How do we relate to each other? How do we really work together? These were questions posed by Traci Kato-Kiriyama during BlogHer Creator’s Summit. In an empowering conversation with critically acclaimed singer-songwriter (and VOTY 100 honoree) MILCK, the artist and community organizer dove into the complexities of allyship and solidarity work, which she emphasized isn’t “charitable,” especially for those in different marginalized communities.
“This is interconnected struggle. That means it’s interconnected liberation. Solidarity to me is about belonging to each other,” she added.
Now, more than ever, creators and entrepreneurs are being challenged to prioritize social impact into their work, where money and resources can make a world of a difference in sparking change. This, of course, doesn’t negate perhaps the most persistent roadblock—the ingrained assumption that equates success with speed.
“In the context of this age where faster is better, I think that people think of innovation as always needing to be super fast as well,” said Kiriyama. “It’s supposed to be difficult. Because we’re doing things differently; because we’re literally challenging the very ways in which the system plays out and the ways it works. We can’t just do it the way it’s always been done because it’s easier and faster.”
For MILCK, a creative who describes her work as a mix of music and journalism, her approach is something that all of us can employ for true transformation—simply slow down. The alternative is making what she calls “rushist” choices, “which is the mix of rushing into something which innately causes racist choices, because we live unfortunately in a system that’s built to prioritize certain people.” We can also make the mistake of tokenizing our frequent collaborators, especially if they’re people of color, all for the sake of finishing faster.
“I want my set to be representative of the world we live in…So let me just take some time to ask, who are you? So then by the time I need to make a video, I have some relationships with people, that, I have a better idea of who they are as a whole human. And then maybe we can collaborate,” she explained. “What are ways that we can each slow down and start asking, ‘who are you?’ to different people who are outside our normal circles to create?”
To that same point, each of us must also take the time to confront why we feel the need to rush in the first place, and how that plays into our treatment of others, as well as ourselves.
“Regardless of our heritages and identities, I think all of us have felt like we need to keep up. And then add on my experience as a Chinese-American woman, daughter of immigrants. I also have this added narrative that I need to do things three times better than other people in order to even have a seat at the table. So that thing that I was taught when I was young compounded by our culture is an elixir for so much pressure on one’s self,” she shared.
“When my parents taught me these things, it was out of love and out of seeing their environment. The work that they have done in their life is allowing me to evolve to the next place. I think this is progress that I am able to think about what it looks like to slow down.”
Ultimately, it’s important for creators to know when to slow down, when to respond right away, and how to find a balance between the two. In the long run, creatives can transform into stronger allies and advocates through connections beyond their social media accounts and the occasional meetup.
“It’s a process of discussion, of building relationships, of actually taking the time to have a real conversation,” said Kiriyama. “You can’t just do that in a 100-word bio. People have to take the time. Sometimes take the time but then also know those moments to respond quickly.”
In case you missed it, watch the entire conversation above.
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