Arrest of Taylor Washington, Atlanta, 1963. Photo by Danny Lyon.

Arrest of Taylor Washington, Atlanta, 1963. Photo by Danny Lyon.

As clocks ticked slowly to 2017, there was a universal sigh of relief from a society desperately looking to escape the stifling grasp of a year that continued to unpleasantly surprise up until its very end. For many generations, 2016 will forever be imprinted in our memory, and we will find ourselves asking, 'How did we allow the calamities of this year to happen?'

The answer to that question is simple: it's our complacency. The minute we lose hope or faith is the minute we stand destroyed. Today, we are largely an uninformed society, no longer built on the foundations of research and knowledge, but on the whims of 'likes' and 'swipes' that now constitute our social interaction and communication on a daily basis. We have become the products of our fads and it has come at great expense.

My attendance at season gatherings, where normally I would delight in festive jolly and cheer, was met with equivocal gazes, cantankerous debates, and an overwhelming sense of insecurity and uncertainty. Everyone is wondering how and if the state of the world could get any worse. Well, to be frank, it can. A quick review of the last century serves as evidence of this weary fact, and the only ammunition we have to counter this is society itself.

Differences in religion, race, gender, and social class have been used as the fuel to ignite the fires of division and, until extinguished, there will be no progression or evolution of the human mind and existence. This is largely due to the structure of humanity's food chain. The powers that be at the top, who could institute change, are perhaps the most complacent, comfortable with the liberties their positions have afforded them, continuing to oppress the underbelly of society, oft-marginalised and never equally recognised.

However, all hope is not lost, and there is now a movement of like-minded and frustrated individuals who are disrupting the system and demanding accountability from those responsible for the lack of action against issues that have plagued society for far too long. Technology that was developed to invade and diminish our privacy has also simultaneously empowered global communication, giving a voice to those silenced, who are now becoming social agents of change.

So, what can we expect from 2017? This is a question I will leave for you to answer and will only advise that you do whatever it is in your power to build a society that you know is worth living in. This is what we have always done at PETRIe with the work we produce, and it is something that, now more than ever, we will support and focus on in these very trying times.

Words: Zadrian Smith