BOUND represents my transfiguration into the Radical.
One of the definitions of the word bound is “To be in a place where there are certain limitations and/or restrictions”, a prime example is when your freedom of action is circumscribed by the empire.
I came into my own during the 1960s. I was a young housewife and mother living in the suburbs of Boston, but in my head and heart I was a freedom fighter. A cultural warrior documenting the strength, dignity and beauty of people dying while struggling for justice. In those days when I approached my easel, I was on the front lines. I vividly recall applying for an SBA loan to assist me in opening a studio Gallery. I was turned down by a local bank. The ruler in the dark suit seated behind the desk uttered “We don’t loan money to artists” all the while moving papers around on his desk. He was letting me know that I had been dismissed.
I am making this my moment of protest as I have become more artistically and individually mature—connecting my voice to the folk’s voices. Years ago, my attention was diverted and so focused on the empire that I missed the signs of hope, love and charity as actions, not just words. I feel that the empire overwhelmingly had influenced my inner consciousness. I used the same unjust mannerisms as that of the empire in critiquing myself and others. I can no longer accommodate the power of the rulers. Quite frankly, what I take in and what I put out is a breath of life that transcends the spiritual gospel of oneness. “I cannot breathe” is not solely about the sanctioned murder of a black man. Till now, it has been about the struggle to breath from a dark dingy death pit on the bottom of some slave ship. We, the folk, have not taken a real deep breath in our collective lives.
I do not care anymore about art as a product. My only concern, now, is the process which makes my oeuvre difficult to sum up. As a young artist my standards were based on the methods of the modern ruler, and, I looked forward to a bohemian expression embracing tragedy and hard living. Now as I’ve matured into a Cultural Carrier for my folk, I have plugged back into the duality of who I am personally.
I am no longer an artist of the empire.
I am keeping tabs on the systemic assaults by the blood thirsty avatars of cruelty and death. I am watching and listening to the extraordinary stories of people who are rising and transforming sites that were intended to be fields of death, repurposing them into fertile grounds of new life and new beginnings. I hear the birthing sound and feel movement that is filling me with the promise of a new 21st-century of freedom where I raise myself and my folk up from the disposable waste of the rulers and guardians of a radical capitalism into essential players who can shape lives and help forge the best of our culture.
THIS CREATES CHAOS
CHAOS represents the ancestral breach that I must forge.
Chaos is defined as “A formless matter supposed to have existed before creation of the universe. Or as complete disorder and confusion.”
I ask, am I supposed to believe that we belong to the rulers? Is the goal of my labor to build up their world? Must I bow down at the altar of their materialized spiritually malformed culture and give them praise and honor as a faithful servant? Do I replace my ideologies in order to give the rulers larger meaning and space in my life and consciousness? Do I forget what my ancestors fought for and died? Am I here to keep the status quo of the empire?
Why did we give up the authenticity of our folk’s living and breathing culture resulting in giving license to the empire to manufacture and mass-produce us into replicas of themselves? Isn’t this soul suicide? I do not believe that a race or class of men are endowed with divine and natural rights to rule over us, demand our obedience, direct our lives, and controls all of the Earth’s resources. Whether I am free or whether I am bound to the whims and control of the rulers, I will not be a victim of soul suicide. The rulers are not the gatekeepers for my culture. I am! Language is a gateway to freedom and to our full humanity. Black and brown people are not wholly marginalized. We are essential people in creation and in democracy. We are significant to our family, friends, and our local and national communities. In short, we are more than what they believe us to be. My language, my art must speak to reaffirm the multi-dimensional aspects of our lives in the different spaces we occupy. Folk’s lives are masterpieces; thin lines of will and power are etched on their outsides and insides. We possess the gift of movement. We can fly with our feet affixed to the ground.
Stepping out represents my declaration of independence from the handcuffs placed on my possibility.
I am stretching life for new windows through which to view and roam in braver parts of myself. Each of us proves this by showing up every day to make a new perspective. Despite my blemishes, I am here creating, loving and hoping. I repeat, I am here alive loving, alive hoping and alive creating, and, this is enough to fulfill me where I am. My task is to create life and life affirming policies. I am a Cultural Carrier. I can no longer sit silently by—numbing myself to the smell and stench of the death the rulers pour out into the world. I am not a zombie. I’ve risen from my bed of affliction. I am whole. I have begun a journey away from death towards a new life. As I strip myself naked of the pretenses in the piled up years of self-negation and spiritual deprivation, I refuse the invitation of rulers, and, yes even those people who would love for me to make myself smaller so that they can feel and live large. I will break free from the political battleground and the appearance of inherited Post Traumatic Syndrome (PTS). Our inherited traumas resulting from lynchings, running, the slave block, and family separations. We are not a broken people. I will use my art to mediate the trauma—to demonstrate our victory.
HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY THE VICTORS
I am envisioning a new community. The rulers have dismiss mine as unworthy and subhuman. However, all around me I see human hearts being moved; it’s exhilarating and hopeful. The cultural carriers are creating a new and better community for justice!
I am not an artist of the empire. I am a cultural carrier for my folk. I’m leaving the comfort of my individual sojourn to walk side-by-side with all my fellow sojourners to unfamiliar territories. We, who the rulers tell us are unworthy of care or resources. I am dipping my heart into the newness and rawness of an unscripted adventure.
In this significant moment there is meaning for me—my life is forever changed. My relationships will not be the same. The intimacies created by this time in history is a soul force that will shake the very foundation of the empire. It is ludicrous to believe any rulers idea about the overall progress of African Americans from a historic standpoint because the empires‘ history has no duality!
Cultural Carriers are the lines drawn in the Sand!
Much of what I have written here comes straight from text and phone conversations with my friend the Rev. Dr. Ruby Sales and her nightly “From My Front Porch Series” on Facebook. Ruby is a legendary African American social justice and Southern Freedom Rights Movement activist. She is the founder ( 2001) and director of The Spirit House Project in Atlanta a national nonprofit organization that uses the arts, research, education, action, and spirituality to bring diverse people’s together to work for racial, economic and social justice, as well as for spiritual maturity. Ruby Sales is a much loved and appreciated Elder of the Civil Right era and I am one ofher dedicated disciples. It is in this vain that I hope I have brought the voice of her hindsight, insight, and foresight to the pages of ROUTES in conjunction with my art for the empowerment of the Folk.