This is the second Chicago Drill and Activism (AKA "Chi DNA") installment of Bourbon ’n BrownTown. Chi DNA is an ongoing documentary and multimedia project, which also features interviews, micro-documentaries, and editorial pieces on drill rap and the activist resurgence in Chicago.
Ruby Pinto, is an artist and activist based in Chicago. She’s a member of For the People Artist Collective, or FTP, a group that integrates art and activism to amplify struggles and uplift marginalized voices. She also makes jewelry out of copper and other scrap metal, inspired by the city scape and human ingenuity. Ruby is a prison and police abolitionist, and is committed to building alternatives to the current system to keep us safe so that we no longer need to rely on the violent, exploitative police state. FTP’s organizing work and art was pivotal in the #ByeAnita campaign to unseat then-Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in 2016. Fast forward two years, #NoCopAcademy has formed as a new youth-led coalition to fight back against the City of Chicago’s plan to build a $95 million cop academy in West Garfield Park. Apart from specific activist campaigns, Ruby and BrownTown take a step back to analyze intersectionality within organizing circles, online and offline “call out culture” and everything in between. We discuss how systems of oppression—racism, capitalism, sexism—intertwine to further a legacy of white supremacy and ultimately make a Trump Presidency possible, rather than vice versa. Furthermore, we unpack the resistance to such systems in the #MeToo movement, organizing for state funding of social services, and challenging everyday white privilege. How do newly radicalized people get involved in social movements without being ostracized for their previous ignorance? How do we “call in” those who cause us and our allies harm while remaining vulnerable to the blind spots in our analyses? Here’s our take.
Chi-DNA explores the creation, meaning, perspectives, and connections between drill rap and the resurgence of grassroots activism since the early 2010s through the eyes of the people involved. It focuses on contemporary Chicago as an intentional place for the resurgence of these two formations of cultural and political resistance during relatively the same time period. It examines how authenticity, community, and other important values to the subjects are impacted and promoted via technology, social media, and a rejection of traditional means of movement politics and corporate structures. As told by activists and drill rappers alike, the project situates the the subjects’ experiences and actions into a broader theoretical and empirical history of systemic inequality and resistance in Chicago. Follow the ongoing project at Chi-DNA for more.
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