Gwen Snyder hopes to transform her experience into a movement toward justice.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines a sexual assault as any kind of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Snyder, 30, the executive director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice and a Democratic committeewoman in the 27th Ward, said she knew she had just been sexually assaulted — what she didn’tknow was what exactly she could do about it.
“I just kept asking party leaders from Pennsylvania what the process was to address the attack and get my attacker’s credentials pulled, and no one knew how, or even if there was an official process,” Snyder said. “I was never put in touch with anyone trained to deal with sexual violence. After a reporter gave them the heads-up about me, a couple of DNC staffers did contact me to take a report, but didn’t make any commitments and didn’t seem willing to involve me in discussions about assault policies moving forward.”
Art is supposed to do more than just mark that the Democrats are in town.
I inherited a funky pin from my mother that says “Arte Salva Vidas” — “Art Saves Lives.” An artist who created work in Guatemala during the terrible 36+ year undeclared civil war there, my mother understood that statement in her very bones.
And though my art and circumstance are quite different than hers, I understand it too.
I wear that pin, from time to time, to remind myself that the real power of any (all) of the arts isn’t represented by marketing ploys or branding campaigns, but resides in art’s ability to transform lives, ways of thinking and seeing, and society itself.
Art prompts participation, demands engagement, razes barriers and the walls between us.
I’m happy to note that a number of organizations and artists in our city have scheduled events during the week of the Democratic Convention that — in diverse, unique and very real ways — highlight the formidable transformative power of the arts.
Read the rest of the column and take a look at SOAPBOX for Cultural Equity, Truth to Power and Juntos’ portable mural and march events by clicking here.