at land’s edge was founded in 2015 as a response to the systemic white supremacy that thrives in arts and educational institutions. We are a women and queer of color led initiative and work toward a decolonial feminist arts pedagogy that challenges and unequivocally shatters the Eurocentrism, heteropatriarchy, and elitism found in Western educational systems. We strive to empower ourselves and our communities, who are people of color, indigenous, immigrants, undocumented, working class, and queer. We also aim to develop methods for shared learning that are inspired by struggles for liberation.
There is no doubt that the recent presidential election explicitly threatens us and the communities that we hold at the center of our work. So, on Sunday, November 13, 2016, we organized a gathering for members and allies of at land’s edge. Our aim was to provide each other support and to discuss our current political climate as well as the fact that it is our communities whose rights, safety, and lives are especially at risk.
The event took place at Here and Now, a community-based healing center in El Sereno where we hold our research seminars twice per month. Prior to our event, a group of healers were holding a fundraiser to support the water protectors at Standing Rock who are defending the Missouri River and protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Our overlapping events were a reminder that the sorrow and outrage many of us feel with the election sits alongside a resistance movement where Native Americans and their allies are putting their lives on the line to protect indigenous histories, culture, and spiritual practices as well as the sovereignty of Native American land and the human right to clean water. Standing Rock reminds us that “water=life,” a simple truth that reveals how all of our lives and our futures on this planet are inextricably linked.
During the past year and a half at land’s edge has been operating, it has become clear that we are all engaged in a form of healing. Our work together is a small sanctuary in the midst of so much violence. It is a work of healing that does not fall into the individualism espoused within a Western therapeutic model. We see self-care as inextricably intertwined with care for others; the mutuality of care is itself part of the healing. Our work involves creating the condition of possibility for us to work through the violence that white supremacy and all of its attendant correlations in war, patriarchy, orientalism, and enslavement have sown in our bodies and have codified in the institutions we resist. Together, we work to expulse and transform this oppression into a collective vibrancy that shifts our everyday experience of surviving to thriving. This allows us to exist in solidarity with the many dynamic networks of resistance that are crucially important sources of inspiration and refuge.
During our gathering, about thirty people who have served as organizers, mentors, research fellows, and guest lecturers as well as our extended community of loved ones, filled a small room. We began with introductions, quickly followed by the attempt to process what has taken place in each of us during the five days since the presidential election. Many shared their frustrations and disappointments regarding the election of a candidate whose campaign was and still is steeped in bigotry. Others expressed their fears surrounding their safety and the safety of their loved ones under the new regime. We then discussed our concerns with the attempt to name and give language to our current political conditions. While some pointed to the white supremacy embedded into today’s political landscape, others were quick to point out that this is not new. Indeed, the way the presidential campaign was run and the way the election was won has a long historical precedence in our country. Yet, we are not merely the inheritors of such legacies of oppression. We are the descendants of its adversaries. For generations, activists and revolutionaries have fought against the talons of white supremacy. Today, that fight continues.
We ended the event by responding to the question of how it is we are committed to the future. As cultural producers committed to social transformation, our answers were overwhelmingly similar. The election has simply made our work all the more urgent: we will continue creating our art, films, performances, poetry, and essays with and for our own and other communities, joining them in protest, helping to build grassroots movements, and advocating for each others’ rights, quality of life, and safety. We do not separate artistic and political practice, but see both as coexisting and intertwined, fiercely part of larger resistance movements.
at land’s edge, today as yesterday, remains committed to holding space for a complexity of thought where politics cannot be reduced to a slogan and where the depth and nuance of our experiences as marginalized peoples is given the space to develop into the most lucid expression. We remain committed to our work as an autonomous educational initiative that centers people of color, indigenous peoples, immigrants, the undocumented, women, queer, and the working class and poor. We are committed to defending our communities at all costs and will continue to develop space for imagination and movement building. at land’s edge is and always will be sustained by a politics of love, fostered by an ethics of community, and focused on nurturing the voices of those who speak truth to power.
In solidarity and with love,
Sandra de la Loza
Founder, Director, and Mentorship Coordinator
Community Engagement and Public Programming
Community Engagement and Public Programming
Rose G. Salseda
Teaching Fellow and Media Fellow