Mr. leon anthony james
M.A., Media Studies New School, freelance photographer, former adjunct group relations lecturer, Brooklyn College, Laundromat Project Create Change Fellow, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellow, Finalist Field Leadership Fellow, Finalist Eyebeam POWER! Residency, Center for Urban Pedagogy Teaching Artist
I am a Baltimore native, recently returned, 20 years estranged. Along the way, I have collected stories about the many ways black folk are traumatized. I made every attempt not to give the actual traumas more space than to acknowledge their existence, as something that pulls on us, has to be dealt with but can be dealt with - nothing supernatural, real world (problems)opportunities. I am far more invested in the ways we try to get over. Some technology, is dignified, allowing us to hold our heads up and move on in the face of so much. Some technology seems to only to reflect back the violence that we constantly have to face. In my heart and mind, they all need to be celebrated, especially in moments like these where it seems we being constantly inundated with how bad things are. My favorite group relations theorist, Leroi Wells, talked about the 5 levels of group interaction – and anti-black energy permeates all of them. To say we persevere is cliché, to say we are strong is equally as pat, I have been more interested in a sort of transcendence. Religion, spirituality, and art have often been the most celebrated paths – all of which encompass my meanderings. However, in this moment the need for transcendent politics, economics, and institutions has come into stark focus. Group Relations has been a powerful tool in my exploration and the life I am continually crafting. It has provided insight not only into what has been happening to a collective we, but the infinite ways I(we) can respond and innovate. I love this work; this conference is an opportunity to gain insight together.