During our recent podcast, The Diversity Intersection, Dawn and Ed sat down with Jo-Jo Jones, CEO and Founder of BLAC. BLAC – a platform curating Black artists’ work, exploring intentional storytelling through multimedia, and inspiring self-empowerment. Take a look at Jo-Jo’s blog which includes an invite to an upcoming exhibit in connection with Mesa College.
The concept of a liberated art collective came to fruition after living in the absence of it. During my short time in San Diego, I noticed that to find or rediscover a sense of self, you must venture to other cities or find little gems of the community who submerge themselves around like-minded people. Those people I’ve encountered, in my opinion, have a deeper-rooted sense of self.
Since moving to San Diego, I adopted a mindset of imposter syndrome. I believe that came about because most of my experiences were submerged in whiteness. Trying to stay connected to my Blackness and making myself palatable to white people caused this spiraling effect that I can only imagine so many other Black people endure in cities or metro areas that are homogeneously white.
With that analysis, I saw what needs improvement in a city that was built to create division—places for Black people to show themselves authentically and flourish in awareness and creativity. Art can be a gateway to change and growth. It can facilitate discussions and world views beyond general perceptions. The depth of art, from a painting to a performance, can push people to see themselves in a new light from another perspective. It can express feelings that we may struggle to communicate through words. Art may also facilitate connections within and between communities, representing seeing and being seen.
Like so many natives from this city, there is hope that we can unite and establish a sense of community. There are growth opportunities, and BLAC, founded in this city, pushes to foster that connection. With our first gallery show, in collaboration with Mesa College and their upcoming exhibition Africa in Context: Mesa College World Art Permanent Collection, curated by Dr. Denise Rogers, we are looking to refresh the cultural experiences in San Diego.
The link to our Eventbrite for the exhibition in February