On June 21, 2014 Candice “Antique” Wicks facilitated a performance workshop at The Red Poppy Art House on recognizing and channeling relational privilege.
Candice “Antique” Wicks is an “edutator,” one who blends education with entertainment. Last week, Wicks led a room of workshop attendees into an exploration of how the “text of our lives” shapes our relationships. According to discoveries by neurophysicist Dr. Giacomo Rizzolatti and scientist Dr. Laila Craighero, the chemicals in one’s brain are activated when one observes an action, not just when one performs an action. Thus, Wicks aims to enact learning through both activation of one’s neural network and activation by observance.
Wicks began the workshop by encouraging proactivity. She asked attendees to partner and respond to questions such as “Are you a hammer or a nail?” and “Are you a song or a dance?” Then she projected a visual presentation showing how race, class and gender influence one’s relationship with others. Different positions of privilege exist, Wicks explained, and one can be in sects of privilege while also being in sects of oppression. For example, a black man is historically oppressed for his race and traditionally privileged for his gender Wicks believes in leveraging the opportunities and privilege that one has available. From a global perspective, there is privilege in every American situation.
Wicks entertained the workshop attendees with a childhood story of a teacher standing up for young Wicks after another student called her a racial slur. The teacher organized a meeting between the two families as an act of “interruption.” Wicks explained that instances of interruption and instances of confirmation throughout a person’s life can either perpetuate or call into question one’s beliefs and self-identity.
Participants then divided into small groups to discuss instances in their own lives when their core beliefs, and thus identity, were interrupted with proactive behavior. Answers varied, from enrolling in school and graduating on the Dean’s list after years of thinking one was “too stupid for college” to confronting a sense of fear and diffidence by boldly cutting off one’s long hair.
Wicks advocates for the power of art to interrupt. As a live example of her own art form, Wicks recorded a series of vocal beats with the help of a looping machine. On top of the beats, she sang an arrangement of Syl Johnson’s “Because I’m Black.”
The finale of the workshop called for creative responses to the question, “How will I use my art/practice to be an interrupter?” Answers took their form in songs, improvisational movement, rap, poetry and a sign, mimicking those that keep our streets in order, that read: “Infuse life with beauty.”
–Aleksandra Bril, Red Poppy Art House Writer