OMCA’s Afrofuturism Exhibit: My Photo Journal

When you first walk into the museum, you are presented with this photo on the wall. What a powerful image! I had seen this photo a few times in advance in some of their publications and the IRL version did not disappoint. What does this image conjure for you? For me, it reads like a promise. A small whisper that says, “don’t despair too much, I promise you that you will survive.”

After waddling around a bit to find the special exhibit and finding out some really intriguing information about California’s history with impressionism, I finally found it. The main event! When you walk in, you first hear the sound which might have felt amplified because it was so dark. The first piece of artwork you are presented in the music. It acts beautifully in concert with a chalk based mural on the wall. The second thing you encounter is non other than the grandmother of Afrofuturism herself, Octavia Butler.

A few new things I learned about Octavia Butler during this visit:

  1. She is from California like me!
  2. She left this one journal entry that I hadn’t seen before. I love the focus on intensity and think that it’s something you feel in her writing. Sometimes it’s so intense that it’s uncomfortable and I think that’s her point.

After you walk past Octavia Butler, you continue to be a part of amazing art. I was honestly overwhelmed by it all and I will have to go back again and again to get the full experience of it. I eventually though walked into a spaceship-like structure and was presented with the following playlist. I continued to listen to it even after I left the exhibit and wanted to share (I particularly liked Tainted Love by Gloria Jones).

I kept walking around and stumbled upon this presentation and I loved it because it reminded me of my own family’s journey. I had not seriously considered us migrants before, but it’s so true we are. What courage it takes to move across the country away from everything you previously knew – particularly in those times. While we moved to San Diego, I think that the same sentiment holds.

This was the last exhibit on the way out of the exhibit and I loved it so much! It was a reimaging of the cable news network focused on Black news created by Black people about Black people. I must’ve sat there for at least 20mins watching. It did not disappoint. I wrote a little bit more about why it didn’t here: https://airtable.com/shrhzzigJpWTNZIGM

As you exit, you’re presented with this message above the wall. I don’t know how you can’t walk of that feeling all of that energy. I cried as I walked out, as to be expected!

If you’re in Oakland, you can check out the exhibit by purchasing tix here: https://museumca.org/exhibit/mothership-voyage-afrofuturism

Birthday Reflections

One of my intentions for the year of 2021, has been to fail more in public. While it wasn’t an official reason why I started to roller skate, now thinking back on it, given that intention, I can’t imagine a better sport to pick up. The entire assignment when learning how to roller skate is to fall often and very publicly. So far, over the past 3 months since I started I have had 1 twisted ankle, 1 sprained ankle, 1 bruised hand, a very bloody finger and lots and lots of other falls that luckily didn’t do much damage to my body, but definitely hurt my pride!

There have been good things too though. Like, I can skate backward now, I am able to do crossover steps and I can stop without just falling down (sometimes!). I am working up to being comfortable enough on skates that I can join the group in the middle of the skating rink (I have learned that there is always one!) that is doing some funky line dance. That is the goal to hit by the end of the year.

This challenge was particularly interesting to me because I grew up a trained dancer and gymnast. I began both of these sports almost at the same time that I could walk so they were natural to me. While dance and gymnastics were both physically challenging and required serious training, I rarely got hurt – I’ve never had one broken bone and rarely got sprained ankles. I tried my hardest not to let anyone see me sweat, never let anyone see me fall, never make a mistake. That is the expectation when you are on stage – to present a routine extremely physically challenging effortlessly, with a smile. I realized only recently how much of that dogma I internalized and roller skating is my way to find my way back.

Happy 33rd birthday to me!