels, several short stories, poems and articles on art, philosophy, politics, sociology, science, popular culture, business, health insurance administration, internet marketing, blogging and personal success.