Xiorro (See-o-ro) here
As I’m sitting writing you this letter from my living room here in Brooklyn, I’m thinking about how it’s been now about 3 months or so since we’ve last seen each other (or any dance floor) due to the unfortunate outbreak of the virus. Luckily, the last morning/afternoon that we were together for my closing at Alte Munze on March 6th was a beautiful memory to walk away with. Seeing you all jump and sweat with me that morning after a full night’s of blazing music will be a memory that I will carry closely to my heart until my final days. The March 6th gig happened to be my 5th time performing as a resident for the club. As some of you know, I’m the club’s only international and Black resident, but the last two years being a part of the family, Griessmuehle’s overseas Black cousin, has been an experience that I could have never imagined. Really, an Afro-Puerto Rican from an underprivileged neighborhood, raised by a single mother making far below the poverty line, this is a dream come true. I can’t explain to you all how proud of me my family is. Seeing my artist name on overseas bills and traveling for gigs. However, being that my family lives in Black America and with my mom not knowing English, what they don’t understand are the hurdles that I’ve had to overcome to get here.
My partner and me, Christina Hernandez (Adrestia), founded ALKHEMY and The Black Hole, here in Brooklyn in 2016. We’re now entering our 4th year as founders of a collective and rave that we started back then due to not hearing the type of music that we wanted to hear and the lack of Black and Latinx representation. We decided to import the music that we wanted to hear while investing our own hard earned money into this passion. From the beginning, we built the collective and rave off the ideals of advocating for racial equality in techno and maintained a firm stance on activism for the Black and Latinx community both in and outside of techno. However, 4 years ago, as some of you can imagine, white people did not want to hear anything about systemic racism or racial inequality in either techno or outside. Many times people tried to mock us, mute us and even Black ball us. We’ve been told that techno is no place for politics, that techno is supposed to be an escape from reality and that there is no racism in techno (lol).
As we’ve seen during the last few weeks, racism unfortunately exists in all corners of the world due to how far white supremacy has spread across the globe because of slavery and colonization. It’s 2020 and not only are we still experiencing the side effects of centuries of oppression, but we’re still seeing racism occur right before our eyes. From statues that symbolize oppression and glorify white supremacy to systems that have brainwashed our white loved ones into thinking that they’re better than us and blinded them to our pain. Europe initiated slavery and came to their senses sooner than America. As a Black man, in comparison to Europe, growing up in the United States in the 90s and 2000s felt like we were living in the late 1800s still. Confederate statues still standing and Confederate flags still waiving strong in the South. Imagine living in a country where Nazi flags were still waived today to honor the fallen soldiers and to “remember” history while completely disregarding the pain that it has caused to many. That’s how Black people feel every time we have to drive by a Confederate flag, statue or school honoring those disgusting people. Slavery ended in 1865, but that wasn’t the end of racism and history books have hidden that from us for far too long.
Frequenting Europe these last two years has allowed me to first hand experience what it’s like to be around white people trying to at least make an effort to engage with you and get to know you. For me, this is a phenomenon. White people wanting to genuinely get to know me? Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of work to do in Europe, but you can tell that there have been moves to at least try to ease racial tension by “not seeing color”. This makes a massive difference in the relationships between Black and white people. A world where Black people don’t have to worry about white people always wanting to kill them just because or secret laws which allow them to imprison us and murder us with no consequence. It’s no wonder why Black soldiers moved overseas to Europe after World War 2.
As I’ve mentioned before on social media, I believe that music is the language of the world. Think about all of the corners of the world where techno exists. Places where we don’t even speak the same language, but we don’t need to because a simple head bump helps us communicate to each other that the track is a banger. Techno in a way has helped defeat white supremacy, but it has also upheld it in many ways due to Black people not being included. Whether it be through consistent all-white line ups (yes, we are a minority, but that is no excuse) and all-white staff that either intentionally or unintentionally only work with other white people. By not allowing us to perform or work in white spaces, that’s upholding systemic racism. Those that say that it shouldn’t be about Black or white, I ask you, do you feel the same way about pushing for more Women in line ups? Let’s not forget that there’s intersectionality between both gender and race. Why is it that gender triumphs race? We are all equal, no matter race, gender, or sexual preference. We are one race, but before we get to the point where we can all live in harmony, we need to tear down the current system and build a world with equity together.
I’m super thankful to be a part of the amazing and supportive Griessmuehle family (Staff, DJs and dance floor warriors alike). I love you all and I’m looking forward to being with you all once again, sweating under one roof together soon <3