Friday, November 11, 2016

Music is Medicine

On Monday, I had assumed that Hillary Clinton would be president, it would be business as usual, I'd write a Veteran's Day post of Becky Warren's gorgeous new album War Surplus.

It's not business as usual, clearly. But for Veteran's Day, check out Leslie Tom's new single, "Didn't Think Twice." Proceeds from the song will go to the Travis Manion Foundation for veterans.

As for politics, if you're not burned out, here's some food for thought. If you are, too bad but scroll down to the music. When Bush was re-elected in 2008, I was 16 years old. I was kind of figuring out that I was maybe definitely queer. When Bush won Ohio by raising the specter of same-sex marriage, I felt isolated and scared. I don't know if I would have come out in high school at all, but I definitely did not because of the perception that the majority of the country hated me. That changed, obviously. But when I stayed up until 3:00 in the morning because I would not accept the results until I saw his victory speech, I wondered if perhaps my feeling safe was unfounded. Maybe it has nothing to do with being older and seeing that I've been accepted. If my trans* kinfolk are not safe, I am not safe.

I am very glad I got to see Micah Schnabel the night after the election. Then I went home and passed out because I'd only had 50 minutes of sleep.

Beyond LGBT issues, I teach a number of undocumented students. Things were not great for them under Obama. Things will definitely not be good for them under Trump.

Only one student that I know of is enlisted in the military. The ones who dropped out or I've lost track of may have enlisted. I am scared for their safety.

I have a number of Muslim students. Will they be safe?

I've seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the heart of New York City for the first time in my life. Am I safe? Is it OK because I "pass"?

I'm not worried about legislation, necessarily, though that's a concern. I'm worried about vigilante civilians who are emboldened by a Trump presidency. My dad, a dyed-in-the-wool Reagan Republican chose not to vote for Trump because, after speaking to a woman in line at the poll, he realized that he did not want to be aligned with other Trump supporters.

So now what? Regardless of how you feel about Trump as a president, if you think minority groups are not going to be targeted by the white supremacists Trump encouraged during his campaign "just to get elected" then you are truly oblivious. Here's a Google doc I started to help people start to think about these concerns and to get involved. Please read, share, and contribute.

As for music, here are some thoughts. First of all, increase your boundaries beyond country and punk. Both are rooted in white supremacy. I'm not sure when I'll write this article because I need more historical context, but country music was created as a response to white farmers urbanizing and self-segregating from the other cultures they encountered. What we think of as classic country was fueled by white people who could not accept rock'n'roll because of its obvious ties to "black music." Punk has a more directly white supremacist background though it has obviously repudiated that many times over.

For this blog, that means my making an active effort to listen to hip-hop and R&B. The fact of the matter is that there is going to be a lot of artistic reaction in the next four years, and the most significant voices will come from communities of color. That doesn't mean working-class white men have nothing to say. In fact, they should have a lot to say to reject conservative values. Two Cow Garage already does a great job of that.

I had already planned to do this less explicitly (I'm still working through a lot of the music I listened to before making this decision) but I feel it's important to be intentional now.

Below are links to the last five years' worth of reviews of artists who are POC, queer, and/or directly political in their songwriting.

Gary Clark, Jr
The Kominas
Lucille Bogan
Ani DiFranco -- Which Side Are You On?
Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires -- There Is a Bomb in Gilead
Matt Woods -- The Matt Woods Manifesto
Roxie Watson -- Of Milestones and Moon Pies
High Dive
The Alabama Shakes -- Boys and Girls
Brandi Carlile
Sarah Walk
Herman Put Down the Gun
The Sometimes Boys
Sonia Tetlow -- Own Way Home
The Paisley Fields -- Dixie Queen
Mo Kenney --Mo Kenney
William Pilgrim and the All Grows Up -- The Great Recession
Hurray For the Riff Raff -- My Dearest, Darkest Neighbor
Two Cow Garage -- Death of the Self-Preservation Society
Mount Moriah -- Miracle Temple
Shareef Ali
Against Me!
Roxie Watson -- Songs From Hell Hollow
Hurray For the Riff Raff -- Small Town Heroes
NC Music Love Army
Karen and the Sorrows -- The Names of Things
LA Salami
Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires -- Dereconstructed
The Devil's Cut
Arsene de Lay
Sonia Tetlow -- A Place for Everyone
Jackie Venson
Mo Kenney -- In My Dreams
Quinn Tsan
Small Talk
Joan Smith
Gregory McKillop
Pops Staples
DK and the Joy Machine
Karen and the Sorrows
Speaker of the Dead
Shane Sweeney -- Complex Ecosystems
Samantha Crain
Grace Petrie
The Paisley Fields -- Oh, These Urban Fences
Sam Gleaves
Two Nice Girls
They Haymarket Squares
Melaena Cadiz -- Sunfair
Kelcy Mae -- Half-Light
Dyke Drama
Alyssa Kai
Girls on Grass
Kaia Kater
Ryan Cassata
Mount Moriah -- How to Dance
Amythyst Kiah
M. Lockwood Porter -- How to Dream Again
The Shondes
Two Cow Garage -- Brand New Flag

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