We’ve been here.
We live here.
We exist and always will.
After a year of my Urban Up Close series, several cities, and finishing my Masters thesis, I wanted to start a new series that is rooted in what I’ve learned from my research and work over the past years as well as in what’s relevant to what is/has been happening around the world (specifically in Europe and the United States, the two places in which I am based). Last year my mother and I did a performance called “We Are Still Here.” This poetry performance celebration was an afternoon of poetry and placemaking in which we affirmed our presence and paid homage to the resilience of marginalized peoples all around the world who have been systemically oppressed, forced out, and excluded. We proclaimed that we are still here. With gentrification increasingly trying to displace those who are historically and continually subjugated, it’s important to not only affirm that we’ve been here and we are here, but that we are staying. I repeat, we are staying.
This is not only relevant for the increasing cost of living in Oakland that threaten to push out all the poor/people of color/Oakland-natives not in the tech industry; but also for the Black Europeans and Africans in European cities who are constantly asked ‘where they are from’ or told ‘Europe will never be their home.’ To all of that: We Are Staying. To anyone who doesn’t want someone here because of their ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender identity, religion, or any other ludicrous reason–we are staying. For all the people who support right-wing, alt-right, White nationalist, White supremacist, White nonsense, neoliberal capitalist, violent governments–we are staying. For everyone who thinks we should just say ‘Fuck it’ and go somewhere else, let me remind you, we made this and we are staying. For people who are feeling hopeless and those who are feeling complicit or uncertain of what to do, look at history, and I tell you–we are staying.
The We’re Staying series will highlight people, events, collectives, exhibitions, spaces, etc. who are living their life and curating culture knowing, affirming that we are here and we are staying. This series will focus on urban and subaltern narratives of communities that have been intergenerationally resilient, who have continued to build bridges, who make beauty and support beautiful things. In the midst of so much reposted and recycled negative images of violence, hatred, bigotry, and plain stupidness it’s important to also uplift other narratives and stories about those of us who are responding to this madness by being grounded, bold and loud in these places where some people (who do not know history and live in a delusional reality) are trying to make us feel like we don’t belong. We belong and we’re staying.
Join me in frustrating all the racists, xenophobes, stupid people… by staying. It won’t be easy, but it is worth it and we’ve already been doing it so we just continue what we already do and know to be true. If nothing else, we’ll annoy some folks, have some good conversations, produce some amazing art, dance to wonderful diaspora music, eat good food, punch nazis in the face, stare police in the eye, and support each other through death and life–because the most radical things we can do are: to stay and to live.