In a city so diverse, yet often lacking safe spaces to discuss topics and issues intricately linked to specific communities, women are on the frontlines taking their power back. This rang true at Cinecycle on Sunday, July 16, where The MOCHA Project hosted an insightful panel discussion for Ghetto Feminism and Hood Resistance: Black/Brown motherhood and identity in art.
Moderated by Toronto journalist and digital content creator, Sajae Elder, the panel featured Afro-Indigenous vocalist and visual artist Lido Pimienta, rapper and facilitator Sydanie, writer Tania Peralta, and photographer Martika Jabari. Following the premise of "discussing the implications of being black/brown mothering artists," how this impacts intersecting, complex identities, and defines experience and resistance, each voice shared raw truths and provoked an engaging conversation of what this all means when tied to the arts.
Although I am not a mother (but may be one day), the panel shared their stories with an accessible, applicable approach for the audience to grasp, and possibly consider as wisdom for the future. As the panel examined other concepts of raising children while working as a creative, family and generational trauma, relationships, mental health, outreach and self care, they also delved into the definition of Ghetto Feminism.
"Ghetto Feminism and Womxnism allows me to prioritize the needs of my community," said rapper and arts facilitator, Sydanie, who also organized the event. "Regular feminism doesn't have room for ratchet girls. These communities need feminism."
Ghetto Feminism examines the needs of a specific community and its demographics, making this accessible to women within it. But what about taking care of thyself, while simultaneously juggling everything else?
"Self care is surrounding myself with people that I love," said photographer Martika Jabari. "Being a mom and indulging in self care is a journey in itself."
Writer, Tania Peralta, shared thoughts on the pressure to "get things done" during the day, and how it's important to take a step back when it all becomes too much. "Zooming out," she affirms. "Acknowledging the accomplishments of today."
Artist Lido Pimienta regards organization, a clean house, and "a lot of lists," as a method to document this progress and take good care. From a professional perspective, she discussed the impact of treating oneself as a business and holding your work in the highest regard, even if it means responding to an email inquiry with a bold "NO." This really resonated with me. As creatives, we truly need to know our worth. Self care is not selling yourself short.
Resilience was another topic brought to the forefront, and how communication is key when sharing your struggles. How important it is to share with others and have effective conversations without shame or guilt.
The breadth of the discussion, the wealth of knowledge and experience these women possess is inspiring. Vulnerability and awareness set the stage, and it was truly beautiful to attend this collaborative event that explored issues in a bold, constructive manner.
With full hearts and open minds, those in attendance could follow up with Liquid Gold. Cinecycle's adaptive space transformed into a bashment jam, where Lido Pimienta and Sydanie made us dance, sing, laugh and stirred up all the feels. With beer and rum flowing, attendees could also get some new ink, selecting a flash from the gorgeous portfolio of Brittany Randell , owner of Humble Bee Tattoo.
As DJ Vaughan and DJ Ace Dillinger primed us with high energy Afrobeat, Trap, Hip-Hop, Soca, Dancehall, flawlessly blended together with sounds from the underground, Lido Pimienta prepared to take the stage.
Recently shortlisted for a 2017 Polaris Music Prize (in which Pimienta discussed various aspects of its merit with honest opinions), and soon to head out on an extensive tour, this set marked her last in Toronto for the next while.
Pimienta's sound is unparalleled and can transform any room. Her fine blend of traditional and contemporary elements is both abstract and tangible. Performing favourites like "Agua," anti-Fuckboy anthem, "La Capacidad" and the sexual, organic "Jardines," to leading everyone in a Colombian call-and-response on a traditional tune, Pimienta's energy and unwavering fire resonates through the soul. It wasn't the first time I've seen her live, and she never fails to deliver her art with authenticity and power. If you haven't seen her live yet... please...just...I don't know what you're waiting for, really.
West End Queen, Sydanie, is a true artist in every form. Her towering platform kicks only compliment her the height of her innate presence in the venue. With a natural charisma, spitting sharp verses to witty, nuanced jokes in an effortless flow, Sydanie is REAL. She inspires you to move, or get the fuck out.Launching with "Taste Next Summer," from her new Stillwater EP, she hit every emotion, blending tough tone with soft sentiment.
"Life On Repeat" is otherwordly and ambient, as Sydanie rolls with her verses in poetic bliss. Live, it's something else. Sydanie has you in her grip, as she shares her story, moving in and out of the crowd to vibe off of energies to set the mood of the whole room. With the spiritual, carnal "Pluto In Scorpio," the artist retreated to her own intimate space, moving closer to the mic, as we leaned forward to absorb the lyrics.
Concluding in an afterhours jam, Liquid Gold was a true celebration of black and brown women, bad ass moms, and an acknowledgement to all experiences, strife and success. Reflecting on the day's panel discussion, stories were translated into sonic frequencies to create something bigger. So don't question how they "do it all." This is proof.
Words and photos by Ola Mazzuca