The Nostalgia Mixtape For Black Liberation. A Houston slab car on the surface of the moon overlooking planet Earth. The neon lights in the trunk of the car say For Black Liberation.

The Nostalgia Mixtape For Black Liberation. Illustration by Nataly Menjivar.

A statement from us + exclusive live performances by Christelle Bofale and Aaron Stephens, in support of Black Liberation.

Buy their music at:

https://christellebofale.bandcamp.com/

https://aaronstephens.bandcamp.com/

 

 

Stream instantly above and via Apple, Spotify, or find your preferred service of choice here. Read along with the transcript below

DONATE here to help keep our ship sailing smoothly. Comment “For Black Liberation” with your donation and we will make sure your money gets to this episode’s performing artists. 

Nostalgia Mixtape for Black Liberation lineup: Christelle Bofale covers Solange, Aaron Stephens covers Bob Marley. (Bofale portrait by Jinni J.; Stephens portrait by Eric Morales.)

[00:00]

Jamel Johnson clip:

Fuckin’ po-lice, man. I always felt like the police was necessary, I was always Carlton from Fresh Prince, I felt like they had to be there. But fuck them niggas, dawg. I’m over it. Anybody here… clap if the cops have made you take your shoes off before. [one person claps] One fuckin’ guy. One very embarrassed guy. You know my pain, man! Cops made me take my shoes off at a Food Lion! It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, son! And then the cop had the nerve to be like, “Oh, what are you doin’ here right now?” Nigga, the sun’s out! The store’s still open. I can’t just be getting groceries? That’s not possible in front of Food Lion?

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Old Trump Joke Cop Thoughts Etc. Just seemed like a good opportunity to make this about me.

A post shared by Jamel Johnson (@broccolihouse) on

 

Nina Simone “Mississippi Goddamn” excerpt

 

Picket lines

Schoolboy cops

They try to say it’s a communist plot

But all I want is equality

For my sister, my brother, my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years

You told me to wash and clean my ears

And talk real fine just like a lady

And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but my country’s full of lies

We all gonna die and die like flies

I don’t trust nobody any more

You keep on saying ‘Go slow!’

‘Go slow!’

Well that’s just the trouble

‘Do it slow’

Desegregation

‘Do it slow’

Mass participation

‘Do it slow’

Reunification

‘Do it slow’

Do things gradually

‘Do it slow’

But bring more tragedy

‘Do it slow’

Why don’t you see it

Why don’t you feel it

I don’t know

I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me

Just give me my equality

Everybody knows about Mississippi

Everybody knows about Alabama

Everybody knows about Mississippi god-damn

 

[02:34]

Sama’an: That was our friend the comedian Jamel Johnson, and Nina Simone performing “Mississippi Goddamn,” almost 60 years apart, mind you. Perfectly summing up Black people’s frustration at the antagonistic behavior police have exhibited towards them, and the apathy white moderates have offered, since the United States was founded. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today. 

 

Normally the way Jason and I produce episodes of The Nostalgia Mixtape is intentional. We want them to be moments frozen in the past, stories you can come back to any time without them ever feeling dated. But, we have to pause to acknowledge a present moment. I didn’t feel right releasing another episode until we made a formal statement acknowledging what might be the biggest uprising the United States has ever seen. So, we put together a special episode of live performances from a couple of our favorite artists — Christelle Bofale and Aaron Stephens — covering songs that speak to the moment. 

 

So, let me state it plainly, and then take a minute to expound, and then we’ll give you all this beautiful music. We at The Nostalgia Mixtape, and yours truly, Sama’an Ashrawi, stand firmly in support of Black Liberation, and any demands that come along with it. We reject the notion of colorblindness and if you’re someone who needs to hear this, just know: the majority of our guests are Black. 

 

We hope that, more than anything else, listening to our podcast will give you an appreciation for just how much of a beautiful spectrum the Black experience is. If you’re not Black, we hope that appreciation will make you a more confident fighter for Black liberation. And if you are Black, we hope that all the different stories you hear on episode of the Nostalgia Mixtape will make you feel more comfortable in your own skin. 

 

[04:25]

Solange – “Almeda” (Sango Bounce remix)

 

Sama’an: Big love to our favorite ethnomusicologist, Sango, for letting us use his flip of Solange’s “Almeda.”

 

[06:03]

Sama’an: I’m so encouraged to see so many white and non-Black people moving away from the colorblind rhetoric and embracing the concept of Black Lives Matter. I want y’all to know that although it’s a great first step, this can’t be the end of your political awakening. 

 

I remember once I was out for hookah with a group of Black friends and, I don’t even remember how we got there, but the conversation turned to experiences with the police. Every single person had at least one (at LEAST one) experience of having the police pull a gun on them. For absolutely no reason. Sometimes even on their own property. This kind of experience with police is also part of the Black experience, and white people and non-Black people have to acknowledge that.

 

So, please take some time to research the origins of policing in this country. You can draw a straight line from these police interactions that my friends have had to the slave patrols of the 1700s. A direct line. There is not a single year you could point to on the timeline of this country when this hasn’t been the dynamic between Black people and the police. Not a single year. That’s racism. You have to call that out.

 

[07:22]

Josh White – “Jim Crow” (1941)

[07:49]

Sama’an: The last time I saw my godfather, Jack O’Dell, before he passed, he told me something I will never forget. Jack told me, “Black people in America have been fighting for democracy for far longer than white people.” 

 

It’s the exact same sentiment you just heard Josh White singing about on a Blues song from the 1940s. That’s a sentiment I will always boost because of how true it is. But it’s also an important idea for white people to internalize. To me it means that white people don’t get to tell Black people what their own freedom looks like. What white people get to do is shut up and listen to what Black people are asking for, and then another thing white people get to do is: get all their white friends and relatives on board. Whatever it takes. 

 

On my mom’s side of the family, my white half, our ancestor is Reverend Theodore Parker, one of the original abolitionists in America. He didn’t spend much time telling Black people how sorry he was about slavery; instead, he spent his time and energy convincing white people to fight back against anyone who was pro-slavery, this included police and slave patrols. He organized meetings where he got white people to fund slave rebellions, including John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. 

A poster for one of Reverend Theodore Parker’s abolitionist meetings. November 26, 1859.

But for years and years before that, he campaigned for white people to violate the Fugitive Slave Act, a law that encouraged police, but really anybody white, in the North to hunt, capture, and return Black people to the plantations they had escaped from. The laws and the police were racist, he knew that, and his soul wouldn’t let him live a life without fighting against that racist system. 

 

In one speech he gave, Reverend Parker said, “I am a man of peace, I love peace, but there is a means and there is an end: liberty is the end, and sometimes peace is not the means towards it.” He knew the value of civil disobedience. He knew that Black liberation wouldn’t come without bold and urgent action from white people.  

 

So you might be wondering: “How did he do that? How did he get all of these white people, who lived in a society where slavery was the norm, to get down with abolition?” 

 

Well, he was a reverend, so he had a church, and a congregation, and some neighbors, and he used the pulpit to preach abolition. And then, even when he wasn’t on the clock, after-hours, he was continuing that work by organizing meetings. If Reverend Parker got to see the state of things today, he would know that his work wasn’t finished, and he wouldn’t waste a second in getting right back to work.

 

If you’re white and you’re listening to this, that’s the kind of urgency and revolutionary spirit I would like to see you adopt. So read, read, read, all you can about racial justice — blacklivesmattersyllabus.com is a good place to start — and once you’ve done some reading, please think about your own skills and figure out how you can best contribute to the cause.

 

You might be thinking: “Well, I don’t have a church, I don’t have a congregation, how can I do that?”

 

The answer is that: you do! You have a facebook or an instagram or a twitter, and no matter how many or few people are following you, you have a congregation. So you can start there, and then do what Reverend Parker did, and take it offline. If there’s an organization near you dedicated to racial justice, join it; and if there’s not, well then, start one! And bring your congregation. You can be an abolitionist in the 21st century. I believe in you. 

 

[11:40]

Coldplay, Stromae, & Femi Kuti – “Arabesque” (2019)

 

Fela Kuti: 

Music is the weapon, music is the weapon of the future.

 

[11:34]

Sama’an: Something I learned from my father, who came of age fighting for his people’s liberation from white supremacy in Palestine, is that art has a very important place in the revolution. Art can inspire and motivate people to get in the streets, or, if they’re already in the streets, to stay there. And that momentum is so important. 

 

So, now that we’ve said our piece, we wanted to offer our support for the cause by sharing some live performances that our featured artists believe are tied to the cause of Black liberation in one way or another. 

 

First up, we have here with us today, Christelle Bofale performing her cover of Solange’s “Borderline (An Ode To Self Care),” accompanied by Jake Smith on guitar. Christelle?

Christelle Bofale portrait by Jinni J.

[12:23]

Christelle Bofale: Hey, this is Christelle Bofale. 

Sama’an: Hey, Christelle! Thank you for being here. 

Christelle: Thank you for having me, Sama’an. 

Sama’an: Anything you want to say or share before we get into your cover?

Christelle:

I just wanted to give a quick message to anybody Black, and, that message is: just an acknowledgement of how tired you might be right now. I know a lot of us are just, plain and simple, exhausted. And that’s okay. It’s totally okay to need a break. I want to remind you and to encourage you to take care of yourself. To prioritize taking care of yourself. Work it into your routine as best as possible. That, I think, is imperative to maintaining your sanity. I just want you to remember that you are someone who is worthy of softness, and gentleness, and tenderness, and I want you to provide that for yourself. I’ve had to remind myself of the same thing. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the news, every single day, it’s just so painful and traumatic. 

So, I love you, and I hope that hearing this song will inspire you to invest in your needs. Whatever it is that you think you’re hungry for… Find it. Feed it to yourself. Nourish yourself. Replenish yourself. 

Take care, and stay safe. 

 

[14:36]

Christelle Bofale – “Borderline (An Ode To Self Care)”

 

We been lovers on a mission

We been lovers on a mission (all the way)

But whats love without a mission

We been lovers on a mission (all the way)

So let’s take an intermission

You know I have the world to think about

And you know I gotta go ahead and take some time

Because the last thing that I wanna do

Is think that it’s time that I leave the borderline

So let’s take it off tonight

Break it off tonight

Baby let’s know when to let go

Know when to let go

Take off tonight

Break it up tonight

Baby I know you’re tired

Know I’m tired

Let’s take it off tonight

Break it off tonight

Baby it’s war outside these walls

Baby it’s war outside these doors, yeah

It’s safe place tonight

Let’s play safe tonight

Baby I know what you’re fighting for

Baby you know what I’m fighting for

You know I have the world to think about

And you know I gotta go ahead and take some time

Because the last thing that I wanna do

Is think that it’s time that I leave the borderline

So let’s take it off tonight

Break it off tonight

Baby let’s know when to let go

Know when to let go, oh

Take off tonight

Break it up tonight

Baby I know you’re tired

You know I’m tired

Let’s take it off tonight

Break it off tonight

Baby I’ve been more than a woman

We’ve been lovers on a mission

It’s safe place tonight

Let’s play it safe tonight

Baby we’ve been lovers on a mission (all the way)

So let’s take an intermission

 

[18:19]

Sama’an: Wow, Christelle, thank you so much for that. I’m still stunned. I’ve listened to that at least like two dozen times by now and it still takes my breath away every single time. I remember the first time I saw Christelle play live, my friend Cheyenne had told me I needed to come to this concert in some warehouse in Austin, Texas, and so I did. It was a super cold night. All the layers I had on weren’t enough, my toes felt like they were gonna freeze off, it was super windy, too, I remember that, and we were all taking refuge in this tiny little warehouse space in South Austin. I had some hot cocoa, I remember that too, my friend Brittany came along with me, and, don’t remember any of the other artists who performed that night because as soon as Christelle started playing it was just a moment frozen in time. Occasionally you come across art that you immediately recognize as something singular and distinct and important, and that’s Christelle’s music, absolutely. So we wanna say thank you so much, Christelle, for sharing that with us, for emphasizing that message of self care, especially to our Black listeners, and now we want to introduce you to another very, very talented artist named Aaron Stephens, who has a couple songs for us. 

 

So, we’ll let him kick things off with one of his original tunes and then go into a cover. 

Aaron Stephens portrait by Eric Morales.

[20:07]

Aaron: Ay, what’s up, Sama’an? Happy belated birthday, man. 

Sama’an: Heyyy Aaron, thank you so much. This first song you wanna do is called, “Do Something,” is there any kind of backstory you can give us to go along with it?

Aaron: I remember when I wrote this song, I was still in college. At the time I wrote more about just getting off my butt and going to class, but, it means a whole lot more to me now with the state of what’s going on in the world. Now, it means, get up off my ass and go vote, do something to help my fellow man. So, here’s a song called “Do Something.”

 

[20:45]

 

Aaron Stephens – “Do Something” acoustic

Some people want
Some people need
Some people give expecting to receive
We’re earning wage they’re waging war
We made them rich, but they want more
But we won’t sit around and do nothing about it

Let’s do something
Do something about it
March on those lawns and shot it
We want change

They sway our media and news
Force feed us whatever they choose
We’re booking hearses and they’re booking flights
I don’t know how they go to sleep at night
But we won’t sit around
And do nothing about it

Let’s do something
Do something about it
March on those lawns and shot it
We want change

Things won’t change if we just sit around asking why
There are people in pain and we’re watching them die

No justice, no peace

[23:34] 

Sama’an:  Mannnn, Aaron, that is one of my favorite songs you’ve ever written. I appreciate you adding that little “no justice, no peace” right in there at the end. Now, for the cover you chose, you did Bob Marley’s “Small Axe,” which is, to me, a song that speaks to a movement of the people, which Bob Marley sung about in many different ways, but I love the idea of “We are the small axe coming to chop you down,” it’s like, one of us can’t do it alone, but if we all work together, we can take down that big tree. Anyway, please, continue. 

 

[24:13]

Aaron Stephens – “Small Axe” acoustic

Why boasteth thyself
Oh, he-vil man
Playing smart
And not being clever, oh no
I said you’re working iniquity
To achieve vanity yeah, if a-so a-so
But the goodness of Jah-Jah
I-dureth for-i-ver

[Chorus]
If you are the big tree
We are the small axe
Sharpened to cut you down (Well sharp)
Ready to cut you down, oh, yeah

[Verse 2]
These are the words
Of my master, keep on telling me, oh
No weak heart shall prosper, oh no they can’t, eh, eh

[Bridge]
Whosoever diggeth a pit, lord
Shall fall in it, shall fall in it
Whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall bury in it, shall bury in it

[Chorus]
If you are the big tree
We are the small axe
Sharpened to cut you down
Ready to cut you down

[Bridge]
Eh, whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall fall in it, fall in it, eh
Whosoever diggeth a pit
Shall bury in it, shall bury in it

[Chorus]
If you have a big tree
We have a small axe
Ready to cut you down (Well sharp)
Sharpened to cut you down, oh

[Outro]
If you are the big tree, let me tell you this
We are the small axe
Ready to cut you down (Well sharp)
Sharpened to cut you down, oh, yeah

[26:34]

Sama’an: Woof. Man. What a great song with a great message. Thank you so much to our guests, Aaron Stephens and Christelle Bofale, for lending their voice and their talents to this very special episode of The Nostalgia Mixtape. If you’re still listening, which, we hope you are, we just want to encourage you to get involved. That means, personally, making sure you are educating yourself, reading, listening, and, on a bigger scale, getting involved. The best way you can do that is by finding a local organization that is working towards racial justice. Join it, and, you know, you don’t have to be the loudest voice, especially if you’re not Black, but go and listen and figure out what’s the best way you can help in your community. You’ll find that, if we all work together, we can be those small axes that bring down the big tree of racism. 

 

So, thank you for listening. I’m your host, Sama’an Ashrawi, this is The Nostalgia Mixtape, and we’re still down for Black liberation, and that’s not gonna change. Catch ya on the next one. 

 

[28:05]

Janet Jackson “Free Xone”

 

[28:36]

Archie Bell & The Drells – “Tighten Up”

By | 2020-06-23T02:35:15+00:00 June 20th, 2020|Creative|

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