How can we create the world we want to live in?  We have to first be dissatisfied with the way things are, and then hone a vision of a radically different world.  I started my formal journey into arts and activism when I was in graduate school at New York University.  I was part of a group of artists who came together to create an alternative space where we can develop, produce and share our authentic narratives through artistic expression.  Frustrated by the distorted images of our communities in mainstream media and tired of being treated as the ‘hired help’ at venues where we did not have ownership, we were advised by Professor Kellis Parker at Columbia University, to create our own space.  We fell in love with that revolutionary idea and began organizing an arts showcase called Blackout.  The idea was a Blackout happens when the system fails us. When the artificial light fed into our schools and social spaces is disconnected, we must find means outside of that system to light our way. 

For a dozen years, I have been part of a creative community where the arts and activism meld together.  Our art speaks critically about the issues that affect us personally while shedding light on systemic oppression that plague our communities, such as the mass incarceration of people of color, disparities in economic access, and a public education system that leaves too many of our community members behind. After performances, we engage audiences in dialogue and connect them to opportunities to take action. 

Reflecting on the legacy of Blackout Arts Collective, I recognize that art is not all we created.  We are manifesting our vision of self-determination. BAC created spaces to speak truth to power, move people to action, and to self-determine.  Many of us have since established publishing companies (Andre Maurice Press), media and film production companies (Sista Pac Productions, Straight No Chaser Films, Media Sutra), local and international non-profit organizations (Jahajee Sisters and Global Block) and more. We are creating the world we want to live in and supporting millions of people across the world to engage in their own transformation.

I am privileged to be part of a community of artists/activists who are creating a new way of being by embodying the creative process. Together, we are creating the world we want to live in.


7/6/2012 14:26:57

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