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'Drum Beat Journey' Documentary Follows Four African-American Street Musicians From Chicago To Senegal

Drum Beat Journey is a new documentary project that follows a group of four African-American street musicians from Chicago to Senegal.


Drum Beat Journey is a new documentary project that follows a group of African-American bucket drummers on a musical pilgrimage from Chicago's South Side to Senegal. In July 2012 Eritrea-born social worker and filmmaker Elilta Tewelde traveled with four teenaged street musicians to Petit Mbao, Senegal, for a two-week drumming workshop with Senegalese Griot percussionist Medoune Gueye (aka Papa Dame). "We are here to expose our young people to a culture they have never experienced before in their lives," executive director of the Washington DC-based Rhythm N Dance Kevin L. McEwen says in the film's campaign video. "Being an African-American means that you are part of the African diaspora. Yes you're from the South Side of Chicago, but you're also part of a greater whole... The thing that's most important about it is understanding your ancestors came from here, and they were forcibly taken from here over there." Drum Beat Journey, produced by Tewelde along with Kate Benzschawel and Mallory Sohmer, is still in production. Learn more about the project via the film's Indiegogo pageFacebook and Twitter, and watch an early trailer below.

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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