When I was first invited to an A.I.M. session I assumed I was going to some American Indian Movement given who invited me and work he does connecting inner-city high schools and youth on reservations. The event was not that AIM, however, it was Assemblies in Motion. I had never heard of this organization that helped to workshop Tupac Shakur’s poetic voice early on before he became a hip hop artist. His book The Rose That Grew From Concrete is apparently a group of selections that Leila Steinberg, founder of the organization, nurtured early on his career. The event I went to tonight happens every Monday night in Los Angeles and is called the Microphone Sessions. It’s something that connects folks working on their art/craft (mostly poetry and music, but a bit of visual art too) with those that AIM works with in inner city schools as well as in the prison system. Each week Leila gives people a theme–this week “sacred,” next week “passion”–and people come to the workshop with their pieces. Mark Gonzales performed a brilliant piece and a friend of his Maya, who works with a project that grew out of her time here in Los Angeles, in the Riker’s Island prison in New York. Both were my favorite pieces–long, beautiful, inspirational poems that wove together various images from parallel political and artistic influences. I also met two artistically intriguing people after the mic session was finished, Quese IMC and his sister Happy; he’s a hip hop artist who is having a CD release party in a week or so. Both do some amazing artistic and musical work with indigenous people on and off reservations. I’m excited to hear the new CD when it’s released (will be sold by CD Baby).
In other news, the silence in this country in light of the crackdown on the West Bank is deafening. I heard a Flashpoints report today during which I was horrified to learn that one of the many journalists rounded up by Israelis and sent to prison was a friend. His son only got out of jail a couple of months ago and now he is back in prison. This is what happens when you engage in one of the world’s most dangerous professions: journalism–particularly the sort that publishes the truth about what colonial empires do on a daily basis.