Melba Ayco, the founder and artistic director of Northwest Tap Connection is a Gullah Geechee and Creole storyteller and last Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17, Northwest Tap celebrated their third annual Seattle Gullah Geechee Festival. Ms. Melba told stories about Gullah Geechee traditions around food, culture, and heritage. She talked about the importance of family and the practice of lifting the baby up during a Gullah christening, the significance of the conch shell in Gullah spirituality, and the history behind the “Emancipation” maypole. In-between the stories, Northwest Tap dancers and instructors performed numerous dances inspired by Gullah Geechee heritage.
Four wheels, five, three, and even two — inline, quads, or whatever suits you. Choose a rink and pump some tunes — the roller skating craze is in Seattle, too.
When I first heard that roller skates were on back order and hard to find, I chuckled. First there was a run on toilet paper and now skates too? The pandemic gods have a great sense of humor. But then I began to remember some of my fondest childhood moments: Friday nights as a 1980s preteen rolling around the wooden floor of a local roller rink in Chicago. I felt a deep sense of nostalgia as I recalled the remixed and pumped-up James Brown songs that accompanied my wobbly skate legs. And I wondered: How has one of America’s most beloved pastimes fared 150 years after James Plimpton invented the modern roller skate and 50 years after its disco heyday?
Entrepreneurs, artists, and cultural workers are the heart of Seattle’s South End, but lack of visibility and underinvestment have historically harmed the community. ADEFUA Cultural Education Workshop (A.C.E.W.) and a band of community stakeholders aim to change that by creating Seattle’s first state-certified Creative District. Since 2018, the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) has certified eight Creative Districts, but not one is in Seattle — yet. If things go as planned, the new Creative District will encompass the area between Franklin High School and Rainier Beach High School. In a telephone interview, Afua Kouyate, a Seattle native and the executive director of A.C.E.W., shared details about the Creative District and the work she’s done in the southeast Seattle community since 1985.
This Friday, Dec. 11, the co-editors of The Black Trans Prayer Book (TBTPB), J Mase III and Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, along with other contributors, will share readings, perform, and connect at a Seattle Public Library online event. A collection over three years in the making, TBTPB was released in April and features poems, stories, rituals, spells, and theology by Black trans people of many faiths and spiritual traditions. At once a tool for reclaiming spirituality and healing from religious trauma, TBTPB is also an important contribution to liberation theology, which views religion as a means of liberation for oppressed people.
The Emerald rounded up local Juneteenth events so you and yours can easily find ways to participate both in person and virtually in celebrations, marches, live streams, talks, activities for children, and more!
“We’re blacking out CHOP … the viral death of black bodies was the catalyst for this current movement and we need to make sure we remain focused. This means both policy and systemic change to our systems and healing space for black people.
“So that’s exactly what we’re creating. A series of events in which we center black healing and community.
“What we need from our non-black allies are donations of money and supplies and the willingness to support by quietly protecting sacred space for black healing. We need allies on the outskirts who are willing to be a physical barrier of protection and to peacefully deter potential interruptions.” Read full schedule of events in Facebook event details.
Donations of supplies, funds, and volunteer bodies on the ground at the event are requested from the organizers. Read event details for more on this and donate funds here.
Time: 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Where: CHOP — 1635 11th Ave (Cal Anderson Park) Cost: Free to attend
Though she didn’t celebrate Bunka no Hi herself, when she lived in Japan, Arisa Nakamura now celebrates the modern holiday alongside the community and her fellow Japanese Cultural and Community Center staff and volunteers.
This year marked the organization’s 14th annual celebration of Bunka no Hi, which Nakamura said was originally a celebration of the Emperor Meiji’s birthday, changing in 1948 to commemorate the post-WWII Japanese constitution. While it’s still a national holiday in Japan, it’s now about celebrating and sharing Japanese culture and art, she said.
Ignoring the chilly evening air nipping about them, hundreds of laughing people thronged through Roberto Maestas Plaza at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle, Washington, for the organization’s 15th annual Día de Muertos celebration on Nov. 1. Some wore extravagant, traditional Mexican outfits trimmed with lace, faces painted and decorated to look like bejeweled skulls. Others tucked up in puffy jackets eagerly waited in line for pan de muerto, or Mexican bread of the dead, and a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
NW Black Pride kicked off last night with Black D*ck Matters, written by Kathya Alexander (co-writer of Black to My Roots: African American Tales from Head and the Heart) and directed and produced by Tyrone Brown. The multimedia experimental experience premiered at Gay City in front of a full house, and much like Black Pride itself, the play was provocative. The piece both asks and answers a question aimed toward Black men: How does “it” feel? The answers, revealed throughout the play, unmask the tenderness of Black pain alongside Black pleasure.
Under the warm, yellow lights of Kobo in the Chinatown-International District’s Japantown, Mako Willet readied her sanshin, an Okinawan instrument similar to a lute, to play another song, supposed to warn fishermen about stepping on sharp conch shells.
It’s hard to miss Javoen Byrd as he enters Empire Espresso on Edmunds Street in Columbia City. He sports a cream colored outfit with soft gold balls dangling from the collar, an Aso Yoruba. It’s an outfit I’ve seen him wear several times when tapping his hands on a set of drums in celebration of his African heritage.