For Charleena: Amplifying Black Womxn’s Voices

In June 2017, Seattle’s Charleena Lyles’ life was taken by the Seattle Police Department. Almost one year later, we are coming together to honor her memory, and speak back to injustice through art, performance, and word.

For Charleena: Amplifying Black Womxn’s Voice is a collaboration between DNDA’s Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and visual artist
Wynn Adele, whose inspired artwork, For Charleena, is now on display at Youngstown.

For Charleena is a two-part event designed to center and uplift the voices of Black Womxn artists and Mothers of Color. Friday, June 1st, featured musical and dance performance by community builder and activist Stephany Hazelrigg + special guest, powerful storytelling through musical monologue by ChrisTiana ObeySumner, poetry by 3-time Youth Speaks Grand Slam Champion Carlynn Newhouse and brand new Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, Azura Tyabji; live painting by muralist Aramis Hamer, Kaye Moynihan of Ladies Paint Night, and Mujale Chisebuka of OutsideThinc, and other expressions, including a DJ set by Allison Masangkay a.k.a.DJ Phenohype.

We were honored to have Charleena Lyles’ children, aunt and sister, and other family members at the event. The impact of their presence combined with the community support of the family produced a transformative atmostphere that is difficult to describe. The altar we built collaboratively that night undoubtedly holds much of what wanted to be expressed – whether through tears or silence – and provided a place for intentions to be affirmed and amplified.

Feedback from various guests at the event included “thank you so much for doing this”, “this is amazing!”, and “we needed this”.

Please check out the photo gallery here.

From Erika Bell:
I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to make space for the very sacred purposes of honoring Charleena’s memory and community healing. Since this terrible tragedy, I had longed to connect with the Lyles children, and let them know the community felt their pain, and was now their family. DNDA provided space to make this possible. Artists of various disciplines, activists, and neighbors came together to grieve, to resist, to release, and to engage through art, through story, intention-setting, music and movement – and through tears and some smiles. Using all we had to express, we spoke to power and injustice, we spoke encouragement to each other, and strength to our own hearts. It was a powerful evening. I’m so thankful for Wynn bringing her art to Youngstown, and the shared passion that gave birth to the beautiful collaboration that is #ForCharleena. We hope you’ll join us for the Part II – wellness workshops – Saturday, June 9.

From Wynn Adele:
#ForCharleena Part I was such a gift. I never expected that creating this art piece last summer would lead to a night in which I would be privileged to meet Charleena’s children and family in a space of love, support, and healing, to watch wise young bbs dance and fill the room with their joy, and witness soooo much creative power from all the womxn who performed.

I know that as a white person, Charleena’s death is a tragedy I must be accountable for, because the systems that allowed it to happen benefit me every day; I know that the pain her absence — and the absence of all the Black mothers whose lives have been taken by police brutality and white supremacy– leaves behind is a pain I can never fully understand, but must treat with the deepest respect, as I move forward in this life. I thank her family so much for building this space with us and sharing her memory. I am blessed to collaborate with Erika Bell and Youngstown Cultural Arts Center on this project.

To those who joined us last Friday, thank you for making it the healing, edifying experience it was. More photos

RSVP for Saturday’s wellness workshops, and spread the word!

Saturday, June 9th at Youngstown:
2:00-3:00 Decolonizing My Diagnosis with ChrisTiana ObeySumner
3:15-4:15 Poetry Workshop with Carlynn Newhouse
4:45-5:45 MixxedFit with Randy Ford
6:00-7:00 Sonic Healing with Jennifer Moore

Suggested donation of $10. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. A portion of artists’ and vendors’ proceeds will be gifted to the Lyles family, and donations to Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association will help offset costs of event and space at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Parking & Accessibility Info can be found here.

All are welcome!

In community,
Erika + Wynn