This week I read a quote by Angela Davis that I can’t seem to shake. She said “[...] in order for people today to recognize their potential agency as a part of an ever-expanding community of struggle” we must “resist the depiction of history as the work of heroic individuals”. It is not the work of an individual that pushes change forward - it is community sewn by liberatory action that has the ultimate power to shift the collective consciousness. Collective Culture is, and always will be, a platform to empower and uplift marginalized voices. But, at its core, community is the epicentre of our platform.
I founded Collective Culture in 2016 with a dear friend of mine nènè myriam konaté. We met while majoring in Women’s Studies at Concordia University. We created Collective Culture (formerly known as CC: MTL) to provide a safe space for marginalized people to connect and express their varied experiences. Since 2016 we have collaborated with many talented artists and organizations through the production of events and content. Collective Culture has been vital to my development as an artist. It has given me the space to explore my creativity without bounds while also providing me with the safety of a trusted community and audience.
In the spring of 2019, nènè and I decided to part ways and Collective Culture officially became my platform. Although nènè is no longer a part of Collective Culture the work you see here today, and every day hereafter, would not have been possible without their love, brilliance, and contributions. This platform would not have grown with the same level of authenticity and vibrance if not for nènè and I am forever grateful for what we built together.
In deciding on the new version of Collective Culture I had many ideas. Importantly, I knew that I could not do it alone. In addition, I felt it was time to pass the torch and give others the same gift this platform afforded me. Fast forward to February 2020, where I brought together a team of three writers, two copy editors, and four social media members (all of whom you will learn about in the coming weeks). I am so proud to present the work our team has put together. But above all else, I am filled with joy watching the Collective Culture community grow and evolve.
The pieces we are sharing explore themes of community, self-reflection, self-expression, and unlearning systemic oppressive ideologies. Each week, for the next three weeks, we will be dropping different pieces that mirror each other in theme. For the first week, we have a story written by Taysha Brown who discusses her experiences living in Taipei, Taiwan as a Canadian citizen during the pandemic. We have a piece by Montreal based writer Nicolas André. Accompanied by an audio reading of his piece, Nicolas explores the resilience of the Haitian community through a series of interviews focused on Haitian asylum seekers and the effects of COVID-19 on the Haitian community in Montreal. We also have a variety of playlist curated by our Collective Culture Team. For the second week, we have an article by Toronto based writer Bobbi Adair that discusses the currency of time as it relates to POC experiences of the pandemic. We also have a piece by the Collective Culture Writing Team about their hopes for the “New Normal” post-COVID-19. And, in our third and final week, we will be offering our Get Cultured! segments.
In our current social climate I cannot think of a more timely quote than this one by Audre Lorde: “For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” Presently, we are all reckoning with the ways we have been complicit in maintaining and perpetuating social hierarchies and the oppression of others. In this quote, Audre Lorde is asking us to see difference as a strength - not something to fear. The acceptance of difference will provide us with the ultimate power to dismantle these systems we are fighting against. We cannot create community without accepting difference and we cannot achieve liberation without creating community. Community is not only the epicentre of our platform; it is integral for global change and resistance.
Thank you to all the writers, editors, and contributors who lent their voices to our platform. Thank you to my amazing team. I am so proud of all of you. And, lastly, thank you to all of you for supporting Collective Culture and being a part of our community.
Collective Culture Co-Founder
Background Image By: Taysha Brown