The Spotlight: Intikana

This month’s Bronxite in The Spotlight is activist/poet/artist and 2010 BRIO Award winner, Intikana!

What part of the Bronx are you from? 

I was born and raised on the northeast side of The Bronx. Gun Hill area between the 2 and 5 train.
Your one man show, Penumbra, focused on your experience growing up in the Bronx and utilized different multimedia elements. What was it like preparing and presenting such a personal and complex story on stage?
Preparing and presenting Penumbra was a very transformative process for me. It took a lot of work, patience, and dedication. It also allowed me to share my story of growing up in the Bronx in such a way that was therapeutic and provided healing. The initial rehearsals were difficult because of the level of vulnerability I was exposing myself to. However, over time, I began to feel comfortable on stage. Through hosting talkbacks after the show where audiences were able to ask questions, I learned that there were many people who related to elements of the play and were moved to make changes in their own lives. That was very encouraging and made it all worth it. In 2013, I intend on releasing a published copy of the script and in the coming years, I will be turning Penumbra into a movie.
 A lot of your work has very strong political and cultural messages in it. How important would you say having access to creative outlets is for people, especially Bronxites, who want to get involved in their communities and voice their concerns? 
Having access to creative outlets is essential to both cultural survival and personal sanity. Art is a medium that grants us the opportunity to share how we see the world. Be it through music, film, theater, photography, painting, etc. Math, science, language, astrology…these too are all forms of art. We are often taught that art is separate from everything else and many times it’s not given the same importance. But it is extremely important. It enhances the human experience. I encourage all “Bronxites” to take advantage of all creative outlets available to us and most definitely get involved with community organizations that have our best interests at heart.
What are your top three favorite places in the Bronx? 
This is hard because I love a lot of places in the Bronx for different reasons. The following is in no particular order:
Friends of Brook Park
 Any upcoming projects we should look out for?
Currently, I’m working on completing a new mixtape entitled “Native Eyes.” It will be a compilation of songs that speak from the native-indigenous person’s perspective. I’m really excited about this project because I will be releasing Hip Hop music that intertwines both the personal and political. This one has been a long time coming and will be available on my website www.intikana.net (Sign up for the email list!). There is no release date as of yet but I will be releasing a new music video to promote the project before the end of 2012. Stay tuned!

BAAD is So Good

Last night kicked off the start of the 2012 BAAD! Ass Women’s Festival with a screening of the films B.D. Women and Standing on my Sisters’ Shoulders. Located just across the street from The Point in the Banknote building, BAAD (Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance) is an arts and performance space dedicated to the work of people of color and the LGBT community. I’ve been wanting to go to BAAD for a while now, so I was glad to finally be able to make it out there. Artistic Director and choreographer Arthur Aviles set the tone for the night with a brief history of the space and a striptease sales pitch for BAAD merchandise (so I definitely knew that this was a cool spot).

The films took a look on the Black lesbian community and the role women played in the civil rights movement. I was particularly moved by Standing on my Sisters’ Shoulders. I’m really interested in sociology and the film ties in with a lot of ideas I’ve currently got floating around in my head. The film really pissed me off, but made me proud at the same time. I was angry at the level of racism, which as more time goes on younger generations can easily forget the struggle and obstacle faced by our ancestors, so I think seeing the protests and rallies unabashedly was great for instilling and reigniting the appreciation within me. (SIDENOTE: I just finished reading Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness by Toure, which I highly recommend. It focuses a lot on what modern racism looks like compared to the more blatant form it took in the 50s and 60s.) The film is an important reminder of where we come from. We being every American. Especially given recent racial situations at Fordham, the Southern Mississippi  band green card chant, and those ‘Don’t Re-Nig in 2012’ bumperstickers. It’s all just one big WTF moment.

It’s obvious that more supportive places like BAAD are needed around the country. The BAAD!Ass Women’s Festival continues until the end of the month with a variety of different programs. Be sure to check out their site for full details.