A Letter From the Editor: Ash Lauryn
A Letter From the Editor: Ash LaurynAugust 4, 2020
Ash Lauryn is Beatportal’s Guest Editor this month. In this letter, she explains why she took this role, as well as her thoughts on the current race reckoning, and what she hopes we can accomplish next.
From COVID-19 to DJ name changes to apology statements, 2020 has been anything but uneventful — and it’s still far from over. There has been so much on my mind these days that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with this: I am equally grateful and excited to hold the position as Guest Editor of Beatportal for this month. That said, I will be completely transparent, and mention that I was presented with this opportunity in response to the current social climate, and more specifically, the lack of Black and POC employed behind the scenes in the industry.
After a canceled DJ tour in March due to COVID-19, and not much freelance work in sight, the George Floyd protests, and the BLM movement provoked swift action within the industry, and it now seems everyone is looking to hire or partner with black creatives and I suddenly find myself busy again. While these various writing and curation opportunities are exciting, it is somewhat difficult for me to not observe some of it as performative opposed to actual change. Some of these opportunities were a little too great to pass up, and I recognize the importance of taking on these tasks and showcasing my skills as a competent Black woman in the industry. There is a lot of necessary dialogue happening within the world and music, and there is no better time than now to take these issues head-on. As they say, the jig is up.
I am witnessing the term “dismantle” used pretty frequently in regards to the necessary action needed to make an impactful change within the scene. And while the dismantling we are seeing may sometimes appear trivial, it is indeed necessary; like changing DJ names due to accusations of cultural appropriation, or the fall of once-beloved Berlin booking agency Odd Fantastic over a slew of problematic issues engulfed in racist undertones. Big and small changes are all relevant, and these so-called minor issues we are dealing with have a direct correlation to the systemic racism and white supremacy we see in the world.
In regards to dance music, one of the main issues we’ve been seeing is the exact issue that landed me this Guest Editor position — not enough Black people in behind the scenes roles. As we attempt to move forward, structural change will be imperative in many aspects. From booking agents and managers to club bookers and music journalists, the current underrepresentation of BIPOC in these roles is a direct reflection of the whitewashed scene we see today. Now that these discussions are coming to the fore, we must commit to long-standing action and giving the electronic music scene the facelift it so desperately needs.
House and techno music were birthed in the Black community, and have always been political. Let us not forget or steer away from those roots, especially when Black people are actively being killed and brutalized by law enforcement at an alarming rate. Let’s also not make this out to be just an America problem, when systemic racism affects minorities and Black people just about all over the world. It’s apparent that things are far from perfect in the US, but there is work to be done everywhere — no one is exempt. The first step to solving these ugly issues? Be willing to acknowledge them and to be accountable if necessary. Study up, research, read, talk to your Black friends; do you have any Black friends?
As uncomfortable and unexciting discussions about race may be, it’s been the elephant in the room for far too long, and the time is now. The revolution is now. We are living in a modern-day civil rights movement, and I don’t know about you, but I feel a calling and sense of duty to be a part of it. Throughout August, we will be covering Black electronic music and artists through features written by some of the best our culture has to offer. Take this opportunity to embrace, celebrate, and educate yourself on some of the artists and sounds shaping the fabric of modern-day electronic music. You posted your black square in solidarity, but what else did you do? Let’s stop with the performances and get out there and do the dirty work. The world is watching.