***EDIT: the video below is the NEWER version of this piece (the one that appears in my new book), posted on 2/12/17. The older one can still be found here.***
I could write a whole thinkpiece here, but I will try to keep this commentary short. This poem has been through a lot of drafts-- even this video is subtly different from the one on the album, and both are different from what I've been performing over the past couple of weeks. Just a couple of quick thoughts (all of which are in addition to the album commentary I already wrote):
Probably the biggest theme on "Post-Post-Race" is the importance of having a more critical, wider perspective on issues of race and racism. Racism isn't just about "bad people being mean to other people because they look different;" it's about history, it's about systems and institutions, and it's about power. This poem is maybe the most direct exploration of that idea on the album.
Especially today, in the context of Trump (and the movement that he represents) it's important to see racism and xenophobia as bigger than one individual's bigotry. We should work to defeat Trump, but we should not labor under the delusion that defeating Trump will be enough. It won't. Electing a Democrat won't be enough either. Even electing a progressive Democrat won't be enough. Defeating racism (and sexism, homophobia, etc.) will take a multi-tiered approach, and I'd argue that step one is affirming that these problems are fundamentally bigger than individual attitudes or actions.
And "bigger" doesn't mean "invincible." It just means that our work is not just the work of changing people's hearts and minds; it's the work of changing our institutions, laws, policies, media, and systems too.
I'd encourage everyone to read Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow," which might be the most important book of the last decade. I'd also recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Case for Reparations," which describes the system that we call "racism" as clearly as you're likely to read anywhere. Also, be sure to watch "13th" on Netflix!
Finally, I'd like to shout out a couple of organizing efforts that have been successful lately, especially in the context of challenging racism as a system. Here in Minneapolis, organizers have been mobilizing around efforts to stop using the Grand Jury system for police shootings-- and they've won. In Chicago and Cleveland, the prosecutors in the police shootings of Laquan McDonald and Tamir Rice were both voted out. Campaign Zero continues to propose and fight for policies to end police violence. This isn't exhaustive, obviously, but I think it's important to point to some successes too.
Thanks again for listening and for sharing. The whole album is still available here:
Full text of the poem:
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Monday, March 07, 2016
As always, the only real way people will hear this is if you share it-- on social media, in real life, however. All of those RTs, re-posts, and emails make a real difference-- and me and Katrah-Quey really, truly appreciate it. I'm not really expecting this one to blow up on the rap blogs, haha. Word-of-mouth is everything.
Finally, I'd like to share a couple of thoughts and reflections, especially since this album is attempting to do some pretty specific things.