How does ‘Rumours of War’ represent a ‘monumentally unequal America’

Wiley’s creates a piece of work that addresses the issue in America of monuments.  Around America there are many statues of dead civil war heroes in public places for everybody to see. Most of these people being glorified used to own slaves. Our society’s values have changed since those times, therefore, Wiley confronts the idea that these old monuments should remain up as he believes it is not what their city represents.

Looking at the statue itself, it consists of a black sitter on top of a horse.  Black sitters have rarely ever been subject to power in monuments such as these in the past, so by choosing a black subject and placing him on top of this massive horse with a strong and confident posture, it empowers the black community which typically are underrepresented in monuments.  Wiley proves that monuments with black sitters can be as beautiful as any other monuments. Furthermore, the statue itself is massive and requires the viewer to literally look up at it. By making it so grand, Wiley is making the statement this monument and this sitter is powerful, which collides with the traditional views of black people being undervalued ultimately representing an unequal America.

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Anecdote – My Language

My parents only spoke Hindi to me when I was born, yet strangely 16 years later I am completely unable to use that language. This was probably because from a very early age, my parents put me into an international school where I was surrounded by more western communities.  Generally, throughout my life, I only speak in English, but I have noticed that my dialect (e.g pronunciations, accents) have slowly tranformed overtime.

When I was younger my English accent was strongly influenced by Hindi,  creating a form of dialect known as Hinglish. The pronunciation of my W’s and V’s would be occasionally mixed up, and generally, my tone fluctuated more often. Surprisingly, I found that in old videos my accent was leaning towards being British rather than American.

Overtime, when I joined UWC and was surrounded by a variety of different cultures, my friends, teachers, and all the people around me heavily influenced my accent which I would say sounds more western. After a while, my parents stopped speaking to me in Hindi, and this created such a significant impact that overtime I pronounce my name differently to how it is supposed to be pronounced, and so much so that it feels weird for me to use the original pronunciation of my name.

This may have a significant impact on my identity, I feel that I have strayed away from my origin and that makes me feel conflicted and lost. I still visit India a lot and I am surrounded by it’s culture, but I feel more disconnected from what surrounds me, for example, when I travel to India I sometimes do not understand what people are saying and also feel outcasted when they hear the way I talk.

My Indian origin will always be apart of my identity, but I feel like my language and dialects reflect another aspect of my identity that make up quite a big part of it.

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Do you believe that the law limits freedom?

Dear Aditya,

Law puts structure into our chaotic world. It is a complete necessity in order to create a functional society, without it, everything would be total havoc. It’s a set of rules that apply to everyone, but I think that law does limit our freedom.

By definition, law literally constrains us and doesn’t allow us to do something we would otherwise be able to do. If somebody were to live in a place with no laws, they would have more freedom of will than somebody living in a large city full of laws to follow. But the difference is that the first person would not be able to reap the benefits of living in harmony with other people in a massive system.  That’s the sacrifice you have to question if it’s worth taking. Someone living in a city full of laws would be able to find a job, earn a living, gain a purpose, be motivated to work. Therefore, in a kind of way, they can do more than someone just living with no laws, completely purposeless.

Of course, the law isn’t perfect. It is not 100% just and not everybody follows it. It greatly varies around the world, oppressing certain groups, and everybody didn’t agree to follow all of the laws made in the past. Hypothetically, if we had the ability to create a new society from scratch with our current knowledge and resources, I believe we would be able to make it a lot fairer for everyone, as the Social Contract theory, where each and every individual would agree to participate in it, and decisions can only be made if all support it as all are respected equally. This would be ideal, but as of now, that’s not how it works.

Freedom is an interesting concept, I think if something is free it is not constrained, able to move however it wants whenever it wants, or in a sense able to do more physical things than something that is constrained. Law does limit our freedom, if there were no laws, we would be able to do anything we wanted. But by willingly giving up some of our freedom, we can live in relative peace, which I would say actually gives us more freedom as we are able to pursue our interests rather than just focusing on surviving.

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