Ignorance or hatred?

Photo credit: Kyle Sampson and I Am More Than. See the Montgomery Advertiser story that this appears in (and more photos) here.

In a blog post back in May, I asked, “Have you ever thought about how there is so much in the world that you don’t know?” And I’ve been thinking about that more lately, in a couple of ways.

In one instance, I think about how that applies to personal growth. I haven’t always been the person I am now, and I hope to be a better person tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after, and on and on.

I have offered apologies for past actions or words of which I’m not proud. I think those regrets come with an evolution in thinking, along with introspection, and really, basic human empathy.

In another instance, I think about how that growth and change applies to knowledge and my views on various issues. If we have a desire to continually learn about things and actually care about truth, we will evolve in our thinking. It’s OK if new information makes you rethink a position or change your mind about something.

Going back to the beginning of this: there is so much in the world that I don’t know or didn’t previously know. For example:

Today is Juneteenth. I don’t remember learning anything about that growing up. I don’t remember being taught about it in school. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was at least in college or older before I even knew the word, much less anything about it.

It was this just this week that I had even heard of Seneca Village.

I was an adult before I realized the “Lost Cause” narrative was both wrong and a deliberate attempt to rewrite history.

It was only this month that I finally took the time to actually sit down and make it a point to learn about Malcolm X.

It’s been very recently that I have tried to educate myself more about the history of policing in this country and what the calls to defund or abolish police actually mean. (Hint: It’s a lot deeper than a hashtag.)

I didn’t know about the Tulsa massacre or Black Wall Street until recently.

I literally just learned about the Rosewood massacre today.

Until working on the documentary Remembering Anarcha, I knew very little about J. Marion Sims and the “mothers of gynecology” – Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey.

And even with the level of knowledge that I have gained at this point, I’m still not an expert because there is still so much to learn and so much I don’t know.

So… taking all of that into account, I got to thinking about many of the comments and arguments I’ve seen recently.

I’ve seen some people (mostly people who look like me, honestly) who have expressed how tired they are of everything going on in the world right now, or at least tired of hearing about it (i.e. the Black Lives Matter movement, the removal of Confederate monuments, rebranding Aunt Jemima syrup, etc.) And I think, if they’re tired of hearing about it, how tired are the people living it? I can’t imagine the exhaustion that people of color must be feeling right now.

(And really, the fact that so many people who look like me can go for years – sometimes entire lifetimes – completely unaffected by these racial and policing issues that are prominent in the news is an example of privilege. Yes, white privilege.)

And regarding these conversations I’ve seen recently, I think about motives, and how I attempt to decipher if someone is speaking out of ignorance or hatred, because I think those things are different.

Some people are just hateful, and I don’t think much can be done to help them see any other perspective. I don’t know how to make someone empathize if they don’t have the faintest desire to do so. I’d love to be wrong here, and if you’ve got the patience to try to reach them, by all means, give it a shot; I wish you luck and much success.

In others, however, I think maybe they have a good heart, but haven’t taken the time to actually listen and learn. Maybe they don’t have the experiences that come with a diverse friends group, or maybe they haven’t yet tried to ask questions or learn new things. I hold out hope for those people. I don’t know exactly what it takes to get through, but I do hope that something clicks within them.

And my reasoning for that goes back to what I started out talking about – I wasn’t always the person I am now with the level of knowledge I have at this moment. And hell, again, there’s so much I still don’t know, and I think personal growth is never done.

So maybe I can help someone else understand things that I’ve learned, or at least maybe help them to pause long enough to think about another perspective.

And in the meantime, I can listen to others and try to learn more myself.

Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep reading. Keep listening. Keep working for positive change.

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‘Memorials are not history’

SimsMask

Even ol’ J. Marion Sims is worried about the ‘rona.

Recently, protesters took down the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the high school that bears his name in Montgomery, AL. The U.S. Navy banned all public displays of the Confederate flag, as did NASCAR (yes, I was shocked, too.) And I’ve seen some social media posts describe the removal of these monuments as “erasing history.”

Well… let’s do a little dive into these things.

I’m the director of a documentary film called Remembering Anarcha, and in the film, one of our interviewees – former Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders – says, “Memorials are not history.”

He explains that history is what happened, whereas memorials are symbols that don’t tell the whole story. And personally, as I state in an email that I’ll share below, I think it is important for us, as a society, to carefully examine the parts of history we honor versus the parts of history that we learn from in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

On to the email…

After the Lee statue was removed, a petition was started on Change.org to convince the school board to not return the statue to its pedestal.

A Facebook event was created for people to attend the next Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) board meeting, which then became a Facebook live event (COVID-19, y’all.) The point was to contact and petition the board to keep the Lee statue down, but to also try to rename at least three of the high schools around Montgomery that had been named for Confederates – Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Sidney Lanier.

Below is the email I sent to the MPS board member that serves my district:

Dear [MPS board member]

As a resident of your school board district and an alum of Jefferson Davis High School, I am writing to you to ask that the board not return the statue of Robert E. Lee to its pedestal. In fact, I am requesting that the board go a step further and submit a waiver to the Alabama Memorial Preservation Committee to immediately change the names of the high schools named for Lee, Sidney Lanier, and my alma mater, J.D.

I think it is important for us, as a society, to carefully examine the parts of history we honor versus the parts of history that we learn from in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past.Also, when it comes specifically to Confederate monuments, the time period that most of those were put up is telling, along with them being used to promote the fictional “Lost Cause” narrative. If you have not already seen it, I highly recommend taking seven minutes to watch this short documentary that Vox produced on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOkFXPblLpU

I think that MPS should resolve to be inclusive and forward-thinking, and to use this opportunity to teach, not just students but the larger Montgomery community, the real history behind these monuments and the reasons that removing them and changing the names of these schools is the right and honorable thing to do.

Sincerely,

Josh Carples

First of all, for real, take the seven minutes to watch that Vox video. It’s very interesting. Pay special attention to the time period that most statues were put up. It’s telling. It really is.

And this brings another issue. In 2017, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act that protects statues and monuments that have been in place for 40 years or longer.

That act comes up in Remembering Anarcha as well. The statue of J. Marion Sims at the Alabama Capitol (seen at the top of this post) was erected in 1939 by the Alabama Medical Association, then called the “Medical Association of the State of Alabama,” which author J.C. Hallman (who appears in the film) says in a recent Montgomery Advertiser article, “which is cursed — though one wonders if this was once by design — by the acronym, MASA.”

So anywaaaaaay…

The bottom line is: the Civil War was about slavery.

“No! It was about states’ rights!” (um… states’ rights to own slaves.)

“But it was about economics!” (yeah, the economics of slavery.)

Here’s some reading material:

Five Myths about why the South seceded

And I encourage you to read some of the “Declarations of Immediate Causes” that the Southern state legislatures drew up and voted on. They list clearly their reasons for leaving the Union, and guess what they mention as a big ol’ primary reason – slavery.

Here’s Mississippi’s. “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery –  the greatest material interest of the world.”

Here’s South Carolina’s. “But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.” 

(The word “slavery” comes up in other places as well in that one… oh, and South Carolina also has a statue of Sims on their statehouse grounds.)

But seriously, read them. Find the other states’ reasons for leaving. It’s their words, from their time period. It was about slavery.

Let’s stop – finally – promoting the “Lost Cause” bullshit that’s been fed to most of us Southerners from the time we were born. Let’s learn. Let’s evolve. Let’s stop with the Confederate monument participation trophies that glorify people who wanted to keep human beings enslaved.

Let’s learn from history and stop trying to rewrite it like we’ve seen done since the end of the Civil War.

‘The Time Is Now’

On Saturday, May 30, my buddy Jeff and I headed to downtown Montgomery, AL, for a protest – one of many around the nation (and world) in support of Black Lives Matter and ending police brutality. Of course, this was after the tragic death – more specifically, murder – of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

I brought my camera to capture footage in hopes of putting together a short documentary (similar to the short in·dig·e·nous that I did last year.)

The two-hour event was completely peaceful, with passionate speakers talking about a host of issues. The Montgomery Police Department was there, observing, in their regular uniforms. I point this out because of the stark contrast between how Montgomery PD has handled events like this compared to other cities – Huntsville, AL, for example. Last week, Huntsville PD showed up in riot gear and ended up using tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters. A friend of mine – a photographer documenting the event – was arrested; another friend got tear-gassed. Read more on their use of force here. And here’s a first-hand account of the incident by a Huntsville-area physician.

In contrast, here is a tweet from Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed:

So, back to Montgomery.

I took the footage I shot and put together a short documentary called The Time Is Now. Many thanks to my friend Pro Status for the use of his song “Do Dat,” to my friends Irby Pace and Stephen Poff for the use of their photos, and to my friend Jeff for being my 1st AD on this.

Thanks for watching.

#BlackLivesMatter

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6-3-2020

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Women in Training video

I recently directed a video for the nonprofit organization Women in Training, Inc. Many thanks to First Assistant Director Savannah Stacy and Production assistant Danielle Wallace for helping me on the crew side of things. Produced by Terrible Master Films.

Check out the video on YouTube.

 

Get music, help our community

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Graphic

Hey everyone. As I’m sure you’re already aware, things are getting crazy out there. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading, and that’s affecting pretty much everything.

Many people are working from home (when possible) and some people are staying home to self-quarantine. These are good things to do for safety, especially for vulnerable friends and family, the elderly, and those with weakened or compromised immune systems.

I also know that many people want to help and are unsure as to how to do so. I am one of those. I don’t know what needs are out there or what needs are being met versus those going unmet.

I did read some stuff recently about the strain being put on local food banks due to school closings and some people being temporarily out of work. Here’s one article that mentions some of it.

So here’s the thing:

All of my solo albums are on Bandcamp, including my latest release; from March 16-31, 2020, all profits from any downloads on my Bandcamp page at music.joshcarples.com will be donated to the Montgomery Area Food Bank.

If you’re unfamiliar with the way Bandcamp works, you can read their “Fair Trade Music Policy” here. Basically, when you buy a song or album, they keep 15 percent as their share, and the payment processor takes somewhere between 4 and 7 percent. So what’s left after that goes directly to the artist.

I can’t do anything about the Bandcamp share or the payment processing share, but the percentage that actually comes to me between March 16 and 31, 2020, will be donated in full to the Montgomery Area Food Bank.

And if you think my music sucks and want to donate directly to them – boom! – here’s the link. (Donation button/link is near the bottom of the page.)

If you need food assistance, click here. From that link, you can enter your zip code and find partner agencies in your local area.

If you’ve got other ways to help, please leave a comment below. Feel free to share this if so inclined.

Stay safe out there. Much love.

‘It’s refreshing’

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Many thanks to Montgomery Marauder for taking time to review Carry the Wounds and for the kind words for both my art and me.

“His gentle voice pairs perfectly with his acoustic guitar, creating an otherworldly sound that seems suspended in midair… It’s refreshing.”

Check out the full review here, and be sure to follow them on social media for updates on things happening in the Gump!

‘Carry the Wounds’ out now!

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Carry the Wounds is out now and available from digital retailers everywhere – Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, YouTube, Bandcamp, etc!

CDs are available here.

 

And if you missed it previously, here’s the music video for the song “Liquid Heart

I truly hope you enjoy these songs. Thanks for listening and supporting both myself and my art. Much love!

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‘Carry the Wounds’ album art + release show (and more)!

As mentioned last month, my 4th studio album Carry the Wounds will be released on Friday, March 6.

That evening, I’ll be performing at Goat Haus Biergarten in downtown Montgomery. Details here. (Side note: you should catch their weekend brunch – it’s so good!)

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And below is the Carry the Wounds album cover:

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So yeah, I hope to see you at Goat Haus on March 6. And like my other albums, this will be available from all digital retailers on that date (Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp, etc.) so you can hear it in full prior to the release show that evening.

In other news…

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BARRENS is performing as part of the Punk Rock Art Show vol. 11 on Saturday, Feb. 29. That event is at Brennan’s Irish Pub in Birmingham, AL’s five points area downtown. Details and full lineup here.

We’ve also been working on some new songs, so we’ll begin testing out some new jams soon.

And Foolish Henry Films is working on a new project. That’s all I’m going to really say on that front at the moment, except to say that it brings back a couple of Death to the World alumni for the project.

Let’s see… what else…

The new play at the Cloverdale PlayhouseThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – opens this Thursday.

And our buds in Abusements, Skeptic?, and the McRyatts are playing at Black Market Bar and Grill in Birmingham this Saturday, Feb. 15 at 9pm.

There’s probably more stuff, but that’s all I can think of right now. So… make plans. Get out of the house and do stuff.

Much love.

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in·dig·e·nous

I was invited to an event recently put on by the Alabama Indigenous Coalition. On October 14, the holiday known by the state of Alabama officially as “Columbus Day/American Indian Heritage Day/Fraternal Day,” the Coalition held a “Call to Action Rally and Info Session to Abolish Columbus Day.”

The event was held in 1977 Books, located in Kress on Dexter, and was followed by a march to the State Capitol and a smudging ceremony.

I decided to film some footage and a couple of interviews while attending the event, and I’ve put together a short documentary film about the event, titled in·dig·e·nous.

The film can be seen on YouTube.

A photographer with the Montgomery Advertiser was there as well. They published some photos here. (I look like I’m about to get hit by a car in one of them 🙂)

Thanks for reading/watching.

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August 2019 Guitar Pull photos are up!

Click here to see the full gallery on Facebook.