Sunday, September 17, 2017

Page/Stage/Engage 2017 + #PowerPossibility w/ TruArtSpeaks

As some of you already know, I work with this organization in Minnesota called TruArtSpeaks. The organization's mission is to "cultivate literacy, leadership, and social justice through the study and application of Spoken Word and Hip Hop culture," and that comes to life through programs like the Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam series, the weekly ReVerb open mic, the Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate program, and more.

Those are all big, public-facing programs, but an enormous part of our work is actually less visible, with youth leadership/development programs like the Youth Advisory Board and Apprenticeship Program. This work is never just about young people writing and performing; it's about the spaces that nourish that process, about how we work together, cross-generationally, to build capacity as movement-builders and change-makers. So in that spirit, ALL money raised between 9/15 and 10/15 will go directly to these youth leadership programs.

The legendary Danez Smith matched the first $1k raised. I'm matching the next $1k. Please consider donating today!

Related: my next Twin Cities show will be Friday, September 22 at the UMN's Whole Music Club. This will be our fourth year in a row doing Page/Stage/Engage, and I couldn't be more excited about this lineup. The event is FREE and open to the public, and will feature BdotCroc, Tish Jones, members of the #BeHeard17 cohort, DJ Just Nine, and me. Spread the word.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

MPD150 and the Movement Toward a Police-Free Future

EDIT: the fundraiser was successful! Thanks to everyone who pitched in. Stay updated here.

image credit: hclou | #hclouart

is a community-based initiative challenging the narrative that police exist to protect and serve. By researching the Minneapolis Police Department’s history, reviewing current practices, and mapping responsible alternatives, we are committed to pursuing a police-free future. 

With that headline, I'd imagine that the people I'm in touch with will have one of two reactions:
  1. "Cool; I've been looking for more opportunities to support this work in a concrete way."
  2. "What? We need the police; I agree that reforms are needed too, but that's too much."
For the former, thank you. Please donate between now and 9/18; this group is gearing up to do some great work, both on a research/policy level and on an arts/narrative-shifting level, and every dollar counts.

For the latter, please read the "Frequently-Asked Questions" section on the website. These FAQs do a lot to address the most common arguments as to why police abolition is too radical, too unrealistic, or too dangerous. Of course, you may still have questions or disagreements after reading it; that's good. The website also has a great resources list, featuring free, immediately-accessible readings that dig a little deeper into the concept.

This campaign isn't just about researching and pushing specific policy points related to budgets and community resource allocation; it's also about asking all of us to think bigger. To ask more critical questions. To imagine something better. I don't expect everyone to know to jump on board 100% right away; I'm just asking people to have an open mind. Explore the website, dig into the readings, and get involved, if you are so moved. There's more on the way!