LONG STORY short:
I didn’t get a grant because I took a stance against censoring young artists. But we’re gonna say what we have to say regardless. This is why I’m an entrepreneur. This is why I’m making for-profit moves. I could give a fuck about making buckets of money. This is about being LOUD.
LOUD got shortlisted for a grant being given by an organization connected to the provincial govt. Our proposal was to develop talent in underserved communities in the GTA. Those communities being: West Brampton, Rexdale, and Jane and Finch. Here's a summary of the proposal: https://goo.gl/SErdzo
I remember the moment that would later be highlighted as one of the reasons we didn't get the grant. In the final round we had a phone interview with our program manager, and a grant reviewer. The grant reviewer is who ultimately makes the decision said almost nothing during the whole interview except for this question:
When I think of the communities you want to work with in, I think about the content that comes out from there, and I think about artists like Nav who's lyrics talk a lot about drug use, and degrading women. I want to know how you plan to filter out the content?
Let me decode that question. He makes an extremely anti-black assumption about the music youth from these communities would want to produce. He assumes that their music will be about drugs and degrading women, why? Would he make the same assumption about youth from white communities? Because youth from west brampton, Rexdale, and Jane and Finch are predominately black and brown they must love rap and hip hop and of course rap and hip hop can only be about drugs and degrading women, Right?!
My response was that our program was designed to pair youth up with mentors who come from these communities and have used music as a means of personal development. Our mentorship model is designed to help facilitate personal growth and guidance for youth in our program as they embark on the process of creating their art. I expressed that we're cautious of censorship because its important that the youth get to have a voice and are able to say what they need to say, but that the partners we're working with who will be responsible for producing the music with the youth are seasoned non-profits who are accustomed to dealing with those challenges. I also said that in our program we will be choosing one song from each artists to publish and present so ultimately we can exercise discretion.
But that answer wasn't good enough..
I'm not here for the yes massa grant dance. I'm a destructive innovator who doesn't ask for permission because I know that the world needs change and status quo thinkers will never open the gates to it.
I’ll never get so called “public” funding for what I’m doing because we want different things. We're LOUD and this Black youth action plan is really just a way of saying be quiet. The $47M Black youth action plan only came about after Black Lives Matter Toronto, camped out in front of police head quarters for weeks in the coldest time of the year to protest anti-blackness evident in the police murders of Andrew Loku, and Jermaine Carby. They went through all lengths to be loud in the face of police and govt officials. The BYAP is the response, here's some money, see we're doing something so be quite.
I'm a hopeful optimist, but realistically this is a pattern, BLM Toronto's actions echos the Yonge st. "so called" Riots of 1992 when people took to the streets of Toronto to protest the police killings of Raymond Lawerence a 22 year old black male.
We protest, make noise and nothing happens except for some political gestures. Ultimately that's what the BYAP is. The govt will be very cautious about who it funds, radically progressive thinkers will not be supported by it, only those who share the same anti-black ideologies that cause these issues in the first place.