We are living now inside the imagination of people who thought economic disparity and environmental destruction were acceptable costs for their power. It is our right and responsibility to write ourselves into the future. All organizing is science fiction. If you are shaping the future, you are a futurist. A visionary fiction is a way to practice the future in our minds, alone and together. -Adrienne Maree Brown.
Dallas Diaz read Jaye and Raina that quote when they met up with them back in July. They were reading from a book titled, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds which can sum up the amazing work Dallas has done thus far in their young life.
“I’m just a little 22 year old out of college with my first career trying to figure things out and how to flip the politics of this state that is very corrupt,” they said. “I’m looking for a place where I can be black and queer and be trusted and not tokenized for that, but empowered by that.”
(Click here to listen to the amazing episode! But also keep reading, please! They say a lot of cool things that didn’t make it into the final cut of the episode!)
Dallas grew up going to public school and learning to play many instruments including guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums (among others). When it came to joining bands, though, they were always asked to play bass and keyboard instead of lead guitar. As if that could stop them from getting out into the spotlight.
When a friend asked them to join a band as the drummer, they knew it was their time to get out from the background and into the spotlight.
“I’ve been playing music since I was 5 years old, but this is my first time actually being in a group with anybody playing music and playing shows and things like that, which is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, but had my friend not asked me and trusted me and someone else showed that type of confidence in me, I wouldn’t have done it,” they said.
Of course, being behind the drumset had its challenges both on and off the stage. People weren’t expecting to see a young black person in that role. Dallas was in charge of the rhythm on stage, and off stage they were trying to make their way in the world untokenized.
“I think there’s a vacuum and I think a lot of marginalized artists, and artists who have been healing their trauma through art, are gonna find a lot more validation,” they said. “There are spaces to start having these critical conversations that we’ve been missing out on.”
On top of finding their own voice in music, Dallas is a passionate activist. In a world that doesn’t want to change, Dallas has decided to speak louder and give a voice that wasn’t always there for them.
“I was having a lot of trouble negotiating [anti-blackness within communities of color in Arizona organizations] as well as being queer, being a nonbinary person,” they said. “I was in a lot of spaces, the first non binary person to be around, so it was really tasked onto me to teach people how to treat me right.”
Finding the space to be yourself and to advocate for those you don’t see or hear is exactly what makes Dallas a trailblazer in our community.
Like Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Dallas writes their own story. When they didn’t see themselves being represented in the community or in music, they stepped in.
“Validating myself through watching what other artists are doing and watching other people through their processes, that’s what art is,” they said. “I think I had such a self-consciousness that comes with perfectionism. I didn’t want to put anything out if it didn’t have like good melodic sense or anything.”
Making their music heard in the community they live in is just one way we can see the importance of self-publishing. Maybe not everyone will understand your voice or your story at first, but getting it out there is the first step.
“I’ve been spending some time trying to really be grateful for right now, and what I was so grateful for yesterday, it kind of overwhelmed me: I was realizing how many young emerging artists and changemakers I’ve met in the middle of the desert already in my young 20s and what that’s going to look like as I cultivate it as I get older,” Dallas said.
You can follow Dallas and all of the amazing stuff they are doing on Instagram.
Still want to hear more about Dallas and their work? Click here to listen to the full episode!
Thank you so much for reading and for supporting us!