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Racist Imagery Infects Charlotte Music Scene; Pride Diversifies 

National Becomes Local

Sometimes national becomes local.

Earlier this year, Creative Loafing made a conscious change in the way we cover the news, shifting to a local-only focus in our reporting on government, housing, social justice, diversity issues, arts, music and food. But in the wake of the deadly Aug. 11 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., national news became local.

The events there left local communities across the country, and especially in the South, rethinking Civil War monuments. In Durham, anti-racists toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier, then took to the streets on Aug. 18 to show far-right racists that they are outnumbered. Closer to home, the following day, hundreds showed up at Marshall Park in Charlotte for a peaceful vigil organized by Charlotte Uprising, the group that formed out of the protests that followed last year's local police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Many Charlotteans demanded that local Confederate memorials be taken down.

The national had become local.

Also on Saturday, an old photo of a Charlotte musician holding a burning cross resurfaced on social media, sending a wave of anger through the CLT music community. Creative Loafing solicited comments from musicians for an online story about the image as well as about general issues of bigotry in the scene. Many commented that the musician pictured with the cross — Robby Hale of the band Scowl Brow — had long displayed abusive behaviors through misogynist and homophobic lyrics and threats to fellow musicians.

"We have refused to play with this band for years and have probably lost friendships over it," Lunchbox Records owner Scott Wishart of the group Late Bloomer told CL.

Wishart's band mate Joshua Robbins suggested the entire local music community had been complicit in remaining silent on this issue for so long.

"If we're going to indict Robby Hale for this," Robbins wrote to CL, "are we going to indict all of the people that just didn't say anything when questionable things popped up over the years? The picture in question has been up for two years and no one has said anything, and also multiple people liked the picture that routinely speak out against violence and racism in the community."

The national had become local.

In light of behaviors in the music scene that threaten a safe, inclusive space for artists to create without fear of reprisal from hate groups or hateful individuals, Creative Loafing will present a special edition of our weekly music podcast "Local Vibes," featuring several musicians speaking frankly on these issues. Listen for the podcast in early September.

National news events can shine a light on local problems in ways that inspire protests, which are a great way of showing solidarity. But nothing is more healing than face-to-face conversations where communities hold fellow community members accountable.

Charlotte's LGBTQ community has been having those conversations for decades and celebrating its solidarity at its Pride parades and other events. This week, Charlotte Pride holds its annual parties and parade on Aug. 26 and 27. But the LGBTQ community has not been without its own controversies and discussions.

Last year, CL's Ryan Pitkin reported on the Trans and Queer People of Color Collective, or TQPoCC, which was concerned that trans people of color were being relegated to smaller stages and less visibility at Charlotte Pride.

"Diverse doesn't mean booking cis[gender] people for the main stage and putting trans and queer people in the back," Lara Americo, a trans woman of color and sometime Creative Loafing contributor, told Pitkin.

Those issues have not been fully resolved, but Charlotte Pride took a step in the right direction by booking a local band on this year's main stage that better represents the spectrum of the LGBTQ community. And CL has put that band, Blame the Youth, on the cover of this week's issue, which also includes our annual guide to the festivites beginning on page 20.

In staff writer Pat Moran's story on Blame the Youth, featured in our special Pride section, bassist Amber Daniel says her group is, collectively, a walking, talking, singing and playing political statement, and a testament to the diversity of Charlotte's LGBTQ community

"You've got three black women here fronted by a Mexican trans-man," Daniel says. "We're political just by existing. It's revolutionary for us just to be in a public space."

The presence of Blame the Youth at this year's Pride is the result of hard, frank conversations — the kind of conversations we all must have if we are to continue to heal as a city.

Hopefully, in the case of Charlotte Pride's prominent booking this year of Blame the Youth, the local will become national.

(Listen to members of Blame the Youth talk about their appearance at Charlotte Pride on this week's CL "Local Vibes" podcast, on iTunes.)

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