Listening & Raising Voices Up
31 May 2020
Fighting Racism to Move Forward in a Scene with Many Roots in Black Culture
Hard to ignore the news of protests and impact in streets in the U.S. and cities beyond sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. It is unsettling and sad. Injustices to racialized communities, especially the black community in focus at moment, are not new. It is an ongoing challenge for those on the ground, constantly fighting to be heard, exclaiming 'Black Lives Matter' and more. The conversation around this here can be brought much closer to home. The scenes and music we enjoy have much connection to the black community and fighting against racism and for equality needs to be part of how we move forward.
The music has so much of its roots in black communities and the scenes founded on positive principles of unity. The myriad of genres of dance and rave music draw from black influences and culture. House and techno, originating in places like Chicago, Detroit and New York, grew from the marginalized underground scenes populated by gay and minority communities. The rhythms and flavour of jungle/drum'n'bass and beyond rose from Jamaican and black influences of soundsystem culture. We owe so much in our scenes and we have shared so much between all these communities thanks to that. A lot of the ethos of rave culture and hardcore from the start was it being grounded in unity and positivity and attracted so many people in places like the UK to it. I always remember guys like Grooverider and Fabio saying in those early days how they had come up in a divided and racially tense London climate and their initial reaction to burgeoning rave party environments was being blown away by the welcoming nature, blacks and whites throwing away differences for the love of the music. Dance music genres far and wide and inclusive scenes that developed and evolved around them owe so much to black culture and musical influence.
In the 30+ years since the scenes grew and evolved it is pertinent to look now at the reality and struggles faced by racialized artists. DJs and artists starting out, trying to get booked at parties, clubs, radio shows and festivals, and make a name for themselves etc. The added challenges they face it can be hard to see from the standpoint of those with privilege. We can all tend to overlook and get caught in the hype of our immediate fanbases and circles - who's headlining festivals, who's getting releases on labels, what type of sounds even that are being promoted - and miss those on the outside. More can be done beyond just making party lineups a bit diverse (mentioning gender is also a big one that relates to this also) and we can look to help those trying to build and contribute.
This blog was never particularly aimed at political idea sharing or anything but music and scenes around it are filled with societal connections and actors in positions of influence and privilege that have the power to impact change. Listening to those trying to be heard and helping to raise their voices. The beats have the power to unite us, but only if all of us have the opportunity to enjoy and share in those beats. Let's keep trying to do better to make tomorrow better.
Further Reading and Links: #
Other than the usual high-profile sources of info and activism, some additional resources to highlight:
- Minneapolis Freedom Fund, the fundraiser receiving the central focus right now has raised millions and recommends helping other organizations: For the current fight on the ground across the United States, this service splits bail funds across a number of organizations which is handy: ActBlue George Floyd Community Bail Fund Splitter
- Anti-Racism education and resources
- The Guide to Allyship has some excellent points on ideas to help frame mindset going forward