Learn to build a world where everyone belongs. Take free classes at OBI University.   Start Now

Members of the Alphabet Rockers pose in this photo.
Photo: Alphabet Rockers by Nino Fernandez

The Othering & Belonging Institute is thrilled to award the 2021 artist-in-residence to Alphabet Rockers, an intergenerational group of artists dedicated to creating anti-racist and abolitionist music and experiences for children and families. Amidst the many challenges of our times, Alphabet Rockers stood out for the panelists for the powerful way they create the joyful and reflexive work we need right now. Over the course of the coming year, the group will make their collaborative online learning process visible in pursuit of a new album. The work will test and showcase new ways to learn and build community in the context of social distancing and commitment to social change. You can get involved with their monthly online dance party Rock the Block

As the group shares, “Right now, as our people face increasing oppression and threats to our human rights, we dig in and build what is possible. The Belonging artist-in-residence award will amplify community voices as we build bridges and connect knowledge from thinkers, activists, children and parents towards the future we want to show up in.”

Out of nearly 150 applications, we had two other short-listed applicants. We encourage you to dig into and follow their powerful work:

Loom - An artist duo focused on reimagining and unraveling the materials and symbols of nationalism.  

What Would an HIV Doula Do? - A collective who came together focused on the ongoing AIDS crisis and have focused on intimacy, transition and memory in the Covid pandemic.

We are also entirely grateful to our panelists who brought joy, care and rigor to the selection process. We encourage you to follow their work as artists, folklorists and scholars.  

Dr. Gina Athena Ulysse is a feminist interdisciplinary artist-scholar committed to ethnographic research methods to consider historical and contemporary Black diasporic conditions. With her creative practice of rasanblaj (gathering of ideas, things, people and spirits), she uses a multitude of forms to explore borders and spaces, unmasking our fierce urgency to identify, name, and reckon with the power and vulnerability in unprocessed horrors of colonialism and empire.  Her ultimate aim is confront and engage the visceral embedded in the structural. A prolific writer and poet, her writing has been published in Feminist Studies, Journal of Haitian Studies, Gastronomica, Souls, Third Text and Transition and others. Her last book, Because When God is Too Busy: Haiti, me & THEWORLD (2017)--a collection of poetry, performance texts, and photographs was long-listed for a PEN Open Book Award in 2017 and won the Center for the Book Award in Poetry in 2018. In addition to colleges and universities internationally, she has been invited to perform her work at the British Museum, Gorki Theatre, MoMA Salon, Pioneerworks among other venues. For 19 years, she taught African-American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University (CT).  In 2020, she joined UCSC as Professor of Feminist Studies to further develop her art practice. 

Leigh Raiford is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she teaches and researches about race, gender, justice and visuality. She also serves as affiliate faculty in the Program in American Studies, and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Raiford is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 2011), which was a finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Best Book Prize.  She is co-editor with Heike Raphael-Hernandez of Migrating the Black Body: Visual Culture and the African Diaspora (University of Washington Press, 2017) and with Renee Romano of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2006). Raiford has written essays about the work of a number of contemporary Black artists, including Lava Thomas, Mildred Howard, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Dawoud Bey. In 2019, she co-curated the group shows Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles (with Essence Harden) and About Things Loved: Blackness and Belonging at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive.

Selina Morales is a public folklorist who consults nationally on projects at the intersection of community aesthetics and social justice. From 2010-2019 Selina worked with the Philadelphia Folklore Project, for the last 5 years as the Director. She is a faculty member in the Masters of Cultural Sustainability program at Goucher College, and sits on the Advisory Council to the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In 2017, Selina was honored as one of the Delaware Valley’s 50 Most Influential Latinos. She is currently working with Southwest Folklife Alliance on the national Radical Imagination for Racial Justice initiative, coaching community-based researchers to document and interpret racial justice projects in their own ALAANA communities.

Click for the archived application page.