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Sydney Kamlager-Dove has a message for creators disenchanted with politics
“You shold look at how muddy the waters are and see it as an opportunity to stake a claim and help offer clarity, help offer a new experience,” the first-term House Democrat told Supercreator..
Joy is a major ingredient of meaningful creative work, but it can seem hard to come by of late.
There’s so much dysfunction in one of the country’s two major political parties that the federal government is on the verge of a shutdown. There’s also institutionalized poverty that disproportionately harms Black, brown, rural, and inner-city communities. The affordable housing crisis boxes creators out of building lives and businesses where their imaginations take them if where they currently are leaves too much to be desired.
The student debt crisis is acute for the millions of millennials who were told an education was the golden ticket to generational wealth, plus active threats to democracy and the intensifying attacks on the right to exist as who you are and your bodily autonomy can feel as overwhelming as they are infuriating.
But for Rep. SYDNEY KAMLAGER-DOVE (D-Calif.), these are reasons for the creative community to show up and stand tall—not to shrink and play small.
“The people who have saved us all have been artists, artists they’ve been the creatives. And so my role is make sure that that path is always available for them to guide us,” Kamlager-Dove told me this week following remarks at a panel on the art of storytelling at the Congressional Black Caucus’s Annual Legislative Conference. “Artists heal, they educate, they translate, they empower, and they remind us of our own power.”
Artists and creators are also human. And the heaviness of the current moment can lead to deep frustration with the political process.
“I think artists are always going to be frustrated with the political process. It’s disjointed. It sometimes feels really inauthentic and it can be high manufactured,” Kamlager-Dove said. “And creatives, I think, are about exploring what’s beyond the boundaries.”
But should creators allow this frustration to lead to disenchantment?
“Absolutely not,” Kamlager-Dove said. “You shold look at how muddy the waters are and see it as an opportunity to stake a claim and help offer clarity, help offer a new experience.”
Kamlager-Dove is part of a class of freshman House progressives who bring creative experience and an appreciation of arts, entertainment, and digital media to the halls of Congress.
In July, Rep. MAXWELL FROST (D-Fla.), the first Gen-Z member elected to Congress and a musician in his own right, said entering Congress in the minority party has tested his creativity to advance his values without the power that comes with being in charge.
And this summer, Rep. ROBERT GARCIA (D-Calif.) launched the Popular Arts Caucus to bring attention to an untapped space in Congress and focus on arts that are usually left out of the conversation.
Kamlager-Dove cut her teeth in creative environments prior to entering public service.
She worked in the entertainment industry and nonprofit sector where she learned the power of narratives in driving social change. Her first internship was the historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research library of the New York Public Library dedicated to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences.
“I know where I come from,” she said to attendees of the panel with the confidence that all pioneering creators possess and can appreciate seeing from another.
Kamlager-Dove’s advocacy—accentuated in her remarks at the CBC conference and in conversations we’ve had on Capitol Hill—is for creators, artists, and activists to fully claim space in culture, society, and government without apology.
“Oftentimes, we are asked to make our experience more palatable, less fearful. I don’t subscribe to that. Sometimes it’s okay to be uncomfortable—especially if you’re walking in and sharing truth,” she said. “And how do we get to a space where we help people understand that it’s not our role to make someone feel less than comfortable, but it is certainly our role to be present in all of the spaces sharing our history.”
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Supercreator x VidCon Baltimore 2023
The conversation will feature a group of the sharpest minds in the space:
LARTEASE TIFFITH, Executive Vice President of Public Policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau
AJ BROWN, Chief Operating Officer at the Brand Safety Institute
MERLYNEE JEAN-LOUIS, business and entertainment lawyer at Jean-Louis Law
MICHAEL OSTHHEIMER, attorney at the Federal Trade Commission
We’re hoping to help creators answer a few questions:
How can you navigate a complex and ever-changing policy landscape?
How can you stay informed in an evolving environment that’s attracted enormous attention from regulators, lawmakers, and enforcement agencies?
How can you help shape the policies that affect your creative work?
Want to join me? If you’re in the area and interested in attending the panel in person, you’re in luck: I have two free tickets up for grabs:
(1) Industry track attendee ticket ($849 value!): This badge type provides access to all public-facing content and networking areas for all four days of VidCon (9/28–10/1) where you’ll learn best practices and a wealth of insight on where we are and where we’re going from the very best in the business.
(2) Community Track ticket ($139 value!): This badge type provides access to the panels, Q&As, performances, meet & greets, Expo Hall fun, and so much more with fellow fans and Featured Creators, including Kalen Allen, Basement Gang, Rich Black Guy, and Tee Noir.
Reply to this newsletter or email me at email@example.com with a one-sentence on what you would hope to gain from attending the conference. Priority will be given to paid Supercreator News subscribers but anyone is welcome to participate. I hope to see you in Baltimore next week!
The Week That Was
House GOP leadership gets screwed by conservatives again
For the second time this week, House Republicans on Thursday failed to pass a procedural vote to open debate on bills to fund the Pentagon for the upcoming fiscal year and prevent a government shutdown.
It was the latest stinging rebuke of Speaker KEVIN McCARTHY from a small faction of his conference that colleagues and I watched unfold in real-time outside the TV studio where we were waiting for House Minority Leader HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.) to start his weekly media availability.
House Republican leaders sent members home until next Tuesday while the Rules committee preps four bills to fund various agencies, including the Homeland Security and Agriculture Departments.
This is much ado about nothing though: In order to secure the votes needed for passage from conservative holdouts, McCarthy must move the bills further to the right when the path out of this mess resides closer to the middle.
This means House Democrats will continue to unanimously oppose the bills leaving McCarthy with just a razor-thin margin of error.
Meanwhile, the Senate is a mess too—but less so than the House. Senate conservatives scuttled a bipartisan effort to consider a “minibus” package of three funding bills that unanimously passed out of committee. So Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.) switched gears and made preparations for the Senate to pass a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open.
The government runs out of funding in eight days.
Zelenskyy visits a Congress divided on UKR aid
President VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY stopped by Capitol Hill on Thursday as the future of US aid to his war-torn country hangs in the balance.
The White House has requested $24 billion in additional assistance to support Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia, who invaded the Zelenskyy’s country under orders from President VLADIMIR PUTIN more than a year and a half ago.
But a growing number of congressional Republicans oppose the request because they claim the cost is too high. (The US invests a small percentage of its economy on Ukraine aid compared to other European nations.)
Supporters of ongoing support from both parties claim that a weakened Ukraine leads to an emboldened Putin, which will lead to an emboldened XI JINPING, the Chinese president with his sights set on Taiwan, a key US partner in the Indo-Pacific region. If Ukraine fails due in part to the US withdrawing its support, President Xi may assume the same would apply to Taiwan.
Senate leaders are still expected to attach funding for Ukraine, along with disaster relief, border security, and addressing the fentanyl crisis. Congressional Democrats overwhelmingly support the supplemental funding so only a handful of Republicans would have to join them to push it through. McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Friday that he would give Ukraine funding its own vote in the House instead of including it in a stopgap measure.
Zelenskyy did not respond to shouted questions from reporters on whether he got any commitments from Speaker McCarthy to fund the war or what his message is for congressional Republicans who want to end aid to Ukraine.
WH extends TPS status to Venezuelan immigrants
The White House this week announced it would redesignate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status. The move will allow more than half of the newly arrived asylum-seekers in New York to receive expedited work authorization in the US without having to wait six months. It’s also expected to reduce the burden on the city’s shelter.
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