The current burden of institutional racism borne by African-Americans in America is untenable. Our nation's history of inequity and inequality has never been addressed or repaired in any way.
It is in this context that I enact "Blackway," a performance project utilizing community members already embedded in the fabric of Baltimore.
The path that the BLACKWAY takes is strategic, moving the participant in a loop from the white box gallery space in historical Maryland Institute College of Art through a black-owned business, and then onto a sidewalk on North Ave before returning indoors. Seating guidance will thoughtfully place BIPOC in front row seats. This is meant to create a sacred space surrounding the performance space. It also properly stages the opportunity for BIPOC members to join the celebration at the allotted time.
This project is a celebration of blackness. It employs community leaders from all over Baltimore doing what they do best. It’s the beautiful freeing and celebration of bodies, specifically black bodies. In a world where anti-blackness has been spread to every continent, this work is pro-blackness on every level. This work hopes to bring emancipation from within instead of asking for it from the colonizer. Can performing movement unlock healing inside black bodies? Can observing movement of black bodies in concert unlock freedom inside audience members?
The project is a three-fold social experiment. Firstly, it is an attempt to affect space. Through music and performance in spiritual headdresses surrounded by members of their community, we are asked whether we can unite and transform spaces. Will the performers become more alive in certain spaces? Do demographic communities prefer to congregate in certain locations to achieve comfort/ self- realization?
Secondly, does the headdress actualize a person in a new way; one not seen when they are wearing conventional dress? Does the sacred space of the "Blackway" take us to an Afro-futuristic space where we can actualize real freedom and emancipation even for limited periods of time? Can this movement heal us, change us, even free us?
In the finale, the audience is seated. The front row is reserved for POC. No caucasians will be permitted to occupy the front rows. This decision is based in utilitarianism as a designation of safe space to the runway- also to ensure an easy transition for other POCs to join the "Blackway”. How will the audience experience its freedom when converted from spectator to participant? Or perhaps watching others go from spectators become participants?