Amidst the ongoing pandemic and continued erosion of civil rights, finding avenues to joy, creativity, connection, and expression is more important than ever. Art is often a deep expression of our humanity. It’s both personal and political, particularly when created by those whose identities are politicized for merely existing, for being visible, and for refusing to be silent and compliant within a white supremacist capitalist society. In such a world, finding joy, creating connections with others, and challenging toxic narratives through art can be revolutionary acts. Prism has been proud to feature stories of creators who use their art and passion to continue striving for a better world. In case you missed it, check out some of these stories:
Hip Hop for Change’s curriculum is much more involved than simply teaching students to dance and create art. One of their biggest hurdles involves dismantling the way Black and brown forms of expression are perceived by society and informing people that there’s a way to make a living off of it.
“Why do people think they can make money doing ballet and not breakdance? Why do people think they can make money as a graphic designer but not as a graffiti artist? That sounds like racism and white supremacy to me. We don’t have financial efficacy within our own cultural expressive forms because they’re deemed as less-than,” Jay said.
“So part of what I’ve been thinking about is the desire to understand and know what’s going on is because many of us are very uncomfortable with uncertainty. And this moment is nothing if not deeply uncertain, right? Like, we don’t know how long the cycle lasts. So I was reminded I can’t figure shit out like it’s still unfolding. This was like, two weeks in. I was reminded of something that was said to me a while ago when I was feeling like my role in my community was shifting and I didn’t know what it was shifting to. I was like, I know that it is no longer this thing over here, but I don’t know what it’s moving toward. I was talking with Akaya, who is [profiled] in the book, about how uncomfortable I was with that and how impatient I was. And she had no sympathy for me and she was like, that is the best time. She said the uncertainty is amazing and wonderful and you should stay in it as long as you possibly can. Because, she said, as soon as you start to figure it out, you’ve cut yourself off from so much possibility.”
(Patrisse Cullors & Autumn Breon Williams)
I think the main way that people are trying to stay connected is through digital and that’s sort of like the easy out to me, it’s like “how about IG Live or let’s do Zoom meetings.” And it’s dope [that] those are tools that we can import, [but] I think there’s still a deep level of disconnection in that. So I have been thinking about how to still utilize digital spaces to create a more genuine and more deepened connection experience, and I don’t have an answer for that yet. As it relates to physical spaces, we’ve always prioritized healing at the center of all of our activations, and so we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about once we can come back together.
The impossibility of the situation for Copts is that they’ve chosen to leave one place to escape discrimination, but as Candace Lukasik writes: “[U]pon arrival in the United States, they discover that their Christian identity, even within a majority Christian nation that has prioritized them for their plight in the Middle East, does not shield them from religiously indiscriminate racialization and Islamophobia faced by other Middle Eastern immigrants. Coptic communities are not protected from policies that aim to secure and strengthen white supremacy in America.”
It is in this context that the Elmahaba Center Podcast is situated, but as Lydia Yousief notes, the major difference between Nashville and other Coptic hubs in North America is that the Nashville community is a majority working-class community, unlike the mostly middle and upper-middle class diasporic communities elsewhere.
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