|photo by @_scotify|
Just getting back from performing at Eaux Claires. Definitely one of the most unique (and best) experiences I’ve had as an artist. This is not related to what this post is really about, but a quick shout out to the staff, who was beyond nice and very professional; the festival really does have a vibe that’s different from a lot of other big events. I also got to hear “California Stars” live, which was cool.
I did two hour-long shifts in the Escape installation, a “tiny house” where 4-7 people would come in for five minutes at a time to hear a couple poems. I also got to participate in a handful of pop-up performances on other stages (both solo and along with John Mark Creative‘s crew), performing for a few hundred more people.
I mention those numbers because this was also the weekend the Yanez decision came in. Being at a festival like Eaux Claires, I can’t say that I didn’t have some stereotypes or preconceived notions in my head about just how much people would want to talk about that. Thankfully, everyone seemed a lot less in the mood for escapism than I would have thought. I opened every performance I did with this poem, and had many powerful conversations with people about the dissonance of being at a music festival while friends and family were protesting, getting arrested, and/or just hurting.
Obviously, I don’t have any answers or profound things to say here. I’m just appreciative that people were willing to engage, and that many other artists (though it could always be more) were willing to take time out of their sets to make sure we say Philando Castile’s name. It’s a small act, of course, too small, but still worth doing. Activism can’t just happen in “activist spaces” like rallies and social media bubbles; it’s also about how we intentionally integrate an activist practice into every facet of our lives– from the things we do for fun, to our workplaces, to our schools, and beyond.
Another theme of the past few days has been thinking about the many different ways that people process: grieving, expressing outrage, marching, donating to organizations, making vows and commitments, just *being* with loved ones, etc. It’s all valid. For me, I find strength in sharing resources, especially for people out there who do feel powerless (as we all do sometimes). So a few links to inform any potential next steps:
- This Twitter thread from Gene Demby is a useful resource, especially for people trying to do the work of building dialogue and educating others about how with all of these killings, there are things happening beneath the surface details of each individual case. This is a vital conversation.
- Prison Culture: a Huge List of Resources Regarding Police Abolition. Read these.
- It’s Time for Us to Rethink ‘The Talk'” via Benji Hart; this shares good practices for interacting with police that aren’t just “be polite.”
- What To Do Instead of Calling the Police resource document.
- “For People Who Want to “Do” Something But Don’t Know What to Do.” This zine/resource is still available, and it lists a few dozen MN-based activist organizations, along with ideas on how to support the work that is already happening. Following all of these organizations on Twitter (or other social media), for example, is an easy action step that might help anyone who has no idea what to do plug into what’s going on.
Feel free to add more in the comments.