In Full Color is a Visit.org partner organization that empowers women of color and other BIPOC of marginalized genders through education and the arts. They give these creators the opportunity to share their stories in their own voices, no matter their chosen art form — theater, dance, music and even comedy! Under the belief that having avenues to express oneself genuinely creates Authentic Representation and fosters empathy among people of all genders and colors, In Full Color educates audiences about diversity, equity, inclusion and justice by creating empathy through our art. With this, they are also able to create social change.
To extend our observation of Black History Month, while also celebrating Women’s Month, we spoke to the organization’s founder, Summer Dawn Reyes, about how In Full Color works towards justice for the Black community, especially women and other marginalized genders.
Why and how does your organization support the Black community in 2021?
While we serve artists of diverse backgrounds, nearly half of our 200+ artists is Black, including African-American, African, Afro-Latinxes, biracial folx and others from the African diaspora. We’ve created almost $5,000 in paid opportunities for Black artists in the past year alone, and over $12,000 since our inception in 2015. We also raised over $2,000 for Black causes including Black Lives Matter, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, the NAACP chapter for our hometown Jersey City, N.J., and a local high school’s Black Diaspora Club which organized the largest BLM rally in JC. We always center and prioritize our Black artists and their voices — during February and beyond!
How has your org been observing Black History Month this year?
By telling Black stories! We’re collaborating with a few long-time local partners including the Hoboken Public Library for our third annual Black History Month show. We’re featuring troupe newcomers Jackie Santos and Suzen Baraka, who are Afro-Latinx and Blasian (biracial Black and Asian), making our showcase extra diverse and elevating marginalized sub-groups in the Black community. Additionally, we had poetry and music by Tantra-zawadi, an alumna of our annual theatrical showcase In Full Color.
We’ve also been working to further elevate other marginalized sub-groups such as the LGBTQ+ and Disabled communities. For example, we’re highlighting William Ervin, a gay Afro-Latinx dancer, for one of our Black History Month programs with New Jersey City University planned this year.
Moreover, we highlighted alumni of our programming and projects throughout the year, with our Alum of the Moment for February being Hiyasmine Yaz Gaskins, a Black non-binary visual artist who has been featured in some of our publications. Their gorgeous portraits of Angela Davis and Kara Walker are part of our “Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines” coloring book featuring phenomenal women of color (there’s an enamel pin inspired by their Angela, too!) and their most recent work for us can be seen in our wellness journal, “how to destroy the patriarchy in seven days.”
How can the public get involved with your work to uplift Black people of marginalized genders? How can corporations make an impact in particular?
As for corporations, they can definitely make tax-deductible donations to In Full Color to help create more paid work for Black artists and other marginalized folx. Or, they can spend some time with our artists by booking a Visit.org experience! Our top offering is “Talk, Feel, Grow” in which your team gets to watch three of our artists perform theater, poetry, music or even dance — followed by a brief talkback and a team building activity. Partners share how they’re feeling that day, then create artistic expressions (little songs, short poems, doodles or word clouds) inspired by each other’s experiences. It’s an exercise in empathy that brings everyone a little closer together.
We’ve also been uplifting LGBTQ+ artists through our program “in our words,” in which queer folx perform in an equally wide range of art forms then answer your burning questions about their artistry and the powerful issues addressed in their work. This is a great way to increase awareness about different genders and sexualities as well as come to a more nuanced understanding about the queer experience overall.
(Note: Anyone who wants to book an experience that specifically uplifts Black artists only need ask! Otherwise, we aim to curate each experience to have the most diverse lineups possible.)
In addition to being involved with your organization, what are some other ways people can support the Black community this year?
1. Patronize Black art. Read books by Black authors, watch movies by Black directors. If you can buy from independent artists and writers, even better. This will not only help creators economically, it will also help you grow in your intimate understanding of Black cultures and the Black experience.
2. Support Black businesses. Small businesses need our help more than ever during COVID-19, and Black folx are disproportionately impacted by these economic difficulties. Try to patronize at least one Black business a week. If you’re having a hard time finding local Black-owned businesses, try to at least patronize a place where many Black folx work. For example, hit up a restaurant with Black servers and tip extra well! You can also always find more options on the Internet if your hometown doesn’t have a lot of Black-owned options.
3. Donate to Black-focused organizations. While obviously we love when people donate to us, we’re also equally delighted when people donate to other groups that do good. Find a charity that aligns with your interests and that serves the Black community — perhaps you are passionate about ending food insecurity, uplifting elderly LGBT folx or empowering femmes to pursue STEM. If you can name it, there is a Black-focused org that does it!
For help facilitating a corporate event that benefits In Full Color and its mission to amplify the voices of artists from diverse backgrounds, please contact Visit.org at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of In Full Color