It's Motheshiester, on the road again, as I promised I am blogging from the Allied Media Conference. And thankfully this conference is in the home of Motown aka Detroit, one of 5 cities, I have dreamed of visiting since the first time I heard the Marvelettes singing "Please, Mr. Postman".
After an 11 hour drive (full of dance parties in and out of the "Detroit or Bust" cars) to MotorCity from the District starting late Thursday night, friday seems like a blur so I'm going to write about saturday since it's fresh on my mind. And hopefully, in the next couple of days, I can give you my impressions of the AMC from the very beginning but for right now, give me a virtual kiss for making it to this morning's 9 a.m. workshops.
First up, I went to a screening of black./womyn.:conversations. The screening was part of a a 3 hour 2o min workshop on Transporting Silenced Voices Through Interviews for Film/Video. In the film, the director, Tiona Mcclodden, interviewed several self-identified lesbians of African Descent about a range of issues from coming out to falling in love to gender roles in the black lesbian community. If you get to watch the film, you may recognize some of those being interviewed like Staceyann Chin (slam poet extroadinaire--i usually hate poetry but she's so good that there is no way I can groan) and Aishah Shahidah Simmons (director of NO! The Rape Documentary--a film that forced me to reexamine how consent has played out in my past relationships). I was really excited to here from Tiona about why she chose the documentary format she did and how did the interviews shape how she saw her own identities. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish watching the film because there were other sessions that I wanted to partake in such as....
Party Promotion As An Organizing Tool which was facilitated by folks from the 5th Element. 5th Element is a collective of women who use hip hop to challenge sexism and misogyny by producing shows and workshops, and promoting artists who embody those values. I sat in this workshop for a few reasons. You all know how much Bent and I value good party spaces. You also know that Bent, me, and several of our friends spend a lot of time on our CPR shows and lives in general talking about the kind of parties we want to throw . For us having spaces where people feel free to express their gender, sexuality, race, and other identities in whatever way they want-- free of harassment-- is critical to building a healthy community. And equally important is the fact that if there is harassment at a party, than the person(s) who is being harassed should feel like we as party promoters have their back.
So when I saw this workshop on the AMC agenda, I was impressed because honestly I don't think a lot of people consider partying/dancing/movement as political acts that lead to positive changes in our communities. And often times folks when organizing parties end up not being intentional about the space they create even with parties that are fundraisers for 'community' driven work and/or organizations. The only thing they may think about is how many kegs to get, how much liquor to buy, and whether to get a dj or not. The question of how to shape a space to allow folks from different communities to share the dance floor in respectful, inspiring, risk taking and booty dancing ways rarely comes up. [and even though I'm talking mainly about dance parties, I also think these questions must be applied to all party like spaces).
okay, here's a few things I was hoping to get out of this particular workshop. How to set the tone for a party that lets everyone involved know that harassment will not be tolerated and why it won't be tolerated; examples of creative outreach that appeals to culturally different communities (and that's not relegated to just racially different communities); and how to foster the tone you set (by having such a HOTT party in more ways than one) after the party with those folks--does that make sense? Lots that I was hoping they would explore but several INCITE DC folks came into the workshop in the middle so I thought it made sense to get a report back from them about this one while I peaced out and headed to .....
Doin It: Sex, Disability and Videotape/Why They Gotta Do Me Like That? The Fe Fes Take On Bullying
so i'm totally impressed by the Empowered Fe Fes girls. Yes, I came late to this one. Practically more than half way late but luckily I came during one of their films, Why They Gotta Do Me Like That, a public service announcement type film about school-based discrimination and bullying of people with disabilities. The Fe Fe are a group of girls from Chicago who have disabilities and come together to do kick ass things like make films that make people like me and the 50 plus people that were in the room with me want to jump up and scream "H-O-T-T". Why? Because this is what the AMC is about, having folks tell their own stories instead of expecting mass media to do it for them. How many times do you see folks with disabilities even represented on the screen? and when they are, it's really negative. And here are these girls, totally bringing it by creating films that are creative, fun, and can be used for organizing. The scenes that were off the hook involved dramatizations--which you know I love. The Fe Fes created two dramatization scenes contrasting what school administrators should and shouldn't do. For instance in the bullying film, one of the Fe Fes plays this girl who has been targeted by classmates because of her disability. She decides to seek help from her counselor but instead the counselor blames the harassment on her and basically calls her a baby because she decided to seek help from the administration. And in the other dramatization, the same counselor instead of berating her, offers her help but not in that colonial way, she actually asks her what her needs were and how they could proceed together to stop the harassment. Like all good dramatizations, the screen turned fuzzy/dream like.
okay folks I have to jet out because I am in the middle of a Degrassi marathon but here's a bit of Detroit Music to get you twisting. This little diddey comes from Yvonne Fair....
A bit of detroit music for you!!!