Twelve Twenty One: Mensa A. Kondo Exhibition by Maxwell Young

Artist Mensa A. Kondo outside of Uptown Art House.  Photograph by Maxwell Young

Artist Mensa A. Kondo outside of Uptown Art House.  Photograph by Maxwell Young

There's a skateboard with colorful paint blotches lying on the concrete floor of Uptown Art House.  Mensa A. Kondo, who's currently working on his installation for his exhibition Twelve Twenty One, finishes his clementine and kick-pushes over to his mural.  Vivid blue arms and hands, some featuring six fingers, rip through a green chasm that exposes the viewer to a hell-ish dimension laden with gazing eyeballs.  The piece stretches across an entire wall of the Art House evoking images from the 2002 film The Scorpion King, in which Rick O'Connell duels with Mathayus (played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) over the abyss of the Underworld and the thousands of demon souls. 

Kondo has been a seriously trained artist since high school where he attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest Washington, D.C.  He reminisces about his old art teachers Mr. Harris and Mr. Easton with Jabari, another Duke Ellington alumnus and woodwind musician while we talk under the night sky.  "I first started my style at Duke.  We all went to Duke, most of us kids in the art scene here," says Kondo.

Twelve Twenty One is Kondo's fifth solo exhibition.  It is an amalgamation of works new and old as well as a "manifestation" of himself as an artist.  "There's pieces in the exhibit that I've had since 2011," he says.  "One was my first really big piece and it's an oil painting.  I don't really like oil painting that much anymore."

Sonics will be provided during the exhibition by local artists including *Discipline 99, Shaka, Luke Stewart with Trae the Drummer, and some familiar names from the Sounds of D.C. playlist like Sir E.U. with RobSmokesBands, Mr. Daywalker, Aquatic Gardner, St. Clair Castro and Dreamcast.  This is also a family affair, as Mensa's sister, Meche Korrect, is hosting the show.

The following is a snippet of the conversation I had with Kondo during his installation process:

MY: It seems like music is a complimentary aspect to your process.  What kind of music do you like to listen to?

MK: I've been listening to a lot of old shit, like some old psychedelic bands.  I like that sound--like 'y'all on hella drugs,' but it varies.  I had a Death Grips period, they're wild; they're on some cult shit, so I can't be fucking with them.  I would listen to them if I had to fight a whole set of people...Pink Floyd...Bad Brains forever.  I've seen them perform four times.  I got to see them here and in New York a few times.  The [mosh] pit was epic.

Kondo takes a moment to appreciate his Bad Brains tattoo.

Kondo takes a moment to appreciate his Bad Brains tattoo.

MY: Who influenced you as an artist?

MK: There's a lot of people.  It even goes beyond artists.  I like comic artists.  Geof Darrow and Frank Miller--he did Sin City.  I like Miller's art, but I didn't like his writing.

MK: I do have some of Basquiat's things, though.

MY: You have some Basquiat pieces?

MK: No, things, like a jacket of his--my friend gave it to me.  I did find a little bit of hair in it and I threw it away.  I have some photos of him, too.

MY: Where else have you shown your work?

MK: I showed at the Warhol...

MY: Hold up.  You know I'm from Pittsburgh.

MK: I needed to find some more thrift stores up that way.  But yea, I won third place in this print-making competition.  That was the show I was most impressed about.  I've put on a few shows in D.C. by myself.  I rented out a spot on U St. one time, it was $100/day.  That was around 2012.  Now it's a barbershop.  I had something at Art Under Presser when they were still open on Georgia Avenue, and I had something at Union Arts when they were still open.  I was in Philly recently, too.

MY: What's your favorite medium?

MK: I like print-making the most.  You can make the print and just leave it.  I love painting, too, but you can make multiple prints and print on t-shirts.  It's dope. 

Twelve Twenty One

June 24th-30th

Uptown Art House

3412 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20008

Uptown Art House by Maxwell Young

The corner building on Connecticut Avenue in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. used to be a restaurant/bar space.  First, it was called 4P's--an Irish pub--until the patio was adorned with red awnings and the name was changed to Uptown Tap House in 2012.  Now, the building has a large 'LEASE ME' poster hanging on the exterior wall. Passersby peer through the side windows or poke their heads through the door, curious to see if a third restaurant plans to make its residence there.

In fact, however, the space is fairly open.  The tables and chairs, the wood floors, and even the ceiling tiles that embellished the old restaurant location are gone.  Left behind is an industrial shell that houses a modified Conestoga wagon harkening back to images of the Oregon Trail, graffiti art, and artifacts from protests like the People's Climate March and other activist organizations. Reclaimed and repurposed, the former Uptown Tap House is now the home of Uptown Art House, a community space for art, activism, and cultural engagement.

The empty canvas is reminiscent of the Factory--Andy Warhol's midtown Manhattan studio from 1962 to 1984.  The Pittsburgh-born artist's fifth floor space was the creative epicenter of his multifaceted work.  It was the backdrop to his screen tests that made his band of "superstars" like Edie Sedgwick and Brigid Berlin famous.  It was the recording studio for Nico and Lou Reed's The Velvet Underground.  And it was a manufacturing plant where Warhol churned out print after print.  Uptown Art House, much like the Factory, will be a space for like-minded creatives to congregate and collaborate in various art disciplines.

Advance to the 20 minute mark to watch Sebi Medina-Tayac and Jamal Gray talk about the mission of Uptown Art House.

Envisioned and directed by Sebi Medina-Tayac and Jamal Gray, Uptown Art House was created in resistance to the roles that gentrification and corporate acquisitions play in the displacement of local businesses, residents, and culture. 

"It's the missing organ in the city's creative body," says Medina-Tayac.  "We've had so many spaces shut down in D.C. because of gentrification that to go to an already gentrified neighborhood [Cleveland Park] as people of color, or as a native people is really meaningful. We need a hub."

Functioning since late April, Uptown Art House has already played host to some local programming.  As I previously mentioned, protest signs for the People's Climate March that happened on the National Mall earlier this spring were made in the space, and activist groups in coordination with the District's LGBTQ alliance were also in the space this past week preparing for the Pride Parade.  Rob Stokes of Medium Rare and the CMPVTR CLVB collective also organized an event 'Pittsburgh 2 D.C.,' in which Jack Swing, The Bird Hour, and Rob Smokes came together for a Steel City jam session.

Uptown Art House is subsidized by the Green Faith non-profit, which inspires, educates, and mobilizes people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.  The community-run space is open every day of the week this summer, except Tuesdays.  On Mondays, visitors can expect instructional workshops on drawing, painting, and even talks on wellness and meditation practices.  Wednesdays will continue to be open house days for anyone and everyone to hang out in the space, make art, and listen to some music by local acts, while Thursdays and Fridays are set aside for organizations to rent the space and use to their discretion.  The Art House will also be open during the hours of the Cleveland Park Farmers Market on Saturday mornings as a youthful environment for kids to paint and create while their parents shop.

"In D.C., spaces are extremely expensive and scarce.  To find a space where anything community- based can happen that's not being run by the government is hard," says Gray.

On  Saturday, June 17th from 5-8pm, Travis Houze will be hosting a free viewing of his documentary Sounds of Summer, which highlights the past and present of DMV music culture. There will be a coinciding Q&A panel with the founder of One Love Massive and the CEO of B.A.M.M. Entertainment Molly Ruland and Cortez Santana respectively, along with Jamal Gray. 

We will be hosting a viewing of @travishouze "Sounds of Summer " Saturday June 17th 5-8pm

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Keep your eyes peeled to InTheRough for more programming by the Uptown Art House until their web infrastructure is established. 

Uptown Art House

3412 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20008

 

(Hair)itage by Maxwell Young

Chris Gellein and Becca Melville co-produce and co-star in their documentary (Hair)itage, a film about a young woman seeking to understand how her ethnically diverse background shapes her hair and her identity. 

Melville is fare-skinned with thick, black hair.  She's Jewish and Jamaican, although depending on the day and what hairstyle she wears she may be mistaken for hispanic or Asian heritage.

"My hair is the signifier that 'Oh, she's definitely something else,' which is why when I straighten it it's very much like changing hats, like changing identities because I don't present as black.  I present as not white, but it's not black," she says. 

Becca at Rachel Joyce Organic Salon in NW Washington, D.C.

Becca at Rachel Joyce Organic Salon in NW Washington, D.C.

Gellein, who could pass as a paler Ab-Soul, also shares a mixed heritage as his mom is from Trinidad and Tobago while his dad is of Scandinavian, Irish, and Welsh descents. 

"People don't guess that I'm Caribbean because I look dark enough to pass as African American of some mix, so it's never really a thought.  I'm just seen as black," he says in the video.  "I find myself not separating from African Americans, but there's a little bit more of a distinction between the Caribbean culture that I connect with that I don't connect with on the same level as African American [culture]."

Watch Becca detail her morning routine and the various products she uses that are compatible with her hair, and curly-haired friend, Maryah Greene, transform Melville's hair into a retro half-braided style.  Chris and Becca also visit Rachel Joyce Organic Salon where a young patron talks about her annoyance with people touching her afro.

From straight to curly: the evolution of Chris' hair.

From straight to curly: the evolution of Chris' hair.

In Good Hair, Chris Rock's 2009 documentary about the $9 billion African American hair industry, the comedian uncovers the intricacies of "black" hair.  He visits the hair factories in India where women sell their locks to be shaped into wigs and weaves that are popular hair extensions among African American women.  He visits the internationally renowned Bronner Brothers Beauty Show in Atlanta, Ga. where hair designers compete to style the most ostentatious hairdos.  And he interviews black celebrities, like Nia Long and Kerry Washington, to talk about the impact certain hair styles have had on their lives and why black women choose to style their hair in a myriad of ways.  Rock's film not only re-ignited the "natural" hair movement, but it also revealed the struggles of identity and self-confidence black women deal with regarding their hair.  These struggles are societal, shaped by the ideal image of western beauty: smooth, straight hair harkening back to images of white women.

"Being comfortable with your hair is the biggest thing," says Greene as she flaunts a curly, blonde afro.  "Not just deciding that you're not gonna straighten it or get a perm anymore, but just that you look just as good as everyone else, if not better, if you do nothing to your hair."

Check out the film above and browse through some of Chris' other work here.

 

Cool Things Happening in Pittsburgh by Alex Young

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

Youth and popular culture in the 'Burgh flourishes because the movers are extremely active in pushing their innovation, creativity, community, and business minds. With this, the responsible public creates masterpieces like events or products that residents and tourists can enjoy.

Basically, the following reports on cool things happening in Pittsburgh to look out for.

1. Javed + Serene at Matt's Music Mine

A knowledgeable and excited hip-hop culture comes together at Mr. Roboto Project on May 26. Rapper Javed and his Serene team flex a stylish and fun atmosphere on stage. Crisp production from retrorosser and bars from Calvin P, Jet and illiterate form Serene into an entertaining lineup. Other musicians, like the experimental band Skeletonized, are set to perform at the Matt's Music Mine event, a showcase of up and coming talent from Pittsburgh.

Mr. Roboto Project

5106 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

$5 | 7 p.m.

2. Aris Tatalovich ROY G BIV Bag

Aris Tatalovich is a young designer from the 'Burgh's outskirts who is responsible for handmade bags. Tatalovich's merch receives authentic appreciation from subculture heroes, and that is a plus as he looks toward longevity and market success. His bag seen on style icon Ian Connor and fresh rapper Playboi Carti hypes the ROY G BIV release, although Tatalovich's talent makes his brand stand alone.

Shop the Tatalovich bag here on May 26. $220 | 25 numbered bags available

@playboicarti $100k in who bag? 🌈🌈🌈

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3. Summer Sound Series #1 by Studio A.M.

Studio A.M.'s footprint in Pittsburgh's art community is consistent. They do best at bringing eclectic audiences to their artwork, painter Baron Batch's colorfully inspiring pieces or Chef Steve's food. Brunch, weekly yoga nights, and now the Summer Sound Series show the range of Studio A.M.'s interactions. On May 26, musical acts Starship Mantis, Mars Jackson, and Royal Haunts will perform alongside guest DJ RPM. Starship Mantis is a band who go by the phrase "dedicated to make you move," Mars Jackson is an O.G. hip-hop lyricist and live talent who is preparing to release a new album, and Royal Haunts fits the bill as a versatile singer-songwriter. The Summer Sound Series show starts at 9 p.m., and Studio A.m.'s brand manager Tori Meglio says the series will run throughout the summer months.

Studio A.M. - photo by Tori Meglio

Studio A.M. - photo by Tori Meglio

4. Trap Dojo with Choo Jackson, Mikey P and Friends

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 12.46.21 PM.png

Choo Jackson leads hip-hop's underground on Saturday, May 27, as he takes the stage at Boom Concepts with a solid cast of young artists. Choo readies to drop his new project called "Parade," which he recorded with I.D. Labs, and a party with Trap Masters Banks and Flack as the hosts in the Trap Dojo only aims excitement around Choo's music. Rapper Mikey P, spoken word artist Brittney Chantele, and Virginia native Miah Travis accompany Choo for the concert.

5. Jenesis Magazine x Drinking Partners Podcast

This year Jenesis Magazine celebrates their tenth year as Pittsburgh's "word up" news source. They've thrown an anniversary party and an archival gallery at their culture kitchen Boom Concepts. During episode 92 of comedians Ed Bailey and Day Bracey's Drinking Partners podcast, Jenesis founder Thomas Agnew and his business partner D.S. Kinsel spoke about their mission to add to Pittsburgh's creative communities. Together, Jenesis and Boom feed opportunities to local artists. Both entities show love to many people. In the name of collaboration and celebrating Jenesis's 10th anniversary, Drinking Partners will join the magazine to host brunch and record an episode of their podcast in front of a live audience. Drinks are unlimited, and you can get your ticket for the Sunday brunch event here.

6. The Couch Crasher Tour by Daily Bread x Lokal Foreners

Daily Bread, a streetwear clothier, and Lokal Foreners, a rap and skate crew, have enjoyed an effective partnership. Their images combine in music videos, lookbooks, and now a tour that stretches from their Pittsburgh home to Alabama and other locations. On June 2 or June 3, catch Hippy Swizzy, Que Dafoe, Ahse, James Perry, and the rest of the Lokal Foreners crew at Daily Bread in Pittsburgh or at the Greensburg, Pa. stop of The Couch Crasher Tour.

 

7. Three Rivers Arts Festival

Stop down to Point State Park in dahntahn Pittsburgh from June 2-11 for the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival. Enjoy plenty of free visual and experiential art, as well as major music shows for local acts. Rappers Choo Jackson, Hubbs, and others join the legendary DJ Selecta on June 8 for Beats + Bars. Explore all the events for the festival here.

Look for another edition of "Cool Things Happening in Pittsburgh" soon to ITR.

Female Muralists Transform the District by Lanie Edwards

Colorful mural walls have flooded all of our Instagram feeds at some point. See one that goes well with your outfit? Picture. Spot one with your favorite musician, athlete, or actor? Click. If you don’t have at least one highly saturated image posing in front of one, are you even a millennial? While these intricate designs painted on public walls serve as great photo ops, they also have a far more important purpose. They can empower a community, bring in more business, and make a statement.

In Washington, D.C., two badass female muralists are taking over the district one wall at a time. Been to the Fridge Gallery in Southeast and noticed the colorful mural of four women on a black wall? That’s Rose Jaffe. Snapped a great pic in front of the Chuck Brown mural in Anacostia? You can thank Maria Miller for that. While Jaffe and Miller have different styles and techniques, both are prominent women in the street art scene who are not only transforming boring walls around the nation’s capital but giving a voice to communities and causes that otherwise may not be heard. 

“I love if my work has a message,” says Jaffe, born and raised in D.C. “I do a lot of social justice and activism work, and I think that it’s really beautiful if a mural can reflect the community that it’s in, and uplift the voices that are there in that community.” 

Jaffe does it all: painting, sculpting, graphic design, and illustrations. She’s a full-time artist who favors portraying the female form in various ways (i.e. The breast mugs, obsessed). She is fascinated by people, faces, and the stories that they tell, which is evident when looking at her murals. With the flick of a paintbrush, Jaffe can make any wall come to life. 

“Street art” is considered to be a male-dominated scene, and the few women who are involved can often feel tokenized. However, Jaffe doesn’t define herself as a “street artist.” She refers to herself as a “mural artist,” and does not consider murals to be graffiti. Instead, she believes they are more like public art pieces.

As a female mural artist, Jaffe feels she has gotten tremendous support from everyone – male and female artists, as well as from D.C. as a whole. She is the recipient of numerous grants and is able to fully support herself through her work.

You can view the completed mural Rose was working on in the video at the Femme Fatale Pop Up Store along the H St Corridor at 1371 H St. NE until the end of July 2017.  

Maria Miller, a muralist in D.C. and Virginia, has felt that same support in the district. 

Originally a canvas painter, Miller’s first mural project was in Richmond, VA in 2013, which led to her growing interest in public and street art. Unlike Jaffe and her paintbrush, Miller uses spray paint. 

“It’s become something not so much just about myself, but I love the feeling of painting in a community and them telling me how much they love it,” says Miller. “It’s such a gratifying feeling.”

Miller’s current project is a portrait of Chuck Brown for the Legends of Go Go Mural in Southeast D.C. It is a publicly funded mural that users will be able to interact with by scanning the pieces with their smartphones. When completed, it will be the first mural in the district to honor the legacy of musicians such as Brown, Little Benny, Fat Rodney, Byron “BJ” Jackson, and more. 

“Go Go is such an important part of the community so people are receiving it well,” says Miller.

As far as being a female mural artist in D.C., Miller has had a similar experience to Jaffe. She feels very supported and encouraged. 

 “I think for the most part a lot of people are very open and receptive to seeing more female artists around… especially other females,” says Miller. “I think catcalling is the most uncomfortable thing, but other than that I just take it as I go. I’m seeing more and more female artists and everyone wanting to see more of them.”

Check out the video to learn more about these fantastic artists and see some of their work. 

To donate to the Go Go Mural, visit: Gofundme.com/go-go-mural-fund 

Hebru Brantley's Flyboy Mural in Pittsburgh by Alex Young

Hebru Brantley painting his Flyboy mural - photograph by Alex Young

Hebru Brantley painting his Flyboy mural - photograph by Alex Young

"World class" art displays minutes outside of Pittsburgh at the corner of Wallace Avenue and Pitt Street in Wilkinsburg, Pa.

Renowned visual artist Hebru Brantley of Chicago initially came to Pittsburgh for his "I Wish I Knew (How It Felt To Be Free)" exhibit last May. Inside the city's August Wilson Center for African American Culture, he exhibited his Flyboy sculptures and paintings, which reflect the disenfranchised youth's adventure and imagination. According to Marqui Lyons, the program manager at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust who brought Brantley to the city, "I Wish I Knew (How It Felt To Be Free)" attracted 10,000 people to the exhibit from May to July.

Now, people can travel to Wilkinsburg to see Brantley's new Flyboy mural that serves as a mark of talent and community enrichment.

The effort of the Cultural Trust and the Wilkinsburg Arts Commission to bring a permanent Brantley piece to the city "celebrates work by African Americans and improves the neighborhood," developer Michael Polite said during the mural's unveiling on Friday morning.

Add Brantley's new mural in Pittsburgh to his list of public and private works that he's been recognized for, like another mural in Detroit, an ad for Cadillac, or his exhibit in Switzerland.

At the unveiling ceremony, Brantley spoke from his cherry picker crane while putting the finishing touches on his art. He told a story about how the day before a young black boy walked down Wallace Ave., and slowed to stare at the painting of a black boy flying through the air like a superhero. Brantley saw the boy "connect" with Flyboy, a symbol of encouragement. "The mural in Wilkinsburg depicts a black kid traveling safely through the city," he said.

Brantley's work promotes inspiration because Flyboy supports young kids' identity and "what it means to fly in your imagination." Overall, Brantley said he is blessed to shift the narrative in Pittsburgh and "uplift people."

Duces Pittsburgh. It's been real.

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Hebru Brantley's Flyboy

501 Wallace Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15221

DeRay McKesson: Organizing at Scale by Maxwell Young

Photograph by Michael Ferrier 

Photograph by Michael Ferrier 

The social media generation is barely thirteen years old, and it has already revolutionized the way people share information.  In 2004, Facebook catalyzed what we know now as a social network.  Our interests, thoughts, and memories were encapsulated in an online community where people from around the world could interact with one another through group pages, status updates and photo archives that have come to represent a digital identity of our lives. The first YouTube video recorded in 2005—“Me at the zoo”—has engendered millions of visual journalists telling stories on the platform through a unique lens.  And in 140 characters or less, we can inform the whole world that Beyoncé is expecting twins with one tweet.

For a long time though, information was asymmetrical.  Information was controlled and disseminated by institutions like media syndicates and the federal government, manipulating the way it was perceived.  Malcolm X was conveyed through nightly news channels as a militant Muslim, while mass incarceration, which pervaded through the 1980s, was disguised as the “War on drugs” and justified by the support of our youth with “Just Say No” campaigns.  It wasn’t the idea of abstaining from recreational drug use that was the problem.  The problem, which unfortunately is embedded within the prejudice of the criminal justice system, arose when peoples of color were voiceless—plugged into newsreels that projected fear into the American conscious, widening the margin of white supremacy.

In 2017, video footage of New York police officers strangling and suffocating Eric Garner, a black male, who desperately cries out, “I can’t breathe,” is a viral reminder of police brutality thanks to YouTube and Twitter sharing.  In 2017, students from across the country can stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by posting statuses on Facebook.  In 2017, the violent persecution of black people and other historically oppressed peoples can no longer be misconstrued to fit some xenophobic agenda.  The media is everyone and information is everywhere.

McKesson and a student take a selfie.  Photograph by Michael Ferrier

McKesson and a student take a selfie.  Photograph by Michael Ferrier

McKesson has become the figurehead of activism in the digital age.  The blue Patagonia vest he wears every day has quickly become his identifier, like the late Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck, dad jeans, and New Balance sneakers ensemble he wore during Apple product launches.

“I have the single biggest platform of [activist] individuals.  I had about 800,000 followers on Twitter when I started in the protests…and I became known as the guy in the blue vest to people.  It’s a safety blanket,” he says of the jacket.  “I’ve never not had it overnight.”

I think about social media activism as our way to push back. As people of color, we’ve always faced this issue of an eraser.  An eraser manifests in one of two ways: one, is that the story is never told and two, that the story is told by everyone but us.  In this moment, we became the un-erased.  We became our own storytellers, and we were able to push our own ideas.

McKesson is leading a new wave of activism in the United States.  From protests in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Md. following the deaths of Mike Brown and Freddie Gray to fiery debates with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, the Baltimore native has been a fixture in the conversations of police brutality and Black Lives Matter.  These conversations are more about how to enact change as opposed to deriding societal institutions and issues.

He says, “When I hear people talk about the work of dismantling oppressive systems, I feel like people get the ‘dismantle’ part really well.  But the build part is two pronged: one, we have to think about what these institutions would look like and two, we have to have a set of people ready to lead them.  It’s not enough to have people ready to tear them down…How do we create the next set of people who can build?  That has to be a part of the work.”

McKesson has been tinkering, on a national scale, with the way in which these new ideas and institutions can be organized.  In 2015, the 31-year old launched “Mapping Police Violence,” which is a website that collects data on people killed by police.  Moreover, to enforce the messages of the Black Lives Matter movement, McKesson and his team created Campaign Zero—a ten-point policy plan for police reform.  Campaign Zero has already aided in the implementation of reform, as the police chief of Orlando, Fla. changed the police department’s policy on use of force following a meeting with the organization.

McKesson was the keynote speaker for George Washington University's 2017 Black Heritage Celebration.  Photograph by Michael Ferrier

McKesson was the keynote speaker for George Washington University's 2017 Black Heritage Celebration.  Photograph by Michael Ferrier

Ideas of systematic reparation do not instantly convert the American conscious.  They will take time to be tolerated because they must erode the decades of societal conditioning that portrays the inferiority and dangerousness of peoples of color.  The ideas of control and ‘making America great again’ war against ideas of equality and civil rights.  The battleground is all around us—framed by our television sets and news feeds, but ideas are indoctrinated into American society because of our neighbors, friends and family.

McKesson, who openly identifies as homosexual, related this notion to the fight for victory in same-sex marriage law.  “The gay marriage fight finally won because regular people went around to their peers and were like, ‘You know gay people.  Your cousin’s gay, your sister’s gay…Don’t you think they should be able to marry?’  That nuts and bolts organizing is how we were able to change hearts and minds.”

We believe that the best idea wins. That the right idea will somehow magically be the idea that wins.  And history tells us that’s not true.  The idea we fight for the most is the idea that wins.  The idea that we beat into people’s head over and over again is the idea that wins.

The organization of these notions of equality and racial justice into tangible solutions is what McKesson aims to accomplish next.

“The works of our celebrities and the people who make the culture have to be a real part of how we organize…their platforms are so big that every time they offer ideas, they offer more people to participate in the conversation.  What would it look like to have canvases in every neighborhood in America ready to change hearts and minds, ready to push people and ideas? What would it look like to have nationwide telephone banks, so that people can mobilize at the drop of a hat?  What would it look like to give every single black and brown kid in poverty a library?  A set of books from birth to college; that to me is what real organizing would look like in this moment.”