Allied Media Projects’ (AMP) Bloom Speaker Series is a four-part virtual event making space for re-emergence and growing possibility. The series kicks off April 29 at 5pm ET and runs through June 10. and will feature artists discussions, a film screening and more. AMP is a Detroit based network that creates media for liberation and spans to foster artistic collaboration across the globe. Colorlines spoke exclusively with Bloom Speakers Series co-organizers, Nandi Comer and Brenda Hernandez about the upcoming events, and their shared hope that the Series will reignite curiosity, a sense of wonder and hope across communities.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What can viewers and participants expect from each of the four virtual events?
Brenda Hernandez: It’s important to have these spaces…celebrate those that are doing the work to make the world we want. AMP recognizes that powerful movements are led by youth, so our opening event, Youth Power, will allow attendees to hear from Afrofuture Youth and Yollocalli Arts Reach, which both bolster youth leadership, provide agency, and the space to heal and explore. Youth Power seeks to showcase young people who are standing up and creating pathways for change.
Our second event, Undocumented and Unafraid, will nurture space for communities that aren’t always necessarily a part of the conversation when it comes to issues of immigration. Participants will hear from UndocBlack Network, a multi-generational network of currently and formerly incarcerated Black people and Familia:TQLM, who work to achieve and build trans and queer Latinx power. Undocumented and Unafraid will narrate how despite continued persecution, people are still thriving and forging a path for their lives in the country.
Nandi Comer: During the Ancestral Ceremonies virtual event, viewers will get a sneak peek of Oakland-based Lead to Life’s new ritual film “between starshine and clay” that showcases the practice of decomposing violence across distance. Viewers will also be guided through a meditation practice.
Our final virtual event of the series, Deep Work, explores the culmination of a 10 year collaboration between artist Sterling Toles and Detroit rapper Boldy James in the creation of an album “Manger on McNichols”. When we say “really deep work” we mean that in terms of thinking about your working community, your work as an artist, your work as a representative and an actor within your community. Viewers will get to learn about Toles and James’ personal transformation as individuals that bloomed as a result of this artistic collaboration.
What does collective healing and liberation look like for Black futures and beyond?
Comer: Liberation looks like Black people being able to fully express themselves, have our joys, struggles, and the ability to produce art without fear of being punished, slighted or killed in the street. AMP practices the belief that everyone must be able to show up in their full selves and humanity. Black freedom is really just the right for Black people to just be who they are — uncompromising and unapologetic.
Hernandez: Collective freedom liberates us from the burden of representation and acknowledges the full complexities and intersections of our movements and cultures.
How did you come up with the name “Bloom” and select who would be a part of the series?
Comer: Bloom is literally a physical change, an opening up and welcoming of new vibrance, so the name came naturally to us. In selecting the artists, it involved exploring this seasonal idea of seeing the fruits of our labor. This is the second series of the season. The first season grew from AMP’s community asking for events that would help them through the chaos in the midst of the pandemic. Once AMP decided it would continue the programming, there was a shift that allowed them to turn to their robust network of leaders, artists and movement makers. From there, they selected a few people and organizations based upon the conversations and topics that have been surfacing within the AMP community.
The Bloom Series is rooted in the reflection of history, ancestry, and relationships — how can we use those as tools for liberation?
Hernandez: Liberation is an ongoing process…that can be personal or systemic but it’s all transformative. Acknowledging history, ancestry and building relationships that make space for growth and healing is crucial to the sustainability of the AMP network. The Bloom series is maintaining a space of connection amidst white supremacy, which is an act of rebellion.
Comer: These [history, ancestry, and relationships] are the tools that our community repeatedly gains access to in strengthening and reaffirming our connectedness.
What do you hope participants will gain from attending the Bloom Series?
Comer: I hope that people leave with this sense of magic AMP is known for.
Hernandez: I hope participants leave feeling refreshed, full of joy and have a call to action.
Visit https://alliedmedia.org/bloom for the full schedule of the 2021 Bloom Speakers Series events.
Iris M. Crawford is an environmental and climate justice journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her second love is arts and culture. Follow her on Twitter @IrisMCrawford