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Author Topic: Do You Really Want Alvin Lau on the EC?  (Read 1538 times)

Tim Stafford

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Do You Really Want Alvin Lau on the EC?
« on: January 06, 2012, 04:51:43 PM »
He makes negative generalizations about the shows in Chicago that are simply not true.

Here's his latest Facebook Status update (which goes out to almost 2,500 people):

"Love straight white people poetry? Come to Chicago, where the organizers AND features are straight and white! I'm so excited!!!"

Here are some of the biggest shows and organizers:

Mental Graffiti- Organizers: Emily Rose and J.W. Basilo

2011 Features: Jan- Kent Foreman Tribute, Feb-Carrie Rudzinski & April Ranger, March- Ray Antrobus (UK), April- Reggie Eldridge, May-Finals (No white males in Finals), June- Jessica Helen Lopez, Zach Kluckman, and Katrina K, Aug- Ben Clark, Sept- Laura Yes Yes, Oct-No Show, Nov- Kevin Kearn
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Real Talk Live- Organizers: Emily Rose, J.W. Basilo, Roger Bonair Agard, Laura Yes Yes, Reggie Eldridge

 2011 features- Jan- Kristiana Colon and Kristan Studard, Feb- Beth Stelling and Aimee Lee, March- Kevin Coval, April- Reggie Eldridge, Rachel Claff, July- Regie Gibson and Patricia Smith, August- Quarysh Ali Lansana, Sept- Scott Woods and Deanna Moffitt, Oct- Jamila Woods and Khary Jackson, Nov-Jon Sands and Brandie Madrid, Dec- Lynne Procope, Chance the Rapper, and Scott Whitehair

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Urban Sandbox- Organizer: Dan Sully

2011 Features- Aug- Shanny Maney and Khari Lemuel, Sept- Jamila Woods and Cole DeGenova, Oct- Mary Fons, and Brandie Madrid, Nov- Marvin Tate and Ugochi

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Here are others that I don't have a feature list for:

In One Ear- Organizers: Billy Tuggle and Andi Kauth

Green Mill- Marc Smith

Vox Ferus- Marty Mcconnell

Weeds- Gregorio Gomez

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Are there straight white males on that list? Of course. Is it mostly straight white males? Not even close.

Generalizations like the one Alvin has made are destructive and show how out of touch he is from the readings within his own city.

The organizers (and I can speak on this because I used to one and worked with a lot of these folks) go to great lengths to provide compelling, diverse, features but Alvin would not know this  because he does not come to any shows.

If you want someone that will talk baseless shit about the organizers doing the grunt work to keep poetry alive in their cities, Alvin is your man.

That is all. If I don't respond its because I've wasted enough time dealing with Alvin's pot stirring antics and have real life shit to worry about.






randomcelestial

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Re: Do You Really Want Alvin Lau on the EC?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2012, 12:12:44 AM »
I wrote a status update in my pretty usual, sardonic fashion, with a friends-filter applied. And I feel that, considering the PSI President is allowed to endlessly vent about his feelings on facebook with fear of reprisal, that I should be afforded the same luxury. I never said "Chicago only has white people features ever," as Tim seems to attempt to rebutt above.

From coming into the scene to now, Mental Graffiti, which was originally created as a safe space alternative to the Green Mill, has been organized by: Dan Sullivan, Tim Stafford, Emily Rose, Amy David, Tim Cook, JW Basilio, and Billy Tuggle. That's a 14% person of color rate among MG organizers in eight years, with an equally rare amount of non-white hosts, and I'm pretty sure the one person of color didn't have a 1/7th influence on the direction of MG over the years. After the most recent transition in leadership, I made dozens of calls (to white organizers, including Tim) PLEADING for more people of color as hosts and organizers. If I have any of these facts wrong, please correct me.

At the Green Mill, which I went to religiously for years, I haven't seen a single non-white host since 2002. Members of the Speak'easy ensemble--which Tim is a part of--occasionally host, but they are made up of all straight white men except for Molly, who I've never seen host but may. This is additional to directly racially charged comments made by Marc Smith to be, regarding Asians and martial arts. Not going to get into it.

Okay: I've never been to Words that Kill. But that's not a venue with a home.


dansully

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Re: Do You Really Want Alvin Lau on the EC?
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2012, 10:36:01 AM »
Since you decided to bring my name into a public forum I feel a need to clarify a few things.

First off, after Krystal Asche left Chicago she turned Mental Graffiti over to me.  I immediately brought in Nikki Patin to host the slams.  Nikki is not white nor does she identify as straight.  When I turned over hosting duties two years later I formed a collective consisting of Nick Fox, Lucy Anderton, Nikki Patin, Billy Tuggle, Tim Stafford, and Katherine Zwick.   

Second of all, Speak'Easy has two women in the ensemble.  Shelley would not care to hear you speak as if she didn't exist.  However, you're so out of touch with what's happening in Chicago you probably don't know who she is.  Speak'Easy originally had two women of color in the group but they weren't 21 so we had to make adjustments for our home venues.  Later, we invited Rik Vazquez who was an active member but chose to leave to be on the Mental Graffiti slam team.  Laura Yes Yes was also a member but left because of her tour schedule.  Langston Kerman couldn't participate after being invited because he was accepted to grad school in Boston.  Shadell Jameson and Christina Santana were both invited to join on a trial show basis but both, on their own accord, missed their first 3 rehearsals.  So yes, at the moment Speak'Easy is a Ensemble consisting of 4 white men and 2 white women...but not because we are some exclusive white club overseen by grandmaster Slam Papi.

Alvin, the facts are that the features and shows in Chicago have a consistent mix of culture, gender, generation, and sexual preference.  You can see that in the names of the people who hosts show here.  You can see that in the list of features for the different shows in 2011. If you feel like you've been a victim of some racial injustice, it's not my place to say you haven't been.  I'm not doing that.

I'm just saying brazen, generalizing, statements are hurtful, counter productive, and untrue.  They undermine the work of a lot of people who put a considerable amount of effort into making the Chicago scene stronger and welcoming.

Lastly, if you have issue with how the scene is run you should take a more active role instead of lashing out from behind a keyboard.
Dan "Sully" Sullivan
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randomcelestial

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Re: Do You Really Want Alvin Lau on the EC?
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2012, 12:35:00 PM »
This was a facebook status update, taken without context of what I was reacting to, posted behind a filter, with no request for clarification from the poster, that has been since made private.

So is the argument here that I'm unfit to lead because I'm disconnected with the poetry slam community as a whole, or because I make private remarks behind (admittedly not air-tight) closed digital doors, or is this just a fly-by smear because someone felt slighted by a vague, sardonic comment I typed from a McDonald's parking lot while joking with a friend? Honestly, I'm suspecting that it's the last reason.

dansully

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Re: Do You Really Want Alvin Lau on the EC?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2012, 04:23:49 PM »
Probably dude.  Probably.
Dan "Sully" Sullivan
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Steve

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Re: Do You Really Want Alvin Lau on the EC?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2012, 10:25:19 AM »
Alvin, get used to it. That's how if feels to be on the EC. Lotta folks like to take random swipes at "the man."