The Week-Ish: Intersecting Identities

Level Ground
Mar 31, 2017 · 3 min read

This Week-ish is curated by Julien Baker, one of our performers at the 4th Annual Level Ground Festival on April 4 in Pasadena, CA.

As our social climate becomes more polarized and extreme, the prevalence of social media culture continues to shape how we consume information. The political turmoil following the 2016 election has served as an impetus to draw moderates further to the “left” or “right” end of the political spectrum, escalating tensions, and forcing the reactionary radicalization of opinions along staunch party lines.

Despite more people engaging in social discourse around immigration, class, race, and gender politics, the collapsing of issues into red vs. blue and left vs. right leaves little room for the inevitable grey area and its web of overlapping and intersecting identities. Perhaps it is in recognizing and exploring these complex individual narratives that we can find our most powerful tools for dialogue that will transcend social barriers.

Soul food for thought

Located in the center of the birthplace of soul, a.k.a. Memphis, TN, Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal Parish hosts a podcast called Theology Live where guest speakers are invited to participate in live discussions and forums addressing the often unsettling, but no less pressing and imperative social issues, ranging from reproductive rights, to womanist theology, to post-election sentiments.

Read this

At a time when the rhetoric of cultural Christianity is at risk of collapsing into political conservatism or traditionalism, Audrey White discusses the urgency of the gospel and how to increase representation of those who fall into marginalized social categories, yet still identify as people of faith. This column, beginning with an article about biblical misinterpretation and how “the Bible is basically a book about migrants” explores the indivisibility of social, political, and spiritual identities.

Uplifting voices

Vagabon, moniker of Brooklyn-rock powerhouse Laetitia Tamko, and Bitter, Atlanta-based queer-Latinx punk outfit, are two artists that defy categorization. Both Bitter and Vagabon push back against societal norms and generalization by not simplifying or minimizing themselves; and instead infusing their art with personal, lived experiences that challenge easy definitions. As Bitter puts it, their uncompromising presence is itself an act of resistance:

“We need to keep making art, even more than we ever had, especially as people of color. Our art and presence is a form of resistance because we are living in a time where people of color are constantly being silenced.”

Read the full Vagabond interview here. Read the full Bitter interview here.

Community collaboration

This VICE article, How Trump’s America Has Changed the Way I Wear My Identities, details how the collaboration of separate marginalized communities can provide individual members with a sense of solidarity. Through personal narrative, Muslim, gender-nonconforming, and queer person, Lamya, exhibits expressing each part of oneself without compromising another, choosing a policy of “no-toning-down”, and how identities are worn “to not hate [oneself]…to get out of bed in the morning…to live”.

Watch this

Both the lyrical content and live performance of PWRBTTM’s music work as a unique and powerful critique of dominant culture, but one that is not without levity. Their social-political voices are ardent and playful. PWRBTTM’s relentlessly fierce brand of opposition seems almost to chuckle at the absurdity of oppressive politics and the prospect of being boxed in or constrained by normative notions of sexuality or gender. Consistent with their artistic challenging of the norm, this week the band released an unflinching new video for a second single off a forthcoming LP, Pageant.

Bonus Points: Check out the latest issue of Hooligan featuring PWRBTTM.

Keep these conversations going with Julien by tweeting her @julienrbaker.

Thanks for reading! See you next Week-ish!

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Level Ground

Level Ground is a collective of people, conversations, and experiences that inspire empathy and build relationships across our differences.

Level Ground

Written by

A collective of people, conversations, and experiences that inspire empathy and build relationships across our differences.

Level Ground

Level Ground is a collective of people, conversations, and experiences that inspire empathy and build relationships across our differences.