"Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have the right to resist annihilation” - Arundhati Roy
Over the past few days, people have risen up and protests have erupted around the country over another state murder by a police officer of a Black person who was just living his life, George Floyd. And also too, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade.
I remember the protests and actions I've attended in the past. I've seen the rage in the streets before; it's more than justified. And so it makes me feel sad and guilty to choose to engage from home due to concerns about COVID-19 [a privilege not everyone has.]
Hashtags and images get circulated, some feel like they are a sort of "trauma porn."
Is this how they would have wanted to be remembered? Were they a private person? What would they have shared with the world if they had the platform to do so?
And I am also struck by the the prfound feeling of how every life is precious and sacred. Nothing will bring these lives back. They are gone. Their priceless, precious life was cut short, extinguished.
What this virus, which has disproportionately impacted those who are poor and Black, Latinx, and indigenous, and ongoing (100s [and 1000s of years worth]) state violence has shown more people than before is that we're living in a country and a world that continues to protect a gilded class of people on the backs of communities and peoples who have historically been exploited, stolen from, and oppressed.
How can those who continue to mistreat, abuse, dehumanize, etc expect people not to fight back? It is their duty, our duty as human beings to fight back. They are being anti-human, a terms used by anti-caste activists against the beliefs and actions of caste oppressors and Hindu fascists. It's our duty step fully into our humanity.
In times like these, I find myself responding to the hopelessness and nihilism that accompanies this rage by turning to and honoring futurism, the kind pioneered by Black artists and writers like Octavia Butler.
Placing Blackness at the center of her work, Butler's vision of futurity is abundant and rich. She does not shy away from confronting apocalypse. Her writing is at once speculative, fantastical, astute, and historical.
I do not wish to diminish, gloss over, or sweep away tragedy and death. But I do have hope that the future is bright (another thing a friend said).
We are in a moment of transition from a world filled with systemic detritus to something new, and in order to get there we have to cleanse, to clear out the weeds to plant new seeds.
That will take work and it will take struggle. It takes confronting privilege and having tough conversations with those around us, healing ourselves and holding those we love close and accountable, being generous and opening our hearts to challenging connections, resisting disposability of others and the trickiest parts of ourselves.
This moment is one that is a fertilizer to my own inner futurist. As a musician and artist, I want to be responsive to history and to the wisdom of artists and thinkers that came before us. What were their thoughts on their circumstances and the past? How did they cope? What was their vision for the future?
Please click here if you wish to find places to donate to support Black liberation and ending the carceral state and click here for ongoing signal boosts by me. I leave you with my "futurizing" playlist that I started a year and some change ago: