On the eve of the #BlackLivesMatter fundraiser event in Auckland, we sat down with Lucia and Soraya, who are curating the lineup and the different aspects of this necessary event. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is an activist movement that originated in the Africa-American community to campaign against violence towards black people.
Soraya: What inspired me to curate this event was the fact that what is happening is a human rights issue. I am of African-American descent and I was born in New Zealand. I have also lived in the U.S.A where the police have harassed some of my friends. Besides my connection to America, I believe that we are all members of the human race and that those people who are being shot and killed are our brothers and sisters.
Lucia: One night we were in the studio talking about what was happening in America and Soraya made me feel like I could make a difference. I usually don't get involved or say much because I feel like it isn't my place but honestly it is my place and it is everyone's place. I may not be Black but I am down for this movement and I am standing up.
AOMS: I applaud both of you for standing up and speaking out because I struggle with people who want to be about black culture when it suits them. Sometimes you find artists who are not of colour reaping the benefits of black culture but when it comes to speaking about the issues that impact us as people, those same individuals are quiet. It's time for us to all come together in unity and not to see it as a ‘race thing’. It is about black lives mattering and acknowledging that but you don’t necessarily have to be Black to support or to be a part of the movement, nor do you have to be in America.
Soraya: When I reached out to a few artist friends of mine, who are in L.A, I was disappointed by some of the responses that I received. These are artists who aren’t of colour who have Black bands, Black deejays and Black producers saying, “I don’t want to get so political”. It made me think, you don’t want to stand up for me as a friend. It made me feel like if someone was to put a gun to my head they wouldn’t stand up for me.
At the same time the support we have received in New Zealand has made me feel really welcomed and at home. I have never really felt at home in Auckland and for the first time I'm thinking wow these people really do love me, they fuck not only with my culture but they also fuck with me. These aren't just artists of colour, these are individuals who have the courage to stand up and speak out. I truly appreciate everyone who has come on board because I know that it’s hard, I know it’s scary and I know it isn't easy to get involved in this subject matter.
Lucia: You are so right about the importance of artists and their voices. The other day I noted that it is the creatives and artists who are backing this event. The big corporates are out there doing nothing and it is the people who have no money and are struggling that are behind this. It says so much.
AOMS: As I mentioned earlier it’s so powerful that this fundraiser is happening not only to raise funds but to also raise awareness. Apart from the dope line-up, what can people expect?
Soraya: Before we decided to host the fundraiser I spent some time researching the movement and trying to establish the best way to approach it. I followed the leaders of the different aspects of the movement and also the people that were involved in helping.
What’s going to happen is once you enter the venue you will pay the entry fee and receive a ticket. At the bottom of the stairs, there will be some buckets with the names of the different organisations and places that your funds can be donated to. You place the ticket in your chosen bucket and that is where we will donate the funds (all of them). The different organisations and organisations are:
1. The Black lives matter organisation
2. National Legal Guild (Lawyers who are working to maintain the rights of peaceful protestors and those who need protection from police)
3. United Negro College fund (Money raised to help African American students who are without financial support so that they can attain university degrees)
Lucia: The entry fee is a minimum of $10.00 but we want to encourage people to give more.
Soraya: We are also selling raffle tickets to fundraise more money. When you purchase a raffle ticket, you go in the draw to win things from Sorato, Paperbag Princess, Recycle Boutique and other places.
AOMS: That sounds great! We are looking forward to supporting this. A couple of hours before receiving a notification that you had created an event, a friend and I had been talking about what can be done. We both felt so raw and useless so this event is necessary for so many people. Anything else you want to say regarding the event and the movement?
Soraya: : I feel like we separate ourselves by either colour or nationality or location or place but really, we are one. It’s quite interesting that doing this event I was scared that it would turn into this conversation about ‘go back to your country’, I didn’t want it to get into a hateful race conversation because I know how deep it can get. If we could put that shit behind us for one night and raise money for this movement, it would mean so much. It would mean a lot to the people in the movements that some people so far away from us care about us enough to back us up. It will make the difference.
People can think what they want but all we are doing is raising awareness of what’s going on.
We are here for the facilitating of important dialogue that needs to be had, the allocation of safe spaces in which to have them and to heal and show solidarity. Music has always been a mechanism that Black people have used to resist, to heal and to lift spirits in the face of adversity and this event is no different.