Building Justice from the Source: Traditional Artists Respond to this Moment

A Series of National Online Panels

The Alliance for California Traditional Arts has partnered with the Southwest Folklife Alliance and the National Council on Traditional Arts to co-host a series of national online panels titled Building Justice from the Source: Traditional Artists Respond to this Moment. The Building Justice series brings together remarkable leaders representing various art forms and geographies to discuss how traditional expressions can contribute to building justice in a time of need.

Session 2: Race and (In)Justice
October 29, 2020

View the full panel video below.

Gullah Geechee elders have long taught that we “mus tek cyear a de root fa heal de tree.” Running through all of our contemporary challenges around race, policing, and extrajudicial killings of African American men and women is the common thread of our long, shared and unreconciled American experience with race and racial (in)justice. This national panel moderated by Heather L. Hodges (Executive Director, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor) brings together a group of emerging, African American traditional artists and scholars from across the nation: Jake Blount, Sara Makeba Daise, Marquise Knox and Latanya d. Tigner. They are all deeply rooted in traditional culture and drawing on that powerful wellspring to offer important, contemporary social critiques of race, racial injustice and notions of self-identity. Their work encourages us to shape new narratives around contemporary, cultural identities rooted in traditional ways of knowing, living and making art — yet keenly responsive to our current moment.

Session 1
July 23, 2020

View the full panel video below.

The economic and social structures that have held and sustained traditional artists for a long time, such as cultural tourism, marketplaces, and cultural institutions, have come to a sudden stop or slowed down significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How does this impact tradition bearers’ ability to make a living? How do the current health, racial, and economic challenges affect communities’ ability to transmit culture, cultivate or harvest materials, teach others, learn from and care for elders? During these convulsive times, traditional artists elevate their voices with clarity and purpose directly from the source of expressive community life and strength.

In this panel, the presenters discuss how the embedded ways of knowing in traditional cultural expression can facilitate building justice, problem solving, and creating wellness. They draw from the depth of their work among communities highly impacted by the present crisis to speak to the unique ways that traditional arts practices contribute to resilient and sustainable strategies for long-term health and wellbeing.

Panelists: Vicky Holt Takamine, Carolyn Mazloomi, Terrol Dew Johnson, Brett Ratliff, and Quetzal Flores.

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