This weekend, the 9th annual 32BJ Art show displayed a variety of artwork from its 32BJ and 1199 members, including city and office building workers alike. The work featured paintings, sketches and a live show, which included singing, poetry and performance art.
Read more about this amazing event, which connected worker/artists with a supportive platform. This display of art in various mediums emphasizes the importance of labor/arts events such as this one: they open up possibilities and lift up cultural production in the lives of city and office workers.
Last week at the Murphy Institute, I had the pleasure of meeting Erika Ewing, an Educational Engagement Strategist who works with the CUNY Creative Arts Team. She had just finished running a workshop which engaged high school students in rigorous conversation about the film “Birth of a Nation” following an arranged screening of the film for them at an AMC theater.
In the piece below, Ewing discusses the responsibility of educators to be open and honest with youth about American history, the ways in which non-traditional approaches to education challenges young people to think constructively and critically and how promoting more open discussion of films like Parker’s “Birth of Nation” plays a seminal role.
— Zenzile Greene, Arts and Culture Editor
“Don’t let your past define your future.” It’s a quote we’ve all heard some version of before. But when we’re confronted with our own dark pasts, how easy is it to take this advice? Continue reading Birth of a Nation and Culturally Responsive Education
This post was originally featured at Philadelphia Printworks.
By Zenzile Greene-Daniel
I arrived at the Stonewall Inn candlelight vigil in honor of those slain in Orlando just a few minutes before it began. The photos I have taken capture the silent reverence of those attending, the solemn yet hopeful messages that decorated the shrine and those bringing offerings and tending to the candle lighting which surrounded the perimeter of the shrine in front of Stonewall Inn as well as inside Christopher Street Park.
Continue reading Orlando Vigil at Stonewall Inn: Photos
By Zenzile Greene-Daniel
In December of last year, I was honored to be invited to participate in a special Brown Bag lunch at SPS in which I and three of my colleagues gave individual presentations on our use of the medium of photography. I was very excited to take part — and especially to learn more about the creative projects of my fellow workers.
Continue reading Artists-in-Residence: SPS Workers Share Their Photography, Inspiration
By Cher Mullings
Recording by Zenzile Greene
Why would members of the Harlem community consciously support policies that endorse incarceration of their brothers and sisters?
Dr. Michael J. Fortner’s latest book Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and The Politics of Punishment examines how black-on-black crime influenced a chasmic class division within Harlem from the 1940s – 1960s.
Continue reading Michael J. Fortner on Criminal Justice – Roots & Reform
By Samina Shahidi
For the full text of “Albanza,” by Martin Espada, visit the poet’s website at MartinEspada.net.
In the prose poem “Alabanza,” acclaimed poet Martin Espada honors the forty-three members of Local 100 who died in the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. These workers staffed the Windows on the World restaurant, located at the top of the North Tower.
The first two stanzas of “Alabanza” begin with deft, quick portraits animated by the music of bread and eggs: a cook from Fajardo whose blue eyes echo Spanish and American invasions of Puerto Rico. The tattooed “oye” on his shoulder, an exclamation that shares shades of meaning across several languages and cultures, underlines the transcendence of words. Each worker carries familial histories in bodies as they move through daily routines of feeding customers.
Espada’s next sketches build on these personal moments by intentionally linking histories of structural conquest and labor movements in the Caribbean. The roll call of migrant and immigrant workers listed in this poem serve as remembrance. In its breathtaking diversity, it is also a reminder that our cities are points for labor flows affected by agrarian and trade agreements and military campaigns. Espada avoids commenting on the attacks on the Twin Towers themselves, but instead directs us to the unspoken lives and labor struggles represented in the poem. As the poem opens outward, it moves beyond our imaginations.
Learn more about Martin Espada.
For more information, explore:
Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History Since 1898
By César J. Ayala, Rafael Bernabe
Photo by cursedthing via flickr (CC-BY-ND)