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I know what most people mean when they describe someone as "political." They mean they're tedious. They mean someone who is always angry, repetitive, boring, and don't forget repetitive. They're afraid they're going to dominate a gathering with speeches or worse, make them eat kale. I've met the people who fit this category. You can only hope they all end up having to sit next to each other someday on the same bus.

What confuses me are the people who claim they are not "political", as if you could take it off and hang it up like a coat. I saw one recently stomping through a party trying to turn off the faucets of conversation everywhere about, for instance, the Electoral College, as though the room would flood. It's especially entertaining to watch them parse songs as either "political" or "not political" considering the many efforts, both historic and contemporary, to prohibit indigenous music, or religious music, or music entirely.

How do they do it? My hat is off to the exhausted people who try. It's a touchy time, after the recent election, and it's hard dodging the mea culpas and analyses flying through the air like butterflies in spring. It's hard to know where the third rail is in a room full of strangers, who might well be at musical, let alone political, odds.

But one thing I am sure of is that after you've ironed all the politics out of your Thanksgiving, your gathering, your songs, your speech, and the patterns of your life, I hope somebody lets you know that you've committed an extremely political act. That is, if you haven't silenced them entirely.

With a Perspective, this is Carol Denney.


Carol Denney is a musician, writer and activist living in Berkeley.