This week’s show was originally last week’s show, and it was going to be something different. That episode has been shelved for the time being, I couldn’t bring myself to post it. Honestly I haven’t been able to tear myself away from twitter for days. Following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police, America has erupted into protests in every state – and as a Canadian I feel an obligation to bear witness to events that I can’t attend in person. It’s wrong to look away, I think, and the world needs our eyes on these events. Black Americans need our eyes on these events. Americans have a right to peaceful assembly, and the U.S. government is escalating aggressions against what are essentially Civil Rights protests in a terrifyingly fascistic manner. The police are doing this. This is wrong, and it must stop. Black lives matter.
Hopefully you knew all that already.
I’m not an expert on political science or civil rights: I’m not a politician or a history scholar. I’m a media writer, and writing about media means knowing where it comes from, who made it and why. For what political purpose – and make no mistake, all art is political art. In fact, everything is political: there is no escape from this in any aspect of our lives. To feign neutrality in any conflict is to take the side of the aggressor. In today’s conflicts, feigning neutrality means supporting a centuries-old campaign against Black Americans, conducted by its own politicians and citizens, for an explicitly political reason. This reason is racism on an historic scale, and the U.S. is far from alone in this regard: Canada has its own deeply-seated issues with systemic racism to address. To pretend this isn’t happening, or downplay its importance, or equivocate one side with another, is to support racism in its boldest form. Nothing, anywhere, is un-political when it is made by human beings. There is no innocuous, centralist fantasy in the arts, in music, or anywhere else in media. Look closely enough and everything supports an agenda, and it’s incredibly important to know which side you’re on. It must be made clear, or we risk supporting oppression.
When it comes to music, we must acknowledge the overwhelming Black influence on effectively every popular genre. Rock and Metal are premised upon the Blues, which originates in African musical traditions. House and Disco (and through them much of electronic dance music) originated as Black, Queer resistance art. Hip-hop’s political and historic roots should be obvious. When we create and critique music in these genres it is crucial that we acknowledge this history or risk its erasure, and know that that erasure supports a systemically racist agenda. Nothing is not political. When we signal-boost a particular artist, or praise their work, or disdain it, there is a message beyond the surface level – and that message gets tied up in hundreds of years of political history, discourse and oppression. Again: nothing is not political. What we say and who we recognize matters. We must be aware, at every step. You owe your favourite artist to this history. Acknowledge it.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in Canada, and that means you literally can’t cross the border to join in protests. If that has you feeling sort of helpless, you aren’t alone in that, but we do have an obligation to do whatever we can to help out. Maybe that means creating art, or signal-boosting on twitter, or posting helpful information online. Hopefully it’s all of those. But if you find yourself feeling guilty like I do, put your money where your mouth is. We can’t change history, but we can help out right now, and that means supporting protesters however we can. I’ll be donating to a Community Bail Fund to help those protesters that end up detained, in order to oppose and counteract the U.S. judicial system’s explicitly racist bail system. I’ll also be donating to the Homeless Black Trans Women Fund from Atlanta, as well as looking into the Black Lives Matter organization’s extensive list of petitions and causes, many of which allow participation from foreign citizens. You can find links to these causes below. In the case of the Community Bail Fund, that site spreads your donation across over 70 different organizations, in order to maximize the impact your money can have. If you’re comfortable enough at home to make a facebook status, and you can afford to do so, please open your wallet and help. This is important. This act is political.
Again, I’m not an expert, and my writing on these topics is far from exhaustive, and there are countless organizations at home and abroad that deserve your support. Do your own research, assess your feelings, support Black artists, creators, and causes. Support Black people. Demand justice.
Thanks for your time.
BLM Resources, Petitions: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
Community Bail Fund Mass Donation Tool: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/bail_funds_george_floyd
Homeless Black Trans Women Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/homeless-black-trans-women-fund
Black Visions Collective Donations: https://secure.everyaction.com/4omQDAR0oUiUagTu0EG-Ig2
Oh yeah and there’s a new Run the Jewels album out, so I made you a two hour mix of Jamie and Mike’s best shit. The first track is about the murder of Oscar Grant in 2009, and I really wish it weren’t still so relevant. There also aren’t a lot of slow songs, because I don’t think we need a lot of slow songs right now. Go get the new album off their website, it’s free – but if you choose to spend money on it, that money goes to the National Lawyer’s Guild’s Mass Defense Program. Do that. They’re nice, political guys.
Next episode drops someday. Stay mad and keep your head up. ❤