Los Angeles: The revolutionary role of Black art and artists

As part of an ongoing “The Black Aesthetic” community forum series, I interviewed Aleshea Harris at the Harriet Tubman Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 19. Harris is an accomplished writer in theater and film and her odic and mellifluous style harks back to the radical, lyrical essays that fill “The Black Aesthetic.” Her personal and professional life draw a direct parallel to the struggles that Black artists and Black communities still struggle with.  

This series is meant to highlight the intrinsic revolutionary nature of Black art and artists in a world defined by white supremacy and the need for the continued support of Black artists as a voice of all the oppressed. The interview closed with questions and input from the audience which furthered the conversation about the pervasiveness of white privilege in art and the future of the artists’ role as leaders in revolutionary struggles. 

“The Black Aesthetic” was a seminal text that was composed of a series of essays from the most prominent Black writers, musicians, artists and poets. It included definitions and explorations of what Black art was and was becoming, with lengthy critiques on society, racism and art as a whole. Many of the artists I have chosen to interview from this series were training or working at the time of its publication and were influenced by its contributors in their own professional careers. Others are younger artists who are now grappling with many of the same issues from 1971.

 As many of these issues have been exacerbated rather than attrited: What, if anything, is the Black aesthetic of 2019?

The next talk will be in San Diego with Dr. Niyi Coker on Oct. 19. It will be held at the Malcolm X Library, 5148 Market St., at 3 p.m.

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