Afro-Writing on the Margins, A Necessary Discussion

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The Bronx Council for the Arts and BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance presented Afro -Writing on the Margins, with yours truly, Lorraine Currelley, Executive Dir., Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. and Ron Kavanaugh, Editor Mosaic Magazine. The theme was Afro- Writing on the Margins. The program started with a poetry reading  featuring me. Following the reading I was joined on stage by Ron Kavanaugh and moderator  Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Co-founder of BAAD! the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, for a panel discussion. Both panelists and moderator examined feminism, ageism, sexism, racism and LGBTQ rights through the lens of afro-diasporic perspectives and how they inform contemporary literary production in the age of #BlackLivesMatter. It culminated with a Q&A and public discourse.
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As artists we work as activists and cultural workers, seeking to provide spaces and opportunities where these needed discussions can take place. Safe and supportive non-judgemental spaces. Saturday’s panelists and moderator did not skirt around issues. Speaking unapologetically and authentically, we spoke of the threats, brutality and murders of Black and Brown people of color.  Both panelists and attendees spoke passionately and emotionally about trauma experienced witnessing repeated video and audio recordings of the murders of innocent citizens. Needed are more spaces for expression, healing and free agency over our minds and bodies, an agency this society does not afford people of color, the poor and marginalized.

According to BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance The series delves into the work of acclaimed writer and public intellectual James Baldwin who spoke about the tense relationship between America’s democratic ideals and our fraught racial history. Each week we will explore how Baldwin’s readings impacts contemporary issues and movements such as Black Lives Matter!, Queerness, gentrification, and police brutality. In addition to the herstory of revolutionary possibilities between Audre Lorde and Baldwin.

The consensus from attendees during the Q&A segment,  activism depends on the degree individuals as artists and citizens wish to or not engage issues of social injustice and equity. The individual as citizen and artist defines how and what that activism is to look like. (Paraphrasing) Ron Kavanaugh shared we can each do what we can. My activism might not look like your activism. I do know that I can write an excellent lesson plan. One that addresses societal concerns via Mosaic and programming. We left inspired and strengthened, with a sense of hope by the exchange. Thanks to Charlie Vazquez, Bronx Writers Center Director at Bronx Council on the Arts, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, the BAAD! staff, Ron Kavanaugh, Mosaic Magazine, and attendees.

BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance is a Bronx-based arts organization that creates, produces, presents and supports the development of contemporary dance and all creative disciplines with a unique focus on women, People Of Color and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual & Queer communities.

Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) is a private, non-profit membership organization that has been the official cultural agency of Bronx County since 1962. Recognized nationally as a leading arts service organization in providing cultural services and arts programs, BCA serves a multicultural constituency of almost 1.4 million residents. BCA provides an array of services to 5,000 artists and more than 250 arts and community-based organizations.

The Currelley Literary Journal is an online blog founded by African American poet, writer, educator,  mental health counselor and advocate Lorraine Currelley. The Currelley Literary Journal features commentaries, articles, interviews and reviews. We write about the African diaspora through a historical, herstorical, educational, cultural, socio-political, context, nuance and lens.

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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