Viki Mealings, from Australia, is a returning artist to Art Saves Lives International, and part of the trio band Brittle Sun.
For our most recent campaign, Viki chose to deal with the topic of Privilege, she explains:
“At the time I wrote my poem ‘Other People’s Children’, a lot of people were writing about the ‘issue’ of children on planes, children in cafes, and breastfeeding in public. Some of the responses were really nasty and I got the impression that many people have a sense of over-entitlement in regards to public spaces and resources. I realised that we live in a society that segregates people based on their age which disadvantages mothers and the elderly by reducing their ability to participate socially, professionally, and artistically. At the same time, I was getting really fed up with the ongoing debate about working vs stay at home mothers, because it’s usually so petty, it tends to ignore the bigger picture and because it gives wealthy and middle class women the loudest voice. Low income working mothers and their children were, and still are,notably absent from the debate. And when we economically ‘punish’ these women, by cutting welfare and implementing legislation that threatens wages and working conditions, in so doing we punish their children too. And so my poem was born.”
Here is Viki’s poem submission:
We wanted to hear more from Viki about her thoughts on discrimination, privilege and stigmatisation, you can see the interview below…
Have you experienced any form of discrimination; and if so what was it based on and how did you deal with this?
I personally don’t feel discriminated against. But I observe it. Usually in the way people interact with each other. People from minority groups, people with disabilities, the very old and the very young, and people facing disadvantage often get treated differently. They’re more likely to be patronised, judged, or ignored. Discrimination can be very subtle and people are often not even aware they’re doing it.
What are your opinions on what causes discrimination?
I would say discrimination is borne from the conscious or unconscious desire to reinforce one’s own status and privilege, together with ignorance.
What do you do to actively stand against discrimination and have you ever had to intervene as a witness to it?
A family member experienced discrimination from a medical professional in the emergency department of a large hospital. I had to make a formal complaint on their behalf. We got an apology. It saddens me to think that a lot of people, particularly those with poor English, those with disabilities and the very elderly are unable to complain when faced with discrimination in the health care setting.
I think we can all do a bit more to stand against discrimination.
What are your opinions on labels and stereotypes?
Labels and stereotypes are generally unhelpful at best and harmful at worst.
Do you feel social privilege should be taught at school and if so why and how young?
I think the word ‘privilege’ has in recent times been over used. I feel that the whole ‘check your privilege’ discourse is overly simplistic, labels people, and fails to teach empathy. I’d rather that kids were taught to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ and to carefully consider the hurdles that others face, and to not be selfish or judgemental. Empathy is where it’s at, and recognising that some groups of people experience less opportunities and more discrimination than you do because of inequality. Inequality benefits the powerful minority and the only way to change that is to fight it.
What are your opinions on political powers and world leaders using
stigmatisation against certain groups to further their own agendas, such as with Muslims, Black people, LGBTQ individuals, mentally ill and disabled people?
At the moment there seems to be a global trend for politicians to take
advantage of the insecurities that people are feeling in relation to job security, national security and economic security by encouraging the belief that disadvantaged and minority groups are the source of the problem. It’s horrible, it’s dangerous, it’s not new and the worst thing is people are falling for it.
Do you support or take part in any anti-stigma organisations or charities and if so which ones and why?
“Yes. I’m into equal educational opportunities so I decided to donate to AIME Aboriginal Indigenous Mentoring Experience which is a mentoring program designed to bridge the gap in higher education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people. I’m really passionate about AIME.
Here’s the link to go to if you would like to donate: https://aimedonations.raisely.com“
In your own words please tell us how you feel the arts and creativity can further help to empower, communicate and educate people with regards to discrimination, privilege and stigmatisation?
“Art is a vehicle for expression and can say things that words can’t. Art is
empowering and provides meaning. Art Saves Lives.”
We asked Viki what her future goals were for her art:
“To keep making more art and to reach out to more people. I’m not done yet.”
Here are Viki’s other interviews, music and work featured through ASLI:
THE BAND BRITTLE SUN DISCUSS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THEIR SONG LAST ONE STANDING AND USE THEIR MUSIC TO CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO: ASLI SPEAK TO LEAD VOCALIST VIKI MEALINGS.
Brittle Sun – Using music and poetry to discuss the stigma of poverty and its deadly effects.
If you would like to support Viki and her work, please follow the links below:
If you have any feedback on this article please fill out the contact form below: