Thursday, January 5, 2017

Episode 3.1 The Political Climate, Happy New Year & Goodbye 2016

Blog by Mori Hitchcock

The phrase "Ferguson is Everywhere" was always more than a catchy slogan or design for a t-shirt. 

  It was a reminder that the frustration which boiled to the surface during the summer of 2014 was the culmination of years of anger and was endemic to the Black experience. It meant that any city could be Ferguson because throughout this country, black people live in fear that at any moment a run-in with the cops could turn fatal. It was an expression that called to mind the fact that our oppression does not exist in isolation from one another and that the reverberations of our feet marching and voices chanting could wake up a sleeping nation and put white folks on notice.

    Similar to this phrase, was the chant "Whose Street? Our Streets;" a call-and-response chant that called to mind our ancestors and fostered a sense of unity and ownership amongst protestors. I remember the first time I participated in that chant, we had organized a bus trip from my college in the middle of Pennsylvania to the streets of New York for the Millions March (which was coincidentally planned by one of our guests today, Sabaah) and it electrified me. It's one of those chants that makes you really look at the country as yours, perhaps for the first time. 

  Sabaah Folayan, an activist from New York who came to Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown Jr's murder, directs the about to be released film entitled "Whose Streets?" Using the "call" portion of the chant as the title, this film attempts to tell the story of the protests and to assist the activists in sharing their own stories. In our podcast, Sabaah talks about how misrepresented the protests were by the media and how they were covered as violent clashes, while paying little attention the police violence that spurred them. Sabaah describes how she hopes to show the "courage, beauty, and love that she encountered on the front lines"; qualities that she believed to be inherent and shared between the black folks in every corner of the struggle. 


When the white, mainstream media continues to fail our people by ignoring our stories or misrepresenting our demands, it is our responsibility to put out the work that challenges these narratives. Sabaah is doing just that, through a film set to premiere at Sundance this year with a story that goes beyond the tanks and tear gas, and beyond the looting and rioting, to the heart of the struggle. Sabaah and Taylor Payne, our second guest, are perfect examples of stepping outside of the realm of racist, hetero - patriarchal capitalism and mainstream materialism to use their art for black liberation.

    Taylor, who I had the pleasure of meeting last Spring, just complete a series of knitting meet-ups on the east coast teaching, beginning knitters, friends and activists how to knit for black liberation. Her entire trip was funded by her work for The Yarn Mission, which provides anyone with interest in knitting and the values of Yarn Mission to do the same. She taught me how to knit and has not only opened up a new hobby/skill for me but has also taught me (and others) how to divest from the chains of capitalism.

    Both of these black women have devoted their time to uplifting our experiences and marginalized voices to show us how we offer a narrative of hope, outside of the structures that oppress us.

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