1989: the number, another summer…
In June of 1989, Public Enemy used hip hop as a vehicle to Fight the Powers that be. It was the ongoing musical theme echoing from Radio Raheem’s boom box in Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed film, Do the Right Thing, and it doubled as the defiant anthem for a generation asphyxiated with unwavering angst. They were tired of drowning in a pool of heinous acts committed against their basic human rights.
This past summer, I discovered that artist Jose Castillo had channeled that energy into 3rdEye(Sol)ation, the Brooklyn-based art gallery located in the heart of Bushwick, where he is the CEO, founder, and event organizer. 3rdEye(Sol)ation serves as a home for artists, performers, and community organizers seeking a platform for creative expression and educational workshops at the intersection of hip hop, art, film, music, performance art, spoken word poetry, and more.
The workshops are intended to strengthen the local community in Bushwick through positive outlets. For example, children are given the opportunity to express themselves artistically through 3rdEye(Sol)ation’s free art program, Art Lets Inner Voices Emerge (A.L.I.V.E.), and women are provided moral support through Art eNergy Karma Healing (ANKH), an empowerment program which aims to merge art and support for healing.
People, people we are the same
No, we’re not the same
Cause we don’t know the game
What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless
Shortly after a federal appeal court blocked Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s ruling that deemed the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional (due to the appearance of partiality), I attended the Beyond Stop-and-Frisk: Know Your Rights Workshop. It’s the latest workshop offered at 3rdEye(Sol)ation, taking place every other Wednesday, and it’s hosted by community organizer Asere Bello of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
I figured educating myself on the do’s and don’ts of likely encounter with the police in the near future would be helpful.
You say what is this?
My beloved, let’s get down to business
Mental self-defensive fitness
It was a small turnout on Wednesday, November 6, but that gave everyone a chance to participate in the discussion, leaving ample time to ask questions and the opportunity to voice our point of views on stop-and-frisk. Whether it was a mother who understood the implications of this tactic, both positive and negative, or a musician who had been continuously targeted and victimized to the point of embarrassment amongst his peers because of it, everyone was able communicate their ideas and feelings on this controversial policy.
As a group, we undertook a thought-provoking assignment which was to compile a list of various ways we would envision the police force in an ideal world. Conversely, we also listed police engagement we’ve witnessed or experienced within our own communities.
We didn’t spend the evening dwelling on the negatives of the New York Police Department’s controversial policies and methods, or the sad delusion of our idealistic demands. We delved deeper into the human psyche of the individual donning the uniform. The person who has been dehumanized by their experiences on the streets, the callous police training, and the inner conflict insidiously refined with the exertion of power.
“When you start looking at militarization you start seeing the desensitizing, you start seeing the dehumanizing of individuals,” said Bello, as he asked us to look through the lens and think about militarization versus human rights. “And it starts creeping into our own community and it starts creeping into even our own internal consciousness.”
The workshop ended shortly after Bello taught us about the Four Levels of Police Inquiry. I took a look around the gallery, admiring the artwork crafted by Brooklyn-based artist, Jessica Siemens and A.L.I.V.E. co-founder, Josama Palabra, among other artists.
Know Your Rights is just one of many workshops, classes, and events that 3rdEye(Sol)ation has to offer. And if I lived in the area I’d probably spend most of my time there. It may not be your flashy, white box art gallery in Manhattan…but it’s got soul. 3rdEye(Sol)ation is a haven for artistic expression blended with a passion for developing stronger connections within the community.
I think Chuck D said it best:
It’s a start, a work of art
To revolutionize—make a change…
Featured image courtesy of 3rd Eye Sol