When you follow music that bubbles through immigrant communities and sites of cross cultural exploration in the cities, you end up learning alternate maps of cities. These maps are sonic and visual. They mark the movements of people who are simultaneously hypervisible and villainized “immigrants” and “foreigners” but also invisible in mainstream stories about urban life. Some of the most invisible are the people, mainly women, who do care work inside other people’s homes. In general women do 2.6 times the amount of unpaid work that men do, and much of that is in their own homes or that of family members. But the women (90% women according to the ILO) who are paid to work in other’s homes, doing highly skilled, dangerous, caring work, face particular disadvantages when they try to assert their rights. One of the hardest things to do is organize – because domestic work is so often solitary, even isolating. How do you find each other and share information, coordinate, learn about how to deal with your job, with employers, with the struggles you all face in a similar system? Like workers everywhere, resourceful people have built organizations like the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance and Caring Across Generations to help the fight. But artists can play a role as well!
Studio Rev is an activist organization that I (DJ Ripley) have been on the board of for several years. They do creative projects that both respond to social issues and engage with communities to solve problems together. It’s always fun and colorful, it’s usually musical, and there’s always some action involved. I was honored to be a music consultant for the latest step in StudioRev’s ongoing CareForce project that has been creatively engaging with domestic workers’ rights with social interventions in public spaces across the country. It’s a public art project that amplifies the voices of America’s fastest growing workforce: caregivers. They created the CareForce One aka the NannyVan, which went across the country, stationing itself in parks where nannies come to take the kids they are often in charge of, and provide a site for know-your-rights information, safety tips and sharing of other knowledge and experience. As they took it across the country, they filmed the experience, which has led to the CareForce One Travelogues , a mini series which is debuting on PBS. Listeners will note in the sound track Dutty Artz’s own MPeach, among several other talented homies (shoutout to Gingee!).
Here’s the story: In the series, artist Marisa Morán Jahn, her son Choco, and their buddy Anjum Asharia hop in the CareForce One, their fifty-year-old station wagon, to travel from New York to Miami, meeting up with nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, and allies along the way and exploring how care intersects with some of today’s most pressing issues—including immigration, the legacy of slavery, and racial discrimination. The program is part of CareForce, a public art project that amplifies the voices of caregivers. This Sundance-supported PBS Indie Lens StoryCast/ITVS docuseries explores how care intersects with some of today’s most pressing issues — immigration, the legacies of slavery, racial discrimination, and more. Produced by Studio REV- and Oscar and Emmy-winning filmmaker Yael Melamede (SALTY Features) with support from the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations. This film is part of the larger CareForce project, which involves all kinds of fun & creative ways to support workers.
So, on March 17, we hope to keep the momentum going at the Brooklyn Museum launch. There’s a lively program with artists, thinkers, and advocates, all focused on care. The event features a keynote by Saskia Sassen (Scholar on globalization, Columbia University) introduced by yours truly DJ Ripley ; a performance of a revolutionary Nepali song sung by Narbada Chetri (Adhikaar for Human Rights); and music by MPeach, followed by a DJ Ripley set!