Midwest Mixed: Taking the lead on antiracist conversations about multiraciality

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2019-07-29 13:52Z by Steven

Midwest Mixed: Taking the lead on antiracist conversations about multiraciality

Sharon H. Chang, Author, Photographer, Activist

Sharon H. Chang

Me and Alissa Paris

“There is colorism in this work. There is shadeism in this work. There is anti-blackness in this work. And we are here to critique that.” —Alissa Paris, Executive Director and Co-founder, Midwest Mixed

Heat bounces off the parking lot pavement, blazes bright off light beige walls of the church where the conference is being held. It’s a typically warm, humid morning in Minneapolis. Summer glimmers across a yellow Black Lives Matter banner, bold against the south wall. Inside, the air is comfortable and cooled. Organizers and volunteers in deep purple T-shirts, “Midwest Mixed” written in turquoise, mill about, preparing. More attendees drift through doors, queue up, write their pronouns, hang lanyards from their necks.

Volunteers hand us beautiful 29-page, full color programs. Workshops include reflective writing, creative movement, dialogue and panels. I appreciate right away that there is an emphasis in the workshops on healing, parenting, mental wellness, and healthy families. There is note taking space in the back of the program and a worksheet entitled “A Deep Dive On My Identity” to help attendees think on the different intersections of our whole selves (e.g. geography, nationality, ethnicity, language, race, religion, socioeconomic status, ability, sexual orientation, gender ID, etc.).

In the marketplace, vendors sell social justice buttons, cards and shirts, jewelry from Africa, Corage Dolls to build self-love and confidence in girls of color. Posters display Maria P. P. Root’s Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People, a history of the multiracial movement, definitions of terms like intersectionality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender pronouns. Multi-medium works by local artists fill social rooms and hallways, including Within, Between, and Beyond: a multi-layered interactive installation on mixed race and transracial adoptee stories…

…And by the end of the weekend, I realize I’ve just attended one of the best race conferences I’ve ever been to…

Read the entire article here.

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Once Upon a Time in Minneapolis: 20 Years of Rhymesayers

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-17 00:48Z by Steven

Once Upon a Time in Minneapolis: 20 Years of Rhymesayers

Consequence of Sound

Killian Young, Contributing Writer

Two decades later, the Midwestern independent hip-hop label is still going strong.

On an unseasonably warm January night in Minneapolis, as a wintry mix falls innocuously to the ground, Atmosphere heats up First Avenue with a blistering, career-spanning set. Now comprising producer Ant, MC Slug, and DJ Plain Ole Bill, the iconic Twin Cities hip-hop crew commands the attention of the room, as they’ve done countless nights before.

“As far as the history of First Avenue,” says Nate Kranz, the downtown venue’s general manager, “they’re right at the top of the legendary Minneapolis groups.”

Founded in Minneapolis in 1995, Atmosphere’s independent hip-hop label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Tonight, Atmosphere headlines the House That Prince Built to honor another major milestone for Minneapolis music: The Current, the area’s alternative radio station, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The first track the station played? Atmosphere’s “Say Shh”, which “has really become an anthem locally,” according to Jim McGuinn, The Current’s program director who booked the show.

Atmosphere kicks off the set with “Say Shh”, and the crowd goes wild as Slug meanders through the opening bars: “I wanted to make a song about where I’m from, you know?/ Big up my hometown, my territory, my state.”.

Minneapolis probably isn’t the first city that comes to mind when you think about rap. Slug remembers hearing Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in his dad’s car, and the first record he bought was Run-D.M.C.’s “30 Days”. The go-to local radio program for Slug and his friends was the “Hip-Hop Shop” hosted by Travitron, aka Travis Lee. The next year, I.R.M. Crew released the city’s first single that was available nationwide, according to Justin Schell in Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide….

…A 2004 SPIN feature dubbed Atmosphere’s brand of vulnerable lyricism “emo rap,” a term that Slug says doesn’t really bother him anymore. As far as being considered a “white rapper,” he says he’s recently started to reconsider the role of his multiracial identity — which includes black, white, and Native American roots — and his music.

“If you’re passing due to white privilege, then you’re white in a societal way,” Slug says. “Now, does that build a different set of issues inside somebody who knows they’re not white, but they know that they’re passing as white? Yeah, sure. Who the fuck am I to sit here and act like I can speak for black people? I can’t even speak for white people. I can’t speak for nobody. And I felt weird about that. So I took my racial makeup and just stuck it in the back corner for a long time.”…

Read the entire article here.

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