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August 14, 2018

Black to the Future

by nmedcalf

We all want the same things in life and though a history of oppression can derail a person’s vision of happiness and security, being oppressed does not define the future. After two workshops with two very different groups of people, that is something I have come to understand more.

What remains vague is how to get there. The strategy.  Over the past month, I have been reviewing and transcribing commentary from workshops around the Afrofuture. Each workshop was different. The audience was different. The age group was different. And the attitudes were different.

Something that resonated in the first group was the idea of a community thriving around a central focus. The epicenter of many commuities is a place, somewhere that everyone knows they can go to and feel safe and wanted.  A place where values are shared and there is a respect around said values. Within one workshop, the church was suggested as the hub for the Afrofuture community. The church has long been an establishment within the Black community. Even the early Exodusters that moved in west to Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico designed their communities around the central hub of the church. The site plans of these all-Black towns emphasized the church as a monument, a place that What the church allowed was a place for the community to fellowship with all generations. The group of participants in this workshop are considered to be baby boomers which made a lot of sense as to why the church would be one strategy for the Afrofuture.

The challenge of inclusivity amongst people of color and religion is to fixate a church as the central focus means to centralize a specific religion. Though there are strengths in the moral compass that the church represents, there are definite challenges. That said, the outcome of this group was a shared desire to have some architectural representation as a hub for the community. And that that hub has long been removed from the Southside of Providence.

I must say that speaking with people who have lived and breathed Providence their whole lives was captivating and filled with passion. Their experiences are valid and are crucial to understand the plight of people of color within Providence.

While no concrete strategies were determined, there was a general positivity and hope that with SELF-DETERMINATION, people of African heritage will prevail.


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