To speak to events in Ferguson, MO and the many counts of racialized violence in America, Stay Woke: Write Yourself In gathers together artists from the greater community and Fordham students and faculty to create meaningful action through art. Stay Woke: Write Yourself In is a story space for testimonials of racial harmony and violence. It is an event space that seeks to heal, arrest and commemorate. It is a community that holds high the dignity of all people through the ritual and power of the written word.
There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali." It's a noun that loosely translates to "to be greater than another." Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, "secondly." Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story… Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.
~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Send your stories and testimonials on racial harmony and violence. All stories are submitted anonymously and will be posted as such on this website and on Stay Woke's Facebook page.
On November 14th, artists from the greater community and Fordham students and faculty at both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses met for song, proclamations of names fallen to racial violence, conversation and collaborative writing. Writers from across the country joined in this event by writing a virtual collaborative poem which unfolded in real time. Students and faculty at Lincoln center sang a protest song through the Lincoln Center campus ending in front of the fountain in front of the Metropolitan Opera. Participants responded to three prompts during the collaborative writing:
- Respond to Langston Hughes' poem "I too sing America."
- Create a memorial to those fallen to racial violence. Describe the edifice. What is inside?
- Write a letter to Michael Brown.
Selections from Collaborative Writing
- Daniel Alexander Jones
- Cathy Linh Che
- Lorraine Currelley
- Kate Doheny
- Fordham B-Sides
- Sarah Gambito
- JP Howard
- Shamieka Layne
- Vikas Menon
- Tochi Mgbenwelu
- Saretta Morgan
- Canton Winer
Stay Woke: Write Yourself In is a partnered program with the Fordham University departments of African and African American Studies and English, the Creative Writing Program, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, ASILI: The Black Student Alliance at Rose Hill, UniPro, CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art & Action and Kundiman.