The Black Unicorn Library and Archives Project
Through installation, screen-printing, collage, language and design my work focuses on creating library spaces as sites of possibility, for imagining what freedom looks like. What can we learn from the stories of our ancestors in order to create alternative realities, a new world, different and transformative ways of being on this planet with one another? How do we build a more just and equitable world? What will we contribute to the collective vision for liberation?
Black Unicorn is a beacon of inspiration fueled by the genius of Black women’s stories, queer and transgender herstories, a love of libraries, reading and Audre Lorde. Reading the stories of Black women opened up the world to me in the most beautiful and profound ways. The Black Unicorn exists because there are not enough spaces to celebrate our beauty, to seek refuge from the world’s brutality and for education that feeds us.
Black Unicorn centers the literary and artistic contributions of Black women; Black queer, trans people and gender nonconforming people and honors the far reaching influence our courageous story telling has had on the lives of generations worldwide. Using a black queer feminist approach Black Unicorn brings a unique experience and lens to material collection, information sharing and community building.
It is remarkable that we have such an amazing canon of Black literature in the United States considering that Black people were the only people explicitly forbidden to become literate. Suffering inhumane punishment and the risk of death many of our ancestors resisted the psychological trappings of enslavement by learning how to read and write. Finding power in language and being able to “read” the world around them Black people have been able to further understand the systems of power that impacted our lives and consequently build and lead movements to challenge and change those systems.
Being able to read, understand and communicate means that you will more likely have the tools to navigate the world with self-determination, an expressive vocabulary and an internal sense of power. The relationship between literacy and liberation is one I wish to continuously explore and learn from because people of African descent still face systemic barriers to having their Human Rights recognized fully in the United States and around the world. The deliberate withholding of information and resources from Black people continues to impact the quality of our lives. When Black writers, artists, musicians, teachers and creatives share the tools that help us think critically about ourselves and the world – they empower and awaken a part of us that cannot be touched by any physical force.
As Toni Morrison shared in her talk with Angela Davis, Literacy, Libraries and Liberation, “I think of freedom as—a major part of it for me is knowledge, maybe wisdom if you get there, but certainly knowledge, and then I’m reminded that the first sin, Genesis, the sin, is knowledge. The acquisition of knowledge… The big horror, they have led us to believe, is knowledge, because that will set you free.”