The organizers of WBEZ’s ninth-annual Winter Block Party took inspiration from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing when they named this year’s event: Do the Winter Block Party Thing. The all-ages hip-hop gathering begins at noon and runs till 10 PM at Metro, bringing together dancers, poets, visual artists, and musicians who do right by their communities. Genre-blurring singer-songwriter and poet Tasha Viets-VanLear, one of the party’s marquee acts, honed her craft in informal freestyle circles and as a participant in the Young Chicago Authors program, and till recently she worked as an executive assistant for young black activist organization BYP100. She subtly and effectively addresses her history of activism on her most recent single, October’s “Lullaby.”
Atop little more than delicate arpeggiated guitar, Tasha provides a message of encouragement for black girls struggling to survive and thrive in a society whose devaluation of them requires them to constantly reassert their basic humanity. “There will be battles you sometimes lose,” she sings. “They’ll never last a day in your shoes / You still need to rest too.” Tasha knows what the young women for whom she wrote this song go through every day, and her gentle voice exudes empathy for them—and for herself.