by Marie Antoine, KDC's Public Voice & Kriyol Dance! Collective
During the 2019 grant year, we sought to implement for the first time “Kriyol Vodou Band: Making Music, Keeping Tradition.” An extension of the work that we completed during our first grant season with CCNYC in 2018, this project served as an opportunity for us to tell the stories of the musicians who are critical in the preservation of Haitian cultural traditions in our neighborhood.
The project featured a series of events focused on highlighting Haitian music and discussing the Haitian immigrant experience. Programming included two intimate garden talks about local Haitian musicians' lives, various dance and music workshops which emphasized traditional and contemporary Haitian rhythms, and two public outdoor performances of differing scale.
To implement this project, we sought to engage local community partners, who while based in communities with large Haitian populations, have trouble fostering exchange with Haitian community members. We worked primarily with Q Gardens, a volunteer-run garden in Flatbush, Parkside Plaza, a volunteer-based group in Flatbush, and Weeksville Heritage Center, in Crown Heights.
This project highlighted the capacity of the Haitian immigrant population in Flatbush, Brooklyn to teach and tell stories about their own neighborhood with other people who share the same space. We were able to share about Haitian culture - dance and music - while also discussing our own particular perspective of the changes in our community over the years. Supplementing this project with previous work that we completed with StoryCorps further helped is expand on ideas of rootedness in place and community by sharing recordings that document the history and legacy of Haitian communities of Flatbush and East Flatbush.
Sak Rete Ou? (What's Stopping You? in Haitian Creole), holds space for reflections, meditations, poetry, video blogs, and capacity to captivate readers through creative writing. To the question, sak rete ou?, we respond "Nou Se Kriyol!" (We are the Children! in Haitian Creole), implying and calling on the strength, kindness, and revolution of our Haitian ancestors to move forward!