The Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement (OPE) is proud to launch a new initiative this month called the Black + Gold Series, focused on building cross-racial conversations and dialogue to promote cooperation and mutual understanding. The Office of Public Engagement will curate events, activities and conversations, as well as partner with community-based organizations and institutions to highlight efforts to bridge together Black and Asian communities in Philadelphia. The Black + Gold Series will take place throughout 2022.
In Philadelphia, and in many metro regions around the country, we have experienced the spark of growth and diversification of our residents. Economic concerns have plagued many communities across our city, and some might say that tensions are running high. Violence has been an ongoing concern, and we know that this has been a painful point for our city. Collective grief and trauma are both by-products of the pandemic, as well as underlying conditions that contribute to challenges in our communities.
OPE’s conversations with diverse communities and City leaders have all pointed to the fact that in our City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, there is much more work we must do to bridge divides and create opportunities for healing. The SEPTA incident that took place on November 17, 2021, involving African American and Asian American teenagers illuminated this need.
We believe that through ongoing, intentional, participatory engagement, we can work towards unity and healing. We acknowledge this vision is both bold and necessary.
February is an auspicious month that marks Black History Month, and the Lunar New Year, a holiday celebrated by 2 billion people of Asian descent across the globe. It’s a time of the year that is deeply important to both Black and many Asian communities, separately. We chose to launch the series in February to honor the possibilities of coming together and building bridges.
OPE invites community leaders and organizations to submit their ideas for programs that can create dialog and unity across Asian and Black communities in specific neighborhoods, schools, community centers, or virtually. OPE will share a calendar of events and promote Black + Gold Series activities through our weekly newsletter and social media channels.
Upcoming Events as part of the Black + Gold Series:
2/18/22: Asian Arts Initiative opens its Eco/Systems season with a most significant round table discussion on the critical tenets of mutual aid in resistance movements. Christopher Rogers of the Robeson House with co-editor Fajr Muhammad present their book How We Stay Free: Notes on a Black Uprising on the occasion of its publication. They will be joined by Professor Jessica Gordon-Nembhard,
Ph.d., author of the authoritative history on mutual aid practices in Black American history: Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice.
2/22/22: Asian Arts Initiative is hosting an intercultural Seed Exchange. Included in the gathering as facilitators and leaders in the storytelling circle are members of Truelove Seeds, Chronicling Resistance, Land Based Jawns, and Bahay215. In this seed exchange, we’ll celebrate the shared cultivator cultures of the African and Asian diaspora. This event is in-person and will require proof of vaccination or verifiable negative results on C19 tests. Both events will require registration through the Asian Arts Initiative website.
2/26/22: The Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, Philadelphia Youth Commission, and Millennial Advisory Committee are coming together this Black History Month to host “ ‘anti-black·ish”. This community conversation will be a brave space for young residents to talk about anti-black racism, and its effect on the lives on Black, non-Black POC, and White folx alike. Together we’ll understand the definition of anti-blackness, identify it when it shows up in our lives and communities, and learn best practices on how to use our individual power to put an end to it. You can sign up for this virtual event through the ‘anti-black·ish registration page.
2/26/22: The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP), in collaboration with BlackSci-Fi.com, presents “Black History Month Bunka-sai (Cultural Fair)” – a day of film programming, anime workshops, and taiko drum performances to explore the cultural and historical intersections of African American and Japanese American Communities. COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic will be onsite hosted by Penn Medicine. Learn more about this program on the JASGP website.