Cardboard a semisimple material; it is typically made up of stacked recycled paper, sandwiched between two liners of card. It is now common for these liners to also be made up of a considerable proportion of recycled content, sourced from old cardboard or recycled paper. In the modern age of mass production and a global economy, this is a very reliable and popularly used material, used in a wide range of outputs such as playing cards and voting slips.
However, the most relevant and desirable qualities of cardboard are its accessibility and reusability. Since the beginning of the industrial era, paper and card now have another use as a communicative tool: The wide availability and permeable nature of paper and cardboard allows inclusivity in that anyone regardless of social position to quickly draft and communicate their message.
The message loud and clear, ‘I am a man’. After the deaths of 2 sanitation workers, the city refused to compensate their families due to their ethnicity. 11 days later, more than 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis walked off the job, protesting horrible working conditions and discrimination by the city.
“We felt we would have to let the city know that because we were sanitation workers, we were human beings. The signs we were carrying said ‘I Am a Man’ ”
James Douglas, a sanitation worker, recalled in an American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees documentary. “And we were going to demand to have the same dignity and the same courtesy any other citizen of Memphis has.” Within 11 days, this group of people had organised and figured out what they want to say, using the medium of paper here the message reads loudly and clearly.
This is what is magical to me, the power and uplifting nature of paper and card. Due to its wide availability, anyone can use it no matter their social position to communicate a message, where otherwise the message would be ignored or unheard. You cannot ignore a message written loudly and shouted loudly.
The modern era of social networking has some similarities in its accessibility, however, as shown recently in world wide events, the message is often clouded by thousands of opposing opinions as well as well-funded robots automated with an agenda. This is where cardboard again shines through, you cannot ‘dislike’ or ‘downvote’ a cardboard sign.
America and moreover the World has progressed slowly in social change in the last century. Without protest I feel this would have been even less; protest is pressure on the observer. George Floyd, 46, died after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Footage of the arrest on the 25th of May shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck while he was pinned to the floor. Mr. Chauvin, 44, has since been charged with murder. Transcripts of police bodycam footage show Mr. Floyd said more than 20 times he could not breathe as he was restrained by the officers. Institutionalised racism has not increased, as said by Will Smith;
“Racism Is Not Getting Worse, It’s Getting Filmed”
People have had enough of this paradigm, governments purposely failing to act in order to personally profit. From the BlackLivesMatter movement to Greta Thunberg, cardboard has allowed the voices of the unheard to no longer be avoided or ignored. This is thanks to the graphic clarity and bold voice of the hand-rendered text on a universal material. This re-affirms the message written on it, giving it a universal appeal and understanding as a message of communication from the holder of the card to you, the observer. The effectivity of a message written on card is shown through the example of Greta, a normal girl striking from a school to protest Climate Change outside her local government office. She has since visited the United Nations Headquarters to address world leaders about their failure and inaction on climate change.
- Greta Thunberg _ Striking outside Swedish Parliment _ Photograph Adam Johansson _ https://medium.com/wedonthavetime/this-15-year-old-girl-breaks-swedish-law-for-the-climate-d1a48ab97e3a
- How a cardboard box is made _ Tim Brown _ https://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/how-a-cardboard-box-is-made/
- Memphis Sanitation Workers strike _ https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/memphis-sanitation-workers-strike
- James Douglas _ American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees documentary _ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vTqVspySE4
- The strike that bought MLK to Memphis _ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/revisiting-sanitation-workers-strike-180967512/
- Black Lives Matter Protest in Washington DC _ Koshu Kunii _ https://unsplash.com/photos/8kQB07RYaAc
- George Floyd: What Happened _ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-52861726
- Will Smith on Racism _ https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/will-smith-right-everything-not-getting-worse
- Greta Thenberg at the UN _ TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP _ https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/greta-thunberg-call-un-speech-new-york-2019-888824/
- 5 protest signs that changed history _ woocontent _ https://woocontent.com/5-protest-signs-that-changed-history/
- An emergency guide to writing protest signs _ Marketingsociety _ https://www.marketingsociety.com/the-gym/emergency-guide-writing-protest-signs
- The signs protesters carry _ Ryan Bort _ RollingStone _ https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/george-floyd-protest-signs-photos-1012560/
- How to design a protest sign _ 99designs _ https://99designs.co.uk/blog/design-other/how-to-design-a-great-protest-sign/