MTP: Episode 125

Welcome to the Marking Time Podcast Episode 125 – and a very special hello to new listeners joining for the very first time.  We’re glad you’re with us.

Returning fans of the show will know that I don’t normally like to talk a lot, and frankly that’s because I’d much rather let the music speak for me.

Well this time out I feel there’s a lot I need to say, so I’m going to start the show with a significant departure from tradition, and take a few minutes to discuss something that’s very important to me, and I sincerely hope it’s very important to you, too.

That’s because today is June 19th – a date which has historically marked the end of slavery in America, over 150 years ago.  Sadly, the events of recent weeks make it all too clear that for many of our fellow human beings, emancipation has not resulted in equal treatment or equal opportunity over the past century and a half.  And as a result, lots of people are feeling scared, angry, frustrated and confused.  And many of us are looking for answers in a renewed search for justice not seen since the Civil Rights era over 50 years ago.

Clearly, different paths brought us here – to this point in time. Younger people who don’t have living memory of the optimism of the social advances of late 1960s – or even the end of Apartheid in the early 90s – wonder aloud about those possibility of change, along with those of us who are older, and perhaps cynically affected by the disappointments of so many unrealized promises.

But now we must all join up and walk the path together. And just because we don’t all share the same backgrounds and experiences, it doesn’t mean we can’t share a common sense of disgust and discontent with the status quo. Nor does it mean that we can’t take a genuine and mutual interest in making the world a better place for everyone. It’s time for those of us who’ve been sitting on the sidelines to get over our myriad personal discomforts and apprehensions – and stand up together to break racial stereotypes. Stereotypes that are not only lazy and unproductive, they’re dangerous – because so often they can lead to discrimination, bigotry and hatred.

If you’re anything like me, one question you may be asking is where to begin?  Well I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past weeks thinking about this in my own personal context, as a white male living in a predominately white country.  And here’s what occurred to me.  Our collective future starts with a journey in three stages:  Reflect – Acknowledge – Act

I’ve been reflecting on my own unconscious bias and in particular how it shows up in my role as programmer of this music podcast. The simple truth is, the vast majority of the artists featured on the MTP over the past 8-1/2 years are white.  And while this hasn’t been overt or intentional, that doesn’t make it OK, plain and simple. And regardless of lack of intent, it’s the result of a lack of imagination and commitment to the principles of fundamental equality that I stand for, unequivocally.

So, reflection upon this disconnect means that I need to acknowledge that I’ve not done nearly enough to promote artists of colour and the stories and experiences they share through their music.  The irony of this admission is that when I looked closely my own music collection, I saw how many black artists are represented there, but they just haven’t been getting into the podcast rotation. I can only attribute this oversight to a combination of complacency and laziness on my part.  Clearly, I can do better.

And while both reflection and acknowledgement are important, they are also empty gestures without action to back them up. So I need to act, by consciously looking to expand the MTP roster of artists and push our format to become more inclusive.  Through this platform, I can – in my own small way – help educate others by overcoming my ignorance and actively doing more to discover and showcase black artists, while still honouring our core mission of sharing Canadian artists with the world. And in so doing, the MTP can continue to deliver the very best in Real, Grown-up Music for our listeners, and at the same time, opening minds and broadening sensibilities.

And so, even as I admit that I’ve fallen short, I’m proud to speak out on behalf of my black friends and coworkers. People who’ve brought me into their homes, into their lives, and deserve so much better than they’ve experienced to this point. And as much as I do this for them, I also do it because it’s just the right thing to do.  And I invite you to join me.  Let’s all commit to holding ourselves more accountable. Let’s leave our discomforts behind, let’s speak out and let’s act to make this world a better place for everyone.

And as a tangible start in the right direction, this program – our 125th episode – will be extended to 90 minutes and will feature black artists exclusively, from a variety of music genres and styles.  The songs and artists I’ve chosen collectively convey emotions of frustration, despair and anger but also love, hope and beauty.

I hope you enjoy the program and I hope you’ll help to keep me focused on my commitment to bring more diversity to future MTP episodes.

The time for change is now. As always, thanks for listening and enjoy the music.

Artist Song Album
Grand Analog “Police and Thieves” Love Is a Battlefield – EP
Tracy Chapman “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution” Tracy Chapman
Nina Simone “Sinnerman (Felix Da Housecat’s Heavenly “House Mix)” The Complete Verve: Remixed
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “I Learned the Hard Way” Miss Sharon Jones! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy “California Über Alles” Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury
Richie Havens “Handsome Johnny” Mixed Bag
Michael Kiwanuka “One More Night” Love & Hate
Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers “When The Lights Gone Out” One Bright Day
Koko Taylor “I’m A Woman” Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection
Otis Redding “These Arms of Mine” The Definitive Soul Collection: Otis Redding
k-os “Crucial” Joyful Rebellion
Leon Bridges “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)” Good Thing
Oscar Peterson “Just One Of Those Things” A 75th Birthday Celebration
Fishbone “Fight The Youth [Remix]” Stanley, Son Of Theodore: Yet Another Alternative Sampler
The Wailers “Burnin’ and Lootin’” Gold
Youssou N’Dour “How You Are (No Mele)” The Guide (Wommat)
Beautiful Nubia And The Roots Renaissance Band “Someone Like Biko” Sun No Dey Sleep
Shad “The Fool, Pt. 1 (Get it Got it Good)” A Short Story About A War
Lenny Kravitz “Mr. Cab Driver” Lenny Kravitz: Greatest Hits
Prince “Sign O’ The Times” The Hits
Molly Johnson “Let’s Waste Some Time” Messin’ Around
Sly & The Family Stone “Hot Fun In The Summertime” Sly & The Family Stone: Greatest Hits
Odario feat. Dawn Pemberton “Low Light (In This Space)” Low Light (In This Space) – Single

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