Without Approval, Applause or Understanding: What Your Vote Means to Me Monday 12 December, 2011

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I’m proud to tell our loyal, encouraging and artsy readers that Live Unchained recently won a fellowship to participate in a media entrepreneurship boot-camp with Unity Journalists of Color in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now begins the second phase of the program, a competition for $10,000 in seed money. We would be eternally grateful for your […]

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I’m proud to tell our loyal, encouraging and artsy readers that Live Unchained recently won a fellowship to participate in a media entrepreneurship boot-camp with Unity Journalists of Color in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now begins the second phase of the program, a competition for $10,000 in seed money. We would be eternally grateful for your vote here: http://unityjournalists.org/newu/newu2011/newu11videos/unaffiliated-video-pitches/. It only takes a second and you don’t even have to sign up for anything. So, let’s show up and shut it down unchained style! :)

The Unity Journalists of Color New U  boot-camp was a great experience. Each participant gave a business pitch and, as you’ll see in the video below, mine ended with what conducting Live Unchained interviews with nearly 90 artists from over 16 countries across Africa and the African Diaspora has meant to me:

It meant so much to hear people say that this part of the pitch (the least “businessy” part of it) resonated with them the most. I don’t take this lesson about freeing yourself from others’ ideas–or what you assume their ideas are without even really knowing sometimes–of your passions lightly. From time to time, I have been insecure as an artist and entrepreneur, but my good and bad experiences with networking, branding, budgeting and organizing pounded the false need for validation, security and stability right out of me.

If you want to live unchained, personally and creatively, in a world that encourages conformity, you have to be comfortable standing out. You also have to be grounded enough to not be disturbed by being misunderstood, unheard or stolen from. And, of course, there’s the real work of paying your dues, putting in the time and energy to build your creative dream. For Live Unchained, the truth is, we didn’t start this project with a lot of connections, internet savvy or money; we started with the bare minimum of each. We managed nearly 90 interviews because many more artists never responded to our request. (Also, I spend hours trying to get each post just right so that our interviewees know we don’t take their participation for granted–I used to get like “The Hulk” whenever I found a typo here.) I learned everything I now know about the importance of social media from time and energy draining research after many technology mishaps. And, as far as sustaining Live Unchained financially, I’m still funding as much as I can out of pocket while living on a student budget–eating cheap rice and canned beans most days (seriously). The point is, if we let any of this stop us, we wouldn’t be living unchained.

We are completely committed to the vision of Live Unchained as a non-profit organization, which is why we’re still going forward. Our dedication is also why winning this grant would mean so much, it represents all we ever needed: a chance. I know how much it inspires me to see black women telling their own stories in ways that common language could never capture, those that challenge cliché depictions of us in the media or our under-representation in the artworld (both of which have become way too palatable for mass consumption). Women artists, their fans and communities, need an initiative that encourages them to connect, create and Live Unchained; it would mean the world to us if you could help us create that. Growth starts one step at a time, with our first event, a revised site and non-profit incorporation–your vote can help us get the funding to do all that and more. So, please visit http://unityjournalists.org/newu/newu2011/newu11videos/unaffiliated-video-pitches/
and help help Live Unchained rise.

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