I was not at #ASTROWORLDFest, but I can't escape it.

a thread
(cw: death)
Astroworld, to recap, was Travis Scott's sold out two-day music festival in Houston, now in its third iteration. On Friday night, 50k ppl came to his headline performance. Crowd surges created a mass casualty event; 8 people died and hundreds were injured.
It can be a fine line between avoiding dying & living our lives. I can't blame anyone for not knowing a concert could kill them. How could you know you might drown in a sea of humans? Of all the deaths to fear, who knew that being trampled should be added to the list, too?
The firsthand accounts are gruesome, but what is most brutal to me is that there are some deaths - no matter how close or how many - that don't make a loud enough sound to stop the show.
"More people began to scream for help, some began to collapse. The music continued."

"In complete darkness I was hearing another girl screaming that she also couldn't breathe, and I was simultaneously holding another person's hand underneath everyone."
3600 miles away from Houston, I can't help but hear their desperation as an echo. Have we not heard these very same cries for the last twenty months, reverberating across our country since the beginning of this pandemic?
Out living our lives - singing songs, saying cheers, getting groceries - who knew, then, that our social life could kill us?

How could we have known that you can suffocate from the inside out, who really knew what a ventilator was, or that a hospital only had so many.
We didn't know a pandemic could be possible in our lifetime, that it would take the lives of elders and marathon runners and lovers and mothers.

We didn't know.

And then we learned.
We learned that covid spread by close contact. We learned you could prevent it by mask wearing, social distancing, increasing testing, limiting large gatherings, etc. We developed a vaccine. The science is there.

We didn't know, but now we know, and it is possible to end this.
"We continued to drown. More and more. One person fell, or collapsed, it doesn't matter how it started."

"I'm watching people sing & dance while others & I were gasping for air."
The story that most captivates me here is not about crowd control, but about our human nature in a crisis. Who is chanting "stop the show" and who is boo-ing them?
I too want to live my life - to gather and see people's faces and not quarantine every time there's an exposure in my work or friend group - but how would one live with themselves as a dancer amongst the dying?
What I hear in the Astroworld accounts is terror. I hear how life-living a person they are, and how traumatic it was to see a man next to them collapse, to see a hand under a dozen bodies reaching out, to watch an unconscious girl fall off a stretcher onto her face.
The accounts are horrifying, because the helplessness of death can be humiliating, and a moral person in the face of it can barely shoulder the shame.
As of yesterday, 758,186 have died from covid in the U.S. Although we are only 4% of the world pop, we represent around 20% of the world's covid deaths. It is not just that one can die of covid, it's that we as a country have not successfully worked together to stop its spread.
If you are among those who refuse to wear a mask, who refuse to take precautions, who refuses the science of the vaccine but yet does not refuse living the life of a human in community. I have to ask: why, how?
You didn't know, but now you know. If you were the woman who saw the floor of bodies, wouldn't you, too, climb the ladder to a platform and beg to stop the music?
I'm wondering about the people who went to Astrofest and had a good time.
Help me out here. I don't think this is up to us - the mask wearers, the vaccinated, the businesses still operating at partial capacity - anymore. We stopped dancing a long time ago. We are shrieking, trying to get someone's attention, but they cannot or will not hear us.
During his 70 minute performance, Travis Scott stopped for a moment to acknowledge an ambulance making its way through the crowd. He asked folks to raise their middle finger up if they're okay, and I guess enough people flipped the bird.
He went on to sing for another half hour, and when he was finished he waved to the crowd and said "I love y'all. Make it home safe. Good night!"
But who cares about Travis Scott. Who I care about is you. My family, my community, myself. We who deserve to be loved and to make it home safe. Here in the concert of our country, the band plays on, the crowd is swaying, our friends and our strangers collapsing.
Do you face the music or do you look away?

If there was something you could do to make it stop, would you do it?


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More from @tsu_namee

23 Jul 19

Best part of my day was when I was in prison. I've been co-teaching poetry every other week with my friend Erika, (side note, it's through a program called Infinite Writers, originated/organized by University of Alaska faculty).

We warmed up our bodies and our voices and Erika led us in a cool lesson brainstorming metaphors for emotions together. Our discussion was clever and nasty and joyful and sharp. In our laughter, there were no guards.

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"I don't know the word for different kinds of waves," one woman had whispered to me as we wrote.

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