Innovation Lies at the Intersection of Pop Culture and Politics

Earlier this month, I hosted and facilitated my first Brooklyn event. Everything is Love: An Analysis of Capitalism’s Role in the Movement for Black Lives, in many ways, was an experiment; this event was an effort to innovate the ways in which we study and discuss political theory. Here are three lessons I learned from taking a chance to host this event:

1. Innovation lies at the intersection of pop culture and political theory.

Let’s be real: people don’t read anymore, at least as much as we used to. Considering the human rights movement we need to build, our lack of reading is terrible. Contrary to popular belief, however, I don’t think our lack of reading is our fault. We live in a time in which our attention spans have been eroded by careless business and tech giants who prioritized profit over design. To fall in love with studying again, this time calls for a re-configuring of how we study in the first place.

For me, that innovation lies at the intersection of pop-culture and politics. Pop-culture creates a central meeting place, in which most people will be able to engage with the work. From there, we can truly start the process of teaching people radical theories and politics. ⁣⁣⁣

Don’t believe me? Ask the over 30 young people who came to the event to learn about and discuss capitalism, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and liberatory politics.

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2. Equity-based pricing is a viable pricing model.

When I was brainstorming for this event, I told my partner that I wanted to implement an equity-based pricing model. His first reaction was “You’re going to trust people?!”

Equity-based pricing takes into account that everyone has different financial capacities. In order to make events more financially accessible, we have to transform our pricing models to account for those who may require financial assistance and those who are more financially well-off. For this event, the universal entrance fee was $5, but if they could afford to pay more, all attendees were given the choice to donate.

In an effort to be transparent, I have included my net income statement below.

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As an activist and organizer, I recognize that a key part of my job is to believe that people are capable of serving one another and forming community. Yet, halfway through promotion, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay for all my expenses. But if you notice, donations surpassed ticket sales and even after my expenses, I was able to make a profit of over $90. This proves that an equity based pricing model is extremely viable, especially for events that are rooted in community building.

3. We desperately need more spaces like these.

One guest told me how incredible it was to be in a room filled with predominantly young Black people talking about liberation. Another guest shared with me that after dropping out of college because of a lack of classes that centered Black and POC history, they were discouraged; they didn’t know if they would be able to study outside of an academic institution.

In academia and some social justice spaces, these types of spaces are often difficult to come by - specifically spaces that center Blackness instead of whiteness and multicultural issues. Even more, to have an event, like this one, that brought young people together to actually study political theory is something that gave one of my guests hope and encouragement to innovate and reimagine the ways in which they think about schooling and studying.⁣⁣⁣

Consider this to be your call to action. How can we create more spaces in which young Black and people of color are able to come together to either study and or practice political theory?