“It is axiomatic that if we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others - for their use and to our detriment” - Audre Lorde
“General Announcement: It is not my job to make you comfortable with my presence. I exist. Yes, I am here. You can see me. I do not need to shuck and jive and amuse you to be in The Room. I have more than earned my seat at the table, and yes, I will be adding my voice to the conversation. What conversation, you ask. Well, the National Conversation on Race, of course! When did we start that conversation, you ask? Despite popular media consensus, it did not start January 20th, 2009. It has been going on for the past 400 years. Those people forced on a boat and shipped here, well they were the first to raise their voices. This conversation has been going on for a while, it’s not my fault you have been ignoring it. Does your anger and panic stem from your choosing only to acknowledge it after I have taken my rightful place at The Table? Well, let’s take this moment to welcome you to the conversation. I am very curious to see what you have to offer that is not race baiting or crocodile tears. So, let’s talk……” -first blog entry on the Brown in the City Blog
So how do you talk about race when your voice is not apart of the conversation? How do you fight an identity that was placed on you? That is the essence of the reImagining. The only thing worse than being misrepresented in your culture, is being disappeared from it. Imagine having to vacillate between the two. If you can, you know what it is to be a black woman in America. Not Oprah, not Michelle, not Halle. But the everyday black woman being followed by the store detective. The everyday black woman straining to see herself on basic cable or in the magazines that get front shelf real estate. The everyday black woman wondering where she fits in this society.
The reImagining is a 300 image photographic installation created to allow women of African descent to not only challenge the stereotypes they fight everyday, but to also reclaim their own identities and to weave them into the cultural conversation. The full write up of the project can be found here.
I have been working to bring this project to fruition since January of 2010. I have met 71 of the most inspiring women who are ready to tell the world their stories, and I am itching to tell them. The only roadblock, the Great Recession. Traditional art funding has constricted at the same pace as my personal wallet. After laboring under grant proposals and fundraising letters to no avail, I was introduced by one of these brilliant women (I’m looking at you Noelle) to the idea of a kickstarter campaign. Take the cause to the people. So….here we go! I am in the planning and research stages for a campaign to be held in February and March of 2012. Walk with me as I put this campaign together and get the project funded. Please feel free to give me any advice you think could help me or just send your good energy. Either way I would love to hear from you! I look forward sharing the journey with you!
Ijeoma D. Iheanacho