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EPISODE 1

dream hampton

Maori is joined by friend, writer and filmmaker dream hampton, for a talk that evokes the intimate dimensions, costs and rewards of being committed to a Black radical politics. Topics include her early hip hop influences, Detroit, writing and making films, the necessary practice of tuning out the trolls and finding refuge amidst the chaos.

  • Guest Bio
  • Credits
  • Show Notes
  • Transcript
Guest Bio

dream hampton is a filmmaker and writer from Detroit. dreamhampton.com

Credits

Produced by Patrice Worthy and Farrah Rahaman

Edited by David Adams and Heidi Saman

Engineered by Mike Mehalick

Music supervisor: Rashid Zakat.

Music:

  • Theme song composed by Vijay Mohan and remixed by David ‘DJ Lil Dave’ Adams. 
  • Additional music in this episode: “Solidarity” by Helsinki Headnod Convention

Show notes written by Irit Reinheimer

Show Notes

I Am Ali (directed by dream hampton, 2002) 

Arthur Jafa 

The Black August Hip Hop Project (directed by dream hampton, 2010) 

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Amadou Diallo (1975-1999) was a 22 year old, unarmed, Guinean immigrant who was shot at 41 times by four NYPD plainclothes officers in the stairwell of his apartment building, on February 4, 1999. His murder sparked nationwide protests. More.

Ruth Ellis Center LGBT+ center 

Treasure (directed by dream hampton, 2015)  

Surviving R Kelly (Lifetime, 2019) 

Mute R Kelly 

adrienne maree brown 

Octavia Butler (1947-2006) 

Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) 

Landfall (directed by Cecilia Aldarondo, 2020) 

Color of Change 

Additional Note:

This episode features the quoted phrase “transsexual prostitutes.” Both of these words, as well as the combination of them, can be considered hurtful and harmful unless used in a self-identifying way. According to GLAAD, “[transsexual is] an older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities,” and while some still use the term to describe themselves, “many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender.” Meanwhile “prostitution” has a long history of being linked to supposed criminality and immorality, as opposed to the term “sex worker,” which recognizes that sex work is work. For more on stereotypes of trans sex workers, check out this report. For more information on the best language to use when describing transgender people visit GLAAD. For a useful explainer on sex worker rights, click here.

Transcript

Maori Karmael Holmes (00:02):
Welcome to Many Lumens, where we talk about and find meaning in the intersections of art, social change and popular culture. I’m your host Maori Karmael Holmes.

Maori Karmael Holmes (00:48):
In this conversation, I am joined by writer and filmmaker, dream hampton, whose career I followed for over two decades. Our talk evokes the intimate dimensions costs and rewards of being committed to black radical politics. We talk about her early hip hop influences growing up in Detroit writing and making films, the necessary practice of tuning out the trolls and finding refuge amidst the chaos. Welcome to the very first episode of many lumens. And I’m really excited to have you dream Hampton as our first guest, which I know you weren’t planning on, but I appreciate that.

dream hampton (01:28):
Oh, I was like, wait a minute. I’ll try. I’m so honored.

Maori Karmael Holmes (01:35):
Thank you so much. I realized in doing the research, how long I’ve been interacting with your work even before we like really, really knew each other and it’s been quite a long time, so I’d never, you know, asked you personally how your parents came to your name. And so in some of the research material, it seems like it came from Martin Luther King’s March on Washington speech. And I was wondering if that’s factual and also whether or not you’d ever considered changing your name as so many, you know, conscious folks did in the nineties.

dream hampton (02:09):
Yes. I considered changing my name recently. I can’t remember which Twitter disaster I was involved in, but I remember sending out an email and telling everyone that my new name was Pam. Yes. I figured it was one syllable, like dream and yeah. And for a long time, I was trying to get everyone to call me Pam and no one would, so no, I never had conscious like Afro-centric, um, choice, but I have definitely wanted to have it. And whenever I’m ordering anything, I use my daughter’s name. In fact, my favorite coffee, one of my favorite coffee shops. Um, I walk in and they’re like, Hey. And they call me my name. And I keep, I keep thinking if I come in with her, she’s going to be so mad. She knows I use her name, but now I’m full on like interacting as her. Um, yeah, I mean, my dad, he, Dr. King, um, was invited. I’m pretty sure it must’ve been referencing or Franklin who invited him to Detroit, uh, because of some strike that was happening on Woodward Avenue and he tests ran the, I have a dream speech here first and my father was there. Um, and that’s where my name came from. I didn’t learn it until near my father’s death. And I said it in an interview and it became this. It became a thing. Yeah. But I don’t, it’s not like I go around saying that, but it is true. That’s where my dad got the name from. That’s really beautiful. Thank you

Maori Karmael Holmes (03:53):
Like baby dream, you know, your first memories of what you wanted to do with yourself, however old you were, what, what were those early pursuits?

dream hampton (04:03):
Well, I remember baby dream being told that I wasn’t going to have any friends if I always had to be the doctor and the teacher. Um, and so I totally remember my mom basically getting in trouble for like directing my friends. And I remember looking at my friends, which included my little brother and being like, you don’t expect them to be the teacher. It was just the words. And then I remember in my twenties, my friend, Greg, Tate’s telling me that I had the kind of personality that would be good for Teamsters. That’s great. It’s all terrible. Right? So like bossy dream, trying to like create scenarios and organize everybody to either play or to protest that can remember when microwaves came to her family household. And I don’t know what I saw, but I was just like, they are bad for you. Um, America, you know, we have to tell our parents to take their microwaves back to the store. I had a circle and there’s a picture of me, like looking with my eyebrows off for road. So I don’t know. I was like the worst. Um, I wanted to make film for as long as I can remember. And I can’t remember wanting to do anything before that.

Maori Karmael Holmes (05:45):
I first became acquainted with you when we screened I Am Ali, as part of this women in hip hop program, I did in 2004. Um, and I remember being really taken with the boldness of that work. It was so on structure, the cinematography I thought was like, nothing I had seen before I had already had a huge crush on Ishmael Butler. And then I thought he did this like wonderful job. And then of course, you know, on top of all of that, you had ingenue Ellis who is one of the most brilliant actors, you know, who just does not get enough work. But I mean, she’s so incredible. And I wanted to ask you how you came up with the story and how did you assemble this cast and you know, how did you come to work with Aja? Can you talk a little bit about that?

dream hampton (06:29):
Yeah, for sure. That’s okay to be, because I have witnessed, you know, two men who were fairly close to me rapidly disintegrate into what then was called schizophrenia. Um, both of them were hearing audio, like hearing oral commands in their heads. And they always, like, my one friend got arrested upon the grand Concourse for telling this woman that he was Jesus, and to give him her car. And he got like, he was in Rikers for grandma’s me. Um, and another friend, uh, my friend in Detroit was said that Buddha had told him to like paint this basement wall with his species. I mean, just, it was, you know, so it was like severe mental health stuff. Um, and these were two very popular, like handsome men in their twenties who fell off of this cliff in their mid twenties. And I was thinking like, why don’t they hear voices from like their superintendent or, you know, in their building or their uncle, you know, why is it Jesus and Buddha?

dream hampton (07:44):
You know? And then I started thinking about like, who is that for us? And this is where the Muhammad Ali story came in. Um, I remember working with Q-tip early on the ideation. He had a really good Mohammad Ali impression and we were going to do it together. And then I was going to do it with Dante with most stuff. And both of them kind of flaked on me and Ishmael who, um, I was very close with, um, stepped in and killed it. And aging was my friend, you know, um, around that same time that I’m writing, I’m meeting people like Greg Tate and who I met at a new music seminar, he and John Morgan. Yeah. A new music seminar. They came up to me and told me they liked something that I wrote. It might’ve been the Dr. Dre editorial and the stores. And, um, I became really good friends, um, with Greg. And so Greg Hayes and Arthur Jafa AAJ were friends. And I became like the, a lane in that circle and Aja shot IO, Molly for me,

Maori Karmael Holmes (08:49):
You know, bring us up to the present. But the other thing is that I realize I programmed two additional works of yours along the way. And so, you know, what I know about next is your documentary about black August, which was also a concert that you had been producing, is that correct?

dream hampton (09:05):
Correct.

Maori Karmael Holmes (09:07):
Yeah. And then Treasure, which was your documentary in 2015, which of course we had at Blackstar.

dream hampton (09:14):
I won an award at black star. I was so sick that night, but I won best documentary and I was so happy. It’s the only, so the award that back home one, um, I didn’t submit it to anything really, but I won that and that was amazing. And then I don’t also want to reach Nichols award at Blackstar, um, black August. Yes. I was a part of a collective, um, an organization, Malcolm X grassroots movement. And we were all reacting to the kind of incessant, um, terror of the NYP D at the same time we were trying to like, not be in all reactionary load. So we did like clothing drives and stuff like that. But our two flagship things were like, Copwatch no you’re right. Um, and the, um, back August hip hop concert, which was a benefit concert that we did every year for, I think 12 years, at least I was a part of it for 12 years, um, to raise awareness and money funds for political prisoners, us political prisoners.

dream hampton (10:23):
And so we used to do hip hop concerts in New York and then Cuba, that was the first seven years. And then we went to South Africa and Venezuela, and there was just all this footage. Um, some that I had shot, some that people like Martha Diaz had shot, I believe that gave Martha co-director credit on that. And we just assembled like all this footage and put it together and thought it was important to document it. And now I feel that way even more. So it’s an uneven film. I really like the parts and South Africa though, um, where we’re kind of being called out on a, you know, on the American way that we parachute in and kind of, you know, become the white people, black people, you know? Um, so that’s in the film, but more than that, I’m happy to be documented it because gen X’s are being totally erased.

dream hampton (11:18):
You would think that black folks went from like, most people say the civil rights generation. So they’re also erasing the black power generation of the seventies and eighties, but it’s like only thing happened in the nineties. It was hip hop and, you know, I’m like, yeah, no, we shut down New York for like a hundred days for Amadou Diallo, but okay. We didn’t have social media, but okay. Um, so that’s what backlog here and then treasure, you know, that was a really hard story that happened in the community, um, of a being brutally killed after being set up by the police, um, this young trans girl, um, and, uh, Natasha T Miller or poet in Detroit, you know, came to me with an idea for a story. Um, she was calling, she was saying she wants to do something on trans sexual prostitutes and, and things that was treasure story.

dream hampton (12:19):
And so, you know, I did know that there was something to talk about in terms of transgender justice, um, and you know, not just the sex work that treasure did, but the kind of organizing she did at the Ruth Ellis center and the kind of work that she got groped into doing for the police in this one night, where she interacted with them because, um, blah, blah, blah. And so it, all of these issues kind of, um, come together and treasure story, you know, um, drug laws that make no sense, like no one should be interacting with, you know, policemen should be even coming near you when you’re smoking a blunt. You know, there’s no reason to interact with the police over frigging marijuana. Um, she was in a hotel in the suburbs where she sometimes does sex work. Um, she had this identity of being like a black girl who was also trans and from Detroit, and she was made to do dangerous. See, I work with the threat of going to a men’s jail or like setting up her drug dealer, you know, um, and that cost her her life. And so that was the story I tried to tell a treasure.

Maori Karmael Holmes (13:36):
Yeah. I mean, it, it’s a really powerful film and, uh, you were the first ever Richard Nichols, um, luminary award, which I thought he would have found really funny. And so we thought it was great that, um, that it was awarded to you. There is something in that you and I are both close to Toronto Burke, and she we’re often talking about I’m like at the end of gen X, but I was present enough to do some of that organizing with y’all. And I agree that gen X is, it’s kind of it’s erased because we didn’t have Instagram, you know? And so it’s really fascinating, but

dream hampton (14:15):
That is our job as well. We also have hip hop. So hip hop became such a big story, you know, that it becomes the only thing. I mean, even in my own personal narrative, you know, it’s like whatever little interaction, it could have been big, whatever interaction I have with hip hop becomes like the biggest thing in my bio. Like I went in over my birthday this couple of weeks ago and tried to change my Wiki so that it wouldn’t say, um, all this dumb hip hop stuff. And there’s like some Wiki police guy who would like, every time he changed it, he reverted it. And then he was, he hit me, like, what are you trying to do? I was like, I’m trying to get this hip on somebody here. And of course I’m saying it was through someone else’s account. Cause you can’t be yourself. Right. But anyway, that’s the problem with our generation writ large is that hip hop occupies so much space that like looking back in terms of activism, people think we were all just like wanting to be puff or I have no idea what people think, but I’m like, yeah, a lot was happening. Just like with any generation

Maori Karmael Holmes (15:27):
Years you’ve been producing and directing nonfiction series, including finding justice and perhaps the most widely known for recent work surviving R Kelly, for which you were awarded a Peabody award and nominated for an Emmy. I want to ask you just, you know, not to talk about it too long, but I, I read that you regret it, not digging more deeply into, you know, the presence of teenage girls from that cover story you did on R Kelly back in 2000. And one of my questions was just, do you think anyone would have published that, like if you had gotten, you know, more deeply into that story before Duro goddess and, you know, say you’d written an editorial or something, would anyone have?

dream hampton (16:11):
Well, I think the more important question is why wasn’t it more of a flag for me, you know, by 2000 I had been in countless like record sessions, right? Like, I mean, I literally remember Mary, you know, doing background vocals for father MC. And so like as far back as like 91, you know, having breakfast sessions and Mary couldn’t have been 1,817 when she was doing vocals for father MC. So I’d never been in studios where there weren’t young people in the studios, you know? Um, but it was clear that these weren’t artists, or I don’t know what was clear. I mean, what was clear when I began making the film was that he operates with a series of locked doors. Um, so, and that’s what I remember. I remember a glimpse of like a room with like some sleeping bags, but I don’t, and I’m not trying to make excuses for myself, but I don’t know that even that would have been at my bedroom, remember total spending the night at the studio.

dream hampton (17:19):
I mean, biggie lived in the studio when he was making his albums, you know? Um, but I remember a door opening and there being these girls, I was thinking bags. Yeah. Um, and yeah, why didn’t I just stop and say, what’s going on in here, you know, um, would Danielle Smith, who was the editor of vibe? Would she have printed that I think she would have, I think it would have been able to like what your goddess to do. I would have had to do what he did. So he was not an investigative reporter. He was a music critic who got this piece of information and then became an investigative reporter. And so in that moment I would have had to become like an investigative reporter. Um, and I failed to do that then, but I had to become that to do surviving R Kelly. Yeah.

Maori Karmael Holmes (18:16):
Can you talk about a little bit, and I imagine you developed these techniques, you know, over the past 20 years or so, but are there any unique approaches that you have for collaborating with protagonist in your film? I know there are a couple of things from surviving R Kelly that happened, but is there anything that you feel like is like the dream Hampton method, you know, for the ways in which you involve protagonist or in the case of treasure, their families or anything like that?

dream hampton (18:43):
You know, it definitely varies from piece to piece, you know, with finding justice. I want it to center organizers and activists who I knew. So that was really collaborative and rewarding, you know, with treasure, you know, because I did have Buda, Marie did have the resources and required like a particular protection around that show and by protection, I mean, legal, um, I was able to like, listen and be patient in these interviews and they, and so were by the way the women, I mean more so it was them and their grace and patience, but it wasn’t a bonding situation. Like I, um, typically didn’t, pre-interview them, even if I was listening to the pre-interviews, um, I wanted my interaction with them on, on camera to be the first kind of interaction I needed distance from them because I needed to, um, sadly like depose them, you know, because of the legal requirements of that film.

dream hampton (19:55):
So that by legal requires mean that questions were vetted by attorneys, many attorneys, you know, um, so that they weren’t leading, there was so much, and there was like 110% chance that we would get sued with that. So, or that series. So, um, that means that if someone tells you something happens, you almost have to be like a prosecutor or the student, you know, I hate to say this, but like the police, like, was anyone else present when this happened? Do you remember the day that it happened? Do you remember what you wore? Do you remember telling anyone that it happened after it happened? Okay. What’s that person’s name and number is eye contact racing with documentaries or their expectations that aren’t always realistic. And I shouldn’t just say documentaries, like, I don’t know. I remember Danny Boyle and them kind of getting dragged pre-internet for the fact that some of the kids from Slumdog still live in the slum after the film was made. And I can remember similar conversations around that from the Tom Hanks made in Somalia. And so I know that there’s this idea in both spaces scripted and unscripted, that like a project is going to change someone’s material conditions, you know? Um, and that’s just a hard one, you know? Yeah.

Maori Karmael Holmes (21:35):
That kind of leads into, I had a, this morning, I was just, you know, doing my daily reading and there was an article that Cecilia Aldarondo, who did that brilliant film Landfall this year, she wrote about not getting into nonfiction film to make money, but rather having fallen in love with the serendipity of discovering the world through image and sound and believing that documentaries could trigger political awakening, which I think is also related to this idea of changing people’s material lives. And I’m curious for you, do you feel like nonfiction or to your point also fiction films still hold this kind of power? Like, is there any optimism for you in what film can do?

dream hampton (22:18):
Oh, absolutely. No, absolutely. I think more about this idea about being featured in a project means that it’s gone. You know what I mean? Um, that you’re about to be a star and that you’re going to have your own shows and that, so those expectations are more about more what I’m thinking of when I think of some of, but yeah, I hope that not, I hope, I know for instance, I mean, we just did a report at color of change in organization that I sit on the board of. Um, and then I consult around their Hollywood work where we call normalizing and justice where we looked at, um, two seasons of police procedurals, you know? And so we know that there are real life affects on like the narratives and the stories that are being told and people’s material conditions. And here I’m thinking like in the negative, you know, um, we know that the kind of sentences that people get when they stand before a judge, we know that jurors like, you know, show up to broad deer and quotes the ASI.

dream hampton (23:27):
You know what I mean? Like people’s idea of the criminal justice system is absolutely shaped by these police procedurals. They’ve been watching people, ideas of America, the world over are shaped by, you know, Hollywood’s, America’s one, you know, profitable export, which is Hollywood narrative. Right. I mean, the only other thing America has been selling for the past decade is debt. Um, so yeah, I know that to be true. Um, and I know that there’s been talk about the kind of real-world impact their documentaries can have. Um, and we, I remember when I talked to Brie Bryant, for instance, around lifetime, you know, I was very honest about my, you know, my position on R Kelly. Um, and I said that I wanted this project to do what black fan did at CNN, which was to shut down sea world. You know, that I knew that there was a mute R Kelly campaign that had already been, been beat, been founded by two women who were brilliant and had strategy.

dream hampton (24:34):
And, um, and that, you know, what I did, ultimately, I wanted it to support those efforts, you know? Um, but I wanted to, you know, do it through the truth of these women’s stories. I don’t know that the impact being like him being in jail, um, is, I don’t know that that was what I thought could happen or would happen or even should happen. You know, I don’t think that there’s some alternative, you know, for him that he was interested in, in some kind of other restorative process with the women that he’s harmed or that he’s even ever going to admit that he harmed them, you know,

Maori Karmael Holmes (26:19):
Welcome back. You’re listening to many lumens, brought to you by Blackstar.

dream hampton (26:26):
We’re going to take a slight departure. And this is something that I will always really interested in, which is people’s astrology. And I know that your son is in Virgo and I believe you have an Aquarius rising or moon. Right. You know what I learned about talking your chart, and this is only for people who have people that troll them. So you don’t have to worry about this. You’re lovely and have not, don’t have trolls earned or unearned, but they can like figure out so much with this information. But yes, I have an Aquarius Capricorn rising and my son is progressed, has progressed into Scorpio 10 years ago. So yes, I’m absolutely Virgo, but my good friend, Sam Reynolds, who everyone should be following on Twitter that I have, I progressed in this for 10 years ago and I have a ton of planets in Scorpio, but what, what is your astrology? What are you, where are you taking this?

Maori Karmael Holmes (27:26):
I’m glad you brought that up because, well, there were a couple of things. One was that, um, I think you and I have discussed this before, but, but with that Aquarius in that Virgo, it was like, there’s absolutely no way that you couldn’t be, you know, young dream with the furrow brow, right? Like you have to be concerned with justice because both of those signs are in pursuit of it. And so having them as your dominant, you know, makes, you know, of course makes it that you’re going to be concerned with that. And then I think about this moment that we’re in and it is black women Virgos, you know, you Toronto, Adrian, Marie Brown, Beyonce, Ava, like all of you, Amy, Cheryl, you know, you’re going to save us, right? Like, there’s something about this moment. That is your moment.

dream hampton (28:05):
We are not going to save if you’re going to like people really, you know, it’s, it really is the, um, it’s the other, like it Virgo and Gemini are both ruled by mercury. Um, Geminis have been they’re the charming ones, you know, they’re the ones I don’t know. It’s a difference between like I do, but NAS, you know, like one of them has a personality, you know what I’m saying? And it’s, it’s the Jevonnah high Geminis are light and beloved. You know what I mean? Like John Morgan P can be as critical as I am about the same dude or men, but she has, she’s like, she’s, she adds seduction to it. And she smiles and there was like, I love you, Joan. And then they’re like, trees. I hate her.

dream hampton (29:01):
And I love to use to pay people. Think I hate nods, rock him, who I forget love also no personality. I think he’s a burger. So yeah. I mean, yes, I hope that Virgo save us. You know, what I heard and believe about Aquarius is that Aquarius are concerned about the people, but not people, which is like so scary. Cause that’s sometimes when I think of that shake of air, quote of like, you know, to serve the people, you have to love the people. And I’m like, I’m not sure I love y’all, it’s an actual awareness

Maori Karmael Holmes (29:42):
That allows you to be honest. I think you can hold both of those things. But the thing that is, I’m not surprised that you have Scorpio because I knew it was either tourist or Scorpio because of your love of home and food and really, really good fabric, which are things that I am also obsessed with. And I don’t think we get to talk to you about that enough. And so I, you know, I’ve heard that you have legendary dinner parties I’ve may have been to one, but I was wondering, could you ever see yourself, you know, having making content, you know, are you gonna have dreams, dinner party as a show, or, you know, do you see yourself pursuing, you know, a film about fashion or, you know, is there, are these hobbies only, or do you think they would come into your professional life?

dream hampton (30:29):
You know, I went to sleep the other day, thinking about a film about bell hooks, um, because someone is telling me that it’s kind of urgent, that that happens too. And I remember thinking, um, before I went to sleep, wow. The only profile that I’ve ever wanted to do on someone was a bright coocoo, um, you know, the legendary, um, designer from, um, come to Garcelle. Um, her annual geo Montel quite frankly, were like, are just two artists that I think about all the time. Um, and I absolutely, you know, you talking about fabrics and just this concept of draping and tailoring, like, I mean, Alexander McQueen, like, you know, what a loss, you know? Um, but yes, so I mean, for sure, I would love to do that or for our mutual friend, Marie McConnell was like, I should do dream Hamptons living your best life.

dream hampton (31:32):
So I’m happy to have that reputation. And even if it’s a secret, even if it’s like, not what people imagine me doing, they might imagine me at home. My daughter used to say, stop fighting the internet. They might like, imagine me at home, like getting in fights with people all the time, but really, yeah, what I’m doing is like trying out new recipes and, um, and gathering my friends. And for my birthday, we went to an oyster farm and we had like, I don’t know, it must’ve been 200 oysters grilled and cooked raw. And then my friend Rashad, Robinson, who would he’s that saving the world is an incredible chef. And he just cooks up the best surface steak I’ve ever had. Um, so yeah, no, I love that. I love travel and I have thought, I mean, I have friends, uh, ghetto gastro who like moved through the world in a similar way, my friend, John Gray. And we love to like meet up in places in the world and go to some amazing restaurant. And I, yeah, I would love to make some content around that. I haven’t pitched it, but yeah, it would be way better than some of this really depressing that I’ve been pitching.

Maori Karmael Holmes (32:42):
So I was in a workshop with Adrian Marie Brown, I don’t know, probably a decade ago and I’m paraphrasing and probably getting it wrong, but she said something about the moment that we were in and this was like 2010 already being in the apocalypse, right. That we should consider that we have, we are in it. And she, you know, thought about Detroit, but this workshop was in some other city and, you know, just sort of thinking about many of our urban centers. And I was wondering how, what is your sort of overview or perspective on that coming from Detroit, you know, working with a lot of those same folks, obviously as Adrian and, you know, reading grace, Lee Boggs and Octavia Butler, and so many people, I think in this particular moment in 2020, finally sort of being able to grasp that and wondering, you know, what your perspective

dream hampton (33:32):
Yeah. I mean, we have had for the longest time, and we’ve not framed it this way. And this goes back to this concept of storytelling is we’ve had capitalism on its knees, you know? And so these real crisises, you know, that have come up, whether it’s Katrina, whether it’s, um, you know, 2008, um, the financial crash, whether it’s COVID, you know, and this idea that 80% of the York restaurants may not reopen right. Really lays bare, you know, how threadbare, you know, capitalism is. And so when we had the collapse of say the so-called collapse of communism, meaning that, you know, the Soviet kind of, you know, just disintegrated, um, that was on the cover of time magazine. And Reagan was like this huge hero for having somehow to feed it commutative. And we know of course that China, which is the world’s strongest economy and the most popular station and probably building the world’s strongest military is communist, you know, even as they play with capitalism.

dream hampton (34:42):
Um, but we still have this story that communism had failed and we don’t have those headlines around like the failure of capitalism. And in 2010, capitalism was absolutely on its knees. And in places like Detroit, it was impossible to pretend that that wasn’t happening. Um, and you know, the lungs of the planet are literally collapsing and we’re dealing with a pandemic, you know, we’re talking right now remotely. We probably would have been doing this in person if we could. Um, but we’re doing that because we’re dealing with the disease that suddenly collapsed the lungs of the planet. And so I’m, I’m thinking of all those things always, um, you know, I’m someone who used to have book clubs around Octavia Butler, and I really liked that genre where there’s Cormac McCarthy. You know, I read post-apocalyptic near future dystopias, always have my mother used to redo the Spotify, Isaac asthma, often Robert Hanlon and cheesy, you know, Spotify written by men who were all about the terror of like a conquering and the slaving army.

dream hampton (35:51):
And so discovering someone like a parlor who to bring it back to Adrian Marie Brown, which is where you began this question and to have, you know, that in common with, with Adrian, this love of Octavia and to have this whole new generation discover Octavia, um, cause Octavia is not the best writer. You know, she doesn’t have these flourishes, like a Toni Morrison. It’s not like you read a sentence to her and go, well, you, I mean, you can do this. You can absolutely be like, wow, that was profound, but it’s not because of some lyrical, you know, she’s a very straightforward writer. Um, and, and so I remember, you know, trying to like push her on my friends. And it was the hay day of like the best black literature coming out of black women’s pens, you know, the eighties and nineties. Um, and not a lot of my friends were in, they were like, nah, let’s bring Toni Cade Bambara, let’s make Toni Morrison. And I was like, yes, let’s, but also let’s read Octavia, but it’s amazing to see, like I tell you to get the love that she’s, you know, that she had that kind of vision, that worldview of like, what’s possible, like in terms of cadres, in terms of rethinking vertical and hierarchal structures and leadership, um, in terms of like trusting the youth to lead as young people, um, and trusting black women to lead,

Maori Karmael Holmes (37:17):
You know, you are so spirited as my grandmother would say, right. And, um, in pursuit of justice at all costs in all these different facets and, you know, that’s expending energy, right? That’s expanding resources often. It’s expanding so much of you and I’m curious how you find refuge and how you, you know, um, find solace and take care of dream.

dream hampton (37:44):
Um, I, no, I don’t, I, I mean, as a Virgo, I guess what I do is I put more work on top of the work. Like, so yes, I’m looking at like justice and trauma, and then there’s this generation now that’s demanding that we also do this interior work that I didn’t do, you know? Um, so I’m like the deep in that, like my middle is like looking at, um, you know, places where I may have used power places where I, um, maybe being abusive where I may be, um, not being just, you know, so that has been a big part of the work, you know, is, and that’s what Garci bogs asks us to do is to like examine ourselves this, this idea of this self revolution. And it came at a where it wasn’t ready to hear it because I was so sick of all of the self-help.

dream hampton (38:38):
I mean, there came a time when we turned away from all that wonderful literature I was talking about that we all read, I can remember being on 120 fifth street or down in the village, and these brothers would be out there with incentives and all these books. And then I don’t know if it was the coldest winter, but something happened. And then it was just like thug love, you know? And then the books became, they went from like this urban fiction, which was fine to like, um, I don’t know, self-help books and memoirs only. And when grace would talk about this interior work that needed to be done, I thought that was a way of like, not having a socio-political, you know, conversations that I had learned, the way that I hadn’t learned to have them. And that it was this touchy, feely soft thing that wasn’t for me, you know, cause it’s not like we over-index and intellectual ism and we needed to then focus on, you know, emotional intelligence.

dream hampton (39:32):
Like America has never been intellectual. We’ve always been anti intellectual. So I very much rejected that kind of like self-help, um, track. And, and I realized that I couldn’t anymore, that things kept coming up about how I personally was making people feel like the kind of dynamic they had either in collaborating with me on like art or like campaigns. And that, that there had to be real shifts in that, you know, this, this kid who was like, I have to be the doctor, I have to be the teacher, you know, to bring it full circle, that ego, quite frankly. Um, and so that has been like the big self care for me has been like, you know, and I’m really critical. And so Virgos, I mean, most, most people don’t know that for was a more critical on themselves than probably anyone else. Cause my mother was a Virgo.

dream hampton (40:28):
I’m so happy that you survived having a Virgo mother, but, um, that, you know, so that has been the work, you know, and I don’t believe this is my first lifetime here. And so I figured that in this lifetime, in addition to the world’s problems, I would also like really do some interior work and that’s ongoing. And, but it feels like self care, you know, that mining and that like releasing and healing and like taking out this little child and setting her in front of me and telling her that she’s safe, that things aren’t gonna all go wrong and she’s not controlling and micromanaging everything, you know? Um, that has been like the work, right? Cause they’ll care. I mean, I am me and invincible, another mutual friend of ours, we joke because ill has this boat, you know, that they own cooperatively with other friends, but we call ourselves like revolutionary ballers. So I am definitely the type that will go to auntie or, you know, take care myself. So no one has to worry about that part of me, like I can unplug, I know how to turn the world off. I know how to make a really great tea. Um, I have a really deep bathtub that I can swim in. So I take care of myself in those ways, but it’s been that interior, that mining work that I’ve had to do,

Maori Karmael Holmes (41:52):
I really appreciate how much of an open book you are. And I know the millennials appreciate transparency, but it is really valuable because it’s so instructive for us, um, in so many ways and you lived a thousand lives already and I’m so excited to see the ones that you continue to do. So, and yeah. Thank you so much for the work that you do. Thank you for listening to this episode of many lumens, visit us at manylumens.com to subscribe and follow us on Instagram and Twitter, @manylumens. Many Lumens is brought to you by Blackstar. This episode was produced by Patrice Worthy and Farrah Rahaman edited by David Adams and Heidi Samaan and engineered by Mike Mahalick. Our music supervisor is Rashid Zakat. Our theme song was composed by Vijay, Mohan and remixed by David DJ, little Dave Adams. Sending you light and see you next time.



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