Isolation Drills: Audrey Zee Whitesides

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Whitesides: I’m writing this at a unique time in quarantine. If I’d done this even two or three weeks ago, I’d have said I was basically stuck in a holding pattern, recently on unemployment after a couple very anxious months with none of my usual income from touring. I hadn’t had much else going on—just running and organizing lots of long-distance tabletop role-playing games with friends to get social energy in my life, and starting a rewatch of The X-Files.

As an artist, I’d been experiencing a massive creative block, unable to write songs or work on anything more than some half-baked guitar riffs. And personally, not much has changed from that. I’m still playing games online and still not finding much creative inspiration and still living on unemployment.

But as I’m writing this now, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council has just publicly committed to disbanding their police force in the midst of a powerful movement across the country calling for real, system-wide dismantling of racist police departments (read: all police departments) in the U.S. I don’t know what will come of this by the time this is published. Will Minneapolis have actually followed through swiftly and come up with a plan to avoid replacing cops with something just as bad, like private security companies?

Will other cities have realized gestures like getting rid of statues and murals of racists are not enough and made moves to defund or abolish their own police forces? Will Democrats nationwide just have totally co-opted the movement to push very weak, ineffectual reform measures?

I really don’t know, but I didn’t expect to see “Major U.S. City Takes Action Against Police Force” to be a headline in 2020. I’m hoping when I read this back upon its publication, it will just be the first step in a larger change. To get there, there’s work to do.