AFROPUNK SOLUTION SESSIONS: MEET THE CHANGE AGENTS
June 18, 2018
We are living in challenging political, racial and cultural times. Unfortunately, this is not new for Black folks in America. We have been oppressed, marginalized and treated as second class citizens since we were brought here — yet, we still rise.
It is our resilience that gives us power. Our ancestors refused to be treated as less than. We have fought long and hard for our freedom, our right to vote, and for civil rights. As a community, we are innately problem solvers — it’s part of our DNA.
In this tradition of activism, AFROPUNK (in partnership with How Stuff Works) is proud to introduce you to our radical new podcast SOLUTION SESSIONS, hosted by Bridget Todd and Yves Jeffcoat, two brilliant sisters who will lead us on a journey of empowerment, cultural discernment, and political enlightenment.
Yves describes it this way, “SOLUTION SESSIONS brings the problems that are seriously and widely affecting our communities to the forefront, making sure that dialogue is inclusive, meaningful and progressive.”
Bridget says, “I’d like SOLUTION SESSIONS to be a small spark for making the irrational decision to stay involved and fight back in whatever way that looks like.”
Meet the two dynamic women who will lead SOLUTION SESSIONS to explore possibilities, create dialogue, and incite the dismantling of oppression in America.
Please subscribe to this podcast, listen, learn, share and join our revolution.
What is the intention of SOLUTION SESSIONS?
Bridget: We’re trying to carve out a space for young Black folks to have conversations that move the needle on issues that impact us.
Yves: To create a forum for marginalized people to share their solutions and the work they’re putting in, which helps educate and inspire. To encourage people to use their voice, and to remind them that we can and will keep moving forward.
What makes the SOLUTION SESSIONS podcast different from other Black cultural and political podcast?
Yves: Tracing the issues that affect us from their origins to their current manifestations, we’re digging deep into topics that matter and presenting ways we can truly deal with and combat them. We all have so much going on every day. We’re constantly inundated with new information, dealing with our personal lives and societal issues. It’s easy to get lost in that sea. SOLUTION SESSIONS brings the problems that are seriously and widely affecting our communities to the forefront, making sure that dialogue is inclusive, meaningful and progressive.
Bridget: The issues impacting our community are complex and intersectional. We aren’t going to say “the solution to XYZ problem is just to vote” unless we also explore the folks that feel entirely skeptical about the political process and the policies that make the process of voting difficult for Black folks in general. We aren’t here to give one-size-fits-all solutions; we want to explore and affirm the tensions and intersections that exist in our communities.
Why is it important for Black people to have solutions instead of focusing on the problems and issues in our community?
Bridget: First and foremost, I don’t necessarily think it should be up to Black folks alone to dismantle a racist system that we didn’t set up. But I also think we need to figure out solutions-based ways of getting free. We know we’re up against a lot of things that feel difficult to fight back against — racist politicians, over-criminalization, environmental injustice, reproductive injustice — but the first step is talking about the impacts we can have.
Yves: While it is important to know the challenges we are facing so we can fight them effectively, it’s not enough to just dwell on what’s wrong. How can we fix it? How can we incite progress? How can we continue to build ourselves, and each other, up, like we’ve been doing for so many years? These are questions we have to ask ourselves perpetually if we want positive change to be a constant. And that won’t happen if we don’t show up with solutions. So we find answers, and we act on them. And none of that’s to mention that residing in a problem-focused state can be a huge weight on physical and mental health.
Why do you believe AFROPUNK is the perfect platform to have these powerful conversations and dialogues?
Yves: AFROPUNK has long been a place for people who weren’t being heard elsewhere, or were being intentionally silenced. But AFROPUNK is also a place of celebration, where we’ve carved our own space, and where all forms of Black culture and thought can unite. The AFROPUNK community is super-creative and outspoken. It’s clear that we all got something to say. So I can’t think of a better place to start those conversations that help us connect, build and transform our lives and the world.
Bridget: To me, the spirit of AFROPUNK has always been about celebrating the many diverse and intersecting facets of Blackness, so it’s the perfect platform to tackle these conversations in ways that affirm those differences. AFROPUNK is also about Black activists and creatives questioning authority which are the exact conversations we’re hoping to capture with this podcast.
In your opinion what do you think is the most pressing issue for Black folks in the current political climate?
Bridget: Mass incarceration and the criminal justice system. It will probably come as no surprise that the U.S. is the global leader when it comes to incarceration. According to Vox, the US makes up about 4 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for 22 percent of the world’s prison population. Because of racist sentencing disparities, Black folks are almost six times as likely to be incarcerated as our white peers. This impacts so many aspects of how we’re able to live our lives. It can impact whether you’re able to work, where you can rent an apartment, and getting money for school. More than 20 percent of black voters in places like Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee can’t even vote because of past criminal offenses. We can’t address the many pressing issues our community is facing until we address our racist criminal justice system that has so many of us unfairly disenfranchised.
Yves: It’s hard to answer this with just one issue. Mass incarceration, health inequities, and violence against LGBTQ folks come to mind, among many other things. I’m hesitant to hierarchize these issues, because their effects are so wide reaching and variable. I think these issues and the litany of ones that affect Black people I haven’t listed, all form a massive, suffocating web, exacerbated by regressive politics, harmful rhetoric, and the violence of the current climate. That said, the perception of Black people must change. Black men are not inherently thugs. Being Black and trans is not a crime punishable by death. Black women are not by law aggressive. Black people are not superhuman or subhuman. I’m not saying this is the answer to end all answers, but these pervasive stigmas and stereotypes have manifested as destructive institutional problems.
What cultural, political and community shift would you like SOLUTION SESSIONS to create and why?
Yves: I want people to talk more to each other about these issues and solutions—with people they’d consider part of their tribe or community, and people outside of it. I want people who thought they were helpless or hopeless or stuck before to feel motivated and empowered. I hope SOLUTION SESSIONS will inspire people to contribute to making the world better for marginalized folks in whatever way they can, big or small. If people venture to question themselves and others, including their leaders, because of SOLUTION SESSIONS, I think that’s a step in the right direction. I would like to see our communities be fearless and aggressive in fighting injustices and tearing down systemic problems that may seem like they’ve gotten beyond our reach. They are not. Because we’re at such a cultural precipice in the U.S. right now, it seems imperative to talk about our next steps and take bold and immediate action. We must secure our prosperity.
Bridget: Young Black folks are up against a lot and we don’t have a political system that feels meaningfully invested in our lives. Feeling apathetic or skeptical about our ability to make any kind of real impact is completely rational. But I’d like SOLUTION SESSIONS to be a small spark for making the irrational decision to stay involved and fight back in whatever way that looks like. I want people who listen to this podcast to know that creating change doesn’t necessarily have to mean running for office or starting an organization (but it certainly can!) I’d like SOLUTION SESSIONS to create the understanding that you can have a meaningful impact in all kinds of small ways too. Maybe you can talk to your little cousin about consent, or maybe vow to be a second set of eyes when you see a police interaction going down. I want people who listen to SOLUTION SESSIONS to know that there are all kinds of quiet, everyday actions we can take to make real change.
Finish this sentence Bridget: “Solution Sessions is…
…about having the conversations that matter.”
Finish this sentence Yves: “Solution Sessions is…
…a pathway to real change.”
[photo: L-R, Yves Jeffcoat and Bridget Todd]