In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breona Taylor among others, it was more apparent than ever to many people that anti-Black racism is alive and well in the North American continent. In light of these killings, IBOP Connections (UBC) wanted to create an event to collaborate with Black artists to spread awareness and create a sense of community.
The Black Artistic Expressions of BC was the result. The event is a collaboration between the Centre for Culture, Identity & Education, IBPOC Connections, both at UBC, the community at large, and artists. This is an idea that was conceptualized and built in the new normal era, and on the platform of the new normal era: Zoom.
“We wanted to create a series that celebrates Black creativity, cultural expression and activism in British Columbia,” says Ndidi Cascade, artist, educator, and facilitator. The idea of this event emerged to create space for local, Black artists in the limited representation they have in local music here. Cascade adds, “it was to make that connection between the celebration of Black art, music and culture, Black activism and supporting Black people, in general.”
This four-part series has hosted various local artists such as Marcus Mosley, Tonye Agabena, Dawn Pemberton, Shad and Cascade herself. Their events are hosted on Zoom, are open to all, and are free to register. The timing of the series agenda was also intended to lead up to Black History Month 2021.
Cascade, a hip-hop artist of Nigerian, Italian, and Irish origin, was born and raised in B.C.
She has shared the stage with talents such as Wu-Tang Clan, Femi Kuti, Digable Planets, The Mad Professor, De La Soul, K-OS, and K’naan.
Along with being an artist, she is also an educator of world music and hip-hop education. Who better to educate a generation on world music than someone who has spent 24 years in the rap industry? Cascade began teaching in 2003 and has educated many about the history and roots of hip-hop and rap.
Before the pandemic Cascade toured British Columbia with her band, Metaphor.
Cascade believes in spreading media awareness, explaining “it is important since a lot of youth don’t know where hip hop comes from and a lot of the music they are listening to right now is actually quite toxic.” Cascade aims to give youth the tools to critique the music they listen to.
As an educator, Cascade is also a collaborator with an organization called Ethos Lab that is Black-youth focused group that connects Black youth with the world of STEM.
Cascade’s latest role is also that of a facilitator. She was able to perform and facilitate and moderate Q/A sessions at their latest event.
A new way for Black Artistic Expressions of BC
Even though practicing any form of art during the pandemic on a virtual platform is challenging, Cascade chooses to focus on the benefits. While performing to muted mics and switched-off video cameras can be odd for a performer, Cascade enjoys that these performances can reach a higher number of people.
Similarly, they have the ability to include artists from all over the country and the world on their shows. “This pandemic has brought all humans down to the same level; it’s been a great leveler,” says Cascade.
Even though this event has been created for a particular time period and is created for a COVID era, Cascade is very enthusiastic for this to continue as an in-person event after the pandemic is dealt with.
“There are no plans yet, but why not?!” exclaims Cascade.
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