The Fight Against Gentrification: Qilombo Art Showcase & Gallery

The first thing you need to know is that Qilombo is having its FIRST of MANY Art Showcase & Gallery nights. Our first event is March 4th at 7pm, right around the time when you are winding down (or up) from First Fridays. There will be hella dope art and music, food and beverages, as well as performances. But to add a bit of context…

The question right now should be: “What is a Black Arts District without Black people?”

Last November, Qilombo Community Center of the Afrikatown and McClymonds district hosted it’s first Anti-Gentrification Block Party. The event celebrated the importance of communities standing together in solidarity against gentrification and announced that Qilombo won their fight against their own eviction. Qilombo received a lot of attention for being able to successfully fight to stay in their location— from their neighbors, from the larger Afrikan/Black communities, from dedicated local radicals…and also from the City of Oakland.

Qilombo was paid a visit from a representative from the Planning and Building Department of Oakland. She laid out their thick pamphlet of what Oakland will look like over the course of five to ten years— the much needed bike paths, turning a highway into a lane to increase business, the investors who will build high-rises of new businesses. There was even a Black Arts District. Our volunteers agreed that Oakland needed development, but the kind of economic development that would not displace low-income residents in the process.

And what of this Black Arts District the city is designating if it would be more of a museum to the past? AGAIN THE QUESTION SHOULD BE: “How can you have a Black Arts District without Black people?” These plans are designed around investors and developers and are trying to plug in social justice out of the concerns of Oakland residents rather being designed around human lives. The representative didn’t have any answers to Qilombo’s questions. Rather, she told them to take a seat at upcoming meetings “without any promises” that any of the suggestions from Qilombo and it’s community can be considered due to the City of Oakland’s current development plans.

Instead of attending those meetings, Qilombo decided it’s time to have another war-cry against gentrification. It’s time to make our own Black Renaissance and Black Arts District, one that Afrikans can be able to fight to stay in Oakland to enjoy what we have created.

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Submit your art of any expression (from paintings and sculpture to spoken word and performances). We do not want to put restrictions on your creativity. First place winners will win cash prizes! Afrikatown is dedicated towards making spaces that can economically sustain the most vibrant parts of our community— like the arts! So here’s to making our new Black Renaissance and POC arts thriving.

Guidelines: See the flyer for more information!

1. Artists should submit a high quality image or video of their artwork to info@qilombo.org and include the artists’ name, an art title, and the name of the contest theme they are submitting for. Submission deadline is February 25th at midnight!
2. One must pay a $15-20 entry fee by the deadline via the Qilombo Paypal (finance@qilombo.org) which can also be found at our Qilombo Donate Page (qilombo.org/donate). If you are submitting more than one entry, please pay $20! Entry money will be used for the monetary contest prizes! Waivers may be given to those in true need.
3. Use the contest themes below!! :

• “Colonialism” or “Gentrification”
• “Ceremony” or “Generational Knowledge”
• “Liberate the Land” or “Black & Indigenous solidarity”
• “Resiliency” or “Community Power”
• “Decolonization” or “Resistance”
• “Afrofuturism” or “Indigenizing”

If you are not an artist submitting, please show up on March 4th to support our creative communities! We are putting extra emphasis on those of us whose voices are marginalized and silenced. For those who cannot make it, donate to Qilombo with a note: “for the art showcase” to increase contest prizes. We want to be able to support winning artists with rent or with buying art materials (such as a new camera or canvas set)!

Feel free to contact us at info@qilombo.org with further inquiries!