The Summer Mixtape Revisited Part 1: IamBijoux

Bijoux(photo creds @dazzminmurry)

(This is the first piece of a multiple-piece series on the one year anniversary of the release of the Bike Rack Records’ Summer Mixtape in 2019 (sponsored by Bike Rack Brewing).  This post features my recent interview with Little Rock’s lovely and talented  #herroyaldopeness @iambijoux)

About 2019…

Last year was really cool to be an artist.  Getting your art out now is different.  I’m very fortunate.  I’ve had a day job the whole time I’ve been doing music.  I’ve been living my life off of two incomes since 1997 and have been fortunate enough to work from home.   I wanted to be sad about all the gigs I’ve lost, but I just couldn’t sit in that.  I have to find a way to make my art worthwhile.  

But I did a lot of shows, a lot of music.  For the first time in my life getting to perform my own music at festivals and shows so that was amazing.  “Go With It” on the Bike Rack Records Summer Mixtape was my first single ever.  I got to perform at Pride Little Rock, which was amazing and is a huge stage and I got to perform “Go With It” live.  I went (Facebook) live in March.  I was fortunate enough to be able to do that from my living room because I have sound equipment, and I think that first video has about 14,000 views (currently at 16k views and counting).

Performing for Juneteenth…

This is my third or fourth for Little Rock and I’m always pumped about Juneteenth.  It’s so funny to me in America; St. Patrick’s Day – not a problem.  Cinco de Mayo not an issue.  But a holiday like Juneteenth – people got something to say.  So many cultures have specific cultural holidays that we celebrate as a nation.  I never get upset about St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo or Octoberfest.  Juneteenth is an opportunity to take pride in my culture, and we have a lot to be proud about.  

 

On BLM…

Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean that any other race should stand still while we run forward.  The phrase is simply that they matter.  I will never stop being baffled by how that is a point of argument for anyone.  Not even black lives are equal to yours.  Just matter.  And people still find something to say.  If I come to you and say it’s my birthday, say happy birthday Bijoux or happy birthday girl, don’t say oh, happy birthday to all the Aquarians.  Who’s standing in front of you right now?  It’s me.  It’s my birthday.  Celebrate me.  It does not diminish anybody else’s birthday, because I was not the only person born on February 18th, but tell me Happy Birthday.  Don’t say there are other people born on the 18th.  So?  It’s not their time right now.  You don’t even know them.  Happy birthday Bijoux.  Thank you. 

A bully…

Let’s say you go to school every day and there’s a bully and every time they see you, they call you a name and they push you into a locker.  The first time it happens you’re probably really really hurt, and you go home, and you tell somebody.  I’m so upset.  Why would somebody do me like that?  And if you tell somebody and they’re like it’s not a big deal – everybody gets pushed a school, get over it.  You would  probably feel sad those next few times you get pushed into a locker, but after awhile if that bully doesn’t get transferred or get in trouble or go to juvie, you’re just going to be like – you know what I go to school, a guy pushes me, whatever, I go on with my day.   

Growing up I had a friend circle – two white girls, a Mexican girl, a Filipino girl and me, and I remember the day that we asked how come everyone’s skin is different colors?  You know that there is a difference.  Once you start experiencing racism, you get this feeling that you’re less than.  It’s imposed on you.  I know that more people are willing to confront their racism and bias than they used to so that makes me hopeful.  But once again, that’s not going to stop that bully from pushing me into my locker.  I’m less sad about it now because that bully doesn’t come to school every day, but he still exists, and the next time he sees me, he’s going to push me into that locker again.   

 

Racism within the church…

Let’s say you pose the question of the first time you encountered racism; everyone is going to tell you of a time at grade school.  They can remember that moment and know they haven’t been the same since.  And I say that to say ‘yeah I’m sleeping at night and yeah I’m ok because this is not new.’  None of this is new information for me.  I don’t lose sleep over it anymore.  It doesn’t keep me up at night anymore and it doesn’t always throw me into fits of crying anymore, because I remember the first time I ran into a nice, well-meaning Christian person and the first time I was called a racial slur:  I was in Catholic school.  I don’t know what I did, or if I did anything.  One of my classmates cussed me out and called me a racial slur and I thought ‘oh, I’m different.’  

(photo creds @dazzminmurry)

Getting through tough times…

First and foremost, I’m a believer.  I’ve experienced God for myself.  I believe that all things work together for my good.  I truly believe that.  I’ve worked to cover my loved ones and my community in prayer.  I have trauma from my childhood that has built a resilience that I don’t know if money can buy.  Part of that resilience is creating these networks of self-care to make sure that I’m ok.  So, I have a therapist.  I have friend circles and groups.  I have been on a Zoom call every week since March the 12th.  I’m on Facetime probably six hours a day.  I have time that I’m alone and I enjoy that too.  I always have.  But, if I need something, I know I have somewhere I can go or someone I can talk to to get what I need.  I get to see my Godsons.  I have so many opportunities to talk to friends.  I have game night and book club with sister in law over Zoom.  I’m working from home.  I’m doing music in the house.  I do everything here, so I have compartmentalized my home.  I only do certain things in certain rooms; I’ve been getting dressed up every day because it makes me feel good – skincare routines, makeup every now and then.  When I have Zoom brunch, I get really fancy that day.  I’ll get some smoked Salmon on a cracker on my couch in front of my cell phone.  I’m doing my best to replicate the life that I enjoy. 

Right now…

I see the reports.  I’m active on Twitter.  I don’t watch the videos anymore, but I see people’s accounts, I’ve signed petitions, I donate money.  I’m getting ready to do some performances for BLM.  I have therapy.  I have my friends to talk to and I’ve made my own peace with the country I love, and I live in.  It’s messed up as it always was, but it don’t hit the same.  

I do feel hopeful and I probably always will.  Not only is it an outlook that I choose to take, but it is convenient for me to take.  I don’t have a black husband or black sons, but I have two black brothers and a black dad and black mom and it’s just us in our space and so far everybody is staying safe.  I’m just as worried about them regarding racism or police brutality as I have about them since the mid 90’s.  Everybody seems to be staying safe from Covid and my family members that are in the health care profession are screened and tested on a regular basis and they’re taking so many precautions that I don’t worry extra about them. 

Be aware, be active…

Racism is superimposed into American society and it’s interwoven through everything – these micro-aggressions and subtexts and media.  After 3 yrs. of having a bully smash you into your locker you’re not about to go home and cry over that like you used to.  It’s one thing to experience racism, but to have been indoctrinated into it in ways that were subconscious to you, and then confronting your bias is an act of bravery.  It’s a necessary step.  If you see that you have a problem and you’re doing work toward it, in my opinion it’s an act of courage.   

Hopefully all of us can start being more conscious of our own bias because everybody has them.  Everybody has a responsibility to confront their own, be it poverty or someone that has a different face than you who looks different than you.  We all have this work to do, and I’m really proud of those who are doing the work, having the conversations, protesting injustice, donating to causes that help people who are being disenfranchised because what else would Jesus have us do?  Would Jesus have sat by and watch injustices happen to people and say ‘that’s not my problem’?  Well, you answer ‘that’s the way it’s always been.’  Jesus was always against the way things had always been.  The same Christ that we believe saved our souls is the same Jesus that was getting into trouble with the government for healing on the Sabbath.   

If I have the opportunity and the capability to help somebody’s affliction, I’m going to do what Jesus did and help them.  And I think that’s a mandate that we all have a responsibility to follow.  We all have our work to do and if you’re doing work then kudos to you.  And we all have our work to do and I mean everyone – me included.  We all can do more, and I’m never going to stop appreciating where people come from.     

Bijoux’ 2019 single “Go With It”…

 

Connect with Bijoux on Facebook, Twitter, Insta, and Youtube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Response to The Summer Mixtape Revisited Part 1: IamBijoux

  1. Pingback: The Summer Mixtape Interviews Recap | sincerely, the 80's

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