Achieving Creative Justice Across the African Diaspora by Antonio C. Cuyler   

This is an extract version of the full article which can be found in BlackInk Magazine available at our online store.

I have also contemplated the question, what is the role of culture centered in an Africanist aesthetic in healing people of African descent?  In times such as these, it makes sense that people of African descent would pivot to the balm of dance, music, theatre, and visual art of their making to soothe, compel, and empower them to fight the good fight for racial justice one more day.  History has shown this.  I also agree that, “if there is a space where the potential for the dissemination of the African diaspora’s brilliance exist and remains completely intact, it is that of culture” (Sarr, 2019).  Not for the free market exploitation of this profound cultural capital, but for its potential to embolden people of African descent to own responsibility for their creative justice.  I wonder, then, what role should people of African descent play in actualising their creative justice?  In this context, I define creative justice as people of African descent living creative and expressive lives on their own terms through the intervention of culture about, by, for, and near them.  Rejecting the notion that white people can or will liberate people of African descent culturally and choosing their ownership of achieving it is critical for collectively placing people of African descent on the path to healing creative justice.

But, what might people of African descent across the diaspora achieve by uniting their assets, networks, resources, and talents?  How might all people of African descent living in different cultural contexts across the Diaspora benefit from a concerted effort made by one global collective to actualise creative justice for all people of African descent?

If such a collective existed, I envision naming it, the African Diasporic Cultural Collective. The collective could jointly tackle such questions as: how can people of African descent (1) enhance the leadership and management of cultural institutions about, by, for, and near them, (2) benefit from their cultural capital, (3) develop more Arts Management programmes across the Diaspora, (4) increase their representation within the global creative and cultural workforce, and finally (5) protect their cultural contributions to humanity through UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage programme?  Through their statements that Black Lives Matter, though what they mean is Black Dollars Matter, some corporations, foundations, and individuals have signalled their philanthropic interest in dismantling anti-Black racism. But, the “about, by, for, and near mantra,” suggests that the collective might seek to sustain itself through Black philanthropy.  Given the Fund II Foundation’s focus on cultural conservation and preserving the African American experience, if only we could get Mr. Robert F. Smith’s attention.  That would make a good start.

Full article can be found in BlackInk new magazine of international voices from across the African and African Caribbean Diaspora and indigenous communities. Featuring over 30 artists, writers, poets, illustrators, photographers and more.

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Antonio C. Cuyler is Director of the MA Program & Associate Professor of Arts Administration at Florida State University.  He is internationally recognized for his expertise on internships in Arts Management, as well as his work on access, diversity, equity, inclusion (ADEI), and creative justice issues in the cultural sector.