Silent Barn closes, Educated Little Monsters not taking over the space
In mid-March, Bushwick DIY music venue Silent Barn announced they would be soon closing forever. On Sunday night (4/29) they held their final event. It was a relatively low key affair dubbed "Last Rites" that included a Shady Hawkins reunion and sets by Mallrat, Crosslegged, Yatta, and G Lucas Crane, plus readings by Barn family like Liz Pelly, and more.
Educated Little Monsters (ELM), "a music and arts group serving Bushwick youth whose communities are severely impacted by gentrification," had been running classes and programming out of Silent Barn since 2014. Upon learning the space would be closing, ELM -- with Silent Barn's help -- started raising money to open a new space for themselves.
At the end of March, ELM made the announcement that they were in talks to take over Silent Barn and make it completely their own. The new space would be the old space. Local politicians were on board, and ELM has now successfully raised more than their goal of $50,000.
However, ELM's leader Jazo Brooklyn revealed some unfortunate news today (and I don't just mean the revelation that ELM and Silent Barn weren't always so in love with each other). ELM will sadly not be taking over the lease, though -- according to Jazo -- it's not because they didn't want to.
Here's Jazo's statement in full:
Today we close the chapter of what's known to be The Silent Barn.
I've been in this space for 5 yrs. And for 5 yrs I became racist white peoples biggest problem.
As much of you that love silent barn we as people of color loved it for many different reasons.
It took the monster community coming in and holding people accountable for us to feel like we had a community. People began to leave the space all because they didn't want to see people of color take up more space. 90% of the people in power in silent barn were either racist or people of color with a huge amount of class and privilege that seem to identify with the whiteness more than they did with actual people of color from this community.
And then we found our allies. The white people who stood up and said enough is enough... They then began to fight with us. And then and only then did things begin to change.
I went from only being able to use the space 2 hrs a week to shutting everything down. It became ours.
I got on the calendar team (which I was de railed cuz literally anything i would try to be a part of would be) to be able to book black and brown events as well as fought 2 years just to be given access to post our events so we can represent.
For the 1st time ever i will gloat. I put my blood sweat and tears into making this space inclusive. And it was no easy task. If if wasn't for me shaking and breaking down the racial inequality in this space. We still wouldn't be shit in a very white DIY
But we did and we began to win... But infiltration is real. Coonery is real. There were people of color who literally came in and violated the natives fighting in the space. Did nothing for us a community but took it all for them.
Fronted like they wanted to build but all they were really doing is trying to over throw everything we have bust our asses for...
And i seen ya, ya wasn't low but as a person fighting for their hood i understood that we needed to learn to build. And In doing so it almost destroyed everything we worked for in the 5 yrs of being in this space...
That's when I said ya can sink ya selves. I'm pulling me and my team out we ain't drowning...
We then learned that We could take the lease on the building we been running program out of and our night events...It seemed like a success story.
YES WE WERE ON OUR WAY TO TAKING OVER THE LEASE..
YES WE MET WITH THE LANDLORD AND OUR TEAM AND HE KNEW WE WERE THE ONES TAKING THE NEW LEASE ONCE THE SILENT BARN WAS OUT.
YES WE HAD AN AGENT READY
YES WE WERE WORKING ON WHAT THE AGREEMENTS OF THE LEASE WAS GOING TO BE.
YES WE WERE TOLD WE CAN START WORKING ON THE LEASE....
Then it all stopped. The landlord stopped negotiating with us.
What happened next is literally why we as a people will never make it.
Sooooo many people, orgs, collectives went behind our backs and some how got the landlords # and began calling him and negotiating and in doing so we lost our opportunity in keeping the space.
Even after ya knew we were fighting to keep the space. Even after I told a lot of people let us ride this. Please be patient. Nope they still did they shit right behind our backs...
The saddest part is this wasn't only gentrifiers and transplants it was also people of color helping further displace us..
Ya have to understand people of color are gentrifiers too. If you not from this community and benefiting from these changes and not fighting against them then your just as much as part of the problem....
The monster movement will not be taking the SILENT BARN BUT YA NEED To ALSO KNOW WE FOUGHT THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH.....
THE WHOOLLLLEEE WAY.
We don't know who's taking the lease at this point but what is certain is that any movement or collectives taking the space pushed us out..
This was never about money cuz we got that:..
THIS IS ABOUT POWER AND NON INCLUSIVENESS AND STRAIGHT BETRAYAL.
TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO DONATED YA THE REAL MVP. WE WILL NOT DISAPPOINT. WE WILL HAVE OUR OWN VENUE IN WHICH NONE OF THE ABOVE WILL EVER HAPPEN AGAIN....
TO THE ALLIES IVE BUILT IN THIS SPACE I LOVE YA AND LOOK FORWARD TO BUILDING WITH YOU MORE.
AND TO MY COMMUNITY WHO HELPED AND DIDNT STRIP ME FOR MY ACCESS AND RESOURCES YA THE REAL MVP AND WHY ILL FOREVER MAKE IT......
I LOVE THE BARN
BUT FOR MANY DIFFERENT REASONS
REASONS THAT ONLY WE WIL UNDERSTAND...
TO THE PEOPLE WHO DONATED YA THE REAL MVPS AND I PROMISE YOU THAT WE WILL NOT DISAPPOINT. AND WE WILL OPEN OUR OWN DIY MUSIC AND ART VENUE CATERING TO NATIVES, and the YOUTH.
This ain't the end
It's nearly the beginning...