Manifesto On Black Art: a (b)ars poetica
On the invitation of Black Lives, Black Words, an arts organization that explores the question "Do black lives matter today?" For more info, visit them HERE:
We are in midst of some high-level foolishness, some platinum-status chaos, and still this is the best it’s been for us. A two-term, half black president, first time Emmy winners, more champions, more scholars, more entrepreneurs, teachers, and grassroots activists to add to our steady growing litany of ceiling and ground breakers.
Since the first of our ancestors were kidnapped and sold (or colonized) and segregated, our diasporic existence been about the hopeful push against a tidal wave. The wave keeps crashing, pushing us back some feet, but still our desire to live complex full lives keeps us in the fight, chucking message bottles beyond our sight, deeper into the ocean of future unknown.
And that push has been documented across page, stage, screen and song. And still, our gospel consumed but not fully heard, our activism misconstrued, our underserved communities scapegoated, fighting all type of socio economic waves. Or worse, the self-destructions imposed by our colonized minds keep us hidden in the shadows. Trauma is passed down in the DNA. Centuries of suppressed rage, silence and ravaged dreams, and unanswered prayers live inside. And still we gotta make moves. Can’t nobody improvise like us.
The question of “artist” or “black artist” has long been pondered by a lot of smart people. Me, myself, I have no illusions. I received my calling from a bottle thrown decades before. I am in a continuum. Yes, race is a construct, but not if you’re a racist. The nagging attempts by the modern-day gestapo to silence our drums reverb through me day and night.
I know my role. I am not the first or last. I am culture maker, story-teller, word-player, keeper of the tradition. I am organizer, educator committed to empower marginalized others, to claim and name their existence. Because we still aint fully free. Freer than some, yes, but still not as free as we could and should be. And that’s all it's ever been about. Freedom to take a knee, or to stand on our own two, to say a few words in our chosen lexicon, play our songs at high decibel, build our families, die remembered and counted, plant seeds for crops reaped by our descendants, long after we’ve wilted away. Because the future unknown is endless, but still the waves keep crashing.