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Saweetie Wants Artists to Get Off the Sidelines

On August 13, the Working Families Party (WFP), the National Domestic Workers Alliance, SEIU, and Move On are co-hosting Can’t Wait: Live! A Concert for Jobs, Climate and Care, a free event in Philadelphia. Headliners include Ne-Yo, Saweetie, Wyclef Jean, Beach Bunny, Mavis Staples, and others.

Philly has long been a site of creative community political organizing, but the 2020 presidential election brought that into a national spotlight. Maybe you saw the dancing mailboxes (now going to the Smithsonian)? The Working Families Party participated in that, too, with Joy to the Polls, an effort to combat voter intimidation while encouraging turnout. That idea was the brainchild of Nelini Stamp, WFP director of partnerships and strategy. Stamp tells Teen Vogue that this is another pressure-cooker moment — one that inspired the Can’t Wait concert.

Congress is considering both a $3.5 trillion social policy budget resolution (that can’t be filibustered in the Senate) and a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate on August 10. But nine moderate Democrats then sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to obstruct the more progressive budget resolution by refusing to vote on it until the infrastructure plan is voted on by the House. Can’t Wait: Live! say they want to call out obstructionary tactics by these Democrats on the progressive issues that the party claims to hold dear — values that, they say, can’t wait.

“We have a message for the corporate Democrats threatening to block the jobs and care our communities need,” Stamp shared in a statement to Teen Vogue. “We can’t wait years for jobs to come back. We can’t wait to invest in the Black, brown and Indigenous communities hit the hardest by these crises, and we can’t wait until the next climate disaster tears our lives apart.”

WFP has endorsed and campaigned for electeds like WFP candidates and Democrats Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones, as well as in the contested Georgia runoffs won by Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. WFP has a particular role in Philly politics, too: in 2019, the state affiliate campaigned for City Councilmember Kendra Brooks, who became the first third party candidate to win a modern Philly council election.

Can’t Wait: Live! Is centered around three core values: job creation, particularly for union jobs; putting resources into climate resilience; and investing in workers by pushing for structural changes in housing, healthcare, and immigration. “Millions of us are depending on Congress to take this once-in-a-generation opportunity and deliver the jobs, care and justice we so urgently need, and we intend to make them deliver,” said Stamp.

Teen Vogue spoke to Saweetie and Beach Bunny lead singer Lili Trifilio about the event. “When the offer came in, it seemed like something almost necessary. I think that a lot of bands should be stepping up, especially with COVID times,” Trifilio tells Teen Vogue. “There’s been a lot of disparities in the world, a lot of socioeconomic issues. A couple days ago the UN declared that the climate crisis is going code red. Things in the world couldn’t be more scary. So when the show came up with all these amazing artists as well, it just seemed like a no-brainer. We’re very excited to participate and hope to do more shows like this in the future.”

Trifilio says that this moment is not just about making big moves (like headlining a concert) — it’s also about self-education, and getting plugged in locally. “If you can’t attend the show, just finding a different way to help support this organization or similar organizations would be really amazing,” she tells Teen Vogue. “They will continue to do the work after the show.”

“Artists have power. There’s so much at stake right now, in this country and in the world, and we can’t sit on the sidelines,” Saweetie tells Teen Vogue. “I think it is important for me and my peers to use our platform to spread awareness about issues that impact our community. We have a historic opportunity to build the country we want to live in, a country where all of us can thrive. We all need to come together and do our part to get it done.”

Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Fall Plans vs. Delta Variant Memes Are Relatable Because the Pandemic Is Draining

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