Defeating racism with the language of love

January 18, 2019

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

The above words are among the many unforgettable maxims uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Words and ideas like these still ring in our ears long after this great man tragically left us. On Dr. King’s holiday this year, Rochester’s Love Music Hate Racism group is presenting “Words to Live, and Die By” to help ensure that we don’t become silent about those things that matter.

Brian Faloon is the founder for Rochester’s Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) organization. “Words to Live, and Die By” will be the first of a continuing series of historical readings focused on “raising issues of social, racial and economic justice,” he said. The first event will take place on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 21, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Canvas and Chardonnay. The overall goal of LMHR is “to build an inclusive, anti-racist community using the power of music to bring people together.”

“Music is such a powerful force in everyone’s lives, no matter the genre, and the sense of community that it brings is second to none,” Faloon says. “Look at the effect music has on us individually—in the car, in the shower—but collectively too, when we go to gigs or concerts, so the idea is to create a sense of community in the first instance around music that resonates with people in a way that we can deliver the anti-racism message.”

For the upcoming event, Faloon was inspired by Howard Zinn’s “Voices of a People’s History of the USA” and his “Letters Live.” Both were designed to give voice to dissenters. The concept is to create a staged reading of words written by historical people who may have been marginalized or forgotten. The first evening of staged readings will connect with Martin Luther King Jr. day by centering on “themes of civil rights, social and economic justice, [and] racism.”

Faloon launched the Rochester LMHR organization in 2017, modeling it after another group that he coordinated in Belfast, Northern Ireland, his country of origin. “Coming from a very divided society in Northern Ireland, where we went through the better part of 30 years of violence related to questions of identity, religion, bigotry, injustice and sectarianism,” says Faloon, “you had to make a stand not to get dragged into that mire.”

Since 2017, LMHR has sponsored several events to further their mission of bringing diverse people together. LMHR has partnered with other organizations like The Jive Mill to present concerts and discussions focusing on racism in Minnesota. The group has also collaborated with the Rochester Public Library and the Greater Rochester Area Dakota Supporters to show movies themed on racial issues such as “Rabbit-Proof Fence” and “Songs My Brothers Taught Me.”

“There has been an overarching history of racism, or white supremacy, that is still, very much, at the forefront of politics and social issues today,” says Faloon. “The intention is to continue to raise these issues and make the connection back to the past, so that maybe we can see that these key issues remain unresolved.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Now it seems like Love Music Hate Racism is doing its part to use the language of love to turn enemies into friends.

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