February 7, at the Oberon in Cambridge, Resistance Mic! began and ended with powerful music: the jaw-dropping, powerful harmonies of the Kuumba singers, and the direct, resonant voice of Dom Jones. Pangyrus author Sebastian Johnson found the perfect metaphor for the accumulated slights and threats against black Americans with “The War at Home.” Richard Hoffman’s poems set the current moment in terms that recalled our deepest history and most immediate experience. Obehi Janice invited the audience into the experience of growing up Nigerian-American and having the Lion King as an image of home (and encountering strangers who had even worse-informed images they were only too happy to share). Sonya Larson’s fiction brought us into the deeply uneasy class and racial dynamics of a kidney donor meeting the object of her beneficence. And Destiny Polk spoke to the internal management we all need to practice in this era, the balance between outrage and depression and just plain affirming life and…dare we say it…resistance.
Co-hosts Tim McCarthy and Sarah Sweeney riffed on Trump’s latest tweets, posing them against the postcards you, Resistance Mic! participants, sent to the White House. We don’t need to tell you which were the more articulate, pointed, funny, and humane messages.
Also, this night we debuted special Resistance-themed cocktails: the Russian Interference, the Trump and Stormy, and the Covfefe Negroni!
About the Artists:
Richard Hoffman’s four volumes of poetry have won multiple awards. In his poems and his celebrated memoirs Half the House and Love & Fury, he unflinchingly interrogates the sometimes painful, always challenging bonds of family and class and race. His work, both prose and verse, appears in such journals as Agni, Barrow Street, Harvard Review, Poetry, Witness and elsewhere. A former Chair of PEN New England, he is Senior Writer in Residence at Emerson College in Boston.
Obehi Janice is an award-winning actress, writer and comedian, named “Boston’s Best Actress” by The Improper Bostonian in 2014. Her comedic short, BLACK GIRL YOGA, won the Reel 13/AfroPunk Film Competition (WNET/New York Public Media). She is a Luminary Artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, with recent stage credits that include Oleanna, The Gift Horse, Love’s Labour’s Lost, We’re Gonna Die (IRNE Award, Best Solo Performance), and her solo show FUFU & OREOS. Her plays have been developed or seen at the Gardner Museum, Off the Grid Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston Center for the Arts, and elsewhere.
Sebastian Johnson is a contributor to Pangyrus Literary Magazine, whose writing has also been featured in The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. Sebastian is a Senior Associate with Freedman Consulting, LLC, and was previously the State Policy Fellow at the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy. In 2016, Sebastian gave a TEDxMidAtlantic talk titled “The Case for Basic Income.” Sebastian is a graduate of Georgetown University and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Dom Jones, from Oakland, CA, is a voice principal at Berklee College of Music and the Editor-in-Chief of Berklee Groove. The Founder and Principal Artist at Dom Empire, she weaves her passion for music, media, and social justice through various projects. An International Songwriting Competition Winner in 2014, Dom released her first album, Wingspan, that same year. Dom’s writing has appeared at Ebony.com, TeenVogue.com and Blavity. Her latest work, Blackbird, explores black struggle and triumph.
Sonya Larson’s short fiction and essays have appeared in Best American Short Stories 2017, American Short Fiction, American Literary Review, Poets & Writers, and elsewhere. She has received honors and fellowships include the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Vermont Studio Center. She directs Grub Street’s annual Muse and the Marketplace literary conference, as well as GrubStreet’s race and advocacy work. She received her MFA in fiction at the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
The Kuumba Singers
Founded in 1970, The Kuumba Singers of Harvard College is the oldest Black undergraduate organization on Harvard’s campus. Kuumba is a Swahili word meaning “to create” and expresses our mission to celebrate Black creativity and spirituality through various mediums of creative expression: song, dance, poetry, theater, and visual art. Kuumba is dedicated to singing music from the African Diaspora (spirituals, gospel, R&B, jazz, etc.), and serving as a source of community.
Destiny Polk is a poet, choreographer, producer and founder of art-activist platform Radical Black Girl, which strives to inspire transformation of self and communities through art. When she is not creative consulting, creating community programming and art showcases with a focus on collective identity and healing, she is leading poetry and movement based workshops. Her most recent project Resist(d)ance, enlivened the Oberon Theater with interactive protest art and celebration of local Boston based artists.