My idea is to create a literal House of Culture in North Minneapolis, making Black space for Black people to do Black things. Spaces where Black people are, are needed because we create all the things! When it comes to culture, creativity, and community, Black Americans aren't only the designers, we are the blueprints. Our ways of knowing become the music the world listens to. The pathways to freedom that we created and continue to create become the dances everyone wants to learn. The stories we weave to keep our dreams alive become the fabric that America drapes itself in.
At its core, House of Culture is a location in North Minneapolis, a creative center for the production of the cultural arts that will save our city. Some of the work we do there includes the reclamation of Black cultural artifacts, recycling of clothing and other resources for reuse in the community, Black liberation practices such as drum, dance and capoeira, community organizing around food and shelter justice, as well as community care operations and activiations.
House of Culture is a Black space for Black people to do Black things (that will actually liberate all of us)
The Voice of Culture>>House of Culture team is more that just these three members, but we are a nucelus of the organization. I am the original organizer of the group, and Yonci Jameson and Jayanthi RaJaSa are not only my team mates, but my siblings and children as well. We all fill many roles: singing, organizing, creating, driving, drumming, cooking, marching in the streets, etc. Voice of Culture has been creating Black space for Black folks to practice our Black Cultural arts since before 2008. In a white dominated city that's perfectly fine killing Black people and letting us go unsheltered and uncared for, we quite literally have fed, clothed and sheltered ourselves under the umbrella of the practice of liberation. Our city barely acknowledges the Dakota people who are still living on this land, and feels comfortable whitewashing the legacies of our Black artists. There are too many culturally Black practices that are being "stewarded" by non-Black individuals and organizations, and "sharing" iconic and essential forms to the detriment of their healing powers for the Black folks that created them. We exist and practice our liberation not in protest, but in the knowledge that we are supposed to be here. We are unique in our fearlessness of standing up and loving our Blackness, and being unafraid to celebrate the greatness of Black people. It can be easy for people of difference to underestimate the importance of Black people having culturally exclusive spaces to practice our ways of knowing, being and surviving/thriving. My team and our larger circle of community in Voice of Culture have had over 10 years of practice gathering and harvesting our people while educating and explaining the necessity of Black spaces to non-Black people (and some Black people too!).
We like on Dakota/Ojibwe land in the USA. Since the 80's I have focused my work in North Minneapolis - aka Northside aka "over North" Bde Ota Othunjwe (the city of many lakes) in Mni Sota Makoce (Minnesota).
written for: The J.M.K. Innovation Prize builds on the Fund's longstanding areas of grant-making interest while remaining flexible enough for fresh and unexpected thinking. In 2023, Prize recipients will ideally present innovative concepts that fall within, in-between, or in a manner related to the Fund's three funding categories, which are: