Photo via ManyRiversFestival.com
What’s good, GVNG? This is Kes, beauty and culture blogger at CallMeKes.com. With everything going on regarding race relations, racism, daily patriarchy, police AND intra-communal dehumanization/violence, I’m starting to wonder if we’re actually accomplishing something or just going in circles. With every new hash tag, there’s a flood of traumatic graphics down my social media feed, distracting headlines, and heated, online arguments supporting or negating the justification of the violence and/or murder on/of a [Black] life. Most of which result in unproductive energy, increasingly heightening and unresolved tensions as a culture and an orange quack being able to run for president. The questions that always come up for me are: “how did we get here?” and “are we really not progressing?” How are we building with/supporting/creating space for one another, and also challenging and pushing for our work to be grounded by our people and paying it forward by helping out the communities that got us to where we are?
Early last month, I attended the inaugural Many Rivers to Cross Music & Arts Festival, an event purposed to connect music, art and social justice. Mr. Harry Belafonte, familiarly Mr. B, spoke of being called by Martin Luther King, Jr. to get involved with the Civil Rights Movement. He went on to fund many projects of the movement, coordinate the “We Are the World” song, constantly speaking out against injustices like African apartheid, critiquing the U.S. Presidential administration, and mentoring many people making an impact today. An echoing thought throughout the weekend was a quote by the awesome Paul Robeson: “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth; [We are civilization’s radical voice]”. My after thought to the question of if we’re progressing or not became “who/what is the rule of measure?” If you follow mainstream media outlets upholding white supremacy, you’d think we’re not. But the music/art I’ve been experiencing in at least the past 2 years, and the artists I saw this weekend made me start to believe otherwise. From Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly and WGNA’s TV show Underground to Solange’s newest A Seat At the Table. So what is the truth? Honestly, truly.
I challenge where our energies are lying. Unfortunately, we’re not going to stop getting killed tomorrow, and we’re still promoting violence on one another. So what are we doing instead of, or in additional to, emotional responses every 28 hours that is more sustainable and building long-term to combat reinforced violent cultural norms on a minute level that’s slipping under (big) cracks and leading up to these more visible incidents where violence is asked for, justified and then tolerated? Hint: declaring “I don’t vote” paired with inaction don’t count. It's takes relationships. Note: IAMPVYNE & I go way back to about 3 years ago in college when he was B.Payne Tha Rapper and my blog wasn’t even a possible idea. Now here we are collaborating because we see the need. It only took 20-something year old Martin to call on 28-year-old Harry and hold him to his word. A decades worth of life changing work later, Mr. Belafonte is still going on at 89 years old. It only took PVYNE to hit me up to slide through this blog. It only takes involvement & pressure on local influencers, communities, artists, etc. on issues affecting your daily life to create a buzz and demand the target (national level, record label or that audience) to pay attention and take action. It's a very long road with many, MANY rivers to cross, but that's what will get us to liberation.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth recap on the Many Rivers Fest coming to my blog soon and very soon. In the mean time, check out my site: CallMeKes.com, and stay connected! If you’re in South Florida or St. Pete/Tampa, Dream Defenders is a good org to get involved in, or become a sustainer of, but also research and look for other organizations to get involved/collaborate with. Take a look at your dreams, and ask yourself if they align with, and bring honor and respect to, the communities rooting for you.
Love and light,