Saturday, February 27, 2021     Volume: 21, Issue: 52
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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on February 17th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 51 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 51

Healing Justice Santa Barbara offers virtual programming to celebrate Black History Month

By CALEB WISEBLOOD

Comedy, dance, music, spoken word, and visual arts were among the submission categories open to applicants of an upcoming exhibition, Black is Beautiful, hosted by Healing Justice Santa Barbara (HJSB) in celebration of Black History Month. Leticia Resch, a co-organizer of HJSB, took on the role of creative director for this virtual showcase, which is scheduled to premiere online on Feb. 26.

“Once I was asked to take on programming for Black History Month, I knew right away that showcasing Black artists of all mediums would have to be a part of it,” Resch told the Sun. “Initially, I projected most of these projects as in-person, but of course due to COVID-19, this is not possible. So we pivoted.”


Head over healing
Find out more about Healing Justice Santa Barbara at hjsb.org or follow the nonprofit on Instagram (@healing_justice_sb). Black is Beautiful will debut virtually on Feb. 26. The Chocolate Baby Story Time Series holds its next two segments on Feb. 20 and 27.

CENTER STAGE
Black is Beautiful, hosted by Healing Justice Santa Barbara in celebration of Black History Month, will feature a collection of prerecorded performance pieces that range from music and dance to spoken word and comedy skits.
IMAGE COURTESY OF HEALING JUSTICE SANTA BARBARA

Participants who hoped to join the showcase were asked to submit prerecorded videos of their performance pieces in January, which were then juried by the event’s organizers. HJSB will provide additional short clips to weave in with the exhibit’s selected videos during the virtual showcase, Resch said.

While based in Santa Barbara County, HJSB accepted entries from Black artists throughout the country. Several different factors influenced the local nonprofit’s choice to go nationwide, Resch explained.

“By inviting the wider region to join the celebrations, we can create a network and build up connections for artists,” Resch said. “We also wanted to take into consideration that people move or are away due to COVID-19, and college students may be doing school remotely.”

This gave current UCSB students residing outside Santa Barbara County, for example, the chance to participate, as well as Black alumni who have since left the Central Coast or even the state, she added.


BETWEEN THE LINES
The Chocolate Baby Story Time Series, which holds its next two segments on Feb. 20 and 27, includes live Zoom readings of beloved children’s books that celebrate the joy of Blackness, including Mixed Me by Taye Diggs, I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, and Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.
IMAGE COURTESY OF HEALING JUSTICE SANTA BARBARA

“Former residents and alumni of our colleges and schools may have moved on, and we wanted to give them a chance to share the love of this area,” Resch said. “Extending the invitation to participate nationwide also provided Black Student Unions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to participate.”

By opening the submission threshold to Black artists of all ages across the country, HJSB hopes Black is Beautiful will achieve its aim of highlighting “the beauty of the Black/African American community on a large scale.” 

Resch also described the upcoming showcase as an extension of HJSB’s aim to “uplift diverse individuals across the African and Black American diaspora—all ages, incomes, LGBTQIA-plus, multi/biracial identifying, system-impacted, and those with disabilities—through all forms of artistic performance.”

Described as a Black-led and Black-centered organizing collective and nonprofit, HJSB was founded in Santa Barbara by Simone Rushkamp and Krystle Farmer Sigheart in response to the destabilizing impacts of racism and anti-blackness in communities along the Central Coast.


FEATURED READER
Santa Barbara community member Bukola Joy (pictured), who also participated in Healing Justice Santa Barbara’s Art is Activism campaign last year, serves as one of the organization’s Chocolate Baby Story Time Readers.
COURTESY PHOTO BY MICHELLE RAMIREZ PHOTOGRAPHY

Alongside Black is Beautiful, HJSB is also hosting additional virtual programs to celebrate Black History Month. One such program is The Chocolate Baby Story Time Series, which holds its next two segments on Feb. 20 and 27. This program includes live Zoom readings of beloved children’s books that celebrate the joy of Blackness, including Mixed Me by Taye Diggs, I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, and All Because You Matter by Tami Charles. 

Each book in the series is read aloud via Zoom for young viewers and their families to enjoy from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Featured readers include Jordan Killebrew, co-founder of Juneteenth SB; Warren Ritter, president of Santa Barbara Young Black Professionals; and Bukola Joy, a community member who also participated in HJSB’s Art is Activism campaign in 2020.

In lieu of the originally planned in-person programming, these virtual Black History Month offerings further HJSB’s cause to promote community, especially amid feelings of isolation brought about by the ongoing pandemic.

“Even if it’s through Zoom, togetherness and community can be achieved by sharing love of our culture,” Resch said. “Connecting with others—showing compassion, empathy, and love—is what helps to change lives.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood wants to hear from the community at cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.










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