Freedom Movements, Programs, and Archival Practices of the Black Queer Diaspora

February 9, 2018

In his essay, Michael Roberson reminds us that the immense resilience and creativity of the House | Ballroom community are deeply historical and politicized. Roberson writes from within “a freedom movement, a radical pedagogy, and a spiritual formation in response to race, class, sexuality, and gender oppression. … Since its history has not been included in larger narratives of racial struggle, situating it in this historical lineage can add tremendous insight to racial justice…”

The Queer City program and publication series has focused extensively on the queering practices of urban spaces, which can be simultaneously contested and liberatory, surveilled and inventive, racist and radical. Black queers in the diaspora have created richly textured practices of thriving despite power being arrayed to impede even basic surviving.

In 2016, Roberson and Robert Sember, his comrade from the collective Ultra-Red, were invited to share these pedagogies of freedom in a rich and intimate exchange with organizers, artists, and radical movements in São Paulo, Brazil. The EXPLODE! Residency was part of the ongoing work of João Simões and Cláudio Bueno. Some of the key community members and participants in this process appear prominently in Danila Bustamante’s mini-documentary.

London-based photographer, archivist, and activist Ajamu also visited São Paulo, where he made photographic portraits of community members engaged in these freedom movements. As Ajamu noted in our conversation, “[he] wanted to create living archives, so that archives are not seen as these cold, dusty places where things go to die; archives can be a place where things go to live as well…”

Photo Credit: Darnell Moore by Ajamu, 2016.

Ballroom: The Trans Sounds of Black Freedom

Michael Roberson, New York City, United States 

In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become a part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed. This means that we are going to have to...

Cidade Queer // Queer City

Danila Bustamante, São Paulo, Brazil 

Bodies that listen, dance, resist, manifest and become visible in our contemporary city. Bodies that dance the sounds of funk music, rap, samba, voguing, waacking, among other sonic styles of contestation, resistance and struggle. Through talks, dinners, experiences and exchanges,...

An Archive Is A Place Where Things Go to Live: A Conversation Between Pato Hebert and Ajamu

Patrick "Pato" Hebert, New York City & Los Angeles, United States 
Ajamu, London, United Kingdom 

This summer, London-based artist, archivist, and curator Ajamu and New York and Los Angeles-based artist, educator, and organizer Pato Hebert are collaborating on a series of activities at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. On 16 July, they will present...

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