Thursday, August 25, 2011
What happened at the Urban Bush Women's Summer Leadership Institute?
Last month, Chinyere and I made it to New Orleans! Thank you all who donated money and body to help us get there! Next year, I hope for more Yeyo Arts Collective members to apply!
Here are the thangs that really sang to my heart, throughout the ten day training and twelve day trip! It is hard to know where to begin...
I am very thankful to meet so many wonderful women, with a shared vision. I felt extremely safe, through out the learning opportunity. There was no point in the entire experience that I felt judged, tracked, or generally disliked. I was honored. This is something that I do not find to be the case in my day to day life, but now that I have seen it: it shall manifest!
I really enjoyed the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. I am most impressed with the "beyond" portion. As we know, survival is just the beginning... I have been reconsidering how socialization has truly affected the way that I hear and take info in. My thought process needs to be detoxed!
Here are some truths that spoke to me in my professional life:
-Book learning does not trump life experience.
-There are No Mirrors in My Nana's House. (haha)
-Reconsidering a "needs" analysis" in my gatekeeping practices.
-Internalized racial inferiority and its many manifestations.
-Change comes from the bottom up, inside out.
-Whiteness is a political Process. What is race in antiquity?
Lastly, I loved their power analysis! I've been fancy'ing some leadership trainings in the past two or three years and this power analysis has golden crown... by far. St. Louis better recognize! Simply: you must include the have and have nots, and just not in economic terms.
At the end of all of that I had my favorite part of the day: The joy Chinyere possessed by "making it rain" with all 80+ of us. For many of the St. Louis art educators, we do it all the time as a group activity in classrooms. At UBW SLI, the power was in the room!
Entering, Building and Exiting was a great discussion, as well. I have always carried the bad taste of privileged, grad-student, temporary, havoc-filled, patting the top of my head art program stew in my mouth. I've never quite been able to digest it. I've seen many of the communities I belong to, feel the backlash of it. I've seen student's dissappointment and I've seen neighborhood's true history get sucked up by it. St. Louis is too trusting of these collaborations, and should be more aware when we see them coming. Even the term "outreach" is loaded with the assumption that those facilitating and administrating the program has more power. Do you really? Usually not.
Four commitments for this type of work that I am recommitting myself to:
-The process should be liberating
-It should validate what people already know.
-Do not present myself as an expert.
-Who I serve should be a part of the planning process.
The great thing is that Urban Bush Women work and live on these principles.
..and so there was a lot of creative processing, mostly through movement. Which was moving in itself. There was lots of singing too. Did I mention that everyone is great? Folks were happy! Can you believe it? With that many folks, it was nothing but love and joy- all the time! There was a culminating performance, that I was able to share with some of the homies: Tearria, Siphne and Tshepitzo.
In a nut shell: A huge growing edge for me.
In the picture are the purple cohorts! yay! We were a "smaller" group that worked together, processed, checked in, and created with. There were two other cohorts, as well.