The Black God Within
For centuries, Black Bodies, and the souls that inhabit them, have been devalued and dehumanized. Unfortunately, anti-Black racism in this country is alive and thriving as evidenced by the school-to-prison pipeline, disproportionate expulsion rates, low college applicatiocceptance and other markers. Black men and boys are, in particular, unsafe physically and emotionally because their humanity is not a given. This project asks: How do we make their humanity visible?
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
County of Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
For centuries, Black Bodies, and the souls that inhabit them, have been devalued and dehumanized. Unfortunately, anti-Black racism in this country is alive and thriving as evidenced by the school-to-prison pipeline, disproportionate expulsion rates, low college applicatiocceptance and other markers. Specifically in Los Angeles county Blacks are incarcerated 13 times more often than whites. Even though Blacks make up less than 10% of the county population, they represent 24% of law enforcement killings. The 2020 assassination of Mr George Floyd projected the egregious reality of the US on the world stage: the ramifications of this country’s oppressive historical truths – genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, police brutality of epidemic proportions – still live on. Black men and boys are, in particular, unsafe, physically and emotionally, because their humanity is not a given. This project asks: How do we make their humanity visible?
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
The #BlackGodWithin initiative seeks to work with 50 Black men from Los Angeles County between the ages of 18 and 100 remember the sovereignty of their Black Body, reconnect with lost histories and reginite relationships with their ancestral wisdom so that they can shake off the shackles of anti-Black racism, build community with other Black men, and live unfettered lives. This initiative entails 12-weeks of programming that explores the history of precolonial Africa as a way to reconnect and reclaim ancestral wisdom to be applied in their contemporary lives. Specifically we will introduce the participants to the wisdom in the myths and stories related to the various deities from across Africa. The 12-week program culminates in a photoshoot to document the participants as they connect to their heritage, embody the ancient wisdom and live into the god-like qualities explored in the sessions. The images from the photoshoot will be used to create the third installment of the successful Black Goddess Within Oracle Deck series: The Black God Within Oracle Deck. The photoshoot is a full-scale experience and includes wardrobe consultations, hair and make up and professional photography.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
The Black Goddess Within initiative began as a direct response to the acquittal of Ferguson police officers killing an unarmed Black teenager. Combating what she calls, "Black death porn," the images found in the first two Black Goddess decks strengthen and empower the Black women who participated in co-creating the deck. Further, the decks now have a worldwide reach and is normalizing the beauty, strength and humanity of Black bodies instead of violence and death against the same. Past program participants have reported: "getting more out of the program than ALL of my therapy sessions put together." "I found value in places I wasn't looking for nor even knew existed." "I am able to embrace my power as a Black person" "We cannot look away from the atrocities committed against Black bodies. This program helped me reckon with and heal this history." Working with men in the Los Angeles area will impact their lives directly and change the wayh others see them, making the world safer
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Created in response to the historical vilification of the Black Body, The Black Goddess Within Oracle Deck changes the narrative around Black Bodies through the distribution of images of Goddesses from all over Africa. By illustrating the divinity, power, and purpose inherent in the Black lived experience, we intend for these images to illuminate Black humanity and beauty while simultaneously healing the rift of colonialism. We chose an oracle deck as a medium in which to do this anti-racist work primarily because nearly all human communication is non-verbal. Symbols, signs, & images carry much of our cultural and social information. Through repeated use, these symbols, signs and images, take on meaning that become normalized. By distributing these images through social media, oracle decks, installations, exhibits and lectures, etc, we add another voice to the conversation around the Black Body, ultimately normalizing the humanity in that which has long been dehumanized and denigrated.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 60
Indirect Impact: 100,000