Friday, October 16, 2015

Phoenix Rising - Five Years In Atlanta - Failing Forward, Revelations, Lessons Learned

Trigger warning: Sexual Assault

ATL is poppin' y'all!  Yes indeed.  I went to the Organized Noize exhibition at Gallery 72 last night, part of Elevate 2015 - Forever I Love Atlanta curated by Atlanta's own Fahamu Pecou. The gallery was packed with members of Dungeon Family, affiliates, and fans.  The retrospective of the music collective's history kicks off this year's festivities followed by a block party tonight. Yee!

Five years ago last week, I moved back to Atlanta from LA.  The city was foreign to me with new construction, businesses, restaurants, night-life, and so much more.  In truth, I wasn't excited to be back at all. 

Out of the six galleries that represented me nationally, three went out of business and two still owe me money.  Yes, I'd fallen on my face pretty hard. But I was excited to reconnect with the art community that I so dearly loved, with old friends from college, and exploring this "new" city while revisiting Southern roots.  After all, I am an authentic "Southern Asian" raised in the Deep South.

Boy was I in for more than a few surprises.  The community that I left, was certainly not the same community that I returned home to.  Valuing kindness and sincerity, having others' best interest in mind is how I live my life. 

I didn't understand why folks I had such wonderful memories with would be so snarky to me.  I cared about them.  I missed them while I was away in California.  Did I do something that I ought to apologize for? I couldn't think of anything.  Did I offend them somehow? Not that I know of.

Someone once told me, "Bunny, as you grow your career it's not that you will change, but the people around you that will change." So true.  They did.  They hated me. Well, the ones that turned into jealous, envious, unrecognizable haters certainly changed.  

I didn't know who they were anymore. Certainly not the people I had such wonderful memories with.  What was clear, was that they no longer had good intentions for me. So I responded accordingly by hopping away permanently.    

Doing this cleared my life of negativity and fake people, which allowed room for more like-minded people. I was able to focus more on the long-term friendships that are meaningful to me, after having clarity of which friendships to invest in.  

So much has happened.  A lot of good stuff, a lot of bad stuff. Then a lot more bad stuff that I've turned into good stuff.  Life is really about how to turn doo doo into gold right BunBuns?! I've been consistently active with my art, for the most part really operating with "no box". Feeling truly unlimited with the possibilities.  

It took two years to come full circle after I was sexually assaulted.  To heal from the immediate trauma of the incident itself, and be able to digest that some of the closest people I confided in blamed me. It took six weeks before I was able to say the word "rape".  Before that I was afraid to leave the house to even walk my dog, Bebe.  I remember being curled up in fetal position in my bed, unable to move for weeks. Just completely catatonic.  Freaked out whether my rapist had given me HIV, I had to wait three months before the tests would give a 99% accurate reading.  I was pro-active about my healing, including getting professional counseling and medication. I'm no longer in counseling nor taking medication, but considering group therapy as part of my continuous healing.   

Every time I speak on this, I'm encouraging a survivor to also speak, to be one step closer to liberating herself / himself.  I have absolutely NO SHAME in sharing this. As a society, we can't afford to make the subject of rape taboo. The act itself is what's taboo; furthermore our ignorance and reluctance to rectify the problem with efficient solutions is what's really unacceptably taboo.  

I choose to be inspired by what happened to me.  Yah, I went through some serious adversities, but I flexed my mental toughness muscles and strengthened them.  Without it, the YeeQuality Movement wouldn't have come together.  Now I'm compelled to find a viable solution through the help of community to bring justice to survivors of acquaintance rape. Of course I'm scared but the regret that I'll have when I'm old, laying on my deathbed will be much greater than the fear I feel now if I don't take action. 

"Art" can be anything.  Art inspires people, evokes, impacts, stimulates, can serve as a muse for innovation, or be a source of comfort and healing. Why does it have to be 2D, 3D, video, film, or some other solid medium?  Could art not be an impactful social movement lead by creatives that fulfills a dire social need? This activism IS the artistic process. In finding a solution, the art is completed.  Until then, it's process.  

I LOVE TO FAIL.  Right now my mind is limitless, so I'm willing to try things for the sake of it just to see what the end result will be.  Trying is winning.  The end result is an answer to the exploration, not necessarily failure (even if the results are disappointing). 

I look forward to "failing" as long as I implement well thought out plans.  Because I'm after that end result. The end result is the data I need to make my next moves.  Not gonna lie, I failed a lot this year. I made a bunch of moves that didn't yield the results I wanted. But I have all this data to work with, so I know exactly what I need to do to keep it moving.

Everything I need to do, is right here in ATL or accessible from ATL. Our city is beautiful, robust, and booming. Now that I've let go of unhealthy influences and relationships, I give myself permission to let go and surrender. 

I love you ATL, and can't wait to see what we do together...   

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