My ‘U-CARE Urban Culture Against Racism’ Journey

ucare_logo

‘Europe has always been a continent of migration and cultural diversity, and has drawn both cultural and economical wealth from this. Recently, the ongoing crises in Europe have lead to a rise of extreme right-wing and anti-European populism in many European countries, making worse the situation for immigrants and minorities in terms of racism and discrimination. Old manifestations of intolerance receive new vigour and new forms of racism, coupled with economic, social and political marginalisation of affected groups, deepen their exclusion from active social participation.
In November 2012 the new project “U-CARE – Urban Culture Against Racism in Europe” started, where 11 organisations in 8 countries join forces and pool their knowledge to combine an anti-racist/anti-discrimination peer coaching approach with urban culture and media. Young people with diverse cultural backgrounds (including the national majorities) will be educated in national seminars and an international summer academy 2013 to become U-CARE Junior Coaches. They will empower themselves to spread the message of increasing mutual understanding and combating racism and discrimination.’

‘Being part of urban youth scenes themselves, they have potentials of reaching other young people that are mostly inaccessible for adults from social majority groups. Thus, the U-CARE Peer Coaches will carry the torch of respecting cultural diversity and deconstructing negative stereotypes on to other young people. Together with them, they will do workshops, run campaigns and create public events making the U-CARE message visible, reaching 1000+ young people all over Europe. After this project, the U-CARE Junior Coaches will be ready to run further activities on their own.’ (Taken from the official U-CARE website http://www.u-care.org)

In the summer of 2013 I was selected to attend (along with seven of my peers) an incredible academy that was located in a little place called Heek Nein-Borg, that is right near the border between Germany and The Netherlands. Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 02.12.40I went there to partake in a 2 week academy that was all about battling racism and discrimination. People from all over Europe came and I am proud to say that I now have friends and adopted family in Romania, Italy, Greece, The Netherlands, Hungary, France, USA (not a part of Europe) and Germany. Each of these people that I had the honour to meet and live with for 2 weeks, were artists and masters of their discipline I met incredibly skilled comic artists, beautifully gifted dancers, skilful wordsmiths and inspiring spiritual teachers.

We were asked to build relationships from outside of our own countries and by the second day we all, remarkably, already felt like a family. Which to me was a true testament to the souls that were surrounding me, how quickly we each could connect to the other was mind blowing, the miles and distance between our homes, the different languages we spoke were boundaries that were effortlessly overcome. We were the untied by one common goal so straight away we bonded. We were family

ucare family

I have got to tell you this out of pure honesty every other experience in my life has paled in comparison to this. This entire experience was an eye opener into what REAL artistry is, what art means and the unmeasurable power it holds. The whole atmosphere just completely captivated me and held me hostage from day 1 right through to day 14, because this academy was so cut off from the rest of the world it was a very intimate setting and therefore we each got to see the world through the others eyes.

‘This entire experience was an eye opener into what REAL artistry is, what art means and the unmeasurable power it holds over the human soul’

Each and every single day was carefully mapped out so that every hour of every day we were working towards our ultimate goal. Long hours did not stop the creative souls from expressing themselves outside of  ‘academic’ hours. I remember vividly coming home from a VERY long day and walking past the building next to where I was staying and and I thought I could hear music so I went to investigate and to my surprise there I found a jam session taking place and all people were invited to attend if they wanted to. Outside you could over hear some a few people exchanging life stories and harsh lessons they have learned over a quite beer and a cigarette. Magic.

Just in case you don’t understand the pace at which we were working let me break it down for you. So, during some of the academic hours that you guys have just seen on the timetable from the academy (above right) a group of musical artists had come together and developed and concept for a song, written it, sang/rapped it, recorded it, produced it, developed a concept for a music video, shot it and edited it then finally published it within guess how many days? … Just to put it into perspective for you (according to wikipedia.org) it took Ms. Rihanna 5 months to shoot (all in the same location) and edit then publish the video to ‘Pour It Up’… now that you understand how long it takes the ‘pro’s’ to do it you will appreciate the awesomeness of this next sentence. It took the musicians three days to write, record, sing, rap and produce a song AND shoot, edit and publish a music video. HOW AMAZING IS THAT! ..Here is what they produced.

Where I’m From – U-CARE

Love that song. Great job guys!

Now as part of the cluster groups I ended up a part of a ‘super-group’ containing 15 members each with their own ideas and concepts. We eventually created our own Project … named Project Panda. Now this Project is so intense it will need its own page which I will be posting in the near future so stay tuned in.

To conclude this experience, this adventure this journey and discovery of self was an experience that I definitely will not soon forget.  Whilst I was there, there was a man that kept popping up with a camera it wasn’t until later on in the week I was informed he was creating a documentary. I must admit I was thankful that someone was documenting it all and capturing this incredible journey we were on because me being the doofus I am completely forget to bring a camera here is the completed documentary if you watch to the end you will see me at the end.

Advertisements

Macklemore’s Same Love

Macklemore_-_Thrift_Shop

Ben Haggerty, who goes by his stage name Macklemore is very well known for his song ‘Thrift Shop’ (above), produced by Ryan Lewis. It managed to peak at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 7 million copies in total. The song also reached number one in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Canada, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, the song has garnered more than 400 million views on YouTube. Thrift Shop was used in the trailers for the films ‘Pain & Gain’ and ‘The Internship’.

five-stars

The song received critical acclaim. Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the song 5 out of 5 stars, calling it “a rare beast of a song – original, musically daring and genuinely funny.” Entertainment Weekly named the song as the 18th best single of 2012. Some thrift stores have reported an increase in business, especially among college students, which they have attributed to the song.

Macklemore is a multi award winning artist. Collecting awards from the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, BET Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. He was victorious in winning awards such as Rap Song of the Year and Best Hip-Hop video. I am sure his awards are all carefully and mindfully placed around his home in Seattle, Washington.confused

As you can clearly see, this artist is a huge success with countless adoring fans all around the world watching his every move and the money flowing in from all his success… which his why his next move was completely confusing.

It is very common for artists, such as Macklemore, to lose their moral compass when the spotlight hits them. When they take centre stage its known that stars tend to get blinded by the flashing lights and distracted by the money. And all of a sudden they have completely lost themselves to the forever hungry entity known as fame. But dear old Ben ..ahem excuse Macklemore is an exception to this rule and seems to have truly kept his moral compass in check. I don’t know how he has done it whether he meditates, listens to Jessie J ‘Who You Are’ on repeat or just gets pulled back down to earth on the regular by his dear mother.

If you have not guessed already I am talking about his song entitled ‘Same Love’. This song was written in support of legalising same-sex marriage particularly in reference to a Washington state referendum to approve or reject the February 2012 bill that would legalise same-sex marriage in the state. Macklemore explained that the song also came out of his own frustration with hip hop’s positions on homosexuality. “Misogyny and homophobia are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip hop culture. It’s 2012. There needs to be some accountability. I think that as a society we’re evolving and I think that hip hop has always been a representation of what’s going on in the world right now.”

I must say when I heard this playing on the radio in my flat I was quite surprised at how Mac  was so open and honest about everything. He truly bared his soul let us take a look at some of the lyrics in just ‘Same Love’.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 02.28.51

“When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight….”

“…Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant…”

“…The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion…”

“…And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago…”

“…If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying…”

“…Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board…”

“…It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself…”

“…A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are…”

“…No law is gonna change us
We have to change us…”

macklemore-same-love-video

As you can see from these extracts I took from Macklemore’s song he truly touches on some very controversial and profound points. He opened up about the time when he thought that he himself was gay and that must of took a lot of courage and a straight man to openly admit that at one point he thought he was attracted to men. He also layed out on the table the fact that his own uncle was a gay man and in a committed and loving relationship. I truly stand up and salute this young man for the courage it took for him as a heterosexual male to take a stand. He put everything on the line to make his point, all of his fame and success could of come to a very sudden and abrupt holt. Thank You Macklemore for your courage and honesty.

‘I might not be the same but that’s not important no freedom til’ we’re equal, damn right I support it’

Macklemore-SameLove-Lyrics