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How WACRIA is Turning Art into Action

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It may seem impossible to fight the boundless oppression in this world but UAlbany students don’t give up hope without a fight.

In 2015, Jennifer Abu and Olivia Roberts founded WACRIA, Women and Children’s Rights in Africa, to fight for better health care and education in Africa. It started as a blog to draw attention to voices that were being silenced. Abu and Roberts turned words into actions by founding a club around WACRIA.

Now that they have graduated they have developed WACRIA into non-for-profit in New York City. Abu represented WACRIA on a panel with the United Nations Women to discuss gender rights in an African context.

UAlbany students have rallied around the cause. Last week, WACRIA, led by its current president Aline Dipoumbi, organized an art gala at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center. It showcased black artists on campus and celebrated black culture. All of the proceeds went towards building a school in Tanzania.

Each artist had their own inspiration for creating such beautiful art.

The artist known as Kindr found inspiration in the dynamics of masculinity.

He experimented with the idea of “what makes a man” by photographing black men in traditionally feminine situations such as knitting, wearing makeup, and dressed in light pink. It showed that strength is not inhibited by emotion and vulnerability, but enhanced by it.

The artist known as Taiitan also focused on masculinity.

He wanted to convey his experience growing up in the inner city without a clear masculine figure in his life. He felt that many black men struggle with defining their own masculinity in a positive way in the face of oppression.

Taiitan reported that his masculinity came from many different places such as his mother, the men he looked up to in his community, and comic book characters. His art represents this multitude of inspiration. It centers around the clash chaos and joy, confusion and triumph.

Mercedes Soriano centers her art work on the experience of black women.

She is especially interested in hair and the identity and power it symbolizes. She also uses multiple models for each woman shown in her art. She starts with herself as a base adds individual features from the women around her and on the Internet. She does this to show that her art is not just about one person but the black community as a whole.

The art show was followed by singing, poetry, and dance. This event showed the wide range of talents on our campus.

It was an stunning cultural event that showed the strength of the black community at UAlbany and benefited women and children in Africa.

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Katie Gibson is the lifestyle editor for the Albany Student Press. She is also a DJ for WCDB.

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