Jaguar: “Representation is the Route to Reaching Equality”
Jaguar: “Representation is the Route to Reaching Equality”August 5, 2021
It will take years of reflection to properly unpack the magnitude of Covid-19, but now that we’re more than halfway into 2021, I have to ask: what have we learnt from the pandemic?
I, for one, have discovered the power of channelling my voice through my work to create change. Black Lives Matter’s impermeable wave soaked through our newsfeeds and addressed the elephant in the room of institutional and internalised racism. Dance music’s MeToo movement last Autumn led to conversations around sexual assault and commitments from clubs and DJs to insite zero policy clauses in booking contracts.
At the same time, we’ve all been simultaneously connected and disconnected by living in a virtual Zoom realm. We’ve seen the injustices of the world through minorities’ eyes via social media. In 16 months, we’ve lived through the world turning inside out.
It’s time for a cultural reset.
The world was built through one lens, and now the other awakens. With the world slowing down, it created space for marginalised voices to talk to one another, be seen and feel brave enough to take a stand. I believe that my generation are the ones who will break us free from the rigid skeletal system that upholds the cage of binaries, and the mentalities and institutions that have oppressed humanity since the beginning of time.
As a mixed race, queer woman in music, my mission is to lend a hand to other minorities and help them thrive. I naturally came to this conclusion after experiencing the unjust imbalance of male-dominated society. And throughout my early 20s, I realised the importance of using my identity and my platform for good. Simply by existing in a white, heteronormative, male world — by taking up space — you break boundaries, and represent the diverse intersections of life that are seldom celebrated in mainstream society.
I want to thank the generation before me for laying the groundwork, so that myself and my peers feel empowered to question everything, and never accept inequalities. As a broadcaster and DJ, pioneers Annie Mac, Maryanne Hobbs and Clara Amfo have paved the way and made myself and many others feel represented to go forth and use our voices!
I want to bring this ethos to every aspect of my work, including here at Beatportal. As the guest editor this month, I’m opening the door to my utopian world, where women, trans and non-binary people are visible; Black and POC artists are heard, and the LGBTQ+ community are celebrated. Inequality in electronic music is often spoken about, but we need to take action — both minorities, and allies, together — to address the situation.
Back in May I launched my debut initiative with FutureDJs called Future1000. We want to inspire 1,000 girls, trans, and non-binary people aged 12 to 18 to get into dance music through a free, online video course where they’ll learn to DJ, present on the radio, produce tracks, and learn the tricks of navigating the electronic music industry.
The pandemic gave me time to reflect on how we can tackle gender inequality, where only 3 percent of producers, 12 percent of songwriters and 15 percent of artists are women. These stats are hideously low, and imagine how much worse they must be for trans and non-binary people? The aim is to make minorities feel safe as they try something new. I want to shake up the cannon and rewrite minorities back into history — to truly reflect the artists coming through in electronic music that you may not have heard of before.
There are now and always have been so many women who’ve been monumental in making the dance music scene the powerhouse it is today: Sharon White, Smokin’ Jo, Judy Griffith, DJ Paulette, Stacey ‘Hotwaxx Hale’, Princess Julia, DJ Rap, Kemistry & Storm — and many more who are not given the same level of credit as their male counterparts.
Minorities should be known and brought to the forefront of the narrative.
This month’s Beatportal editorial will highlight artists whose stories deserve to be heard, from cover star Toya Delazy’s genre-hopping Zulu rave-laced artistry, to the meteoric rise of Bklava, whose vocals ooze soul, and performances set dancefloors alight. We’ll also discover rising house don, Jess Bays, and introduce you to emerging artists TAAHLIAH, Cici, Meg Ward and more. I’m delighted to have a wonderful selection of gifted writers on board: Jasmine, Sasha, Yewande and Alice, who were picked on the merit of their talents, and just happen to be women and non-binary.
I firmly believe that representation is the route to reaching equality. There’s a plethora of women, trans, and non-binary talent out there, and a lack of diversity is not acceptable anymore. We have the power to change the world. A cultural shift is happening, as we head from fearfully accepting societal ‘norms’ to questioning their very existence.
I hope you love this month’s guest edit, and that it makes our women, trans and non-binary readers feel seen, and like you can achieve anything.