#BlackLivesMatter

So, I’ve already written about saviourism, white privilege, certain aspects of colonialism, aswell as some neo-colonialism that overlaps with systemic racism. If you’re interested in any of the above, since they’re all branches of racism, feel free to scroll further down for those posts, or to follow the blog since I most definitely will be covering them again. You can also type each of the terms into google to start reading any and everything you find or use the links ill be adding at the bottom. Take note that this post is specifically related to the B.L.M. movement, many of the tips can be applied to other social justice movements, but my intention is for the focus of this post to be on the B.L.M. movement and the fight against racism. Think of it as ”things to keep in mind” when you approach it with a wish to engage if you’re new.

If you, like so many others are hoping to join the fight against racism, or if you claim to already be in it and is reading up to get better at it, below ill be sharing some tips, pointers and links to potentially help you on your way.

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter that I’ve chosen to use as my title, is also a great source to find information about different aspect of racism, how to actively work against it and un-learn it. To access it, simply type it into Facebook, Google or Instagram. People share experiences, tips, issues, articles, they also use the phrase by itself to highlight the importance of black lives, since there’s a need for it.

I’ll start this post by addressing some questions and thoughts I’ve received from friends and acquaintances:

1. If you (as a non-black) person feel bad about what you’re seeing in the media right now. Good. You’re supposed to. If brutalized and murdered black bodies make you feel sad and outraged, if systemic racial oppression makes you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and unsure about yourself, your actions and what you’ve been (or not been) doing to help… great! Then there’s something here we can work with. See, NEWSFLASH, you’re supposed to feel bad. Because it sucks, all of it, for all of us, and especially for black people. What you’re NOT supposed to do is write to your traumatized/exhausted/depressed/hurt black friends to ask what you can do to make yourself feel better. Because it’s not about you and that’s lesson one on racism as a non-black person. It’s not about you, always remember it’s not about you, and when you’re about to comment on something, mention something, share thoughts or just open your mouth in a racism related context, ask yourself: – Am I about to reshape or center this around myself or my experiences? If yes? Then don’t. (Also, the people that should worry you, are the ones that aren’t feeling bad right now). Take note that some activists/friends of yours or public speakers you follow may have expressed that they’re available for conversations if people have questions and wish to learn. Use these opportunities to ask the questions you might not’ve been able to answer alone through google, and if they have a gofundme/patreon/paypal chip in on the work they do, the same way you’d pay any teacher.

2. Scenario ”I haven’t shared anything or spoken out personally on the issue, but let me share a black picture for #blackouttuesday in solidarity with the black lives matter movement, because I do care! Fighting racism just takes a lot of effort” Hmm alright, uhm. So two things to point out here. First, If you decide to repost or share anything (something you think could be useful information for other people for example), make sure you understand what you’re sharing. Secondly, if you decide to post a black picture, ask yourself WHY you’re doing it and what the desired outcome is, if you can’t answer that, don’t do it. We’re struggling with alot of clutter and alot of mindless reposting. People think they wanna help but they don’t really want to go through the actual trouble it takes, so they settle for a repost of something they don’t understand or truly know why they’re sharing. Notice how there’s nothing wrong with the act of reposting, just make sure you understand. This obviously goes for anyone reposting anything ever.

3. If you’re not initially (and after that still occasionally) completely overwhelmed by the thought of dismantling racism, you don’t understand racism. Simple. The go-to should be learning about all the separate and intricate aspects of racism in part. Because if you think you’re tackling racism head-on and that you’ve figured it out, I’m gonna need you to take a step back. This has been going on for years, if it was as simple as telling people to ”be nicer to black people” we would’ve solved it years ago. Unlearning racism is a journey that takes time, effort and focus. You don’t simply read a 100 books to understand, ‘cause it’ll take you another 10 years to even begin to apply it to your daily life and your line of thinking. To give an example: I check myself every time I do my hair to ask myself why I prefer a sleek bun over a matted one, when my natural hair texture is matted, the desire (and preference) for a sleek bun is internalized racism. The racism isn’t gone until I’m free to wear either without preference based around which one is commonly accepted as ”neater”, and this is just me?! If we’re getting detailed here I’ve got the ”good” texture of the bunch, imagine what it’s like for people with ”heavier” afro-centric features than me (there’s an old system in place judging people favorably based on their proximity to whiteness, I’ll cover that in-depth some other day but google colorism and the paper bag-test for now). Then proceed to think about all the people I meet on a daily who’s gonna see my bun and think to themselves wow like did she even try? She should’ve sleeked it back with gel to make it look straight. Notice how this is also just a minor thing? One. Minor. Thing. That’s how extensive this is. Racism is a system, an indoctrinate teaching, a behavioral pattern and for some a way of life. Racism is mainly subconscious, meaning you won’t really notice that it’s there, making it harder to identify and fight within one self.

4. This is an important one, and I cannot stress this enough. Think for yourself. Please. When you see posts upon posts of people telling you to ”read up” they obviously mean read up, but that also includes this: thinking. I already said this in point 2 but let me repeat it because this is a key-step, PLEASE think for yourself. That’s the work you’re supposed to be doing, apart from showing support and speaking up when it’s needed lawdamercy think. for. yourself. When you see something you don’t understand, don’t just scroll past it and assume you’re good ‘cause you think racism is bad and you’ve got black friends, you’re not good, it’s not fine, figure out why you don’t understand. (Also, if you find yourself motivated to read up but unsure what to read, don’t be afraid to ask, but also, don’t expect a black person to do the work of finding valuable information for you, especially not for free. This is like asking a classmate to do your homework for you. Not cool. >>>Re-read end of point 1 if needed.<<<

5. When somebody goes ”Black Lives Matter”, don’t respond all lives matter, or blue lives matter or my dogs life matters or no life matters (nihilistic edgelord junk). Don’t. Don’t do it. Everybody knows this. Remember what we talked about before? About putting yourself in the center of an issue? May I ask why you feel the need to insert yourself everywhere? Don’t do it. This. This is it. So don’t do it. A great example I’ve seen people use is, if your house is on fire, and you shout ”my house is on fire!” to get it extinguished, and then every other house that’s NOT on fire got a resident stepping out onto the sidewalk shouting ALL houses are on fire, do you realize how stupid that looks? Yes, maybe someday your house too may be on fire, but right now we’re talking about this one. All lives matter, we know this, everyone knows this. However we’re highlighting that black people are unjustly being killed in frighteningly high numbers and systematically oppressed, this is the fire we’re trying to put out. Either you help out or you get out the way. Inserting yourself by asking why not all lives matter, that’s you trying to hijack another movement. If the only time you care about all lives is when somebody else is trying to get their message across, you don’t truly care at all.

This is also what my disclaimer in the beginning of the post is for, I’ve seen that there’s a bad habit in media of making parallels between different social justice movements, between different people or in hopes of making an example to further understand or pick apart an argument. For example, using another gruesome event to try to make the event being discussed seem less bad. Don’t do it. It’s not a competition in who can throw out the most gruesome event or make the most distasteful parallel. If you feel the need to comment on the ongoing violent protests in the USA today, and flip it, switch the colors of the protesters with the people getting hurt or anything like it in hopes of proving your argument, what you’re really doing is erasing the history of the problem itself by isolating one specific event, which obviously will render the event itself nonsensical. The defining history has to be taken into consideration.


6. Last point, this one’s for everyone. A skill you need to acquire when dealing with any and all social justice movements is to be able to step aside and let the people whom the movement is for step forth to speak. Google ‘interpretative prerogative’ or ‘tolkningsföreträde’ in Swedish. This is not just between black vs non black people in terms of the black lives matter movement, but also between black people within the movement itself. For the black people in Sweden taking a stance right now, earlier or in the future and expressing their opinions regarding the actions of black people in for example the US, it’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not our place to judge their actions. We can comment, share our two cents and debate, but at the end of the day we can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to grow up in America as a black person, even if most of us have our own experiences with racism, identify with the people we see or feel a bond to what could be relatives and even if our own countries are dealing with the same issues, we can’t possibly begin to understand what it’s like to be them because we’re not them. The best we can do is support them in every way we can, share their stories, sign their petitions, donate to their cause, listen to what they need from us and fight our own local issues of racism along side theirs for an overall better future for black people everywhere. (This calls for another disclaimer, take note how I’m NOT saying it doesnt concern us because this is very much our issue too.)

This concludes my list for now, there’s obviously way more I could cover, but we’ll round it up here. Social media is blowing up right now but this is not the first or the last time this is going to or needs to happen, more discussions/fights/protests will be held in the future regarding identity, heritage, cultural ownership and race, it’s needed and long overdue as usual. Buckle up for more, we’re 6 months into 2020 which has come to be the year of exposing everything and everyone.

I’ve personally felt torn about what to write about for this last week. Everyday is history in the making and history is what I do, I naturally cover pro-black topics in relation to that, because, well, I’m black and history needs to be re-written and edited from a non-white western and non-western narrative, this is one of my fundamental beliefs. We need to create our own narrative and space, instead of living in somebody else’s. Thus, I decided to give into my feelings, and sit down, open my brain and write about Black Lives Matter and share some tips on how to approach and assist the movement, because black lives do matter. Everyday. Not just when your feed is a battlefield or my family’s a trending hashtag.







Useful links:

Rachel Cargle’s The Great Unlearn – Currated monthly syllabus to keep you engaged in unlearning racism, and racist behaviour. Self-paced and donation based: https://www.patreon.com/thegreatunlearn

A compiled list of some organizations you can donate to (help with bail, provide support for victims of police brutality, rebuilding etc), petitions you can sign, informative monetized videos who’s revenue will be donated etc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16VOvHrLcL37OFa9udKks_B05IR9N7V1FCVNM-pFmiXU/edit?usp=sharing

Articles:

Why you need to stop saying all lives matter

Black Riot: The difference between riots and protests has more to do with who and where than what

Blogs:

The Armchair Commentary – Commentary on the intersection of race, culture and faith

Rachel Cargle is a public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activism and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood.

Maybe it’s Contemporary Warfare (or maybe it’s Maybelline.)

What? War? I thought we were in a time of world peace (sort of)?

And uhm… make-up? I’m confused…

Well, supposedly this is the closest we’ve gotten to world peace. Commonly referred to as ”relative peace” or ”long” peace. It’s based on the idea that war for conquest is pretty much obsolete, punitive wars are nearly gone too and all the colonial wars have ended (*cough*). This leaves civil wars, most of which have cooled down over the years. The term ”long peace” marks the time from after the second world war, to the present day, due to the absence of major (obvious) wars between the dominating powers of the period aka the USA and Russia (previously USSR). Such a long period of ”relative” peace between major powers hadn’t been documented since the Roman Empire.

Major ”in your face”-wars, the ”blowing citys into smithereens” kinda wars might be over (it’s not, major citys in various countrys in the middle east are war zones, and we’ve got groups of people immigrating en masse) but from the toning down of guns and loud air-raids, we’ve seen the rise of a new form of warfare, namely the title of the piece, Contemporary Warfare (que off-key horns).

Technically, modern warfare isn’t that new, because the term covers everything after the gunpowder revolution (c. 1300- 1650) to now lol. So… how do we narrow it down to what I’m here to focus on? Well, luckily (modern) warfare tactics are divided into 5 generations, each generations set of tactics generally influenced by whatever was relevant at the time (so like guns from 1300’s and forward vs mounts and sharp things basically every generation before that). In this piece I’ll focus on 4th and 5th generation tactics, but if this is the first time you’re hearing about any of this, here you can read about the remaining generations.

Starting with the 4th generation (4GW), these tactics are characterized by a return to decentralized forms of warfare. Meaning here it might be hard to spot who’s fighting who and when/where the actual war in taking place, blurring the lines between war, politics, soldiers and civilians. A classic example includes any war where one of the major participants is not a state/recognized government, but rather a non-state actor. If we look at the Cold War, major powers fought to regain grip over some of their previous colonies, and with the non-state entities representing said colonies lacking muscle power to fight back, other methods became essential. Movements were created, propaganda was spread, espionage, secrecy, surprise attacks or means of terror were used to fill the obvious gap in raw muscle. The tactics themselves aren’t new, you’ll see similar tactics in previous slave rebellions or anywhere else where there’s a huge power-gap.

The 5th generation (5GW) is like a semi-continuation of 4GW. They share many similarities, and since it’s under development right now the definition itself isn’t quite finished, but so far 5th generation war is characterized by the usage of propaganda and information tactics, in hopes of accomplishing strategic, operational, and tactical objectives, without measurable damage that can be identified by the target. The goal is for the target to not know they’ve been attacked, resulting in loss before the fight’s even begun. If you google 5GW you’ll be presented with a number of pieces on Al Qaeda since these tactics are most commonly associated with terrorist organisations.

5GW espoused by the likes of Al Qaeda, with aspirations of setting up alternative political systems. They’re opportunists, intent only on destruction. But even pointless violence can have a perverse logic, for the sudden, irrational destruction undermines the idea that nations are viable in the modern world.

US Army Major Shannon Beebe, Wired (magazine) 2009

Alright alright, so now I understand the current generation of warfare, when do we get to the part where you explain why we’re talking about this?

– Right about now.

I chose modern warfare as my topic this week because these same tactics are all around us, and they’re being used on the daily by several other countries, organisations and companies. Not for the sake of terrorism, but for the sake of power. These tactics aren’t terrorist exclusive, and more common than most of us might think. Let me give you an example that ties to my meme-esque title. Earlier I wrote that this generation is characterized by the usage of propaganda and information tactics, in hopes of accomplishing strategic, operational, and tactical objectives. What if the tactical objective isn’t to take your city, but to take your money? Maybe it’s contemporary warfare, or maybe it’s Maybelline, is a play on the commercial slogan ”Maybe she’s born with it, or maybe it’s Maybelline”, by the cosmetics company by the same name. Most people have heard or seen it around, if not in an actual make-up commercial, then as a meme, since the slogan gained popularity for being catchy and easily meme-able. The company’s intention might not’ve been to go viral, but it was definitely intended to be stick. Just memorable enough, so it’ll stick around to the point where when I’m trying to think of a title, this is what I crawls up from the pits of my brain. It was also most likely the culprit behind why 14 year old me (subconsciously) thought it was a good idea to buy their shitty foundation. Objective accomplished.

A lot of the people reading this now, probably have that same phrase resting in your mind. It’s not that big of a deal, I guess, just a make-up add. However, if a catchy phrase can make you subconsciously favor one brand over another, what’s saying the same can’t be done with political partys? Or decisions in referendums? Or make you leave personal information up for grabs for the ability to virtually befriend people? This is how easy it could be to push an incentive. An alternative humorous title to this piece could’ve been – Capitalism’s invisible ”war” for your monetary favor. I say humorous because calling it war sounds like a click-bait scandal.

Nonetheless, let’s get to the conclusion.

The generations of warfare tactics reflect the times during which they were developed. It might be easy to think of war as heavy guns and infantry, but that’s not what the new tactics of our generation will look like, because it doesn’t reflect the big players of our generation, which is globalization, an information overload and favoring efficiency (I haven’t even touched on the internets role really, so that’ll be a beast for another day). Weapons and muscle are always gonna be relevant, for the fear they instill and damage they do, but if you can win people over by re-wiring them to think like you, or (as a reference back to the quote) undermine the viability of their nation, people wont even notice they switched sides, you’ll win masses without bloodshed, reserve immense amounts of energy (and it’ll take less to start a war too).

The lines between fields of study are getting blurrier, as we progress into a future of less black and white areas of discipline whilst adding more gray. So, what I wanted to share with this was the value of perspective through these examples, as well as the relevance of staying up to date on things that you initially might think doesn’t concern you. The world is becoming increasingly intertwined and time waits for no one. If you’re asleep, somebody is going to make your decisions for you. Just like how that catchy commercial made my decision for me.






Interesting articles and links:

Long Peace

World Peace

Contemporary war: Ethnic conflict, resource conflict or something else?

Modern Warfare

Gunpowder Revolution

Generations of warfare

Give it back (part 3)

Alright, so we’re back at it again with the last part under this title. This time we’re talking about supremacy! Specifically white supremacy and the role it played in the history of archaeology. (Aka the role it plays in today’s debate about shadily obtained artifacts.)

First you may wonder why specifically white supremacy? Why not just supremacy alone as a concept?

Well that’s an easy one. Supremacy alone is just a term used to describe predominance, sovereignty or hegemony. It’s literally the state/condition of being superior to all others in authority, power or status. White supremacy however, is the racist belief that white people are superior to other people and therefore should be the ones in power. This birthed a system and a political ideology that perpetuates an institutional domination by white people in every field from politics to culture and history.

From the Cape to Cairo, Udo J. Keppler, 1902

So let’s zoom-in a bit,

White supremacy was absolutely booming from the 1800s to the mid 1900s. Like a real hit. We had scientific racism, race-studies, colonization, apartheid, Jim Crow Laws, the Atlantic slave trade, like there was a lot. Zoom in a little more and we hit a man named Rudyard Kipling, the biggest poet of his time who in 1899 dropped the notorious poem ”The White Man’s Burden”. For anyone that might’ve read some of my earlier posts this isn’t news to you. This poem covers part of the very essence of the ideology that is white supremacy. A desire (and excuse) to take land, raid tombs, forcefully impose Christianity and seize power. To quote an excerpt:

Take up the White Man’s burden—

    Send forth the best ye breed—

Go bind your sons to exile

    To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness

    On fluttered folk and wild—

Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

    Half devil and half child

The White Mans Burden – Rudyard Kipling

I’ve linked it above if you’re interested in reading the whole thing, but yeah, there you have it all. The guilt, the part where they’ll receive hate from the people they’re oppressing but must stand tall, the supposed god-sanctioned raids, the ”saving” and the enslaving too.

So how does it relate to the blatant stealing of artifacts you ask?

Here’s three major ways. We’ll start from the top. First of all, colonization provides access, you go and come as you please, you’re the one in charge, you’ve claimed the land, and it’s impossible to steal from yourself so your conscience is clean. Secondly, there’s accountability, fast forward to now, your countrymen literally wrote THE law in the past, and laid the foundation then for the jurisdictional system of today so there’s nothing officially holding you accountable from that time. Thirdly, we cover the saviourism, if you validate keeping an object regardless of history, by expressing concern, claiming you’re more suitable to care for it, who’s going to argue? No one. Especially not, since you ensured it. Colonization enriched your country and crippled others, securing your country’s financial position for generations to come. Besides it’s your burden, your duty, to take it upon yourself as better equipped, to assist in this noble cause of preservation. See It’s a deadlock. A wheel that spins itself.

So what can we conclude from this?

When posed with the argument ”we’re more suited for the job so it’s our duty to help”, highlight that sending money to fund a country to accommodate an artifact also qualifies as help, and that the desire to ”step in” and ”grab hold” smells of (white) supremacy. Another option could be to assign ownership of the artifacts to the country of origin, and set up a ”loan situation” with the current country of residence, until appropriate action towards an ideal housing environment is taken. This way the country of origin can financially and ethically benefit from their own history. The countries that requested independence should be treated as equals regardless of where they’re at in their development and stepping on them isn’t the best way to further the field of history nor cultural preservation.

This part culminates the ”Give it back” piece, and so I’ll be back with something new (and old) next week.

Bob Marley Didn’t Sing For You

As per usual the title states what I’m about to talk about, in this case it’s how Bob Marley didn’t sing for you. So now, before you jump to any conclusions regarding my choice of title, let me take you back to where it all started.

The year is 1945, Robert Nesta Marley is born in the country side of St Ann parish JA. Jamaica is still a colony as most other countries in the world at this time, however this is about to change with the end of World War II and the ripple effect events following afterwards.

Alright, so far I imagine you’re still with me. So now we’re going to skip a few years, if you want to know more about specific details I’ll link some more information later on.


Bildresultat för jamaica 1962

The year is 1962, The JLP (Jamaica Liberation Party) won the election and The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Jamaica independence act, granting independence as of August 6th (with the Queen of England remaining as head of state). After years of slave rebellions, economic shifts, the great depression, UK missionaries and british rule, Jamaica was an imbalanced country seeking identity and stability. Being a majority agricultural society after the abolishing of slavery in the late 1800’s up until independence, the rapid swaying introduction to industrialization has left the country with huge class gaps and a high poverty percentage. Rastafarianism in it’s early stages has been around for about 30 years now and they’re not on good terms with the government. Originating in poor ostraziced afro-jamaican communities with ideological influences from the bible, ethiopianism and panafrikanism , openly critizising colonialism, the white church and their former colonial rulers, Rastafarianism was seen as very controvercial at the time.
Hey, now it’s getting interesting, let’s fast forward some more.

Bildresultat för catch a fire album cover

Relaterad bild

The year is 1963, Catch a Fire by Bob Marley and The Wailers just became the first reggae album to make it big internationally, for them it’s their third album as a group and food on the table. The album carries lyrics such as:

”400 years, 400 years
Of the same philosophy
400 years, 400 years
And, the people, they still can’t see

Referencing 400 years of slavery, and the biblical Genesis 15, believing that after these 400 years have passed liberation awaits. Other lyrics include:

”Today they say that we are free
Only to be chained in poverty
Good God, I think it’s illiteracy
It’s only a machine that makes money”

and

No chains around my feet but I’m not free
I know I am bound here in captivity”
”Where the living is harder (in a concrete)
Concrete jungle (jungle)
Referencing industrialism, urbanization, neocolonialism and inequality.

Fast forward a few years and all over the world people are singing along to Jamaican Redemption song’s about unity and freedom, Bob is now an icon for one-ness. Fast forward some more and people are still sharing red, green and yellow inspiration quotes with Marley’s face on them declaring ”One Love”. However, somewhere along the way after his passing people stopped talking about where he really came from, they kept saying Jamaica but forgot or chose to not mention the years of poverty, scrutinization as a rasta, violence, shootings and colonial scars of which he was also born. Bob Marley spoke for a whole generation of Jamaicans growing up in a time where the country and it’s people were yet to be their own, having been cut off from their history and ascribed a new one, Rastafarianism was a movement for identity and reggae music was their voice that would come to echo all over the world.

Sooooo, who is he not singing for?

The answer is new age spiritualist who wish to make his words mean something else than they do. When Bob Marley sings of slavery (both mental, symbolical and physical), slavery is exactly what he is singing about, slavery in all it’s forms. Most of us can never understand fully what this means, having grown up after colonial states gained their independence on paper, however, this does not give us the right to ascribe our own meaning to his words. This does not give anybody the right to hijack this Jamaican movement. Bob Marley sang and asked us to sing his songs of freedom with him, not for him.

This is worth remembering today and everyday with different movements being born all over the world as we speak, as well as old movements still working towards goals yet to be achieved. If you wish to support a movement and you’re completely new coming in as a guest, rule number one is to not make it about you. This is considered hijacking a movement, I could go on and on about that subject alone, but for now I’ll leave this as an introduction, maybe I’ll get into it some other time.

So until next time, if there’s any instance in the future where you approach an event, experience some art or listen to a song that you don’t understand or can’t relate to on a personal level, don’t just fill in the blanks with something you understand. Take the time to learn about what you wish to partake in, your place, your contribution and the space you’re about to take. If you truly wish to forward said movement you’re going to need to know when it’s time to take a step front and when it’s time to take a step back.

”I don’t wanna live in the park
Can’t trust no shadows after dark
So, my friend, I wish that you could see,
Like a bird in the tree, the prisoners must be free”

//Marakulus

Bob-Marley-Quote1


Links and books worth you’re time:

Links:

History of Jamaica

Independence of Jamaica

Rastafari

Books:

Reggae, rastafari and the Rhetoric of social control – Stephen A. King

CALL OUT’S and why we need them

Here I am at it again, writing about something scene related, something some of you all probably don’t want to hear, and that is okay. Everything isn’t for everyone and the same goes for Hiphop. Hiphop sn’t for everyone.

A few weeks ago a facebook post was made by Ice-O (a bronx born popper currently residing in Stockholm and an active member of the local dance scene) questioning whether ”call out’s” still matter anymore.

To recite: – ”Do call out battles even work anymore? Do they bring change? I understand when it comes to beefs that are personal, however many people in the dance scene don’t care about ”craft”, ”culture” or ”respect”. So what does a ”call out” do?

I read this post yesterday and it reminded me of the ”call out”-situation here in Sweden and how I should make a post about that too someday.

Then, the following morning comes along and I wake up to one of my friends messaging me about last night’s concert. Apparently, my friend had tried to call out somebody from the local scene, just to get ignored or ”go unseen”.

So, here I am, writing this post, because it’s about time.

First, we start by explaining what a ”call out” is, to those unfamiliar with the term (or familiar but with a lack of understandning),

What is a call out in literal terms?

I’ll admit to urban dictionary not being the most reliable source of information, but the world is evolving and to be ”cooking something up” doesn’t even refer to food anymore. Just like ”lit” doesn’t refer to any form of actual light.

So, a call out is to challenge someone or somethings behaviour or their claims, a groups ideal, an instance etc etc. The base is accountability. How legitimate is what’s being said? How true is this person to their claim?

In this post we’re adressing call out’s as a concept in the dance community. Thus there’s culturally specific traits/rules that have been applied to the basic concept of a call out. Usually, and maybe the most famous culturally specific trait, is for a call out to manifest as a dance battle (not to be mistaken for the event version of a dance battle which is closer related to a competition).

To a spectator looking in, the battle might give the impression of being a simple measure of cheer danceskill, and sometimes it is just that. Other times there’s alot more at stake. Winning a competition is nice, but earning the respect of your peers or discrediting some phony is great.

There are several things you can call someone out on, sky is the limit, but to bring forth some examples of common reasons for a call out:

Personal disputes: This is when you call somebody out that you don’t like for whatever reason (or vice versa) aswell as somebody who might’ve publicly insulted/questioned/discredited you.

Legitimacy: Claims such as – I am the best dancer here! I know this style so well that I can teach it! I am an OG! Can be subjected to call out’s regarding legitimacy. If people consider your claims to be false, they’ll call you out.

Growth: Calling someone out doesn’t need to be an insult. It’s also a challenge, meaning you can learn from it and grow. For example, calling your teacher out can be a great opportunity to remind yourself why they’re qualified to teach in the first place, or if it might be time to branch out and learn from new people. Calling your best friend out and wiping the floor with them can motivate them to practice more and come back and call you out in the future.

Here’s what Buddha Stretch (Hiphop OG and teacher) responded when I asked – What is a call out? :

The callout is the original way of confronting someone based on battling them. You feel that you’re better, or that they’re just wack? You call them out! You want to test yourself against someone with a reputation? Call them out! The modern day call out has been used to address the difference in opinion between dancers at organized battles, most of the times with biased judges/judging, the intent remains the same, to show and prove!

So, now that we know what a call out is and what they’re used for, why do we need them?

Here’s what Bboy Afternoon (active member in the international streetdance scene, teacher, organiser and literarian) answered when I asked him,

-Why do we need call out’s? What’s the purpose?

  • Settling disagreements
  • Making the general dance level in an area level up
  • Allow the community to regulate itself in skills and beliefs
  • Allowing dancers to level up
  • Create a sense of respect among said dancers
  • Squashing differences
  • Polarizing the scene and It’s members

So in conclusion;

A scene without call out’s would have to regulate in some other way, the same goes for the leveling up (development) and creating a space of respect. Every functioning system needs some form of regulation for the system to remain intact. Without a healthy element of call out’s in our scene we have no way of determining level, there’s no outlet for settling disagreements and the members of the scene don’t have a voice. There’s no tool for setting the standards of respect. Without means of regulation there’s no way of determining who’s in the scene and who isn’t either.

If we ascribe to a culture who’s origins are not our own, we are guests in said culture, which means for us to be allowed to respectfully partake we must respect the system and rules already set in place. Most cultures are built around communities and for you to be considered a part of said community, the members must accept or co-sign you. You can’t just call yourself something without having the means to back it up, because by doing so you’re already distancing yourself from said community, their ideals and rules. Thus, resulting in you not being a part of said culture and community.

We can’t just pick and choose which part of a culture we choose to respect. Even if we don’t personally agree with everything, we must respect it. To ignore somebody callling you out without a valid reason is to disregard a vital aspect of the culture you claim to be a part of.

//marakulus

Why All Styles Battles are ruining the scene

On the subway home I caught myself thinking about how happy I was when I got to see Grandmaster Flash live here in Stockholm.

The majority of that joy came from the relief of not having to listen to the DJ switch from house, to Sean Paul, to ”Afrobeat” (which I refuse to recognize as a real thing), to Usher and so on. I got to listen to Hiphop (with the occasional funk song) for the whole night and that’s been long overdue.

So, here I am now, writing a piece about all styles battles, and why they’re a nice thought but something that clearly doesn’t work in practice.

My experience is that people grow from challenge. Regardless of what level you are, meeting someone at an undisputedly higher level, is gonna inspire you and drive you to work harder in some way (assuming you’re already trying to be better).

”Street”dance (historically) relies on a community. For you to know if you’re good or bad (within the community context), you compare yourself to the other members of that community. The other members will compare you to the general idea of what is good (according to the group) and to other members of that same community. Co-signing will take place and you will just simply ”know” on which side of that spectrum you are. It could be as simple as someone of importance telling you or as difficult as being excluded out of things and not knowing why. There’s a ”general agreement” of what is good and bad within the community, aswell as some default criterias like musicality, being on beat etc, which are less prone to being disputed (although they do get disputed) by which the judgment is based. This is also the reason why removing the somewhat naturally occurring element of competition in streetdance, in ways such as demeaning wanting to exceed or encouraging ”being average/okay” at something slows growth.

For a style to be a style there has to be defining criterias. Something telling you what the style is aswell as what it isn’t. Sometimes the differences aren’t as clear cut as salt and pepper, but the difference is there nonetheless.

An All Styles Battle, refers to a battle where (in theory) all styles are allowed, aka you’re allowed to enter the battle with any style/styles and you can be up against any kind of music. Usually this gets switched up a bit depending on the event. Some will limit it to five styles (usually 5 ”street” styles), some will allow any style but only play certain kinds of music and so on. But the general idea remains the same.

Right about now you’re probably thinking, what a great idea! Now everyone can dance together. Unity above all! Hiphop dancers and poppers can meet in the same space and dance together and just do whatever.

Let me stop you right there. ‘Cause that’s where the undesired (or maybe desired?) magic happens. Simply doing ”whatever” is what causes the problem in the first place. When everything is everything, everything becomes nothing. When every battle is an all styles battle, nobody strives to be the best house dancer ‘cause he’ll still most likely lose to the person who’s above average in 3 styles. Since it is an all styles battle after all, in theory the more styles you know the greater the advantage. This isn’t necessarily true. But sadly it’s very common.

For a style to advance and for dancers to advance within a style, you must first establish what the style is and what it isn’t to then work within this field as well as occasionally step outside of it for inspiration and reflection. Then you put what you’ve made up against what other people have made and get judged based on specific criterias for that style aswell as general criterias for dance. If done right, now the style advances, ‘cause this forces people to work hard and be creative so they have something to bring to the table when the next challenge comes around. This is related to being able to ”hold your own” as they say.

The only thing all styles advances is all styles. Which makes a whole lot of sense when you think about it. That which you practice is what you’ll get good at. I’ve co-arranged some events like that myself based in the idea of the all styles label attracting more people. To later realize that the lack of people isn’t necessarily due to the event itself, but I might address that topic some other time.

Any how, I wanna see the scene in Sweden advance and all of these all styles battles we’ve been throwing is not the way, ‘cause the level isn’t getting higher. People would rather leave for knowledge than stay, and they view borderline every other countrys capital as a mekka for everything street in comparison.

The argument for hosting all styles battles is that there’s not enough people to throw battles for individual styles, as nobody is gonna show up, but that’s when we need to take a step back and ask why? If there’s a lack of people dancing, the solution isn’t in the events. If the issue really was people not attending events, there wouldn’t be a lack of people in basically every other aspect of the culture aswell. I’m referring to sessions, clubs and meetups etc, and just general media presence. Clearly the issue is the lack of active people in the scene. There’s something that’s not working properly in terms of knowledge being passed on to more people, handed down through generations aswell as maintenance of the scene. Don’t believe me? Just look at the amount of theater productions/Dance shows with ”street dancers” that we have in comparison to the amount of teams participating in KOD last year. Look at the amount of people present at the ”street dance” debate at Urban Connection in comparison to how many of those faces you actually see at Megashop (which is supposed to be this great practice hub (which we can get into some other time) yet majority of the people there are breakers who got their own thing going scene-wise so you know they’d practice regardless, which has been proven over and over ‘cause they’d injure themselves if they didn’t).

We need to be better than this and better than lagom. At least for me personally, I’d prefer it if we all aimed to be great rather than lagom. If everyone kept growing instead of settling, which I see happening time and time again (an example is the lack of people both simply choosing to aswell as successfully competing abroad, yet the scene here idolizes dancers abroad).

We have to share a common goal to act as a unit and for people to know what to work towards and measure themselves by when they join our scene. Say no to sauce and mediocrity. All styles battles are not the solution! It’s not even a band aid on the deeper issue at hand.


Kultur, community & kontext

Vi pratar inte tillräckligt mycket om kultur och kontext. Diskussionen gällande cultural appropriation har blivit väldigt svart och vit (pun not intended). Antingen är du på minoriteternas sida där kontext och förståelse väger tungt, eller så är du på ”majoritetens*” sida där kontext slutade vara viktigt någon gång efter andra världskriget typ, (svårt att säga riktigt när det blev allmänt accepterat för folk att klä ut sig till nunnor på halloween, kanske var det ännu tidigare?).

(* I detta fall refererar majoriteten till det hierarkiska ”diskriminerings-system” som kulturell appropriering utgår ifrån. Så majoriteten = den dominerande kulturen (västerländsk vit kultur).

Kulturell appropriering är när medlemmarna i en dominant kultur ”adopterer” inslag från en minoritets kultur, oftast taget helt ur kontext. Ibland kallas detta cultural (mis)appropriation, inte att mista för cultural exchange, ackulturation eller assimilering. Kulturell appropriering sägs vara en form av kolonialism då de element av den kultur som approprieras förvrängs eller förlorar sin ursprungliga mening. Kulturella ting som kan ha en djup kulturell mening reduceras till exotiska varor (mode, leksaker) för den dominerande kulturen. Man kan betala för att leka exotisk för en dag utan att behöva köpa med den diskriminering som följer med att vara en faktiskt medlem av minoritetskulturen. Vissa argumenterar även att appropriering samt fetischering av andra kulturer alienerar människorna från ursprungskulturen, dvs får dem att framstå som ännu mer annorlunda, exotiska och främmande. Om ni minns mitt tidigare inlägg om exotism så är att vara ”exotisk” inte en komplimang.

Men varför är kontext så viktigt? Vad innebär kontext?

”Kontext betyder omständigheter, sammanhang, omgivning, eller övergripande situation. Begreppet är viktigt inom strukturalism och postmodernism men inskränker sig inte till dessa sammanhang. – Wikipedia”

Ni vet hur slang på ens eget modersmål oftast makes so much sense, medans slang i andra språk man möter är lätta att misstolka? Samt inte alltid känns lika logiskt som ens eget slang. Det beror på kontext (och kultur). Individer i ett community utvecklar oftast en gemensam kultur och kontext per automatik, det finns flera anledningar till varför en gemensam kultur skapas när människor umgås i grupp. Några exempel är: Grupper med människor som har saker gemensamt fungerar bättre, vi socialiseras naturligt in i beteenden vi omges av under vårt liv, grupper kan åstadkomma saker individer inte klarar själva (tex etablera samhällen), traditionellt sett har det därför varit mer fördelaktigt att verka i grupp.

Vad är kultur?

”Kultur defineras bla som livsmönster till exempel som språk, konst, värderingar och institutioner hos en population som överförs socialt från generation till generation. Kultur har kallats ”levnadssättet hos ett helt samhälle”. Som sådant inkluderar det beteendemönster, seder, klädsel, religion, ritualer, lekar, normer för lagar och moraliskasystem, liksom trossystem och konstarterna. Kultur refererar ofta till en universell mänsklig kapacitet för att klassificera och kommunicera erfarenheter materiellt och symboliskt. Den höga kulturella förmågan har betraktats som en definierande egenskap hos människan. – Wikipedia”

När människor bär traditionella utstyrslar från andra kulturer ur kontext så är det lite som när man försöker prata franska utan att kunna det franska språket. Det finns oskrivna (samt skrivna) regler och social ques att förhålla sig till, när man inte förhåller sig till dessa så blir det konstigt. Har du någonsin funderat på varför någon skulle ta illa upp om du som ungdom på Östermalm bar en traditionel native american huvudbonad till mataffären? Du har säkert tänkt, det bärs ju med goda intentioner, inget diskriminerande har sagts. Sant! Men det är konstigt samt upplevs respektlöst då det bärs ur kontext. Ser du de med kulturell-kontext i tanken så är det jättekonstigt. Du ställer dig inte för nära någon på busshållplatsen om du inte känner för att medvetet bryta mot en av det sociala regler vi har här i Sverige. Du går inte på jobbintervju till ett kontorsjobb i underkläder. Så varför skulle du bära en durag när du inte har afrohår? (Durag-debatten i detalj kan vi ta en annan gång) Det är som att jag skulle bära ridboots utan att hålla på med ridning?

Jag minns att någon sa till mig en gång att för vita människor är ingenting heligt. Detta är givetvis inte sant utan baserat på fördommar. Men det får en att fundera över en del kulturella värderingar som man ser idag. Ska man kunna skämta om allt? Är det allt eller inget som gäller? Vissa säger att det har med yttrandefrihet att göra, att det ultimata samhället är ett där alla får uttrycka sig och vara som dem vill. Oftast vänder denna debatt väldigt snabbt dock och slutar med att folk kommer överens om att vissa saker bör regleras och problemet istället ligger i vad som bör regleras och inte. Det är här kultur och kontext kommer in i bilden. Vissa säger att alla världens problem skulle lösas om allt accepteras. Rent logiskt är det sant, problem skulle inte finnas överhuvudtaget då allt skulle vara okej. Men rent praktiskt tror jag inte att det är så simpelt, då majoriteten av vårt samhälle lägger värde i moral och etik. 

Vi måste prata mer om kontext! Det är kontexten som gör att vi förstår och ser saker olika. Summa summarum, kulturell appropriering är när individer från en dominerande kultur adopterar element från en minoritetskultur, oftast taget ur kontexten. Kontext betyder sammanhang, omgivning eller övergripande situation. Det som gör en födelsedagstårta till en födelsedagstårta är sammanhanget, den övergripande situationen, annars är det bara en tårta. Gäller yttrandefrihet i alla lägen? Bör kulturella grupper bibehålla sin rätt till att lägga värde i kulturella ting? Och bör dessa värderinger respekteras av andra kulturer? Är den ultimata världen verkligen en där alla får göra precis vad dem vill? Det är den väg mina tankar går med denna text. Tänk på context. Bör alla ha rätt till allting? Is everyone really welcome? Tom med ting som förut ansågs kulturellt ”exklusiva” och ännu bär kulturell signifikans? Varför önskar vissa människor att ha rätt till allting in the first place? Vad får en att vilja byta ras (Se Rachel Dolezal)? Samt vad får en att tro att man kan?