As an African whose father first came to the US in the 1950’s to go to school and returned in 1962 with my American mother whose Caribbean heritage is from Trinidad and Jamaica, I spent most of my summers in the US as a child and came to live like my father in the 1980’s to also go to school and unlike my parents stayed on to work professionally and grow a career in architecture, academia and a business. My base in New York City was Brooklyn like most Africans but and 60 years later, I see Africans have consolidating in the Bronx and they are a dynamic group of people with a rich culture.
So, as I begin with curator LeRonn P. Brooks to craft an exhibition, public programming and community events for the Bronx Council on the Arts with Deirdre Scott, its Executive Director, it’s important to take the time to document the process and do what we Africans say often, tell our stories in our own words. It’s been 15 years since the three of us worked together – the last time was on the Underground Railroad Project with City University.
As a child of an African journalist and also the only sister of the publisher of The African, I am aware of the enormous richness in the stories of Africans in the US. Our history in this continent came before slavery with ocean voyages and during slavery as our descendants were traded like cattle. We have always been here and my father’s generation came to be educated and to return to Africa to build our countries, I came with the same mission but the 1980’s saw most of us remain in the US, as opposed to returning home.
Today, the 2000’s have changed Africa and we are immigrants again – from Europe to the US, and mostly to the New York area in the borough of the Bronx. I remind people often, the word immigrant is a word for all Americans as we are all strangers in this land – no matter when your parents came and how. We are not the original people of this land – it is our cousins, the indigenous American Indians.
BRONX / AFRICA: Fashion, Food, Film, Performance and Language will explore Africans in the Bronx through ethnographic lenses focused on Fashion (Fabrics, Textiles, Hair, and Dress); Food (Ingredients, Markets, Tours, and Tastings); Film (Media, Webseries, Comedy and Video); Performance (Comedy, Music, Worship; Poetry, and Plays); Language (Spoken, Written and Symbolic) in an inter-generational series of public and community programs that deal with the concepts of Homeland and Identity.