TRENTON, NEW JERSEY
Black Sovereignty as a Framework of Poetics
Spaces for Black Liberation are considered war zones, as the MOVE bombings of 1985, and the political imprisonment of the MOVE 9 in 1978 so apparently illustrate. But the struggle towards Black Liberation cannot be contained. It cannot be constrained by violence, or squelched by prison walls. It is radically expressive. Radicalism is multifaceted. Joy is Revolutionary, Resistant, and Radical.
This project sits catty-corner from the New Jersey State prison, across the interstate, and stands in direct opposition to its history of oppressing Black Political Ideology and Black Expression.
In my research into Trenton one video and one statement stood out from everything. A neighborhood interview of Drizzy 3X. Throughout the video, he and his crew repeatedly stated, “we have nowhere to go.” Alluding to the lack of career options, economic opportunity, and physical space available, as he and his associates were pushed from site to site by the police.
“You see, this what they do. We trying to do something positive and they fucking with us. You see what im saying? We trying to do something positive, and this what we up against.”
(police officer approaches)
We aint doing nothing. we just, you know, shooting an interview. He (Store owner) aint complaining.”
“Sir im gonna need you to leave”- cop
You see what im sayin, this what we up against. The city of Trenton. We gone walk around here to my other block.”
We don’t need no escort, we straight.
This what we up against man, we just tyrna make a way outta this shit and this what we up against.”
“This happens all the time?” – Interviewer
“All the time. Every day. Every Day! We aint doing nothing. No guns no drugs no nothing. How they want us to leave we aint got nowhere to go? This our environment. Like, this our hood. This our reality, how the fuck we gone leave? Where we gone go? We can’t go to the suburbs … Tryna make a way out this shit though.
It’s fucked up.
As the program for the site developed it began as a site for radical artistic freedom, as the city had set the goal to become an arts and culture destination, and Drizzy 3X had so well expressed that music and creation is therapeutic later in the interview.
As the semester progressed, I was asked to be MORE radical. So I asked “What if Black political prisoners and Black radicals had an embassy?”
Therefore, the project goal became:
After centuries of systemic oppression, The Freed People’s Bureau works to facilitate and enable RADICALLY LIBERATED EXPRESSION.
Culture is reparative, and culture is contagious. The project appropriates the former industrial site of the Roebling Wire Company (Builders of the Brooklyn Bridge) and uses it as the base for the Freed People’s Embassy. As Black Radical Liberation and Expression is exercised on the site, lighted wires and speakers restitch the disparate building forms on the block, then proliferate throughout the city and extend the roots of Liberation and Expression out from the main site. Allowing the unabated dissemination of Black Liberation ideology. The wires then attach to buildings in the city creating satellite spaces for healing through dance, poetry, teaching, dissent, demonstration, joy, and even block parties. Connecting the closet mixtape rapper, and basement visual artist to the wider network of Black Liberation throughout the city and eventually the world.
No longer, “We have nowhere to go.”
Now, “We have somewhere to BE!”
MOVE Bombings of 1985
Delbert Orr Africa from imprisonment in 1978, to release in 2020
Flipping the concept of environmental social determinants on its head, by hanging poetry and graphic art throughout the city.