In 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. visited Chicago to fight for fair and open housing. NPR’s Michel Martin and WBEZ examined the state of activism in Chicago around fair housing and other issues today.
LIVE AT 8 PM EASTERN:
In 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Chicago with a mission to expand the Civil Rights Movement from the South to the North. King led what became known as the Chicago Freedom Movement, focusing on racial discrimination in housing as well as discriminatory practices by employers. Fifty years later, does King’s work still impact the communities he worked to protect and create a better future for?
I’m in Chicago, leading a discussion that reflects on King’s time in the city. The conversation features community members who experienced the the Chicago Freedom Movement firsthand, and a new generation of activists who are all too familiar with what fighting for civil rights looks like today. In collaboration with member station WBEZ, Going There: The Chicago Freedom Movement: Then and Now will be a night of compelling conversation and live performances.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King at a rally in Chicago’s Grant Park in 1966. Bernard Kleina/Courtesy of Bernard Kleina hide caption
toggle caption Bernard Kleina/Courtesy of Bernard Kleina
See some of WBEZ’s 50th anniversary coverage of the Chicago Freedom Movement here.
You can tune in to the live event on this page or via NPR Extra on Facebook.
We’re also taking the conversation to social media with a Twitter chat using the hashtag #NPRChicagoFreedom.
Joining us on Twitter:
Bella Bahhs, @BellaBahhs, is the co-director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective, and is a raptivist, organizer and public commentator working to deconstruct systemic injustice in America and worldwide through art.
Eve Ewing, @eveewing, is a sociologist of education whose research is focused on racism, social inequality, and urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people.
Evan Moore, @evanFmoore, is a Chicago-based journalist who writes about sports, crime, violence and politics. His work has been featured in Ebony, Chicago Magazine, DNAinfo, The Shadow League, The Athletic, RedEye, Crain’s Chicago Business and Community Media Workshop’s We Are Not Alone/No Estamos Solos Project on Youth Violence.
Martin V. Torres, @MartinVTorres, is the associate director of the Latino Policy Forum in Illinois and guides legislative and administrative advocacy with a focus on early childhood education, immigrant integration, housing and state fiscal policy.
Gabrielle Wright, @GabiAWright, is part of the WBEZ team in Chicago. Before joining WBEZ in her current role as digital producer, she interned with Curious City and the Brian Lehrer Show at WNYC Radio. Her interests include the intersection of performance and civic engagement, oral history and theater.
Featured live panelists:
Jack Macnamara is a visiting scholar at the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola University Chicago.
Beryl Satter is a professor and author of Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America.
Tania Unzueta is the co-founder and organizer of Chicago’s Immigrant Youth Justice League, an organization focused on immigrant rights.
Authorities say Omar Mateen killed dozens of people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday. AP hide caption
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As investigators probe the background of Omar Mateen, whose attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead, they say he bore few warning signs of radicalization.
Mateen had allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack, as The Two-Way has reported. But as further details emerge about the shooter, investigators say Mateen’s profile is more like that of a “typical mass shooter” than an individual radicalized by ISIS, as NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reports.
In fact, intelligence officials and investigators say they’re “becoming increasingly convinced that the motive for this attack had very little — or maybe nothing — to do with ISIS.”
Speaking on Weekend Edition Saturday, Dina says that al-Qaida and ISIS-inspired attacks tend to follow a different pattern. She explains:
“We know that during the attack the gunman posted messages on Facebook saying he was doing this on behalf of ISIS. But officials have yet to find any of the precursors usually associated with radicalization. They’ve interviewed dozens of people who either knew him or had contact with Mateen.
“And they say that they’ve yet to find any indication that he became noticeably more religious, which is one of the indicators of radicalization. He still was going to the same mosque. The way he dressed didn’t change. His relationship with his family didn’t change in any way. And these are all typically warning signs that parents and friends and educators are told to look for if they’re worried that someone they’re close to is radicalizing.”
She adds “this isn’t science,” but so far the signs of radicalization aren’t there, which has led investigators to wonder whether the 29-year-old invoked the name of ISIS to garner more publicity for his deadly attack.
The assault resulted in a hostage situation, and Mateen was ultimately killed in a firefight with law enforcement officers.
Investigators have also been struck by “how closely Mateen’s biography adheres to profiles that they associate with typical mass shooters,” Dina adds:
“He was bullied as a kid in school. He had well-documented behavioral problems. He was aggressive toward other kids. As he got older, things didn’t get much better. He took steroids, he jumped from job to job, he had a history of domestic violence. And all these things together fit into a mass shooter’s profile.”
Dina says Mateen reportedly beat both his first wife and his second one — and “violence and control and power are often precursors to mass attacks.”
You can find our earlier coverage of details that have emerged on Mateen here.
As we reported, Mateen, who was born in New York City, had been interviewed three times by the FBI in two separate investigations — one regarding inflammatory comments to co-workers and another regarding possible links to Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, a U.S. citizen who blew himself up in Syria. Both investigations were closed.
Global security company G4S said Mateen had worked for them since 2007. Authorities say he purchased the two firearms he used in the attack legally.
Citing reports that Mateen may have spent time at the Pulse nightclub, which is frequented by gays and lesbians, and used gay dating apps, Dina adds that investigators are beginning to lean towards a particular narrative: “Mateen may have had some problems with his sexuality, maybe even had some latent attraction to men. And he lashed out at the gay community as a result.”
Meanwhile, more of the victims of the attack are being laid to rest in funerals Saturday. Speaking from one funeral in downtown Orlando, NPR’s Nathan Rott tells our Newscast unit that a group of “no more than five anti-gay protesters” gathered outside the Cathedral of St. Luke — but “they were outnumbered and out-voiced, though, by hundreds of people who showed up to support the victims and their grieving families.”
Courtesy of WBUR
Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer “radical empathy” and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.
In today’s episode, listeners ask about what to do when a conflict over wedding plans instigates bigger problems with the rest of the family. Here, Daddy’s Girl No More thinks her rejection of her father’s control led to her family falling apart.
I’m a 25-year-old woman and I got married last year. My husband has been a part of my family for years, so I always thought that our wedding would be a joy shared with my parents and sister. It wasn’t. Our wedding started the collapse of everything I’ve ever known to be true.
I’ve always been close to my dad, but when we were planning our wedding he was so controlling that I had to step in and say no. He stopped talking to me about five months before my wedding. I tried to reach out to him, but he never responded. A month before my wedding, I sent him an email asking if he was even coming to the wedding and if he’d be walking me down the aisle. He didn’t respond, but he did tell my mom that he wouldn’t be there, which broke my heart.
Much to my surprise, he showed up at the wedding two minutes before I was meant to walk down the aisle. I plastered a smile on my face, but on the inside I was screaming. I didn’t want him there. I felt betrayed and bombarded. It was like he had hijacked the day. He told me to have a nice life and left at some point during the reception. I haven’t seen him since and have barely heard from him. That was over a year ago.
To make it all more complicated, two weeks before my wedding he left my mom. They tried to patch things up, but just last month he said he was filing for divorce. Since then, he has said terrible things about and to my mom. He claims that she ruined his life and badmouths her to my sister and all of their friends. To be honest, my mom is probably better off on her own.
I know that I didn’t cause my dad to act like he did, and that my parents have probably never had a perfect marriage — the past year of therapy has helped me realize that. But I am the catalyst. My mom stood up for me when he was trying to control my wedding. He says she “betrayed” him when she did this, and that after she stepped in, their marriage was done. I wish I could say there is more to the story, but as far as I know there isn’t.
Sugars, I can’t come to terms with the guilt that I feel for causing this. At times it consumes me.
On top of the guilt, I feel so betrayed. My life has revolved around my dad for as long as I can remember. I have been a good, loyal daughter. Almost every decision I made was to make my dad proud. I have apologized for whatever he thinks I did wrong many times, but he can’t forgive me. He has said that I am disrespectful, ungrateful and a monster.
What do I do Sugars?
Daddy’s Girl No More
Steve Almond: My reading on the letter, to be honest, is that this is a dad who has been self-involved and controlling and probably has a narcissistic personality disorder or something, because the emotional world of his daughter and his family has revolved around him from the beginning. But what’s clear to me, Daddy’s Girl No More, is that for a long time you have been putting your dad’s happiness before yours. And it sounds like that’s been a pattern since long before you got engaged and planned a wedding and had a wedding.
And the sad truth is that this wedding is really the moment that is revealing that that is profoundly unhealthy. That doesn’t offer a solution, but it is at least a clear diagnosis of the fact: You didn’t do anything wrong here.
Cheryl Strayed: You didn’t. I really do think we’re dealing with somebody who clearly has some mental issues. A normal, rational person does not behave this way in response to his daughter saying, “I want to plan my wedding.”
Steve Almond: You’ve defined yourself as this good, loyal daughter. That’s such a paradigm — especially if he’s a guy who’s sort of self-involved, and by that I mean weak and needy — where you’re always sort of guarding that secret weakness.
Cheryl Strayed: And I think, too, Daddy’s Girl, think about a couple of things. The first is that, it sounds to me, when you decided to plan your own wedding and not do everything your father told you to do, it might have been the first time you really defied him. And you defied him also at this moment that — I know this is a kind of patriarchal, ridiculous way to view it. But part of the reason that fathers who are close to their daughters have problems at their weddings, or are emotional at their weddings, is that it marks this time where — in metaphorical terms — you’re leaving his home for another. And he’s in some ways handing you into the world.
I don’t adhere to those values myself, but I think that a lot of people feel that in their bones. So, your dad behaved badly at a time of greatly heightened emotions. And then, in this year after the wedding, he’s in another bad time. He’s getting divorced; he’s not at his best right now. And I think: Don’t feel guilty, don’t take responsibility for what is not yours. But make room in your heart to be generous, to sometimes let bygones be bygones. Who knows if he’ll cross that bridge, but if you at least build it, it’s there. Daddy’s Girl, I actually think keep doing what you’re doing, maybe just keep the faith a bit longer.
Steve Almond: Right, it’s a moment of crisis, it’s a kind of acute moment in your relationship. And there’s going to have to be a kind of reckoning from his side as well as yours. And the bridge for you will be forgiveness and understanding and patience. And for him it’s going to have to be recalibrating and recognizing that the way that he has related to you is not healthy.
It’s too bad that the trigger was the planning of the wedding and it played out at the wedding, but as we know from our letter-writers, that cathartic event is where a lot of the hidden grievance and dysfunction and unhappiness inside of people suddenly explodes into view.
You can get more advice from the Sugars each week on Dear Sugar Radio from WBUR. This week is the second in a two-part series on wedding drama. They further consider this letter from Daddy’s Girl No More, and hear some horror stories from the ultimate witness to wedding drama: Lois Smith Brady, the founding columnist of the Vows section in The New York Times.
You can listen to Dear Sugar Radio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.
An image and floral tributes for Jo Cox, lay on Parliament Square, outside the House of Parliament in London on Friday. The 41-year-old British Member of Parliament was fatally injured in an attack on Thursday in northern England. Matt Dunham/AP hide caption
toggle caption Matt Dunham/AP
The man accused of killing British Member of Parliament Jo Cox appeared in a London court today, where he was formally charged with murder.
When he was asked to give his name, Thomas Mair used the opportunity to say “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
The brutal killing has shocked the U.K. The 41-year-old Labour Party MP and former aid worker was fatally stabbed and shot in a village near Leeds on Thursday before a scheduled drop-in session with her constituents, as The Two-Way reported.
Mair, 52, was arrested shortly after the attack, as NPR’s Peter Kenyon tells our Newscast unit. “Police say they’re following two primary lines of inquiry – into Mair’s mental condition and into his alleged ties to far-right nationalist and neo-Nazi groups,” Peter adds.
Mair repeated the nationalist slogan twice and “and did not reply when asked to confirm his address and date of birth,” the BBC reported. Mair also faces charges of grave bodily harm, “possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offense and possession of an offensive weapon,” according to the BBC.
The suspect has not yet entered a plea and was taken back into custody after Saturday’s appearance, The Guardian reported. Deputy chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot “suggested that a psychiatric report be prepared,” the newspaper adds. She said: “Bearing in mind the name he has just given, he ought to be seen by a psychiatrist.”
U.K. voters are set to go to the polls on June 23 to decide whether or not to remain in the European Union – and both sides halted campaigning after Cox was killed. As the Guardian reported, both sides have agreed “not to hold events until Sunday at the earliest.” Cox herself was a vocal supporter of remaining in the EU.
“Cox’s killing has sparked calls to examine security arrangements for MPs, and growing concern over the harsh edge appearing in British politics as the EU referendum debate has gone on,” as Peter reports.
In an opinion piece in the Guardian, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that “only by tackling the prejudice and hate that killed her can we do justice to the meaning of Jo Cox’s life.” Here’s more from Brown:
“Unless we strive for a culture of respect to replace a culture that does too little to challenge prejudice, we will be learning nothing from what happened to Jo. We have to be honest that calling for tolerance, while welcome, is not enough: we cannot just revert back to a status quo still filled with prejudice and discrimination without recognising the hurt that has been done and the need to address these injustices head on.”
Meanwhile, tributes to Cox are appearing around the country. Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater appeared at the scene of one tribute on Saturday and spoke to the crowd:
“For now, our family is broken. But we will mend over time, and we will never let Jo leave our lives. She will live on through all the good people in the world – through [her husband] Brendan, through us, and through her truly wonderful children, who will always know what an utterly amazing woman their mother was. She was a human being, and she was perfect.”
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 18, 2016
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, shown here in Japan last month, has publicly backed legislation on physician-assisted suicide. Koji Ueda/AP hide caption
toggle caption Koji Ueda/AP
After weeks of debate, Canadian lawmakers have passed legislation to legalize physician-assisted death.
That makes Canada “one of the few nations where doctors can legally help sick people die,” as Reuters reports.
The new law “limits the option to the incurably ill, requires medical approval and mandates a 15-day waiting period,” as The Two-Way has reported.
The Canadian government introduced the bill in April and it passed a final Senate vote Friday. It includes strict criteria that patients must meet to obtain a doctor’s help in dying. As we have reported, a patient must:
- “Be eligible for government-funded health care (a requirement limiting assisted suicides to Canadians and permanent residents, to prevent suicide tourism).”
- “Be a mentally competent adult 18 or older.”
- “Have a serious and incurable disease, illness or disability.”
- “Be in an ‘advanced state of irreversible decline,’ with enduring and intolerable suffering.”
As a safeguard, the law also requires that two independent witnesses be present when the patient signs a request for a doctor-assisted death.
A headed debate emerged over whether to require patients to prove that their “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable,” as the law reads.
Some lawmakers wanted to broader eligibility criteria that would include degenerative diseases, Reuters reports. “The key amendment that senators had been pushing for was to broaden the criteria for who qualifies for assisted dying,” reporter Dan Karpenchuk tells our Newscast unit. “They had insisted that it includes suffering Canadians who are not close to death.”
Ultimately, the senators dropped the amendment and adopted the bill with the more restrictive language – but Dan says the law will likely be challenged in courts. He adds:
“Some senators say [the law] is immoral, adding that there could be people facing years of excruciating suffering, but not yet close to death. And in launching expensive legal challenges many who are desperately ill and their families could go broke from court cases to determine if they have the right to an assisted death.”
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould had opposed the broader criteria, arguing that it would mean that patients with “any serious medical condition, whether it be a soldier with PTSD, a young person with a spinal cord injury, or a survivor whose memory is haunted with memories of sexual abuse” could be eligible for a physician-assisted death, as CBC reports.
After the legislation was passed, Wilson-Raybould said in a statement with the Attorney General and Minister of Health that it “strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those seeking access to medically assisted dying and protecting the vulnerable.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had backed the legislation, which was introduced after Canada’s Supreme Court struck down a ban on doctor-assisted suicide last year.
We asked eleven writers to share the songs that helped them make the dance floor home. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
In the week since the bloody and obscene disruption in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub challenged the spirit of hope the LGBTQ* community has so determinedly cultivated for decades, many beautiful words have been burnt into computer screens, offerings to the sacred dance floor. These eulogies have been personal and political, lauding club life as a source of personal awakening, activism and community building. The distant thump of dance music has run through all of these accounts. Different varieties of beats bounced against each other — the salsa and reggaeton played at Pulse that night; the house music that helped people cope with the decimation wrought by AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s; the disco that first shaped the physical experience of post-Stonewall liberation, putting bodies together to sweat and cry out in joy.
To honor that music, we’ve asked eleven writers who’ve realized essential elements of themselves on such dance floors to share the songs that meant the most to them within that process. This is a playlist for Pulse, for the 49 dead and 53 wounded who each had their own song, the one that pulled him or her out of her perch at the bar, grinning and shaking that thing, that body that holds the soul; grasping the hand of a friend or lover while looking for a new smile to catch out, to keep growing the circle until it felt like it extended everywhere.
“People talk about liberation as if it’s some kind of permanent state, as if you get liberated and that’s it, you get some rights and that’s it, you get some acknowledgment and that’s it, happy now? But you’re going back down into the muck of it every day; this world constricts,” wrote the novelist Justin Torres in his own remembrance of such moments. The Pulse tragedy reasserted the cruel fact that liberation is a fragile right in a society still making its fitful trudge toward genuine tolerance. The mourning process reminds those who love to dance together of something else, too: Liberation is a practice, an insistently loving one, advanced every time people gather to shake off judgment and open their arms to life. The songs enable the practice. They are the conduits through which a superordinary current travels. To reclaim the religious language too often used to justify hate: The songs are the mantras, the beads dancers use when they pray. We present this playlist as a form of witness and of participating in the practice. Be free.
A Playlist For Pulse
CeCe Rogers and Marshall Jefferson, “Someday” (1987)
The day after the massacre of so many queer people of color in Orlando, I kept returning to CeCe Rogers and Marshall Jefferson’s “Someday” from 1987. It was a house anthem that I had heard over and over at the End Up in San Francisco when I was an underage go go dancer at Club Uranus, fresh out of the closet and fresh out of Kentucky. The pain and politics of “Someday” were oddly resonant in the late eighties, as the devastation of AIDS stalked our partygoing, and its references to oppression, prejudice, racism and fear indexed the very obstacles that made its lyrical promise of living as one family and making the world a Paradise so alluring, and, still, so distant. Absorbing the awful news from Florida, I played “Someday” over and over, and then dragged the file into Ableton Live editing software and just looped those gospel chords, listening to that cascading riff, trying to extract some balm. In doing so, I was replaying something that has already been replayed and re-used countless times, notably by Liquid for their rave homage/take off “Sweet Harmony” from 1992, which sped up the tempo and soldered breakbeats and rave stabs to the churchy chassis of the Chicago original (a process taken even further for the Concrete Jungle remix of Urban Shakedown’s “Some Justice”, which also raids “Someday” for vocal loops). In the wake of Orlando, I could hardly bear to hear the pain in Rogers’ voice as he modulates upwards to sing that “It doesn’t have to be like this”.
Tragedies are tragic because they are avoidable. The force of this song confirms something essential to me: The pleasure and joy of gay dance music and gay dance spaces draw their fire from political imagination and political demand. Here it takes a radically counterfactual form, one cruelly apt to the question of gun control in America. The message is simple: We don’t have to keep repeating ourselves. We could have a different world. House can be an escapist narcotic, an inert and formulaic placeholder for pious citations of long exhausted historical moments, but it can also sneak up on clichés and make their dry bones live. On the dance floor, you learn these things in your body. Rogers’ reference to apartheid in South Africa is a case in point; in the wake of the end of apartheid, the meaning and valence of the song has been transformed within his own lifetime. But it’s harder to measure the time it will take to get to where this song is going. “If we could just open our eyes / we could make our world a Paradise.” If there’s pain, it’s the pain of waiting, of deferral, of counting our losses. As queers, how long will we have to wait for someday? DREW DANIELYouTube
Diana Ross, “Love Hangover” (1976)
“Ahhhhh” was the sultry opening to “Love Hangover,” disco’s “it” song during the spring of 1976. With ex-Supreme Diana Ross singing dreamily, languidly, lustily, “Love Hangover” begins like a slinky seduction. By the time the song shifts into high gear, the dance floor where I most often danced, Ann Arbor’s Rubaiyat Disco, was mobbed, and no one, even the most exuberant dancer, could do more than dance in place. Maybe we were responding exclusively to the infectiousness of this track, which Ross herself once described as not quite a song. But I suspect that for early adopters of disco like myself there was a joy in having this maligned genre affirmed by Ross. No singer that famous had yet ventured into our glitterball world. But there’s something else about that song that I think explains why we so crowded the dance floor whenever it played. “If there’s a cure for this, I don’t want it” was Ross’s first line. Sure, the song was about love, but for us — the sexual outsiders, the gender rebels — “Love Hangover” was about our love, queer love, and we weren’t looking for a cure either. When I think about those disco days, and how queer people used the club, making ourselves over in the process, I flash back to that song, the feeling of brushing up against strangers, and the sensation of feeling free. ALICE ECHOLSYouTube
Jennifer Lopez, “Waiting for Tonight” (1999)
When I started the process of coming out around 1999, I was 19 years old and, shall we say, inexperienced. The all hours, 18-and- up club I frequented with my Gap co-workers was a dingy, druggy place in a scary part of town, a metaphorical world away from where I’d grown up. Needless to say, I loved it. Hearing “Waiting For Tonight” reminds me of nothing so much as the sensory confusion and heightened arousal of those first club experiences — making eyes with handsome strangers, awkwardly misreading signals and surrendering myself to the tangled mass of bodies on the dance floor while J. Lo torched the place with her vivid, breathless fantasies and those naughty conga drums. Closing the deal rarely exceeded the thrill of the chase for me, but “Waiting for Tonight” could always convince me that I just needed to try harder. JON FREEMANYouTube
Armand Van Helden ft. Duane Harden, “You Don’t Know Me” (1999)
In the early 1990s, I used to rent a room in New York’s Flatiron district, right around the corner from the Sound Factory Bar at 12 West 21st street. Sleep was not an option while 4 a.m. dancing to DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Louie Vega; after a few sunset hours of puttering around the apartment, I’d hop the subway to honor my nine to five. By the mid- to late-’90s, The Octagon, Escuelita, Café Con Leche, Phab, Brooklyn Sensation and Langston’s were among the trans-borough black and Latino gay clubs (or club nights) that formed my crew’s weekly going-out ritual; these spaces were something of a contrast to the decidedly more mainstream (and much paler) megaclubs like Palladium, Twilo and Arena.
For a transitional ’90s moment, the idea of a hip-hop night in a gay club was still decidedly left-curve, so much so that I can recall lining up outside The Warehouse in the Bronx, waiting to get in, wondering if any of us might be mowed down by a drive-by shooter with a phobic axe to grind. I wonder if in our rush to mourn and find logic in the midst of the Orlando catastrophe we’ve managed to conflate the concept of the commercial, transactional gay nightclub as a safe space with the ideal of the gay nightclub as a convivial space. To attend an LGBT club in a straight-supremacist world used to mean — and in many places still means — that you’re necessarily exposed in some way; there was always a bit of risk, and safety was rarely guaranteed (particularly if you weren’t cisgender). And still, we flocked to spaces like Escuelita and Crash, hell bent on having a kiki-ing with friends, hot in pursuit of a date or a hook-up, dressed to the nines in stylized outfits, determined to see and be seen, awestruck by voguing mavericks battling it out and kinetically dancing the night away until our feet turned sore.
Even more than Ultra Naté’s 1997 “Free,” “You Don’t Know Me” is the track that most reminds me of the inspirational anthem pop that 1990s NYC underground house made possible. Duane Harden’s impassioned bleat surging atop Armand Van Helden’s looping Carrie Lucas disco sample and Jaydee beat was the pre-9/11 zenith of transcendent dance floor pride. The sassy, clapback lyric — fusing self-esteem sentiments borrowed from ditties as diverse as La Cage Aux Folles‘ “I Am What I Am” and Billy Joel’s “My Life” — rides along on a “don’t judge me” message so in-your-face-potent you wish the Orlando shooter had heard it, internalized it and made much smarter, less lethal choices. Nearly two decades later, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in queer nightlife spaces in pockets of the world where homosexuality has yet to be decriminalized. There, like everywhere else, the pursuit of conviviality and personal liberation continues; even in the midst of resurgent attempts to repress the marginalized, we find a way to keep dancing. JASON KINGYouTube
Dinosaur L, “#5 (Go Bang!)” (1981)
Thoughts spring to “That’s Where the Happy People Go” by the Trammps, the first song to acknowledge the pivotal role played by the LGBTQ community in the formation of disco, and a sweet number to offset this bitterest of moments. They also turn to M.F.S.B.’s quintessential underground disco classic “Love Is the Message,” because the desire to confront hatred with love has suffused responses to the massacre. Then there’s Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, a near-mandatory selection given that so many partygoers realised their queer selves at Pulse, and also Joe Smooth’s Chicago house classic “Promised Land” in the hope that “One day we will be free / From fighting, violence / People crying in the street.”
Not for the first time, I need a DJ to capture the layered complexity of what I’m feeling, to lead a dialogical journey that weaves together all of these records and so many more, because this form of extended conversation enables us to discover where we are and where we want to go, expressing our connectedness as the exchange unfolds. But if no DJ steps forward, I’ll pick out for Dinosaur L’s “#5 (Go Bang!).”
First released by Arthur Russell on the album 24 → 24 Music in 1981 and remixed by François Kevorkian in 1982, “Go Bang!” gives the impression of doing everything at once as it meshes disco, funk, jazz, dub, new wave, opera and spoken-word chanting in a pulsating groove marked by high drama. The track captures New York party culture at its most mutant and vibrant, for just as nobody had a name for the wild range of sounds that fueled the city’s definitively mixed crowds of the early 1970s, so the post-backlash period of the early 1980s witnessed the culture casting genre to one side as musicians captured the kaleidoscopic diversity of the city’s dance crowds. “Go Bang” expresses not only male pleasure (listen to Julius Eastman’s three-and-a-half octave organismic rendition of the title line) but also the the better-than-sex moment when an entire dance floor screams as a sublime record reaches its peak (captured in the line “I want to see all my friends at once go bang”). Whenever I hear this record played at a party, I and others enter into a circus of sounds, movements, gestures, expressions, touches and screams as the floor becomes a space of openness and expression that exceeds standard definitions of who we are, allowing us to become collectively who we want to be. If only the record never stopped. TIM LAWRENCEYouTube
Aquarian Dream, “Phoenix” (1976)
This gem, produced by jazz fusion drummer Norman Connors, embodies the sanctified feeling of gospel, a sound that suffused so much of early disco.
I first heard this cut about 25 years after it was first released and had drifted into obscurity. I had just graduated college and moved to Philly for a music critic internship. Soon after moving there, I became something of a club head. There was virtually no gay club life in my native Little Rock, Ark., and Philly back then still had several hot joints. This one spot, whose name I’ve long forgotten, played a mix of new and classic dance cuts and drew a beautiful, intergenerational, mostly black and brown crowd. The night the DJ threw on “Phoenix,” the older queens whooped and filled the floor right away. Younger ones joined, too. Usually the wallflower, I couldn’t resist and ended up dancing with a slim, flirty older guy who sang the lyrics as he danced, hands lifted. After the song segued into another cut, I leaned into the guy’s ear and asked him the title of the song.
“‘Phoenix,’ baby,” he said.”Aquarian Dream.”
It took me almost a decade to find a copy of that song, which transformed that narrow, sweaty space into a righteous sanctuary. Named for the mythical bird that rose strong and glorious from ashes and flames, “Phoenix” celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit, something to remember as we grieve the tragedy at Pulse. And as we grieve, perhaps the spirited horns, strings, percussion and churchy vocals will help us imagine a better place for the 49 gone. Their spirits dance on as the song evokes the flight metaphor found in many gospel songs: “Fly, fly away.” RASHOD OLLISONYouTube
Jeanie Tracy, “Time Bomb” (1984)
I hadn’t experienced sex yet, but when my pointy-toed boots hit the dance floor of the Lost & Found in Washington D.C., my teenage body throbbed with lust, passion and desire. Those same sensations pile up in climax upon climax on this lost classic by Jeanie Tracy, the Houston-born singer that stepped in as Sylvester’s primary backing vocalist after Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes graduated to fame as the Weathergirls. (I’ve never been able to find complete credits for this track, but I choose to believe that’s Sylvester, the Queen of Disco, wailing away behind Jeanie throughout this gem.) I blasted “Time Bomb” in my suburban Virginia bedroom and on my first Walkman to sustain me during long, lonely weeks at school, but it never sounded as full and alive as it did in those fleeting moments when I dared to detonate into my true self, one among many, on Saturday nights at the L&F. KURT B. REIGHLEYYouTube
Paul van Dyk ft. Saint Etienne – Tell Me Why (The Riddle) (2000)
The beat and sequencer matrix is familiar to fans of the German DJ whose trance productions were all the rage in big cities during the Y2K era. But the synth strings cresting over those beats? Impossible by himself. Collaborating with the British dance pop trio coaxed out the best from each other: Saint Etienne got sinew and muscle, van Dyk got pastels and melodies. Thank Sarah Cracknell, the Holy Spirit of Wistfulness, repeating, “When the morning comes/and the snow is falling” after wondering if she could open her heart again. Tweaking and peaking, months after the ebb of my own unrequited crush, I danced to this 2000 British hit at a defunct Miami club’s gay night, aware that several hundred damp strangers and my three friends had known nothing better than this moment but would know much better moments when the morning came and the sun was rising. ALFRED SOTOYouTube
Aly-Us, “Follow Me” (1992)
I owe so much of my life, interests, salvation to vogueing — its execution, its specter, its soundtrack — that very specifically black and Latino and gay and trans and New York subculture that has quite literally depended upon the club (or community center, or VFW, or high school gym) as a sanctuary for survival. I owe so much to its practitioners, its DJs, its participants, for teaching me new ways to be free by example, and for exemplifying transcendence through dance, and for expanding and illuminating ingenious new avenues for femininity to me, a straight, cis Latina from Wyoming. Voguing is a space where words like “soft” and “cunt” and “pussy,” often derogatory in less open spaces, are compliments of the highest order, particularly when accompanied by unwavering displays of athleticism that equate them with physical power, too.
Adjacent to this is “Follow Me,” the 1992 New York City anthem by house trio Aly-us, and one of the most generous songs I’ve ever heard — a song that, 24 years later, still has the capacity to uplift me more than 30 years in the church ever did. Specifically anti-racism, its gospel (and gospel influences) resonates for any time and place. Its essential openness and light even now encourages the best possible scenario: a dancefloor of hands lifted in ecstatic prayer, the physical sensation of being truly free. It explicitly imagines the club as a site of inclusivity and the body as its own locus of worship. Follow me… why don’t you follow me… to a place where we can be free. This is as plainspoken a mission of house music as there’s ever been, an enduring staple of the queer dancefloor that can still elevate the club to a higher place. There’s love to share. Can you feel it? It’s in the air. JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERDYouTube
Deee-Lite, “Good Beat” (1991)
I met David Diaz on the parched, scraggly playground for “upper graders” at our Inland Empire elementary school in Southern California, within months of my arrival to the States in 1983. We were both 10, and as he describes it, “Karen was playing soccer with the boys, and I was playing Chinese jump rope with the girls.” When we were on a class field trip to the murky, man-made Lake Perris, David rode with me and a few other kids in my folks’ conversion van, prompting my mom to think wishfully that we were “an item.” I suppose we were. How we were became increasingly apparent as we matured awkwardly into our teendom, trying slyly to fit within whatever acceptable parameters of gender-bending the late ’80s and early ’90s afforded. At one point we both had hairdos resembling Mario Lopez’s mullet in Saved by the Bell, though I could never achieve the lustrousness of David’s, since he has naturally curly hair, and like most Asian girls of the era, I needed a “body wave” just to get mine to take any sort of shape. It was in our senior year as theater kids and members of the Thespian club that David — who, in a rehearsed cosmopolitan accent, I started calling “Dahv” — brought Deee-Lite’s World Clique album to our protoqueer (but really already totally queer), theater dork cast parties.
While our hetero-confident peers were gregariously practicing their prom night grind to the album’s highest charting hit, “Groove is in the Heart” (portending its subsequent popularity at many of the straight weddings we’d end up going to years later), Dahv brought us to the house with the nonchalant, cumulative build of “Good Beat.” We’d ease into the song with simple, pulsating movements of the head and chest, nodding our assent to the beat that would eventually animate our flesh as if we were elastic, ecstatic windsocks. We sang along with our priestess, Lady Miss Kier (from New York City via Youngstown, Ohio): “Everything will be alright when you feel it tonight.” “Good Beat” propelled those of us piled into my grandma’s Ford Escort station wagon across the full 55 miles of freeway that led to Arena, in the eastern part of West Hollywood. Arena was the 18-and-over queer Latino club where we could do everything for real with other brown queers like us: the intimate strangers who knew when to break out in a tight, rhythmical unison with “zoo wah zoo wah zoo wah da da…zoo wah…zoo zoo wah….” We came to the rest of our lives together there to the “Good Beat,” to the promise of things getting better, blissfully oblivious to our future worlds in which such scenes of becoming are so easily annihilated. KAREN TONGSONYouTube
Sarah Dash, “Sinner Man” (1978)
I’ll never forget dancing to Sarah Dash’s “Sinner Man” because I heard it for the very first time at my very first gay disco. My friends Jim and Julie and I had just graduated from high school in a suburb of Rochester, N.Y. and I was about to leave for college in New York City. I wasn’t out even to myself yet, but this was 1979, and we already knew the hippest and most urbane version of ANYTHING was gay. So we went to a downtown gay club called Jim’s, and right away spot two of our English teachers. Then this song comes on, about an otherwise strong-willed woman’s attraction to what’s forbidden. It’s sung by one of the ex-members of Labelle, so she really belts, and it’s got one of Tom Moulton’s classic mixes that breaks down as the background vocalists chant, “Holding me, touching me, sinner man” while the track builds more powerful than ever — as if surrendering to what’s supposedly bad for you can make you stronger if you’re able to learn from it. That, for me, was the gay experience in a nutshell. Soon after, Jim, Julie and I all came out, and a few years after that, our social studies teacher Tim Mains became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in all of New York State. I’m sure there are people in our hometown who still think we’re all sinners, but I wouldn’t have made it out alive if I’d believed that. BARRY WALTERSYouTube
Malcolm Graham poses for a picture in his dining room near a framed print of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Logan Cyrus for The Trace hide caption
toggle caption Logan Cyrus for The Trace
On June 17, 2015, Malcolm Graham learned that his sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, a librarian and a devout Christian, was one of nine victims shot and killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Here is Graham, a career politician who recently lost a Congressional bid in North Carolina, in his own words on what it was like to lose “the glue” that held his family together.
I was at home getting ready for bed in Charlotte and I saw the news scroll at the bottom of the TV. It said that there was a shooting in Charleston at Emanuel and people were feared dead.
I automatically called my sister Cynthia. Emanuel was our home church, has been for our family for some 50 years, and Cynthia’s my contact for all things Charleston. She didn’t answer so I just assumed she was trying to figure out what had happened, lending support to the church. When she didn’t call me back in an hour, I started to get concerned simply because, with something of that magnitude, she would have called and said she was OK. And then my niece called and said that they could not locate Cynthia, that there were rumors she’d attended Bible study that night. And obviously those rumors were true.
It was awful because we had to prepare a funeral service and do those things that families do when they lose a loved one, and we had to do it in a very public way because the whole nation was watching what we were doing.
During the first court hearing, some of the victims’ family members told the shooter that they forgave him. So we had to deal with this whole notion of forgiveness of the shooter two days after the incident, while my sister was still in the morgue. I simply do not forgive. I don’t think you can forgive someone for a hideous act like that two days after it occurred. Forgiveness is a journey, it’s just not granted, especially when they never asked for it.
My focus has been remembering how Cynthia lived versus how she died. Cynthia lived an extraordinary life, a storybook life. She was personable, she was sharp, she was candid. She cared about her community, cared about her church, cared about her God.
A program with a cover photograph of Cynthia Hurd, 54, is handed out before her funeral at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where she was killed along with eight others in a mass shooting at the church on June 27, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Joe Raedle/Getty Images
I put it upon myself to be her advocate. I wrote editorials for newspapers and appeared on radio and cable news shows. I went to the National Association of Black Journalists and was a keynote speaker there. I just kind of engulfed myself as a form of therapy, talking about what had gone wrong in our society and what we must do as a community to regain trust. I also wanted to call attention to the elephant in the room: racism and hatred and discrimination. I don’t call it gun violence. Certainly the gun was the tool the perpetrator used to commit the crime, but the crime itself was hate and racism and discrimination. To simply call it gun violence disregards what happened that night.
Anytime you talk about racism or race it makes people very uncomfortable, but I believe it was a conversation that needed to be had so I took it upon myself to talk about those issues. And at the same time, it gave me an opportunity to make sure that people knew my sister as more than a victim at the church, that she was a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a librarian, a commissioner, a friend—she was so many other things than a victim.
Our parents passed away in 1984 and 1986, and so in many respects, Cynthia was the matriarch. She was the glue that held everybody together. It was tough for all of us, particularly my sister Jackie. The Friday before Cynthia passed, Jackie was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. So there was a lot of family stuff going on and we were concerned about Jackie’s health and Jackie’s life when Cynthia was taken from us.
We’re all doing better now. I don’t think we’re fine, but we’re better. We are getting used to living without Cynthia. It gives our family pride and honor to know that other people have recognized her. The University of South Carolina, where she got her masters degree, has named a masters scholarship after her. And the housing authority, where she served as a commissioner for 21 years, also established a scholarship after her.
There’s still a void there. She was someone I would talk to every day, every other day, by phone or text. I think that’s the biggest difference — no more pep talks from her, no more encouragement from her, no more “how you doing brother” from her. It’s like losing a cell phone, because that’s your information pack. I can’t recharge it, I can’t get it back.
It would be motherly conversations, it would be sisterly conversations, it would be encouraging conversations as I went about my political career. I served for six years in the Charlotte City Council in North Carolina and 10 years as a member of the state senate, so I’m a political animal. I love politics and government. It’s something that Cynthia encouraged me to do and be involved in.
Cynthia was always helping me — she was a librarian, a great researcher, a great wordsmith — she edited speeches for me and would say, “Hey, you might want to say it this way,” or, “You know what, I’m gonna rip this up, I’m gonna do it for you.”
At her funeral service, I gave her eulogy and it was the first time I needed that type of assistance and she wasn’t there. Certainly she would have been the person I would have called to say “I need your help to write this thing,” or “proofread it for me.”
The last time I saw Cynthia, she visited to help celebrate my oldest daughter Nicole’s college graduation. And one of the things she kept saying to my youngest daughter, Cortney, is, “You’re up next.” Cortney graduated from college this year, and Cynthia wasn’t there.
I see Cynthia every day because she’s on my cell phone screenshot. There was a picture of her that an illustrator did for the alumni magazine at the College of Charleston where she worked part-time, and it’s a beautiful picture. I saved it as a part of my screensaver. So every time I pick up the phone to make a call, there she is, with me everywhere I go.
We may be back here again soon. Not in Charleston, not in a church, but somewhere in our country someone is going to experience some type of pain simply because of the proliferation of guns, and the Achilles heel of our country, racism, that we can’t seem to get past. So we got to not just forgive and forget, but we have to remember to continue to fight for those things that make our society better today than it was yesterday.
Daniel Grizelj/Getty Images
A lawmaker’s letter shone light this week on a disturbing element in the story of the Orlando shooting: Before and during the attack, the gunman searched and posted on Facebook, in part to find out if he was in the news.
We’ve seen this before: In the stomach-churning first-person-view video of the 2015 Virginia shooting of a TV crew, in the rambling online suicide note of the 2014 Isla Vista, Calif. shooter, in the MySpace page of the gunman’s in the 2011 Tucson shooting.
In some ways it’s a logical next step: Murderers for years have been using the media as a platform to project a particular final image, promote a manifesto, seek notoriety. Social media has become the perfect platform for the celebrity-seeking, narcissistic pathology of a mass killer.
(While we’re on this topic, please read this important essay by Zeynep Tufekci — a notable thinker on the topic of technology, media and society — who writes about facing up to shooters’ orchestrated media fame. An Arizona State University study, for instance, has found evidence that coverage of mass shootings has inspired copycats.)
But does social media serve purely as a boundless, unfiltered stand-in for the newsroom switchboards and hastily mailed diatribes of the past?
For a broader exploration, I turned to Sherry Turkle, a clinical psychologist and MIT professor renowned for her study of digital culture, including her books Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together.
She spoke about the “startlingly banal” and frightening revelation that a shooter might Facebook during the attack, as well as the overarching need to combat social isolationism that’s permeating our society. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s the psychological context to what compels mass shooters to turn to social media as the attack unfolds?
Just the background of this: Our serial killers, shooters, pathological — these people who are harmful in our society live in our society. And so they are going to participate in the mores, in the norms, in the habits that we all share…
I call this “I share therefore I am,” because really, so much of our experience of affirming who we are has become sharing what we’re doing, sharing what we’re eating, sharing what we’re seeing. … Social media isn’t something that’s happened to us on the outside, it really has become something about our identity.
And so, as much as this young man was pathological and sick — and I don’t want to normalize his behavior in the least — for him, this atrocity was part of his identity, and the fact that he posted it should be the least of what surprises us.
So is this then sort of an intersection of a pathological mass-murderer with a pre-existing expectation that this is what social media is for, this social validation?
Sherry Turkle is director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME hide caption
toggle caption Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME
We’re in this peculiar spot where most of us post what makes us look good … and we don’t really want to confront that the reality is — to this man — doing this, he thought it made him look good. And I think that’s the piece that is too horrible for us to confront, because it makes him into someone who is a monster.
I think in the coverage of him, you want to make him into someone who’s like us but doesn’t have our beliefs, or … could’ve been saved if he could be talked out of this, or if he hadn’t met these radical Islamists…
We haven’t stabilized in a way to think about, who are the people who would do these atrocities? … And yet they live apparently in our society, holding down jobs, going to the movies, watching TV shows. They live among us, enjoying the pleasures that we do.
It’s easier to say, “this man was insane, pathological and nothing like me,” but what you’re saying — that his use of Facebook reflects what we do in our daily lives but on a completely different, horrifying scale — that makes him more like me, and that’s what makes me extremely uncomfortable.
This particular action and how we read it — that he posted things on Facebook — there are two ways to take. “Oh, he’s such a monster, he advertises his killing spree,” and that’s a way to alienate him from us and say, “oh he’s completely different from us, nothing like us, he’s a monster, and I only advertise my beautiful food and put it on Instagram.”
And then, there’s a moment when … you feel, “oh my god, he has a Facebook page and he’s just posting stuff he’s going to do.” There’s something startlingly banal about that… That in some ways, he participated in norm mores, that when you’re going to do something, you post it. And that makes him more frightening…
Somebody said something jarring to me about this, which is really wild to think about: Was this guy, in his terrifying way, really after likes?
That’s a different question. Is it possible that what these people, who use Facebook for atrocities, are after is approval? … That’s a much more hopeful question.
In which way?
Customers watch a video of Seung-Hui Cho on the NBC Nightly News on April 18, 2007, at a local restaurant Blacksburg, Va. Between his first and second bursts of gunfire, Virginia Tech gunman Cho mailed a package to NBC that containing photos of him brandishing guns and video of him delivering an angry, profanity laced tirade. Today such rants and images are posted directly online via social media. Amy Sancetta/AP hide caption
toggle caption Amy Sancetta/AP
If our analysis of this man is that he was alienated … if these are sort of alienated, out-of-touch people … [who] look for meaning by acting against America or acting for a cause — that’s a much more classic portrait of people who become extremists and become people who are hurtful to our society. If, in a way that our society hasn’t found a place of them, they’re alienated from us — and if only they had been more socially integrated … they would not have turned against us….
That model suggests that, if he’d been part of a church group, a community group, and wasn’t so alienated in the way we live now where so many people are so isolated, alone … then there are more things we can do, to bring them more into a fold as a society. … Much more investment in civic structure, in community structure, in churches and synagogues and program and for parents, young people and older people…
That’s why I think this Facebook issue opens out so many takes on the story. On the one hand, it makes him more like us, and we have to confront him. And one of the things we have to confront is the degree of our social isolation. Do we feel that it speaks to something that we should act on in our society as a whole, for all of us — not just the pathological who go off to be radicalized…
Is a way to combat his isolation a way to combat all of our isolation?
Could one response be to say, “let’s put more money in our community infrastructure”? Instead of saying, “let’s kick everybody out and close the border,” let’s make it so that people who are here feel this is a place of tremendous integration, and community, and hopefulness, where people feel a part and included…
And is your observation that this kind of isolation is a factor of our age of social media?
People always have been isolated; now isolation has a new social pattern to it. It has a new kind of legitimacy … people have always been isolated, but when they were, there were forces that pushed them out into their community. … And the question is, is that new pattern giving you back what you need to sustain you?…
I like to say I’m not anti-technology, I’m pro-conversation. … Really, what matters in the end is, you need to see people. … We need to think about building a more inclusive society, in which fewer people are isolated.
And that’s what I think is scary about these cases: It reminds us how many of us are isolated — not that many of us are terrorists, but how many of us wish we had more.