Youth Speak Up Through the Arts at West Side Vigil
April 20th, 2021
West Side, St. Paul, Minnesota
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Youth, students, poets, spoken word artists, drummers, and dancers will gather this Tuesday on the West Side’s Parque Castillo for a vigil and open mic. The event, When We Speak Up, Do You Care? Is being organized by West Side teens and community members in response to the trauma of the most recent killings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, and in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Philando Castile.
“As youth workers, artists, and mentors, it’s important to recognize how we must unify and listen to our children. Teach our history. To take care of one another so we can continue to stand up against the injustices and pain we as people of color continue to face,” said Maria Isa Pérez-Hedges, who helped organize Tuesday’s event. “I’m getting a lot of messages from youth that are now older, that are now adults, that are now the age of Daunte Wright. Youth that are younger, that are scared, that don’t feel that they matter.”
Last Friday, community organizations and local elected officials released a statement calling on Governor Walz, Mayor Frey, Mayor Carter and Sheriff Hutchinson to stop “Operation Safety Net,” Minnesota’s militarized effort launched during the trial of Derek Chauvin. Despite promises to provide safety, community members say the operation has led to increased insecurity and violence in an attempt to silence them when they speak out against police brutality and racism.
But young people aren’t so easily silenced, nor are the adult mentors, artists, and neighborhood leaders determined to keep their community safe.
María Isa went live on Facebook to share a message to students, many of whom just returned to in-school learning and have barely had a chance to adjust to their new reality before facing a new cycle of traumatizing headlines. “You may not have had the opportunity to vent, to share, to hear laughter in the hallways and lunchrooms, figure out whether we got to wear masks […] but we don’t have a mask to shield us from police violence, we don’t have a mask to shield us from racism, we don’t have a mask to shield us from the continued pain that happens all over the world, nationally, and specifically here in our state, our cities. [...] I know we’re angry, I know we’re sad, I know we’re hurt. […] So whatever way you stay positive, whatever you do to stay having faith in yourself and your community, whatever God you pray to, whatever rhythms you dance to and drum to, recognize that when they’re all together, it is a force. [...] We are blessed to have community and love and children. We celebrate them, and we have to protect our youth.”
Tuesday night’s event is a space where people of all generations are called upon to come together for healing justice. The event was co-hosted by the West Side Community Organization (WSCO). Monica Bravo, WSCO’s Executive Director, reflected: “We are grappling with the murders of Daunte Wright, Philando Castile, George Floyd and too many other Black, brown, and Indigenous people at the hands of the police, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wrought the most harm in BIPOC communities. We are reckoning with the fact that white supremacy, racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination threaten our lives. To combat ths, our neighborhoods have to organize for life-affirming public safety, and reach out to neighbors on the West Side and across St. Paul to develop solutions by, and for the community. And that begins with listening to our young people, and the beauty, creativity, and power in their voices.”
The event is free and open to the public, and will take place on Tuesday, April 20th from 5:00PM- 8:00PM at Parque Castillo on St. Paul’s West Side. Additional information is available online at https://www.facebook.com/events/295448668764580.
The event is free and open to the public, and will take place on Tuesday, April 20th from 5:00PM- 8:00PM at Parque Castillo on St. Paul’s West Side. Free burritos will be provided by El Burrito Mercado, as well as free hot cocoa and coffee from Cayita’s Coffee Cart.
Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/295448668764580
Huizillin Danza Group
Performances by: DJ Mickey Breeze, Selah Jacoway, Cuauhtli Day, Shalen Woods, Brooklyn La Bombera, Yolotl, Dicipulo, and a BIPOC Community Artist open mic and drum circle hosted by María Isa (SotaRico).
Screen printing by Luchadoras Printing
Crystal Jewelry making with Avahni Lewis
Candles by Mystical Motivation
Essential oil self-care sets by Nae
Live Art led by Holly (Miskitoos) Henning who is an enrolled tribal member of Marten Falls Anishinaabe First Nation and has ancestral ties to Constance Lake Oji-Cree First Nation. She is an active visual artist and muralist who assists with the lead project Coordinator for an all BIPOC artist collective called City Mischief Murals in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. She utilizes art to elevate community voice, healing, and advance change. She has been part of several community arts-based events and mural projects throughout the United States, Canada, Africa, and Mexico. She uses acrylic paint, aerosol paint, traditional Native American artforms and dance as a personal and political tool to address, explore and portray contemporary indigenous struggle. Instagram handle: @Miskitoos