One of the easiest ways to honor Black people and our culture is to recognize, partake in, buy, support, and appreciate their art. In a country that has historically taken from and exploited Black art without recognition, the burden often lies on Black people to create and support our own thing.
As we progress as a country, there seems to be this idea that representation politics don’t matter anymore–ie that we should stop celebrating Black people in higher positions/in the media, and just start expecting it. While I think this is an important viewpoint to have, especially in a time where sometimes pro-Blackness stops at representation without going further to actually create any change–mosaic’s youth have been teaching me that representation still matters to many young people.
Carsyn is one of the youngest members in Mosaic’s Acting company–12 years old– and she says that Mosaic is her second home. Because she sees herself represented in leadership, peers, other performers and musicians that work with the company, etc., she feels like it’s easier to be understood and listened to.
I got to chat with Carsyn Sunday, and she shared with me that seeing all-Black casts–or even majority-Black casts–telling Black stories is still powerful to her, especially as someone aspiring to be in their position one day.
“I honestly think it’s really beautiful that our Community can come together in the form of art and theater and choir, sharing their different stories and showing what it’s like to be who we are,” Carsyn shared with me. She says that it’s still more nuanced than just appreciating representation, though. Instead, Carsyn recognizes the power in telling Black stories to share the Black experience– “how we’re feeling, what we’ve been through, and our history” –and not just telling them because they’re fun shows to watch.
It’s important to honor Black art for what it is, which is oftentimes much deeper than what lies at the eye. Certain Black stories are to retain history and folklore, others to offer moments of healing and love, and sometimes Black art is created just to let other Black folk know they aren’t alone in their experience.
Carsyn’s focus on the power of Black people coming together and building community through art is much more powerful when we push past representation (which is also such an important concept to recognize) and see that we are also building each other up through the process.
Imani Harris is a 2018 alumna of the Mosaic Singers. She is currently finishing her Journalism and African American studies degrees at Northwestern University. Imani is passionate about using her voice and knowledge to share Black stories, and especially to support and illuminate all the beauty that exists in the Black community.