conversations dig deepeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer
On navigating nightlife and festivals as Black People w/ Black History Month Belgium
What strategies can be learned from experiences of racism, negrophobia and other intersectional violence in these spaces? Are safer spaces or non-mixed spaces necessary, possible and feasible? What can Brussels learn from initiatives like PLURI (Peace.Love.Unity.Respect.Initiative) Montreal about inclusiveness and safety on dance floors? How can we eliminate or restructure the security and police functions at parties, concerts and festivals? What are the future prospects for Black and Afro-descendant people in nightlife and post-Soviet #BLM festivals in June 2020?
w/ Aïsha Vertus (Gayance), John Akwete (JeuneClyde/NDUNGU), Rachael Moore (Rainbow Nation Brussels/Shakedown), Célia Lutangu (Wu-Tangu)
The conversation is moderated by Eric Cyuzuzo from Black History Month Brussels and was recorded on 3rd of March 2021.
Aïsha Vertus aka Gayance, also referred to as "the Witch", is based and grew up in Montreal, but has spent summers in Sao Paulo and Salvador, Bahia and lived in Europe (including Brussels). That has shaped her practice as a DJ since 2013, with her sets and online mixes always being a full-blown pleasure cruise around the world. Vertus started off as an indie filmmaker, with documentary projects to share her reality as a polyglot-multicultural Montrealer and make marginalized linguistic Hip Hop communities in Montreal more visible. She's also a writer who the importance of Black Women telling their own stories has led to work for international outlets such as Red Bull Music Academy and The Fader, with an approach on social-cultural matters using music as the vessel: Black Feminism, Race, Linguistic, QTBIPOC Culture, Afro-Latinx Culture (Haitian/Brazilian), Black Electronic Music History, Hip Hop, Music Business and Vinyl Culture.
Rachael Moore is a British born LGBT activist who lives and works in Brussels. With a background in youth empowerment, LGBT rights and advocacy, Rachael is no stranger to dealing with discrimination in both social and professional settings. Previously she worked at the European Parliament and as the director of Rainbowhouse Brussels. Together with Eric Cyuzuzo, she co-founded Rainbow Nation Brussels, an organization that pushes for a different narrative regarding the visibility of QTIBPOC through pushing for diversity, inclusivity and multiculturalism that is not defined by whiteness, with a true ‘Nothing about Us without Us’ stance with regards to how the LGBT community deals with its own issues of racism, transphobia and xenophobia. Rainbow Nation Brussels also provides support group meetings for QTIBPOC and organizes community-building activities for victims of racism. Rachael is also cofounded SHAKEDOWN Bxl which organises cultural events that centralise queer and trans women and femme persons. Additionally, Rachael works as a consultant with regards to intersectionality and anti-racism.
Célia Lutangu (Wu-Tangu) is an event organiser based in Brussels. She's busy in the nightlife and art scene with her two collectives Bledarte and Leaving Living Dakota. She’d organized exhibitions and parties around Europe since 2018, focusing in creating spaces for thinkers, artists and party people, Queer and BPOC.
John Akwete Guigoz Ngange (NDUNGU) is a versatile artist, born in Kinshasa, before immigrating with his family to Liège at the age of 3. Cradled in Congolese music and hip-hop, and then taken by the culture of club music, he debuted behind the decks in 2017. He then created the Lait De Coco collective (LDC Night) alongside LaBoK, later joined by MIMI. Next to his changing DJ career, evolving according to his styles and moods, with aliases ranging from John Clyde, via Jeune Clyde, and today NDUNGU (shoutout to Pauline Ndungu), he’s now continuing his artistic adventure through the co-creation of Versatile VSL, a visual collective where he's a director, artist manager, and artistic and production director.
Eric Cyuzuzo is a sociocultural worker involved in various Brussels-based platforms that seek to foreground the stories of Black People at their intersecting identities. He is also part of the leading team of the Brussels chapter of Black History Month Belgium.
Black History Month Belgium (BHM BE) is an annual celebration, during the month of March, of the Black communities of Belgium, in the present and the past. It is an attempt to transform the way in which we represent the past and the present through conversations, exchange moments, lectures, film, debates, performances and exhibitions. Through a people's history from below (the past told from the perspective of everyday people instead of leaders), BHM BE strives to make history more honest/truthful and inclusive, regardless of our socio-economic, ethnic or cultural backgrounds. The ultimate motivation is to demonstrate the importance of conserving and promoting cultural diversity and the right to culture for everyone in our society. The theme for BHM BE 2021 is Collecting Our Past and Future: Archiving and Documenting the Past, Future and Present of Black People in Belgium.