Interview: Eli Of Soul Clap On Dance Music's Responsibility To Racial Injustice & Environmentalism - Magnetic Magazine

It was a day I could barely find the energy to speak. We had scheduled this interview weeks ago, but it was originally focused only on environmentalism and sustainability. It had now fallen on Blackout Tuesday, the music industry’s day of reverence in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, after the tragic death of yet another black person at the hands of white police officers - George Floyd.

This was too important a dialogue not to address. After asking Eli if we should reschedule, he responded that “reflection for [him] is discussion and planning.” So, we mustered the energy to talk and adapted the interview to include an all-too-relevant conversation on racial injustice.

You can watch the whole discussion in the video below, or read up on these key takeaways…

ELI’S REFLECTION ON TODAY’S RACIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT:

“Millions of people have taken to the streets to protest and some of those protests have turned violent, both instigated by the police and other organizations, but also just people being so angry… and I support the entire range of that protest. Obviously peaceful protest is amazing, but we’re in a time where it just feels like injustice, after injustice, after injustice is being committed by our government and our law enforcement… and as white people, I don’t think we have the place to say too much, other than that we just support our brothers and sisters of color however they feel like they need to react to this.”

HOW CAN THE DANCE MUSIC COMMUNITY SUPPORT TODAY’S RACIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT?

Vote and mobilize your community to vote with youThe pillars of our democracy are our rights to speak freely, assemble and vote… and while our generation is active in today’s protests, we tend to disproportionately not show up to vote. This needs to change. It’s time for artists, event promoters, venues and everyone in the dance music community to activate their audiences for what is likely the most important vote in the history of our nation. Let’s promote voter registration, mail-in voting, early voting and in-person voting on the big day, November 3. You can also follow Soul Clap for Eli’s upcoming voting campaign… we love the working title, #RaveTheVote!

- Ask questions and listen. For white artists and white people, this is not a chance for us to get up on a soap box. Let’s let the black community speak on their experience and guide us on how to support them. For example, you can follow and share posts from inspiring black women or your own black friends. Also, if you have black friends or colleagues who you’ve checked in with and know are emotionally available to talk you through this, you can ask them how you can best be their ally. Just remember to listen carefully and act accordingly.

- Take action. There are also plenty of online resources that list organizations you can donate to, government officials you can write to, and other ways you can support the movement.

- Invite black artists to take the stage. Let’s be more inclusive than ever when it comes to supporting, promoting and booking black artists. Let’s listen to what they have to say and amplify their voices. Let’s welcome them to speak to us all through the universal language of music.

- Learn and appreciate the black history of our music scene. Let’s give credit where it’s due. Dance music culture was built by black artists, originated in black communities, and was inspired by other genres of black music. We don’t talk about that enough. We don’t thank them enough. Take a moment to learn about this and appreciate those who pushed through injustice all those years ago to give us the freedom to dance together today.

- Don’t let this important dialogue die out. Too often, we feel passionate about a cause one day and then forget it with the 24-hour news cycle. Let’s not let that happen here. Let’s keep using our platforms to speak on the importance of social justice and equality until we see real change. 

WHAT DOES RACIAL INJUSTICE HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ENVIRONMENTALISM?

- Black communities are disproportionately affected by environmental impact. Violence against black people in this country comes in many forms. The issue most on the surface is that systemic racism equates to a lack of funding for basic infrastructure, which makes black communities more vulnerable to environmental impacts, such as flooding from climate change or water pollution.

- Beyond the surface issues, there is undeniable evidence dating back to 1987 that proves that the locations of toxic waste facilities have consciously and strategically been placed in black neighborhoods.

- This causes higher rates of major health issues, birth defects and even death. Just one example is Cancer Alley, a predominantly black area in Louisiana lined with oil refineries and chemical plants where people are more than 50 times as likely to get cancer than the average American. They also have the highest COVID-19 death rate in the US. This interview with the Movement for Black Lives, hosted by Jane Fonda’s “Fire Drill Fridays” climate activism platform, goes into detail about these shocking facts and how we can support the movement in fighting environmental racism.

HOW CAN THE DANCE MUSIC COMMUNITY SUPPORT ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM?

- Educate yourself on climate change and your own environmental impacts. A list of good resources to get you started are below. Becoming aware of your impact is the first step. Reducing or eliminating those impacts is next.

- Reduce carbon emissions from travel. Fly less. Use trains when you can. Book local artists. Route tours efficiently. Offset carbon emissions that you can’t reduce.

- Reduce waste and don’t be fooled by greenwashed products. Do your research on whether or not a product is actually environmentally friendly before putting your faith in the little green leaf on the label. For the most part, there are no magic disposable products that just disappear into thin air after you use them. Products that claim to be “compostable” or “biodegradable” need special conditions for these processes to take place and sometimes still take years to decompose. Sustainable sourcing of raw materials is also important to take into account. In general, always choose reusable or bulk options before disposable/ single-use and never rely too heavily on recycling.

- Ditch single-use plastic and no, it’s not “more safe” from COVID. Single-use plastic is used once and stays in the environment FOREVER. Sadly, much of it ends up in the ocean by the truckloads every day, suffocating wildlife or photo-degrading into micro-plastics that make their way into our food chain. Also, properly sanitized and stored reusables are just as safe, if not safer, from spreading COVID-19. Think about how many places and people a single-use plastic bottle has been around (without being cleaned!) before it reaches you. Why would this be any safer than a cup that was recently washed with soap and water?

- Take action to fight climate change’s effects on your community. Climate change causes extreme weather, food shortages and so much more that is already impacting communities today. You can donate money or volunteer your time to under-served communities and you should always be vocal with your local government about climate concerns.

- We repeat… VOTE! We can’t say it enough. If you care about the environment and racial justice, we need you. The Trump administration has rolled back over 100 environmental protection laws. The racial injustice issues we face today can arguably be attributed to 3.5 years of divisive rhetoric that has encouraged white supremacy and violence. Our country, our planet and its people need every last vote we can get.

I hope this serves as a good resource for continuing these important conversations throughout our scene. I’m proud for it to be my first contribution to Magnetic’s sustainability section and I hope for there to be many more like it. To submit ideas or questions about sustainability or racial justice issues that you’d like to see discussed here, please feel free to email me at Vivian@MagneticMag.com.

GOOD RESOURCES FOR GETTING EDUCATED ON ENVIRONMENTALISM AND SUSTAINABILITY:

Reads:

No one is too small to make a difference - Greta Thunberg: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/623668/no-one-is-too-small-to-make-a-difference-by-greta-thunberg/

What we know about climate change - Kerry Emanuel: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/what-we-know-about-climate-change-updated-edition

The Drawdown – Paul Hawken: https://drawdown.org/the-book

Guide to Event Sustainability - Ascendance Sustainable Events: https://www.greenyourevent.com

Calculate and offset your carbon footprint: http://1planetcalc.azurewebsites.net/EasyCO2eCalc.aspx

The Great Recycling Con. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/09/opinion/recycling-myths.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Health experts declare safety of reusables during Covid-19 Pandemic:  https://www.greenpeace.org/international/press-release/43730/reusables-safety-covid-19-health-experts-statement/?fbclid=IwAR3qAvINU32ZTo6K8FEWtQXZvjxDr_y_SqLjDIqxU26zo8d9K9GV0d43T8g

Documentaries:

An Inconvenient Truth: https://www.algore.com/library/an-inconvenient-truth-dvd

An Inconvenient Sequel: https://www.algore.com/library/an-inconvenient-sequel-truth-to-power

Before the Flood: https://www.beforetheflood.com

Cowspiracy: https://www.cowspiracy.com (also on Netflix)

7 of the Best New Documentaries About Global Warming: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/03/seven-of-the-best-new-documentaries-about-global-warming/ )

Podcasts:

Climate Conversations – MIT: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/climate-conversations-a-climate-change-podcast/id1265791892

Climate Cast – NPR: https://www.npr.org/podcasts/414685982/climate-cast

The Attainable Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-attainable-podcast/id1480739614

Organizations:

DJs4ClimateAction: http://www.djs4ca.com

Bye Bye Plastic Foundation: http://www.byebyeplasticbags.org

Oceanic Global: https://oceanic.global

Sustainable Event Alliance: https://thrive.sustainable-event-alliance.org

Debris Free Oceans: https://debrisfreeoceans.org/

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