Tuesday, December 31, 2013

thinking about artists and identity politics

(in the wake of the Ani DiFranco fiasco starring Buddy Wakefield, Toshi Reagon and Saul Williams)

ultimately, the product of real artists is our heart and soul.  it hurts when people don't like our work.  it's akin to hearing, 'I don't like you.'  the journey of the artist whose product revolves around identity politics is even harder. we know that the system we challenge is filled with people who don't like us and we are okay ~ even proud of ~ of that.  but, the product we bring to market is also wrapped up in hope. truly, the audiences we have worked so hard to earn demand that our hearts and souls to be stronger ~ wiser ~ smarter.  because we have stood up and said no to a system to which so many of us are still bound.  

our audiences are not like our close friends and family who pardon our frail humanity. those dear ones who know us to be good people even though we fart precisely at three o'clock every morning.  and when we deliver a truly faulty product, they will come at us.  

this is the time for us to rise to the occasion of our higher selves.  this is the time we peel back our rib cages and expose our hearts to their knives.  say, 'see? I am broken also. help me.' and then allow them to put down their knives and stitch the aorta back. for too often, our hearts have grown weary of placing plastic bandages on something that has grown rigid and brittle in the light of market share.  

this is the time we invite them in and allow them to help us become again to them what they have hoped we have tried to remain all along.  this is the time of a true and meaningful repentance. the time for action. the time to to put the match to hope's kindling and let them relight all of us.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Calling In | From One To Another One

Toshi Reagon responded to the kerfuffle about Ani DiFranco's messy venue selection here.

I am often "the one" and understand that it comes 
with a heavy load of responsibility. regardless 
of your choices, there will be questions, 
assertions, assumptions and name calling 
mixed together with a liberal smattering of self-righteous 

"see? it's /not\ okay." sometimes, the choices 
"the one" are asked to make are difficult 

and painful. too often, the task of "the one" is 
to solder together odd bits and pieces into what might look 
like a hybrid gramophone/ boombox/ ipod hybrid 
so it mimics a flawless rendition of multiple voices 

in time and space. sometimes those voices have 
to be sampled, remixed and accompanied 
live. this is a deep and awkward labor. 

sometimes, the one has to choose the terms of engagement
the way a recovering alcoholic enters a bar. 
if the alcoholic is spiritually fit, they can withstand 
with ease and grace the temptations 
to be drawn back into their illness.  what I hear you saying is ~ 

you see yourself as spiritually fit ~ you are an equal partner in the venture. 
your place is one where you have the ability to co-create the experience, 
direct the programming, define stated objectives, intend 
outcomes ... with equality in revenue sharing. 

if this is the case, if you seek not to improve your position within 
patriarchal White Supremacy and are using this event to dismantle 
it, then I applaud and admire you. 

I will watch closely to learn how you do this. your brand is
unlike your mother's ~ which has always stayed close 
to an indisputable mission to dismantle White Supremacy and patriarchy.

it may just be that you have grown large enough 
to think about being able to walk in her shoes. and I trust 
in her good role-modeling to see you through 
this swamp of thoughtless entitled female White supremacist 

behavior. so, my sister, I am watching carefully 
to see how you do this tender dangerous work.
I have much to learn about the way 
"one" has always been asked to create 
change. and achieves it single-handedly.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Report From Nottoway Plantation

(site of Ani DiFranco’s "Righteous Retreat in The Big Easy)

them ghosts gonna 
respect no privacy or tenderness.
hobble they tires like runaways.
cut strings like ham.
sing the stillborn song. holler down 

holy hell.  them ghosts gonna
sprinkle glass in they food.
rub fingernails on they larynx.
bite out they tongues. 
break they fingers.  suck marrow 
out they phalanges n metatarsals. 
put brambles on they eyeballs. 

suffocate they. them ghosts gonna
rub on they like they was rubbed on.
play thorns on they eardrums.
yank they pubic hairs out.
brand they tastebuds.
salt paper cuts.
watch they young sold far.
push say please up they nose into they brain.
chop down they money tree.
confetti they money times 

five generations. them ghosts never forget.

just say no.  sign the petition.