Some of the most engaging conversations I’ve had about music, culture and nostalgia have been with local area DJ’s. When The Anderson Street Project asked my husband and me to document a roundtable event with prominent DJ’s, we jumped at the chance. When I think of my relationship to music, I’m flooded with memories of friendship, mix tapes (which evolved into mix cd’s, then eventually iPod and Spotify playlists), and how music for me was tied for a long time to identity politics and convening communities. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, I hope you’ll be able to attend what will be a lively and thoughtful gathering. Sometime after the event, video footage will be made available in case you can’t be there. For more video and photography work by Daniel and me, visit http://xoevangeline.com. Let’s get this party started!
Recently we had a yard sale because we live in a small one-bedroom apartment, so there’s a constant need to maximize our space/minimize our belongings. I’ve gone through so many purging cycles but this one in particular was different. In addition to unloading vintage jewelry and clothes (and a spiralizer I never used), I gave away all of my DVD’s and a majority of my non-art books, items that I’ve hung onto for years. A lot of why I kept things was for the same reason everyone else does – preserving a memory. If I didn’t keep an item that reminded me of a particular person or moment in my life, does that mean that the memory would disappear? My Bell Hooks books were acquired during my first job working at a non-profit organization in New York 16 years ago. My music & sociology books represented my time in grad school, when in the first week of pursuing my Master’s degree, 9/11 happened. I watched the film “The Diving Bell & The Butterfly” with a friend whom I’m no longer in contact with. The entire Murakami catalog is one I’ve touched upon in times of reflection, in need of guidance, and in shared emotional experiences with other friends who read the same collection. But if I’m really honest, I’ve kept a lot of these books because they were so tied to my identity. I’m short, I have a high voice, a light personality, and when I was younger in my career, it was challenging for some people to take me seriously on an intellectual level. My remedy to this? Having books that shaped my social analysis and understanding of the world on display for all to see, so that I wouldn’t be written off as a flake. I felt this need to demonstrate to others that my interests and priorities went beyond fashion and Twin Peaks. It was an insecure act, based on this need professionally and sometimes socially to prove that I was a person of substance. It was high school-level self-consciousness playing out in my adulthood.
So what happened that I became finally ready to let go of these precious books? First, it’s been my desire in the past couple years to be lighter, more mobile and free to move around – in a literal and spiritual sense. I’m maturing more, realizing that liberating experience of caring less of people’s perceptions of me, not having to have every physical signifier in my life be carefully curated and presented perfectly. Finally, it’s something that I should have known all along because it’s what I’ve been trying to do – living a life where actions, especially the ones done unrecognized, are really what shape you as a person. After last weekend’s purging of stuff, now my young adult nephew can read about heavy metal music in youth Islamic communities as a mode of resistance, and my Jose Saramago collection has a new home among various pals. Here’s to living a lighter and more thoughtful existence.
Out of the many atrocities happening in the U.S., important conversations that are finally emerging into the mainstream and public consciousness involve the country's history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and the roles and responsibilities that each of us hold in our communities. I'm thankful that in the career choices I've made, I've worked in environments of thoughtfulness and compassion where these conversations aren't shied away from, and with the rise of social media, it's heartening to see these dialogues multiply. I want to use this space productively to point you to some resources shared by my colleague Elisabeth (content posted below written by Elisabeth Long). Sending all of you peace, love and hope for our future.
- POWER is organizing a Philly is Charlottesville march and rally tomorrow, Wednesday August 16th at 7PM. From POWER: White supremacy is not just a ‘Southern thing.’ Symbols and systems of white supremacy are also at work in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy. While we applaud the thousands who took to the streets this weekend in solidarity with Charlottesville, we call upon the same persons to march with us to tear down white supremacist structures in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Join us on Wednesday, August 16th at 7:00 PM as we pull the veil back on injustice within our own borders.
- Philly Showing Up For Racial Justice is hosting a (free) training on Thursday evening, Spotting White Supremacy: Capacity Building for White Allies. From SURJ: Join members of SURJ’s political education working group for a capacity building training at Friends Center on August 17th from 6:30-8:30pm. Grounded in experiential education, this two-hour training will focus on developing white folk’s capacity to identify/spot when racism is showing up in multiracial movements and actions. We will unpack the ways in which our socialization as white folks influence our intentions, expectations, relationship to control (and more), in multiracial spaces. Participants will leave the training with skills to become more aware of these dynamics so that we can become more accountable and effective allies in our movements for social change. The content of this training is designed for folks who identify as white AND is open to all.
- Teacher Action Group Philly is hosting After Charlottesville: Confronting White Supremacy in Ourselves, Our Schools, and Our City an event to bring educators and community members together to organize for how we can individually and collectively confront white supremacy in ourselves, our classrooms and schools, and our city, as the year begins. Wednesday, September 13th, 5:00-7:00PM, The U School, 2000 N. 7th St. Philadelphia, PA
- Councilmember Helen Gym is calling for the the take down of the Frank Rizzo statue by City Hall. You can sign the petition, a part of the Movement for Black Lives’ policy demands, here.
- Interview with Black Lives Matter Charlottesville organizer
- Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ten Ways to Fight Hate
- Political Research Associates’ article giving a breakdown on the forces involved
- What Charlottesville means for our Black family: article on talking to kids about what happened is a resource created by the UVA Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation to be used to educate readers about the long history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia.