Episode 82: Bridgit Antoinette Evans and Tracy Van Slyke on the Intersection of Art and Activism

Bridgit Antoinette Evans and Tracy Van Slyke, co-founders of the Pop Culture Collaborative, join us today to talk about the meaning of a pluralistic society, pop culture for social change, and the intersection between the arts and social activism spheres. They delve into the notion of narrative oceans, how they can be used to unify people’s experiences but also drive harmful stereotypes of populations, such as the anti-Islamic rhetoric post-9/11 that informed media depictions and created swirls in the ocean. They posit that it’s our work to not only reform existing narrative oceans but to also craft new ones that are more inclusive. For example, the narrative ocean surrounding Black women’s leadership, whether that’s at home or in politics, inspires more people to engage with the power they always had; by doing so, the U.S. is able to evolve into a stronger, more democratic nation. This is not accomplished by the work of just one Black woman character but a movement to better portray them across all media; thus, intentional storytelling is key to reforming our narrative oceans. Evans and Van Slyke also delve into the creation of the PCC as a space of deep learning and to build a field working at the intersection of pop culture and social justice. They touch on the American desire for belonging and how, structurally, there are factors that already determine who does or does not. While movements such as Black Lives Matter challenge conventional ideas of belonging, it is also important to engage with the idea of pluralism and cultural fluidity: a commitment to actively move out of the familiar to forge bonds with people different from us and to do so from a place of accountability. Ultimately, the questions they aim to answer involve both art and activism: How can artists immerse themselves in social justice analysis in relation to the stories they tell? How do you engage with social justice in an emotional way? Right now, Evans, Van Slyke, and the PCC advise that the answer lies in staying open-minded and inspired for the future!

A full transcript of this conversation will be available soon!

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Grants and spaces for artists in entertainment:
Storyline Partners
Yes, And Laughter Lab
Becoming America fund
Starfish Accelerator

Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity

Mass audience activation and innovation
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Roma, which the NDWA was invested in promoting

White Paper on Fan Activism

24 and the Bush Administration
Homeland struggles with Muslim Representation
American Muslim Response to Ramy
Ms. Marvel as Muslim Superhero

Check out these previous episodes with guests who were funded by Pop Culture Collaborative:
Episode 73: Increasing Visibility is Existential for Native Communities, with Crystal Echo Hawk
Episode 69: The Power of Fan activism with Janae Phillips and Shawn Taylor
Episode 28: Taking risks: comedy as tool for social justice with Caty Borum Chattoo

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry, Colin and the How Do You Like It So Far? account! You can also email us at [email protected].

“In Time” by Dylan Emmett and “Spaceship” by Lesion X.
In Time (Instrumental) by Dylan Emmet  https://soundcloud.com/dylanemmet
Spaceship by Lesion X https://soundcloud.com/lesionxbeats
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/in-time-instrumental
Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/lesion-x-spaceship
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/AzYoVrMLa1Q

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