“Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”
— Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 27, Section 1)
It is hard to encapsulate a la gran Marta Moreno Vega in one intro essay—she is so many things, has walked so many roads, and lived and seen so much. For those who don’t know her, a just synthesis is that Marta is a freedom fighter.
A truth-teller with an oratory so powerful she can change a life. She did mine. But there is too much going on to make this a full bio. Go to her website or Google her to learn more.
Her attention these days is in Loiza, Puerto Rico, and the Creative Justice Initiative. In the talk, I call it the Creative Justice Alliance. It’s the wrong name with the right intention because it is an initiative that will build its strength with alliances. She recruited another sister, Neyda Martínez, to help her with the outreach. I signed on to the Creative Justice Initiative when I read their statement of values articulated as:
A Call for Equitable Funding for Cultural Organizations Grounded in Historically Disenfranchised Communities: Black/African and African Descendent, Latinx, Native, Arab, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, Appalachian, LGBTQIA+/Two Spirit and People with Disabilities.
In the first week of August, the Creative Justice Initiative will roll-out a survey on the state of cultural institutions that will convey how, and to what end, the data findings will be shared and used for the initiative’s collective advocacy work. I’ll share and update on that then.
Several efforts of this nature are happening across the country. Thanks to the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Leadership Institute that ended two Fridays ago, I am reaffirmed in my conviction of Latinx artists’ essential role in this society. I’ll get to that experience in the coming weeks for my heart is still tight full of tears of gratitude over it, but all of it is in perfect synchronicity with the Creative Justice Initiative.
Last night, the miracle of Zoom-verse-displaced-reality allowed me to defy the laws of physics and was able to catch three different artistic programs from across the American Continent: Paseo Artístico (San Francisco), Pepatián (Bronx and British Columbia), and the Philadelphia Film Festival (Puerto Rico, New York, and Philadelphia). The programs began 35 minutes ahead or after one another, so I was able to catch every one. It was moving to the core. My heart melted with La Colectiva. Not to take away from the power of la banda Coraza or the programming created by Caridad de La Luz, presented with Jane Gabriels-Pepatián and Pregones/PRTT of indigenous women artists: Olivia C. Davis, Jessica McMann, and Cynthia Paniagua were breathtaking. And then I caught the LANDFALL Q&A, and it all made sense.
I kept thinking of how much we all have in common, all rooted in affirming identity, defending ancestry, and dignity in standing up to be seen.
And Marta’s words echoing inside me. She corrects as I go for the more tamed “slowly,” and she is like, “no, in real time.”
The President wants to go to all the democratic cities, Chicago and Oakland are next on his list. Do catch on with Democracy Now!, The Atlantic, The New York Times and Seth Meyers did some powerful segments this week. See Shaun King on IG.
This is no exaggeration, no drama, and the truth is out there…
But Sol, how does this connect to artists, pray do tell?
Well, Marta says, now is the time that if you sing, sing, if you dance, dance, if you write, write, but you can’t be silent.
Don’t be silent. Now is the time for, if you see something, say something.
The Creative Justice Initiative is about that, if we don’t stand up in whatever way we can, he and his army will come after all of us.