Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at 27 Rue de Fleurus, the legendary flat where they held their salon.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at 27 Rue de Fleurus, the legendary flat where they held their salon.

To be honest, I’ve cried a lot the last year. I read the news — I see the photos, view the video footage — and I cry for all the people who have been oppressed or murdered or marginalized with little to no options at achieving or sustaining freedom.

But like many others who’ve shed the same tears, I’ve hit a wall. I refuse to let tears be the beginning and end of that which exists. This abhorrent behavior against humanity — police brutality, the laughing stock that is American political candidacy, the continued oppression of women and minorities, the corruption of government and big business — is unacceptable, and we cannot let the immoral continue to take ownership of others and their plight.

Advocacy comes in many forms: protest, art, writing, legislation, conversation. In truth, I’m aware it can feel daunting, not only to stay informed, but also to enact change. Reading the news can leave one feeling helpless. Events are often not singular, they are part of a greater web, one that’s hard to trace back to the root cause, but necessary in finding where the solutions lie. However, how is one to know the history or what the future may hold if one is not aware of or ever exposed to the truth?

Dialogue is crucial to the advancement of politics and social progress. Action starts with conversation. There is much going on in America right now, much that needs to be addressed in a setting that raises our humanity and consciousness and education and actions so we may enact the right kind of change.

Most importantly, I know I am not alone in my feelings of sadness and frustration. There are many more like me looking for progress and a means in which to learn, listen, share and enact change.

What I propose is this: If you live in the New York City Area, I welcome you to join in a monthly political salon, held in person and outside the confines of the Internet, where together we may have a dialogue to further educate ourselves and others in the hopes that we will each find our own way to advocate for that which we believe is vital to the social and political progress of the country we call Home.

And because I want to ensure that the environment enables healthy dialogue and change, I’d like to respectfully offer the following guidelines to all attendees:

Admitted Ignorance Welcome – I find that people want to talk about politics, but they don’t feel educated enough or others are quick to shut them down if they have a misstep in what they believe to be factual. But not here. This will be a place where you can come and say, “I don’t know, but I want to learn.”

All Political Affiliations Are Welcome – Regardless of what you identify as — Left vs Right; Democrat vs Republican; Progressive vs Conservative — everyone is welcome. The intent is not division, it’s unity through understanding. To quote Chris Rock: “The whole country’s got a fucked up mentality. We all got a gang mentality. Anyone who makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a fucking fool. Everybody, nah, nah, nah, everybody is so busy wanting to be down with a gang! I’m a conservative! I’m a liberal! I’m a conservative! It’s bullshit! Be a fucking person. Listen. Let it swirl around your head. Then form your opinion.”

Opinions & Propaganda Are Not Facts – All too often I see people on my Facebook feed share quotes by politicians or beyond which are not true and are a testament to how even the most educated can also fall victim to propaganda. If someone states something to be a fact, it must be proven as true by a reputable source.

Zero Tolerance Policy – While a safe space, certainly there will exist disagreement during political dialogue, however there is a strict zero tolerance policy for any racist, misogynistic, misandrist, bigoted or otherwise discriminatory language. No exceptions.

Respect Is A Must – Political debates, even when on the same side, can be heated. It’s cool, we’re all adults. We can handle it. Unless you don’t. People who are condescending, disrespectful, or rude will not be tolerated.

This is our salon. And this is just the beginning. May we never accept less than what we and the world deserve. May we always listen and learn from others. May we have the knowledge necessary to go forth in life educated and prepared. Why wait for tomorrow, when we can start today.

So if you live in the New York City Area, I hope you will join me and others in listening, learning, sharing, and discussing politics so that we may rise together to enact the kind of positive change we wish to see. I hope to see you there.

Apartment 212 Salon Debut
Sunday, October 18 at 7pm
BedStuy, Brooklyn
Details to follow via email.