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Saya Tipton

Student Art Contest: Senior Division, First Place


11th Grade — Grant High School

In my ideal democracy, a system of balance and equality is paramount. Every voice must be heard equally, regardless of race, religion, or sexuality. Conflicts should be resolved through an inclusive system that supports and protects the people, striving for a peaceful society.

Normalized stereotypes and microaggressions embedded in our current society have obstructed our ability to achieve true democracy. These prejudices aren’t often acknowledged, though they can be profoundly harmful. This creates a destructive loop, as racism perpetuates intolerance.  Minoru has changed so much for the better, yet we are still seeing the people’s cries for help. For this to end, we must work to recognize other groups and opinions, and listen to understand rather than judge blindly.

Minoru Yasui once said, “To achieve liberty and freedom, we must keep burning fiercely within ourselves a love of the ideals of democracy.” These words inspire me to fight for what is right, because liberty can only be achieved with dedication and passion. Minoru knew that in order to create democracy, the voices and struggles of marginalized communities must be heard, and as a Japanese American, I entirely agree.

I represent this in my painting with barbed wire wrapped around Minoru’s hand, representing the difficulty of sparking change in a prejudiced environment. It also shows Minoru’s dedication to the fight for a Constitutional society. The background resembles the American flag, and the reality of the so-called “land of the free”, with barbed wire showing imprisonment. The flag's union features Minoru's article, Faith in Conviction, with a significant quote in red, representing his lifelong commitment towards his goal. Minoru holds a child, symbolizing his hope for the future, giving a voice to the people.

We cannot lose our vision for an ideal democracy, we must move to take action towards one.

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