“Resilient Communities” (Biennial of the Americas 2015)

by Molina Speaks

(This poem was scribed to reflect a a conversation on Art, Culture and Community among “local” and international artists and non-profit leaders.  Molina was commissioned as the live poetic scribe of the Biennial of the Americas 2015.)

Resilient Communities

in panels and classes on race and class we talk about resilient communities
i reflect back that my original community does not use the word “resilient”

but we lift weights and do our pushups every day,
we script hustles to pay
the bills,
we specialize in mean mugs and tough talk as body armor,
spit rhymes with forked tongues,
sometimes scraping by like roaches
while convincing you we are butterflies
on street corners,
in trash dumps,
under bridges,
in prisons,
in homeless zones,
and in gentrifying apartment homes,
on tattoos on working bodies, holmes
turning our very lives into Art as though the body is truly the only thing you could take with you to the grave

and for this the hood is proud
cuz we survive
cuz blood is thick
cuz cops are shooting and jailing
and the schools are failing our youth
and the


all that noise is not what this conversation is about

we talk programs and markets for boardrooms,
strategic planning
and the challenge of attracting patrons without patronization,
accessibility and diversification of funds,
out of necessity

The Question:

how do we get around the uneducated guilt of the masses in the museum halls of our own office walls?

The Answers:

honesty, tell me anything, speak your truth
as long as it’s not racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise oppressive

let us write an Artist Bill of Rights and stick to it on principle

let us infiltrate the symphony, infiltrate the excellence,
proliferate the relevance,
give the comped tickets back and bring the museums directly to the neighborhoods,
pair the ballet with spoken word,
pair lyrical hip hop with violin strings,
commission walls of art on businesses by local street art kings,
and pay us for our work, you mine us for our work product, work
to pay us what you would pay the stars,
and underwrite our marketing cuz artists don’t really care about that shit, seriously
compromise some of the banquet shine for a little real world grit,
hire a Mexican,
hire an African,
hire an Indian,
and listen to them when you ask for an Opinion

the only solution for the administration
is to take risks that put you in the seat of the artists him or her or of

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About Molina Speaks

Molina Speaks is a writer, poet, hip-hop artist, and event producer. Molina is the Performance Director and a Lead Instructor for Youth On Record. He is a TedX fellow and has been an Artist In Residence with the National Hispanic Heritage Center, Mizel Museum, Journey Through Our Heritage and Noel Community Arts School. He has worked on National Endowment for the Arts projects and has accepted invitations to speak and perform and dozens of universities, including Columbia University, University of California at Davis, UT Austin, CU Boulder, and the University of New Mexico. Molina Speaks has taught master artist classes at Boston Arts Academy and Colorado Academy. He has collaborated with the Denver Spirituals Project and was recognized as a keynote poet for Denver's Lalo Delgado Poetry Festival. Molina is the music supervisor for the documentary film Papers. He is a member of the Cafe Cultura artist collective. Molina has released over a dozen poetic and musical works, which have been recognized and critically acclaimed by the Denver Post, 5280 Magazine, Westword, Colorado Music Buzz and other publications.

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