Category Archives: Arts & Culture

PONGO POETRY: Why I Hate Basketball

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with children at the Child Study Treatment Center (CSTC), the only state-run psychiatric hospital for youth in Washington State. Many CSTC youth are coping with severe emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Approximately 40% of youth arrive at CSTC having been court ordered to get treatment; however, by the end of their stay, most youth residents become voluntary participants. Pongo believes there is power in creative expression, and articulating one’s pain to an empathetic audience. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery.

Content Warning: Discussion of child sexual abuse.


WHY I HATE BASKETBALL

by a young person at CSTC

The nightmare started when I was 5 years old
I had just moved into the yellow house
Everything was going fine until I moved there
I had a really weird neighbor
He was a few years older than me
His name, which I’ll never forget, was C
He started out telling me words I didn’t understand
I told my parents, but they didn’t believe me
They said that I learned it from an inappropriate TV show
But that wasn’t where I learned it
From that point on, it just got worse
When he figured out what I said
he started asking me weird questions
And telling me to do weird things
I felt really embarrassed and violated
As the years went on, it just got worse
Now I know what he was doing
and I didn’t know how to stop it

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FICTION: Bodega Oranges

by Jennifer Fliss


It wasn’t the first time April felt that way. The first time was when she pushed her chubby preteen fingers against the glass at the zoo and an orangutan did it back and they stayed like that for nearly a minute before the other kids laughed saying April didn’t have anyone but this animal. The orangutan dropped its hand first. 

This time, April had pulled her hand away first. While Marco walked away, April was left in front of the bodega, resting her hand on a single orange in the middle of a pile of them outside the corner store. She felt the first drop of rain that she knew had been coming as she watched her boyfriend go. Marco’s body walked and walked and people heading north and south and east and west poured in around him and eventually swallowed him up. She imagined him skipping down the 96th Street subway stairs, leaning against a column, looking up and down the tunnel as if the train would come from either direction. It always only came from the one direction, she’d always said. She was obviously wrong.

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Highline Indigenous Voices Celebration Features Art, Education, Stories

by Patheresa Wells


Highline Public Schools Native Education Program will host an Indigenous Voices Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 27, 1–7 p.m., highlighting and honoring the work done by Indigenous earth/water protectors and First Nations food sovereignty leaders. The event will include viewings of two films, AWAKE: A Dream from Standing Rock and GATHER, as well as discussion about issues of importance to Indigenous communities — including the sacred work of water and land protectors — and sharings from Highline Native Education

Highline’s Native Education Program is a legacy program established in 1974 with the passing of the Indian Education Act. The program was started as a way to address the culturally related needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students. Since its inception, the program has had its own history of growth, but in 2013 it was relaunched with, as program manager Sara Ortiz says, a desire to be “visionary in our approach to native or Indian education … to include as many artists, as many culture keepers, scholars, elders, media makers, [and] language teachers [as possible].”

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Adefua’s Legacy of African Dance and Culture

by Kathya Alexander


The Odunde Festival is an annual harvest festival that celebrates the fruits of labor of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The word itself means “New Year,” and Adefua Cultural Education Workshop has been celebrating the event here in Seattle for the past 36 years. The theme this year is Reunion, an opportunity to come together and give thanks for life as the city comes out of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The two-day event begins Friday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. with a community dance party at the Rainier Arts Center and continues Saturday, Nov. 20, with an African marketplace that opens at 3 p.m. and culminates with a symposium and performance from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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PONGO POETRY: It Used to Be Different

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with youth at the Children & Family Justice Center (CFJC), King County’s juvenile detention facility. Many CFJC residents are Youth of Color who have endured traumatic experiences in the form of abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. These incidents have been caused and exacerbated by community disinvestment, systemic racism, and other forms of institutional oppression. In collaboration with CFJC staff, Pongo poetry writing offers CFJC youth a vehicle for self-discovery and creative expression that inspires recovery and healing. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery.


IT USED TO BE DIFFERENT

By a young person, age 17

It used to be different
because we used to drive around town
till midnight.
But when you passed away,
it was hard to see you go.

In some ways, it’s the same
because we still drive around town
speeding.
It’s not the same
without you.

Here’s how I want it to change:
I want to hear the car’s being loud—
speeding all the time,
drifting corners. Just so
you can see
from heaven.

Dedicated to family and friends

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The Unspoken Truths Museum to Open at ARTS at King Street Station Gallery

by Melia LaCour


“Resistance, Resilience, Remembrance, and Liberation”: poetic words straight from the heart of multiple award winner, community scholar, ethnomuseumologist, and second-generation storyteller Delbert Richardson. His soulful words describe the theme of his upcoming installation, “American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths,” which will open at the ARTS at King Street Station Gallery on Nov. 16, 2021, and continue through Jan. 15, 2022.  

“My work is primarily geared for children and young adults,” Richardson shared. “No professional development, no white teachers. It’s really around identity development and self-actualization for Black kids, right? When we think about slavery and, historically, our story starting from 1619, then that becomes the placeholder of who we are and how we see ourselves and how we allow ourselves to be seen. So, I was determined to challenge that narrative. That’s what my museum does. It challenges that narrative based on my own story.”

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All That Jazz: The Life and Legacy of Ernestine Anderson

by Kathya Alexander


Ernestine Anderson was just 16 years old when she announced to her parents that she was going to leave Seattle and go on the road to sing with a big band. She’d only recently moved to the city from Texas and was attending Garfield High School. Two years later, when the Johnny Otis band came to town, she made good on her promise, leaving Seattle in 1946 to eventually live in New York, Switzerland, and other cities throughout Europe during an illustrious six-decade career, during which she recorded more than 30 albums. But, no matter where she lived, her heart always pulled her back to her family and the city she loved. 

Seattle’s Central District in the 1940s and ’50s was a jazz mecca. Fellow Garfield High School alum, Quincy Jones, described it as “screaming around the clock.” Both Anderson and Jones performed with Garfield’s jazz band and in various clubs on Seattle’s Jackson Street. Music journalist Paul De Barros’ book, Jackson Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle, has become the standard historical text on the Central District of Seattle and the jazz scene that was going on during the 1940s through the early ’60s. But Anderson felt she needed to make it elsewhere before she would be recognized professionally at home. 

“There were a lot of clubs in the Central area of Seattle: The Black and Tan, The Rocking Chair, and a whole bunch of other[s],” said Eugenie Jones, jazz singer and coproducer of “Celebrating Ernestine Anderson,” a series of community events being held this month to honor the life and legacy of this incredible Seattle icon, who died in 2016.

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Mama’s Meuzz: The Beauty and Pain of Black Motherhood

by Kathya Alexander


On Friday, Nov. 12, Monique Franklin will take the stage to share a reading of her provocative play Mama’z Muezz. The performance starts at 7 p.m. at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. Accompanied by a live four-piece band, Mama’z Meuzz examines the experiences of African American mothers from present-day, historical, and ancestral perspectives. 

Franklin will also share part of Mama’z Muezzeum, an interactive and introspective experience full of artifacts, adornments, and ancestral altars that acknowledge what many consider universal experiences (like conception and birth) that for many mothers are traumatic experiences that involve grief and trauma and that need healing. 

In addition to free tickets, Black women attending the performance who are mothers will get a signed copy of the “Mama’z Muezz” chapbook, a collection of the poems from the play. They will also receive a flower, a magnet, royal seating at the front of the house, and a free digital download of the “Mama’z Muezz” mini album. 

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FICTION: The Murder of Emmett Till

by Kathya Alexander


The day that the modern Civil Rights movement begin was the day when them white men kill Emmett Till. His mama, Mamie, was sitting on the sofa in her little house on the South Side of Chicago when the call come in that would change her life. Her child was missing from her granddaddy’s house. 

It was Willie Mae who called, not Mr. Mose. The white men who took Emmett had told Mose not to report a thing he seen or heard. So it was Curtis Jones who call the Leflore County Sheriff. And then Willie Mae call Mamie at 9:30 that morning to tell her what had happen to her only son.

Willie Mae said some white men had come and took him about 2:30 a.m. that Sunday morning. Mamie was still in the bed and was fast asleep, but what Willie Mae was saying sho’ did wake her up quick.

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