"just left my bubble and found out there are people out there not looking at everything through the lens of racism/white supremacy right now. Oh."
a time for
Over the holidays I got into a screaming battle with someone over the front page of the NYtimes. I noticed that again, the deaths of the cops were featured, which is terrible and tragic, but I pointed out that their lives do not matter more than Michael Brown, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Eric Garner, Tata Sanchez, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Renisha McBride and the other people of color that were killed by police officers or self-appointed vigilantes who weren't on the front page when they were killed.
He said to me: "Mariel, you read biased blogs, articles without any credibility. Your view is way too extreme and uninformed. You need to read more to see the larger picture." As he yells this I'm staring down at the front cover of the NYtimes and noticing that all the writers are male in name and I wonder
what exactly he means by biased
and what he means by balanced.
I am 33 years old and for my entire education through high-school the curriculum included reading predominately white cis men. In college my music classes taught me that music WAS western culture. That music WAS Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, Schubert...etc... and in my Jazz classes I listened to recording of men playing. A lot not white at least, but again only men. only men. This persisted through grad school and some years after. That is 28 years of my life where I absorbed the language, beliefs, art, and philosophy of cis MEN as my education.
I wonder if we can examine the word balanced again. Is there anything balanced about our education system/curriculum and media? How many women write for the NYtimes--one of the most read papers in the country? How many people of color?
So, when I began to notice that even while I had a liberal, mostly feminist disposition in my early 20s, if everyone I was listening to and reading were men...how would that lend its way to gender equality? Really, if you do the math, if I were to inform myself in a balanced way I would need to read mostly only women for the next 28 years.
As a musician/artist I am interested in the underground art scene. House concerts. Living room art gatherings. Musicians who have not yet become popularized. Art that is nestled in the moment of creativity before it is washed away by the masses...diluted...changed...its very essence of innovation lost.
The subtle, soft sounds underneath the everyday screams. The secret wonderings of a lone and hidden poet.
When I'm with a group of people in a simple social situation, I would like to hear from the person who doesn't jump forward with their ideas...not the loudest one--but the one who is buried by all the talkers. The one people even forget is there.
In this same respect I want to hear the voices of people who are continually silenced by society--who are taught that they don't even have anything valuable to say. These are the people that need to be heard if any innovation will be made in this world. If there's any chance of breaking out of the pattern and history of patriarchal white supremacy we need to listen to the voices of the oppressed.
I have run a house concert series for 4 years. In the beginning I was fascinated by experimental music and booked musicians that were creating sounds I had never heard before. Undefinable noises and textures that transcended style, form, history. I found it to be a special pocket of creative energy. We in the community were changing the shape of sound and art---in defiance of the way the masses expected. Then I realized that mostly everyone playing were white men.
What is creative about perpetuating patriarchy?
Turns out I was still locked inside a lens of white supremacy, looking again to white cis men for the most innovative ideas and expression. that makes it 30 years. 30 years. I decided at that point that I needed to exclusively listen to and read the voices of women, trans and POC (people of color).
These are the people whose thoughts and ideas are constantly being drowned out by louder and oppressive forces. And you know what happens if we only listen to the loudest voice for century upon century? The content does not change. Look closely. The more you examine, the more you will begin to unveil layers and layers of content that by excluding POC, women, trans, and queer folk, becomes a circular rant with its sole purpose being that of maintaining and upholding white supremacy. We have created a curriculum that teaches everyone that white people are superior, that men are superior. Well-educated liberal people will come out of these schools very knowledgeable, informed to some extent, maybe even end up writing for the NY Times. They might call themselves a feminist. They might say they're not a racist but do not question how their very privilege and class influences how they interpret the world around them--how a certain kind of education can actually make one more blind to the world, unable to see the nuances and inner workings of systematic oppression.
Unraveling white privilege means you start seeing the world as layers and layers of oppression on which it's built and start to change what you listen to, what you read. I subscribed to news sources that are written by women, POC, women and trans people of color or trans/queer folk like:
Black Girl Dangerous, For Harriet, Colorlines, The Feminist Wire, The Root, Crunk Feminist Collective, Showing up for Racial Justice, Bitch Media, Huffington Post Black Voices, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, Anti-Racism Media. I followed lots and lots of women and trans POC on facebook. I unfollowed lots and lots of people. My facebook feed now is pretty much just posts from Palestinian people struggling to have their story heard. Women grieving about their sons or daughters murdered by policemen. Trans people subjugated to abhorrent violations. Michelle Alexander posting articles and commentary on the Prison Industrial Complex.
Now for my house concerts I mainly book women, trans and/or POC. The content of the performances isn't "experimental" per se, but we are hearing what we never have heard before. People are singing, speaking, and dancing who normally get smothered by layers and layers of thick white paint covering the colors and rich history of our nation--our world.
What would one room look like if we started creating space for the unheard?
What would the world start to sound like if we listened to the voices who have been muted for centuries?
Can you imagine?
Can you imagine a world where white men said:
"We would like to create a more balanced perspective. People of color, Women, Trans people, we've had a long rant.
Would you like to take a turn?
Here in the U.S. we've been talking for 238 years, going on 239.
You can have the next 239 years."
that is balance.