Racism, Covenants, and Dreams Deferred Weekend Festival of long Table conversations and installations

21st Century Arts Inc. is presenting a weekend festival, titled Racism, Covenants & Dreams Deferred (RCDD), beginning Friday, July 9, through Sunday, July 11. Presented in conjunction with Ganondagan, Memorial Art Gallery (MAG), Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC), and activist Pamela Kim, the RCDD festival celebrates and centers the voices of Black, Indigenous, Immigrant, and Refugee voices.

This community-wide festival will be centered around art installations and Long Table Conversations which interrogate systemic racism, erasure, hypersegregation, and other impacts and manifestations of white supremacy– all from the perspectives of local Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. The festival is free and open to the public, and will be streamed in real time on Facebook. Advanced registration is encouraged, but not required.

“At a time when powerful forces are attempting to further disenfranchise BIPOC voters, whitewash history, and reframe an attempted coup as something more benign, even patriotic – we must act on behalf of truth and social justice. For ourselves, our ancestors, and future generations,” says Rachel DeGuzman, Executive Director of 21st Century Arts Inc., “It is especially important to provide safe platforms for BIPOC people in our community to speak out. Forums where their voices and perspectives are centered. And it will be so much more powerful to present these distinct Long Tables as parts of an integrated, progressive event – in collaboration with cultural partners and the community.”

This progressive weekend of events includes:

● The African American Long Table on July 9 (5-8:30 pm): Installed at the MAG Centennial Sculpture Park, on the corner of University Avenue and Goodman Street in Rochester. It will be held indoors in case of rain. Click here to register.

● The Indigenous Long Table on July 10 (2-5:30 pm): Installed at the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan, located at 7000 Co Rd. 41, Victor, NY. Click here to register.

● The Immigrant, Refugee, Migrant Long Table on July 11, presented in collaboration with Pamela Kim (2-5:30 pm): Installed on the lawn at RMSC (between the Eisenhart Auditorium and Cunningham House), located at 657 East Avenue, Rochester, NY. Click here to register.

All 3 RCDD Long Table conversations will be provoked by art and will include a group activity aimed at community building.

“When approached by Rachel DeGuzman to join as a collaborator for conversations surrounding the theme of Racism, Covenants, and Dreams Deferred, it seemed to be an important discussion to have at this time,” says Jeanette Jemison, program director of Friends of Ganondagan, (Mohawk). “The Indigenous Long table discussion will provide an opportunity for audience members to listen and learn about life experiences from local Haudenosaunee and Indigenous people who have, at times, had to maneuver their way through a variety of situations and relationships in their lives. The cumulative effects of these experiences can shape how people see themselves and can have an impact on their lives.”

Kathryn Murano Santos, Senior Director of Collections & Exhibitions at RMSC, said the RMSC Museum was eager to join the RCDD festival as a host venue.

“The RMSC is a great community resource for exploration, discovery, and informal learning. And we can also use our unique position in the community as a platform for other organizations to share their work,” said Murano Santos. “Giving the entire community a voice at the RMSC was one of the many goals of our past exhibition, The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World. Taking part in this event is just one of many ways we hope to continue to support and uplift the diverse voices and experiences of people in our community.”

Additional Programming Information

● The African American Long Table begins with a soundscape/audio play of “Stay in Your Own Back Yard,” a self-proclaimed “Pikanniny” song, which was first recorded in the beginning of the 20th Century with many new versions recorded until the late 1960s. The soundscape is followed by a recitation of “What to the Slave is the 4th of July? “- by actor David Shakes, and then Intergroup Monopoly: A Lesson of the Enduring Effects of Inequality” – created by Richard Harvey (Saint Louis University). This game is played on a regular Monopoly board, with alternate rules.

● The Indigenous Long Table begins with a soundscape of Lauren Jimerson (Seneca) which was created as “part of the ‘Warp & Weft,’ a multilingual audio archive of stories about 2020 - curated by interdisciplinary artist Mara Ahmed.” The soundscape is followed by “Intergroup Monopoly: A Lesson of the Enduring Effects of Inequality” – created by Richard Harvey (Saint Louis University). This game is played on a regular Monopoly board, with alternate rules.

● The Immigrant/Refugee/Migrant Long Table begins with the recitation of Warsan Shire’s poem “Home” by Najma Mohamed, followed by group artmaking led by artist Tania Day-Magallon. The artmaking is inspired by ancient cave paintings made by women at a time before there were geographical borders such as there are in today’s world.

What is a Long Table conversation?

The Long Table conversation is a performative device that was conceived of by artist and activist Lois Weaver in the early 2000s - inspired by the film “Antonia’s Line” and the desire to host public conversations on difficult subjects. It is an experimental public forum that is all at once a performance, installation, roundtable, discussion, and dinner party designed to facilitate an open dialogue through a gathering of people with similar interests.

In 2017, Rachel DeGuzman, founder/executive director of 21st Century Arts Inc., adapted Weaver’s concept and curates her Long Table to use art/cultural provocations in order to explore issues of intersectional racism and center the creativity, voices, and issues important to marginalized people - especially Black women. She has presented 53 Long Tables since the first – “And, Ain’t I A Woman” in December 2017.

Building on more than 7 years of programming as 21st Century Arts, 21st Century Arts Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Launched in July 2020, it is a producer, presenter, and convenor that centers BIPOC culture and fosters equity and racial justice in the arts sector. 21st Century Arts Inc. is based in and produces work at its multi-faceted arts space, The Black House, which is located in Rochester, NY.


From And, Ain't I a Woman: Long Table Conversation and Installation - December 2017