The Rap-Up: Week of June 1, 2020

We interrupt this week's Rap-Up to bring some musings and required reading from Mano Sundaresan.
By    June 1, 2020

Art by the future is unwritten

Mano Sundaresan has got no love for the jakes and all the love for the cultural and societal contributions of African Americans.

I haven’t thought about music in the last five days. Friday night I heard the Freddie Gibbs/Alchemist — read Steven Louis on it here — but I can’t honestly say I could focus on it. Consuming anything new is so difficult for me right now. Escapism feels impossible.

For many non-black people, myself included, only recently has death become the frame for life. Coronavirus has shrouded everything in its veil. Stay inside to avoid death! Wash your dog to avoid death! Listen to this music so you can stop thinking about death! My day job as a radio producer has been dicing and splicing wav files into three and four minute news chunks that capture increasingly varied time signatures for this death-rhythm.

It has taken this week for a lot of nonblack folks to realize that black people exist in such a state their entire lives. In the wake of death. Under a state that continually enacts violence against them. A society that was never made for them. A life order in which the fundamental aspiration is to breathe.

I feel so sad, angry, and wrecked about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many more black people that have been and continue to be disproportionately surveilled, beat down, murdered, and incarcerated by the state. It hurts my heart to see protestors fighting for the humanity of black people being targeted by the same draconian police state, now standing in rows with armor and shields and inflicting irreparable mental and physical damage. Tear gas scalding eyes and lungs. Bodies kicked and tossed on the concrete. Deep wounds and lost organs from supposedly non-lethal rubber bullets.

This week was for mourning and hurting, learning and growing, checking my own anti-blackness and supporting the countless brave individuals rising up against the state to affirm black humanity. This is work that anyone who claims to be an ally ought to be doing. That starts with on-the-ground support: protesting and/or donating if you’re able. Twitter is your friend. I haven’t found a straightforward way to figure out when and where protests are happening, but connecting dots through Twitter/IG/word of mouth isn’t that hard. 

There are innumerable places to donate. Here’s the most comprehensive working document I’ve found.

On top of contributing money and labor, this work also entails education. Constantly working to fix whatever internalized biases that you have and your family and friends have as well. Here are some texts, new and old, that I’ve found helpful:

The project I was going to write about this week was Hook’s Ily2hook. It’s the last new music I loved before the protests began. When I’m able to collect my thoughts about music again I’ll give it a proper review. For now, I redirect your attention to this bit of joy from her IG:

I have faith that this revolution will live on. Nonetheless, in the past I’ve seen this type of support spike for a few weeks then fizzle. Nonblack people have the privilege to think about these issues when they please. We need to change that compartmentalist mentality. I urge those who have joined the movement recently to keep the same energy for the rest of their lives. 

And please, practice self-care. It is hard not to constantly scroll, tweet, and retweet, and in sum, that’s a good thing! It’s how the movement grows. But a movement needs healthy people. Self-care isn’t escapism, it’s upkeep. Take care of yourself. Eat good things. Talk to your loved ones. Listen to whatever makes you feel good. 

Then, back to work.


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