Chet headshot for blog

Chet Reflects on Interning with The LP

August 25, 2015

Program & Special Events Intern Chet Kincaid offered some reflections on what he learned working with The LP this summer. Read on for more:

 

As I sit here, a week after my official end to a life-shaping internship with The Laundromat Project, I cannot begin to express every great moment I experienced. Of course, every intern’s experience differs but my two months spent with The LP affected me on a personal level.

 

On my first day, I was thrown into the mix right away with all that was happening for the preparations for SOAPBOX 2015. From becoming reacquainted with WordPress, to assisting with SOAPBOX-specific tasks, I simply felt involved with just about everything; working closely with Akiva made the process run smoothly and efficiently. The many calls to potential silent auction participants and product pick-ups, the meetings at UrbanGlass gallery and working closely with event consultants from ESP PR, made SOAPBOAX 2015 a fulfilling experience. If you were in attendance, then you know just how great of an event and evening it was.

 

I will say it was a privilege to meet so many talented artists. They all embodied the individuality and creativity that you expect a true artist to display. The Create Change artist potlucks were always a great time: socializing and eating tasty food. Going out into the community and being involved is definitely another highlight of my internship. I was able to experience the final Create Change workshop leading up to this year’s Field Day, as well as take part in Greening the City in Hunts Point, The Bronx. Then there were the site visits to the studios of Shani Peters, Liz Hamby, The People’s Climate Art Collective and walking through Little Senegal, Harlem with Elvira. If you look at me, I’m dripping from the culture saturation.

 

Thanks to The LP, I was able to exercise my social media muscles. Keeping the Twitter and Facebook pages current was a start to a research project I conducted. In short, I collected data on which social media platforms The LP’s peers used and how they were utilized, then came up with solutions on how to grow public engagement with The LP’s accounts. I was able to share the results during our weekly staff meetings held every Monday—a chance to share what we had been working on in the previous week. It was also a reminder that work needed to be done as each LP member had to contribute.

Interning with The LP helped me to find my love for the art world again. It also helped to me obtain a clearer vision of what it is I want to do with my professional life as well as personal life.

 

Coming from The Bahamas, the race reality that exists in the United States is not one that exists there. While I always knew racism is terrible, whichever way you look at it, I still did not quite understand the viewpoint of most African Americans. Comprehending and understanding the race situation in the United States is also a problem for a lot of other Caribbean people. The LP made me a conscious individual and although I am still not to the point of participating in protests I will be someone to stand up for what is just. I want to say thank you to Kemi, Petrushka, Akiva, Yvette and my fellow summer 2015 LP interns for a great experience. I met a network of people that turned into family.

 

Chet Kincaid is from Nassau, The Bahamas. He is a rising sophomore at Pace University and is majoring in Economics. You can follow Chet on Instagram @1kincaid.

 




Uraline

Visually Mapping Systemic Racism & Principled Struggle

August 18, 2015

Between July 24 and July 26, Uraline Hager attended the Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland, OH and sent us this report: 

 

The weekend of July 24th, I attended the Movement for Black Lives Convening (M4BL) in Cleveland. An estimated 1,300 Black folks from all corners of the diaspora participated in the M4BL Convening. As I moved throughout the physical and mental space of the convening, I was constantly amazed by the various levels of learning and reflection that were taking place in my brain. My thoughts ranged from the larger implications for community and group work to the smaller implications for personal growth and self-assessment. I would like to share a little bit of both.

 

One of the workshops that I attended was “Don’t Talk About It, Be About It: Calling Out and Ending Systemic Racism” offered by the Cuyahoga Place Matters Team (PDF). What attracted me to this workshop was that it is sometimes easy to discuss the qualitative effects of systemic racism on our daily lives, but often we lack the quantitative data to validate these qualitative experiences. In this workshop, the facilitators used maps of the greater Cleveland area to visually assess the relationships between the neighborhoods where Black people live and access to certain services.

 

Map Af-Am Cleveland 40s

 

The first map explored the relationship between the neighborhoods in which Black people live and the quality of education/high school drop out rates. The next map looked at Cleveland neighborhoods and income levels followed by a map of Cleveland neighborhoods and their relationships to high interest rate mortgage loans.

 

Map Af-Am Cleveland today

 

The following map explored Cleveland neighborhoods and rates of foreclosures. The next map looked at Cleveland neighborhoods and their relationships to incarceration rates. There were other maps that explored incidents of certain health issues as related to Cleveland neighborhoods. As a visual artist, what was overwhelming to me was that every map looked the same.

 

Map Foreclosures

 

The only things that changed were the titles of the map and the map keys. Although this workshop and its accompanying data were specific to the greater Cleveland area, I would assert that the data and the trends apparent in these maps hold true for other inner cities throughout the nation. This was a clear visual of how the struggle for the liberation of Black lives is an intersectional struggle. Access to quality healthcare, access to quality food, access to quality public education, income levels, access to low-interest rate loans, crime stats, incarceration rates—they are all linked together. You can’t discuss one issue without discussing another of these issues and how each affects the others. This revelation wasn’t a new one for me, but its visual representation most certainly was new, and left me without words. In a world that increasingly asks for data, number, and statistics, I thought these maps and what they represented provided a clear picture to anyone who would try to deny the existence of systemic racism. A sista in the workshop dropped this little gem (PDF) on us, too. A statistic that stood out to me as an educator and an artist whose work is driven by the social practice of my teaching was this: 1 in 28 children in the U.S. have a parent behind bars. For Black children, the rate is 1 in 9. This sobering statistic, and all of the factors that contribute to this statistic, reverberated in my head as I continued through the weekend’s workshops and events. My work as an artist and as a special education teacher never seemed more connected than in the moment that I ingested that daunting statistic.

 

Several times throughout the weekend, some of the organizers for M4BL reviewed our 10 Guiding Principles as a reminder of our common ground, our house rules, and the principles that should guide all of our work. The principles were all very well-chosen and articulated. I think the principles are solid guides for any group of people, or organization, working towards a common goal. However, what I loved most about the principles were that they could, and should, apply to individuals as well and provide a reminder and a path for self-improvement and growth. They really spoke to me on a personal level and created mental space for self-assessment and self-evaluation. After all, we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of one another.

 

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The reminder that all Black lives matter stood out for me because it’s really easy for me to become enveloped and myopically focused on the work that I do as an artist and a public school educator that I sometimes forget how connected we are, as a people, in our struggle for liberation. Although it is important to stay focused, we must also remain open.

 

Wearing many hats and juggling different responsibilities is difficult. The way my mind works, I am often very open and susceptible to ideas and information when I am in the nascent stages of thinking, planning, and organizing. Yet, once I develop my game plan, I often resemble a wind-up toy that runs on auto-pilot until the motor runs out. The guiding principles of evaluation, self-love, and self-care resonated with me and were great reminders of the importance of taking the time to take care of oneself and to reflect deeply on one’s words, thoughts, and actions. These reflective processes are just as important as “the work” that I do. My next challenge: how to remain mindful of these principles and to ensure that I implement them in my daily practices. #IAmEvolutionInTheoryAndInPractice

 

Uraline (2011 Create Change Fellow) is an artist and special education teacher in the NYC public school system who lives in Harlem. She attended the Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland as a representative of The Laundromat Project, along with our cultural organizing consultant Ebony Golden (click here to read Ebony’s creative response to the convening). Visit Uraline’s website here.




Awa closeup

Meet Awa, Program Intern

August 18, 2015

We’ve been really fortunate to work with Awa Dembele as an intern over the past several weeks. Awa connected with us through the Brotherhood / Sister Sol‘s Women at Work program. Keep reading for a mini-interview with Awa and her reflections on her time working with The LP:

 

So, what made you decide to intern with The LP?

Well I was placed here at The LP because the application I filled out for the Women at Work program was mostly around creativity and helping others.

 

Do you have your own creative practice? If so, tell us more!

I mostly just write quotes and decorate the paper and add my own things to it.

 

Can you tell us about an artist or project that has inspired you?

One artist I like is Vincent Van Gogh because his art is really different and very colorful.

 

What is your favorite… film? …album? …food?

My favorite film is Titanic. My favorite food is pizza, ice cream, and chicken.

 

Where do you do your laundry?

I do my laundry across the street from my house.

 

In your opinion, why does art matter?

Art matters because there are people who don’t have any other way of expressing themselves other than doing art.

 

Awa also sent us this beautiful reflection on her time with The LP:

 

Where do I even start? Working with The LP has been a blessing. When I first started I didn’t expect it to turn out like this. Here at The LP everyone is one big family. They make sure everyone is up to date on what’s going on. I remember on my third day here when it was time for our Monday morning meeting, I wanted to sit out on it but they all wanted me to come over and join the meeting. That really stuck with me, because it made me feel like I was part of the team. Even though it was only my third day the staff wanted to bring me in.

 

Interning at The LP has taught me a lot, especially about art. I’ve been taking art classes from the 1st through the 8th grade, but one thing I didn’t know was that you can use art to help your community. When I hear about art I think about an artist painting or creating an art piece that they put in museums or sell. I also think about delivering a message through art, but it never occurred to me that you can use art to help people around you and do it in a fun way. This internship made me view art in a total different way.

 

Working at The LP was great—I really enjoyed it. Even though I haven’t worked anywhere else, I know that The LP will still be the best. I learned that even if I can’t be physically creative, I can be mentally creative, especially when I’m writing. Maybe my next story will be about interning at The LP. It will be dedicated to The LP. As Petrushka would say, “Every day is an interview.”