Sunday, August 9, 2015

Solidarity is my Sanctuary

I was hesitant at first to do the Art Sanctuary position, but that was a hesitation that came from arrogance and my own insecurities. I didn't want to work all summer with a program based non-profit after a year of creating large scale events, and I thought I wouldn't be accepted in a black arts center. Thank God I was so deeply wrong.

At risk of sounding like a total clichĂ©…this has truly been a life changing experience. Growing up as an interracial person I have felt a lot of estrangement from the black community. I’ll try not to get too deep on you guys but growing up I was often told that black people, particularly black women would not like me because I am lighter than them. That negativity still haunts me. Being surrounded this summer by beautiful, powerful blackness and solidarity was so life and identity affirming. Art Sanctuary is doing amazing things for this community and beyond. Ms. Val Gay is truly my mentor, and she inspires me constantly. I learned a lot from working with the high school students about how people perceive art as this untouchable privilege. It was my mission (and Art Sanctuary's) to help them understand that they are artists too. I’ve made connections with so many empowered black women of many ages and I will never let go of these connections.

In fact I’m going to continue to be Art Sanctuary’s “resident artist” and write for them. Our UArts African Diaspora Collective will also be collaborating with Art Sanctuary for the Black Arts Festival in March. We will also be collaborating with Penn’s Kelly Writers House because Maya (one of my fellow college interns) works there and is also apart of Penn’s Minority Council. I’m looking forward to being apart of the Art Sanctuary family, and who knows…maybe I’ll become an official employee someday? Either way I know Art Sanctuary will always be an integral part of my life.

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