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Moving Mountains: AfroCuban Arts, Faith & Community

Dearest Members/Queridos miembros,

As many of you know, Corinna Moebius is an incredible community force and as the founder of AfroCuban Dance Network: it truly reflects a woman who bridges communities, promotes unity, positivity and love with every ounce of her being. Yet community work is challenging -- we experience rifts, divisions, and petty dramas no matter how deep our desires for unity resonate within. We can also feel alone or overwhelmed by the hours of tireless work we put into organizing events, reaching out/connecting with folks, offering a listening ear, and building community.

So I knew Corinna (CJ on the site) was serious when she reached out for help with Afro-Cuban Dance Network and understood that it had nothing to do with her dedication to our community. Since I founded our growing arts collective, LukumiArts, just four years ago, Corinna has been with us every step of the way. I have counted on her presence, support and input on numerous occasions.

A deep motivation for creating LukumiArts was to support/connect elder and emerging Afro-Cuban artists based in the U.S. and Cuba. My mentors and spiritual elders were suffering in silence despite their talent, depth of knowledge, shine and passion in maintaining and defending Afro-Cuban culture. I thought, what is at the root of my elders pain? The very mentors who interpret a Yoruba/Lukumi proverb, oriki/songs, percussion rhythms and dance have taught me the very foundations of the world, the wisdom of my eggun/ancestors and inspire me daily as a woman, artist, activist, friend, and iyalosha.

Yet, the reality is that many Afro-Cuban elders in the U.S. are silenced by the lack of sufficient professional outlets for their work, the lack of resources to fulfill their artistic visions, and overall lack of institutions that genuinely support the transmission, knowledge and fundamentals necessary to create new generations who will carry on the traditions. Thus, many pioneering Afro-Cuban artists as well as an overwhelming number of artists of color have built careers by using their own money to create dance classes, rent studios, to make costumes, and to promote and put on performances.

As a result of so much effort, varying class sizes and not knowing when the next gig may come through; many Afro-Cuban arts professionals feel stressed, frustrated, unappreciated and upset by the growing commercialization of our culture. On the flip side I also hear students and musicians complain that certain master artists are "bad" communicators, too "temperamental" and have challenging personalities. Machismo/male chauvinism not only erases Afro-Cuban women's contributions to folkloric arts, but also tends to silence women by confining us to spaces that must open up. All of these barriers are part of a larger history of exploitation of artists of color that we must all strive to understand and work to dismantle. This requires our communities to be in better standing.

Our artists need support via translators, income, counseling, legal advice, education and transitional resources. Many of us take on these roles as students and friends when we least expect it. Now, more than ever, it is time to create balanced, open spaces that genuinely respects Afro-Cuban artists' knowledge and worth.  We hope to honor Afro-Cuban culture by avoiding the trendy online topics that often do not result in moving our community forward. Here we can spark new dialogue that is still rooted in the values of Afro-Cuban elders. Our short-term goals for the website include:

  1. increasing the platform for Afro-Cuban cultural elders and experts to expand their work
  2. sharing work/artist residency and funding opportunities 
  3. creating an open forum for dialogue on community tensions/divisions 
  4. highlighting connections between Afro-Cuban culture and Africa/African Diaspora
  5. connecting people in a way that results in forming new community spaces/events                                                                                                      
  6. improving the educational info on Afro-Cuban religious/cultural history

We are an incredible international community of one of the most open, multicultural forces our world has ever seen. Everyone's voice is vital. It also means agreeing to disagree, brainstorming, weathering difficult conversations, reaching out when hopelessness, loneliness and even bitterness surfaces because the path of an cultural arts professional or dedicated student ain't easy.

It requires the tight knit sense of community, support and love that I know within my own ocha and blood family who have defied the odds from the ghettos of Pogolotti, Marianao to the South Bronx. I embrace you all as my family embraces me, with open arms, a mountain full of faith in the ancestors, in the divine, and in the unseen promise of tomorrow.

Love, light, health, fuerza, salud y ashe ~

Jadele, LukumiArts/ACDN Lead Administrator

References (8)

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    LukumiArts - Blog - Moving Mountains: AfroCuban Arts, Faith & Community
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    LukumiArts - Blog - Moving Mountains: AfroCuban Arts, Faith & Community
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    Response: Brandon Colker
    LukumiArts - Blog - Moving Mountains: AfroCuban Arts, Faith & Community
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    LukumiArts - Blog - Moving Mountains: AfroCuban Arts, Faith & Community
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    LukumiArts - Blog - Moving Mountains: AfroCuban Arts, Faith & Community
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    Response: velvetjobs review
    The mountains network and preparing for community work and offering the great connections as well,for more visit the lukumiart blog. The growing collective tips and topics for more foundations as well.

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