NICO WHEADON is the executive director of NXTHVN, a multidisciplinary arts incubator in New Haven, Connecticut. She is also an adjunct assistant professor of Art History and Africana Studies at Barnard College, and Professional Practices at Hartford Art School within the interdisciplinary MFA program.
It does not come so easily. Freedom is physical, political, and spiritual. This much is plain.
Freedom is the ability to live ones life fully, knowing that youre doing it in a way that allows others to do the same. Self-actualization that is not selfish. The principle moves out from the personal to the geopolitical, and vice versaour safety, security, happiness, fulfillment, is only meaningful if it doesnt impinge on the complex web of relationships, visible and invisible, close and impossibly abstract, in which we exist.
Ive spent a lot of time online trying to find out whether Stephen Miller, architect of this administrations most inhumane immigration policies, has a dog. Hes likely behind the dehumanizing language Trump has used to describe undocumented immigrantsas animalsbut to use animal as an insult reveals a lot about our species relationship to other living thingswe maim, shoot, skin, and rape animals for our pleasure. I dont know, I just kind of wanted to know if Stephen Miller had a dog.
korde arrington tuttle (@knotahaiku) is playwright, poet + multidisciplinary maker, hailing from charlotte, nc. his five younger sisters + brothers are the coolest thing about him.
I am fascinated by the lives of different generations South Africans: what are their hopes? how are they thinking about freedom? in the afterlife of apartheid, how have different peoples lives changed? what kinds of lives are they trying to live now that they are free?
Id walk the paths Ive made through Harlem without actually thinking about the act of walking. In the morning Id bustle down Frederick Douglass or Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard toward the express train immersed in private sensory exchanges with the buildings, streets, and neighbors I felt were an extension of home. It was all a matter of proximity to the familiar, and what you allowed to become familiar, and then what became routine when exchanges settled.
During the time when students were required to make decisions about their upcoming fall semesters, I was enrolled in a series of political science and literature courses in which it seemed that all the seminal figures of study had passed through the West African city in moments of artistic growth, pan-African organizing, or simple, unabashed leisure. I, too, am an artist seeking growth, I told myself. A young, Black woman from the United States who felt her place within diaspora. A college kid who wanted five months away in a new place with new people.
Years ago, I wrote that Glen McGinnis didnt know he would live forever. But of course, he didnt. He died, in a prison in Huntsville, Texas. From a cell in Texas he wanted to write his way out of a date with an electric chair nicknamed Old Sparky. His letters, written to anyone who would listen, were filled with prisons literacy: awkward phrases like I was told that your person and I do hope that by the time this missive reaches you. The way he wrote said that he was educated within a cell, his letters peppered with words no longer heard outside of prison walls.