Statement on Black Lives Matter

With the current climate being the way it is, and with the ongoing protesting and demonstrations that have actively been ongoing through the last few weeks I feel that it is the responsibility and role of artists of all ilk to voice their position on the matter.

Art is political regardless of any ill-conceived attempts to divorce it from the political.

Black lives matter.
The end. There is nothing more imperative for people to know that the lives of Black people matter – SHOULD matter. It’s imperative to state in the ongoing climate of fear and despondency that many Black people have felt through the weeks and through the numerous deaths that have occurred, that their lives matter. All Lives do not matter if Black lives do not matter.

Black people are not disposable.
Black people deserve their basic humanity and dignity, and the consideration of all non-black people the way consideration is given to all non-black people.
Black people are important.
Black women are important – and that includes Black trans women. I am saying this because there are still people arguing that Trans women are not women. They are.
Black queer people are important
Black men are important.
Black Trans people are important.


Black Lives Matter.

I am listing a few Black led organizations that I’ve donated to and that I recommend others donate to during this time and period at the bottom of this post. It is important that we stand with Black people as they work to dismantle the systems that actively murder them.

As an Indigenous person in Canada, having experienced the levels of escalated violence that I have, having experienced systematic racism at work within institutions and organizations that have proactively attempted to push me out, erase me, to block me from accessing resources, I know how important it is to be listening to Black people through this period. How important it is to stand with them against the systems that have targeted them for being Black – that have murdered them for being Black. Their fight is one that we should all be getting involved with because these same systems that murder them have also been murdering us Indigenous people since it’s inception.

I stand with all Black people because they are our brothers, sisters, siblings. Our Afro-Indigenous kin also call this home and it is time that we accept and honour them into our communities, our homes, our hearts.

We cannot claim to love our people if we are doing it conditionally – on the condition that they are not black. This anti-black racism hurts our communities, it taints our causes, it taints our understanding of love. How can we claim to decolonize if we do not recognize the anti-black racism that permeates our lives and infects us. Anti-black racism is a product of colonialism and we must actively and lovingly weed it from ourselves if we are ever to see the day when we are no longer living under the shadow of colonialism. If we are to claim that we are following the teachings of our predecessors, then we have to recognize that our ancestors would have claimed kinship with Black people – did claim kinship with Black people. We have to recognize the systems that were set up to make us choose between our kinship with Black people and accessing basic human rights. We were threatened and coerced into severing our kinship ties with Black people until we began to do it willingly. Colonialism set up a system that first forced us into it, until we normalized it and without thinking kept seperated from our Black kin. Colonialism taught us how to do what it wanted us to do until we did it without thinking.

The work of dismantling these systems is a lifelong process, one that we must start. A process that will take our entire lives to unlearn and dismantle, that requires maintenance and diligence and to actively choose never to quit.

And it needs to be a choice made from a place of love.

Black people are our kin, they have shared our cultures, they have loved us and worked alongside us even when they were denied recognition.

It’s time for us all to learn how to love Black people. To love them back the way they should have always been loved, the way we should have been loving them all along.
To stand alongside them in love.
And that means to fight with them, to stand in solidarity with them, to recognize them as our kin.

This is the stance I am taking, and my life will be dedicated to that process of unlearning anti-blackness, of learning to love Black people and standing alongside them. I hope that you will stand with me on this too.

This is a very small list of places you can donate to, it is by no means exhaustive. I encourage you to actively seek out Black owned businesses that you can support in your local region now and into the future. Supporting Black people has to be something that we do mindfully for the rest of our lives, and it has to be something we commit to. It includes educating ourselves by seeking out black voices who have been doing the work to educate us and getting out of our comfort zones by challenging those around us when people engage in anti-black comments, beliefs or behaviours.

This work should always, always be done for the love of Black people, and in learning how to love Black people.

The Black Trans Travel Fund
https://devinmichaellowe.com/black-trans-travel-fund

“The Black Trans Travel Fund is a mutual-aid project developed in order to help provide Black transgender women with the financial resources needed to be able to self-determine safer alternatives to travel, where women feel less likely to experience verbal harassment or physical harm. This project was created out of direct response to the relentless and unacceptable violence Black transgender women across the country have been experiencing. We are currently providing our service to Black trans women in New York and New Jersey, and will be working to expand our efforts to other states soon!”

Homeless Black Trans women fund
https://www.gofundme.com/f/homeless-black-trans-women-fund

“This fund was started for a small community of Black Trans women living on the streets of Atlanta, many of whom are also sex workers. We now are not only able to help this community, but this project has grown into a unique opportunity to alleviate the chronic homelessness that exists among Trans people in Atlanta, especially among Black & brown Trans people.”

Black Artists’ Network In Dialogue
https://www.bandgallery.com/memberships-and-donations

“Black Artist’ Network in Dialogue (BAND) is dedicated to supporting, documenting and showcasing the artistic and cultural contributions of Black artists and cultural workers in Canada and internationally”

Black Health Alliance
http://blackhealthalliance.ca/

“The Black Health Alliance is a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada. Building on our track record as an effective mobilizer and champion, we continue to grow our movement for change. Driven by groundbreaking research, strong partnerships, and people, this movement continues to build innovative solutions to improve Black health and well-being, and mobilize people and financial resources to create lasting change in the lives of Black children, families and communities.”

Black Lives Matter
https://blacklivesmatter.ca/

“Black Lives Matter – Canada is the Canadian chapter of #BlackLivesMatter, an international organization and movement fighting police and State violence and anti-Black racism.

We are a platform upon which Black communities across Canada can actively dismantle all forms of anti-Black racism, liberate Blackness, support Black healing, affirm Black existence, and create freedom to love and self- determine. We work to forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with Black communities, Black-centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to to dismantle all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations.”

QT Haus

This year has started out rough and a lot of changes have been going on but I have been quietly working away at a number of things. One of these things is that as of last summer I’ve been a member of a small, grassroots arts collective in the city of Windsor aimed at giving a platform to *trans identified artists and those within the LGBTQ+ community within the region by creating monthly events. Our mandate is to foster an anti-oppressive, sober, safe, inclusive 13+ space where individuals from these (our) communities can safely present their art without the fear of discrimination, harassment or even the potential for violence.

If you are interested in what we do, or are a member of our the trans* or LGBTQ+ community and are in the area, please get in touch! You can email us at qthauscollective@gmail.com, or find us on facebook under QT Haus and on instagram @qt_haus.

We have recently partnered with Artcite to host one of our events for this month, tomorrow night on June 21st from 7-10pm. July is going to be a break for us as a means to foster our own creative endeavors as well as to catch up on much needed work to ensure that we grow as a collective.

We’ll be back in August again for our next event so please watch out for that on the facebook page or instagram!

Prism International Pacific Spirit Poetry Contest

Prism International just released it’s Longlist Announcement for the Pacific Spirit Poetry Contest.

Congratulations to everyone who made it! I am so incredibly honoured to be counted among these gifted, and amazingly talented people. I own a copy of Joshua Whitehead’s Full-Metal Indigiqueer, and have been following Whess Harman’s artistic career over the last year, I am so incredibly grateful to be listed among these talented people. I am looking forward to discovering the works of all of those who made the longlist, and wish everyone the best of luck!

To view the full list please follow the link here

Event Invite

Aani!

If you are located in Windsor, Ontario and you identify as Indigenous, First Nations, Native, Aboriginal, Metis or Inuit you are invited to this small, informal event where your input, feedback and opinions are welcomed during the discussion.

One part of the aim of this project is to imagine new ways in which individuals such as myself, can be responsible back to our communities when talking on behalf of those communities. One way that I can do this, is to reach out to you and ask for your input, feedback and opinions on the subjects that I will be discussing.

If you have any questions, or will need accommodations, please contact me before the event so I can ensure that those accommodations are made.

I can be reached at ostorop@gmail.com.

Miigwetch!

This project is supported by the City of Windsor’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund.

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SB Gallery

A small selection of my work can be found at SB Contemporary Art 1017 Church Street,
Windsor, Ontario, N9A 4V3.

Hours are:
Saturday’s 10am – 3pm (July 14 to August 11)
Gallery Closed (August 15 to September 12

Please come visit! Studio classes and workshops are often held, and exhibitions can be found both at SB Contemporary Art’s website here, or at their facebook page here.