The murder of innocents is repugnant. When enforced by our police and security forces, the State becomes our enemy – and there is something we can do about it. This is not a situation I imagine anyone, apart from those perversely turned-on by aggression, would want. Yet, following the continuing oppression by U.S. State forces and other governments towards Black Lives Matter protestors, this is where we find ourselves.
As autumn and the flu season approaches, the masks are on and the gloves are off. The killings of more recent victims like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the government handling of protests reveal the truth we’ve tried to suppress. We have contributed to systemic murderous racism. The concepts of nation and race and security need to be dissected.
The arts are typically used, in Western culture, to entertain, educate and console. But we are inconsolable. Despite putting our lives at risk – or because of the sudden proximity of death – we’ve not stopped taking to the streets.
In the U.K, the recent swell of support for State School ‘A’ level students cheated from their grades by an elitist government forced a turnaround. Rage works. These people are in power as long as they have support.
For this issue, we wanted to explore the monstrous light illuminating our societies. At a time when the pandemic requires us to retreat, we’re not in hiding. It’s time to take rage and despair as tools of art, rather than traditional consolation– if we wish. But we must be as uncompromising with ourselves as with others. And we must protect our right to be who we are. In fact, discovering and testing our prejudices can be oddly nourishing. We are being forced to know ourselves. That is a great spur to artists in all mediums. For some, now is a time to turn inwards, rather than onto the streets and Social Media – and that too has deep value. If we were to blunt our artistic excellence to suit political argument, we’d be no less enslaved.
Exploring this apocalyptic light, we talk to Maaza Mengiste about wartime anger and the necessity of violence, Lola Olufemi about collective deviance and DJ Kampire about her hedonistic sets of queer freedom in Uganda. Sebastian Boncy walks the streets of post-lockdown Houston and finds no safety for a Black man. Guest DJ Osaro, founder of Dublin’s Fried Plantains collective, makes use of her artistic privilege to say nothing profound about Blackness but instead provide us with some crazy alt-rock.
It’s only just beginning.
Love on ya,
Soma Ghosh, Editor
Twitter @calourtesan @GoddessDemented
Main image of DJ Kampire by Dalene Komukama