Using The Power Of Art To Create Empathy And Change
Caleb Rainey is a poet, spoken word artist, educator and activist.
He has published two collections of poetry, “Look, Black Boy” and “Heart Notes." He writes and performs as “The Negro Artist” and is the founder and program director for IC Speaks – a high school spoken word program in Iowa City. This untitled poem was one of the first he was able to create after mourning the death of George Floyd.
This poem is a violent protest.
A raging riot set fire to your precincts
Your Klan sanctuaries steal every piece of life from Target so that our deaths will be decked out in the décor of what’s always been on our back.
Didn’t we always own Target? Were we always rushed to death? Isn’t that an oxymoron like being Black in America? Like this poem? Like expecting what you deserve from people who benefit from your death
I will not play peace if you play war
Which means these words will press its knee down on your perspective
So that your bigotry cannot breathe. It will choke out every bit of privilege until you are calling out for your mama and I will watch the ignorance fade from your eyes because
Because I refuse to write another obituary
I have run out of words for grief there is only room for anger now
It is the only thing that stops the crying
The backbone holding me upright when the world wants me face down on the ground I’d rather die than live this way
So if I must die
Let me die fighting
Teresa Zilk has been giving Iowans an opportunity to share their stories through "Stories to Tell my Daughter," a storytelling series featuring Black women. Zilk is also working for COVID Recovery Iowa – an organization providing free mental health support for Iowans affected by the pandemic.
"I thought storytelling was important. I do it as a particularly powerful and cathartic way to allow, or facilitate some kind of healing."
MarKaus is creating powerful art through hip-hop, but he’s also an entrepreneur with his own whiskey brand. Markaus creates opportunities for other artists in Central Iowa and he’s added political organizing to his already full schedule. His “Black America Forum” is coming up November 1st featuring Republican and Democratic candidates.
This was "Iowa Week 2020: Listening to Black Voices." All week long we heard stories, voices and ideas from Black Iowans.
- Caleb Rainey, poet, spoken word artist
- Teresa Zilk, creator of Stories to Tell my Daughter
- MarKaus, rapper, entrepreneur, Des Moines