April 30

Lil Nas X – Country Music Billboard controversy and the racial divide

 

 

 

 

 

19 year old rising rap star Lil Nas X has found himself in the center of a most recent controversy in Country Music, a genre that provides little space for female artists and black artists.

Most recently, the country rap song, “Old Town Road” was pulled off of the Country Music billboard list claiming:

” …it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”

There is so much cross over in the music industry, and in fact many white male country artists incorporate rap and hip-hop into their music.  Several articles and interviews are looking at this story to bring attention to the double standard when a black rapper crossed over to country.

Rolling Stone MAgazine comments on the larger issue of race and music genres:

Expelling Lil Nas X’s single from Hot Country Songs points to a complicated racial dynamic. The music industry still relies heavily on old-fashioned definitions of genre, which have always mapped on race — Billboard’s R&B chart, for example, was originally titled “race music,” while the Latin songs chart lumps together a myriad of genres and languages under one ethnic umbrella.

Below are resources from NPR and the NY Times.

NYTimes

February 17

Yassmin Abdel-Magied: Is It Possible To Unravel Unconscious Bias?

In this powerful TedTalk, Yassmin Abdel-Magied discussed combating unconscious bias by acknowledging it and interrupting it.  She offers the viewer the suggestion of beginning by mentoring.  She specifies, however, that it is comfortable to mentor and lift up those who we are similar to.  She challenges the viewer to mentor someone different from ourselves and that in this way, we create access and opportunity for others.

A powerful new Ted Talk worth a listen:

 

For more on this and similar stories, click here

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/02/15/694279494/yassmin-abdel-magied-is-it-possible-to-unravel-unconscious-bias

January 15

Meet The MacArthur Fellow Disrupting Racism In Art – Titus Kaphar – NPR Interview

As we approach Martin Luther King Day, and Black History Month, you may want to explore the works of Titus Kaphar.

Among his approaches, Kaphar takes familiar historical images and remakes them to confront the history of slavery and reveal the history of racism in The United States.

“If we are not honest about our past, then we cannot have a clear direction towards our future,” Kaphar says in an interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Behind the Myth of Benevolence” depicts a black woman behind a rumpled canvas containing a portrait of Thomas Jefferson.

The Fight for Remembrance II, Titus Kaphar

The Fight for Remembrance II

January 7

White Fragility, by Robin Diangelo

At a recent workshop hosted by Volunteer Community Services and the Center for Safety and Change, an important new book was highlighted:

White Fragility, Why it is so hard for White People to talk about Racism, by Robin Diangelo.

Sociologist and antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo illuminates emotionally charged and defensive behavior that occurs when a white person’s perceived anti-racism is challenged.

“Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.”   ~Beacon Press

Many important tools are provided to self reflect on our inevitable racism caused by being socialized in a society where there is a historical foundation of institutional racism.  Diangelo stresses the distinction between acts of discrimination and prejudice (overt intolerant events) and the societal structure of racism.

In this process, Diangelo implores the reader, particularly those of us that consider ourselves progressive, liberal and anti-racist, to recognize our continued role in racism, and to recognize that interrupting racism is life long work…that we are never “done.”

 

Important concepts that strongly impacted my thinking:

-Our actions: Intent vs Impact

– The Good/Bad Binary  (because racism is amoral, saying a white person is racist is a moral affront.)

-Working to consider ourselves in racial terms…the impact of being white

 

Diangelo encourages the reader to shift their thinking from if you are a racist, to how we engage in racism.

 

This short book (150 pages) is an important read!

 

October 15

Human Library – breaking stereotypes through honest conversation

The human library concept originated in 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of a youth organization’s work to combat violence.

More recently, the San Diego Times reported on this idea being put to use in the San Diego Library.

Here’s how the human library worked: people signed up for 20-minute slots of time during which they could “check out” and have a casual conversation with a “human book,” a person with a particular life experience that is generally stereotyped. In addition to Spacek, the other human books on Saturday were “refugee,” “punk entrepreneur,” “rapper,” “disabled,” “journalist,” “dwarfism,” “blind,” “transgender,” “veteran,” “Muslim,” “graffiti artist” and “psychic.”

 

October 8

Happy Indigenous People’s Day

Old habits die hard, but ever so slowly, cities are beginning to acknowledge the true “discoverers” of America, the Native Indians.  Just as southern states continue to work on addressing the pain brought by honoring historical figures that caused so much suffering and racism, so too must all of us address the realities of Christopher Columbus.

We must continue to work on the racism that works at an institutional level.  Whether removing iconic monuments, renaming schools or renaming and refocusing our pride in holidays, we must continue to move forward.

For additional coverage on Indigenous People’s day, click here.