Vivek Shraya is a multi-disciplinary writer and artist whose work explores intersecting conceptions of race and gender. She's part of a supportive Toronto arts community, but in the nearly decade and a half she's lived here "allyship" has often distorted into a self-signifier performed loudly via social media and safety pins. It's become harder to tell who's working for change and who's trading "I AM WOKE" statuses for likes.
"In any arts community, it remains crucial for white artists to be thinking about their power and how they can use their privilege to support artists of colour," writes Shraya in an email to Chart Attack. "In 2016, we have witnessed heartening public moments of allyship including NOW's feature on racism in the Canadian music industry. At the same time, the recent outpouring of support by acclaimed Canadian writers for UBC professor Stephen Galloway suggests that we have a long way to go."
"When Did You Stop Having My Back?", her new collaboration with Light Fires, questions that dichotomy over pulsing synths, a four on the floor beat, and a duet hook you'll be humming for days. Though she's played with electronic music, it's Shraya's most heavily dance oriented track. Listen below.
All proceeds from the track will be donated to "Fight for Trans Lives Passport Fund," which helps low and no income trans people in the US change their federal documentation while a looming Trump presidency threatens their safety and security. You can buy it here.
"In my ongoing battle with white supremacy, this year I have had to second guess and even walk away from several relationships where the ability to listen and more importantly, to act, have been missing," says Shraya. "Simultaneously, I have found solace in those willing to learn and step forward. For me, 'When Did You Stop Having My Back?' is about this tension of shedding and cherishing."
A celebration of the community you create.