Arts Festival Fetes Black Women’s Artistic Expression

Prince George’s County

by: Kristin Gray Special to the AFRO
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The multidimensional facets of Black womanhood and the artistic mediums that represent it are the crux of an upcoming festival hosted by the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center (PGAAMCC). The Prince George’s County Black Arts Festival is scheduled to take place on Oct. 7 at the museum and explores the intricacies of Black women’s identity, beauty standards, and notions of sisterhood. The festival goes beyond traditional concepts of Black women’s physical and artistic expression, as it actively includes gender non-conforming and transgendered women.

Maleke Glee, the interim executive director of PGAAMCC and a Prince George’s County native, said the festival is the brainchild of former Executive Director Chanel Compton. He also said event organizers wanted to include women whose expression of womanhood defied traditional standards.

“We see that by far and large while Black women have been celebrated, those women are excluded. Not only are they excluded from the celebration, they are excluded from the discussion, as far as violence and harm and a lot of the ways Black women are disenfranchised in our community,” Glee told the AFRO. “The numbers are really disgusting; the rate Black trans women are dying in our country. So, our museum can be a safe place for them to feel included in the community . . . How it’s most intimately tied to the exhibition is through one of the exhibiting artists, Kokumo Kinetic. She’s a trans woman and her art work will be in the exhibition. Many of the women are queer and of masculine presentation, so they’re not necessarily gender conforming.”

In addition to the exhibition, the performance lineup features 12 musicians who are mostly from the Washington D.C. area. Singers, rappers, and poets include Ace Ono, Odd Mojo, Jennifer Falu, Joy Postell, Mo Browne, Latraia Price and event dee jay Tomi Yeyo. The festival, titled “Rated PG” will also entertain and educate attendees with a pop-up beauty shop, Black-owned vendors, food trucks, guest speakers and an appearance by Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Performer Odd Mojo, who describes herself as an “emcee from Maryland” on her Instagram page, said festivals like “Rated PG” are essential to women’s empowerment and advancing visibility for Black artists. “I’m so hype for this festival. This event is very unique compared to other venues I’ve performed at because of the lineup. Female is the future,” Odd Mojo said. “I love being around talented and positive energy with my sisters. I think there will be a good turnout.”

Glee said the festival will highlight Prince George’s County’s unique culture and thriving arts scene, which is sometimes eclipsed by larger Baltimore and Washington, D.C. communities.

“I think the festival and museum are great cultural landmarks in the county. The county has produced great artists, scholars, and historians that represent Prince George’s County well and sometimes our narrative and story gets lost in the larger cities Baltimore and D.C. But I would argue there would be no Baltimore and D.C. without the richness that is Prince George’s County. So, I think the visibility of this festival is knowing we have artists who are from Baltimore, D.C. and New York and with them they have a fan base that will travel to our region and also get an opportunity to see native Prince Georgian’s displaying their art on stage and in the gallery space.”

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