By Loveny Villalona
On a cold Friday evening in February, dozens of #BlackLivesMatter supporters came together in the Bronx Arts Space for “Speak Out,” an event and exhibit. Artwork from over 40 artists filled the space of the non-profit arts service.
The month-long series of art and performances aimed to address “legacies of injustice.” On February 19th, the event turned into an open mic night where poets from different backgrounds shared how they felt about events in the African American community. Some of the poets were Hispanic, white or Asian supporters of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and were passionate about being able to “Speak Out.”
Roussel Arias, 27, said he empathized with the challenges of African Americans in the U.S. “I am of Dominican decent and I came to support the Black community,” said Arias. “So far I have been touched by the stories that these people are sharing. I too come from a minority group where certain issues are not given the importance that they need.”
Bronx Arts Space emphasized how powerful social media had been in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Performers encouraged attendees to take photographs of the art gallery to post on their social media accounts with the hashtag, #Blacklivesmatter, and #SpeakOutBx.
John Ahearn’s, “Xavier with a Hat,” 2002 a plaster cast of a young African American boy named Xavier who had his arms crossed holding up a peace sign, was the most reposted picture under the hashtag #SpeakOutBx on social media.
School Principal, Brandon Cardet, who came to the Arts Space on the third event of the month, supported his students by sharing a picture on Instagram @brandoncardet with two of his students along with the caption, “These two scholars are making the world a safer and more affirming place for students of color by fighting for equity and raising questions about the prison industrial complex and the policing of our youth!!”
Many other attendees posted their experiences, photos and videos of the event on Instagram and Twitter which could all be found by following the Bronx Arts Space Instagram page @Bronxartsspace or by searching the hashtags #SpeakOutBx on Instagram or Twitter.
The Bronx Arts Space has gallery hours from Wednesday-Saturday 12-6:30 p.m., entrance is free. The event is now over, but every month the venue brings in new work from many other underrepresented and emerging artists.