[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eclyw_D154I[/youtube]
On a recent Brooklyn bound A-train ride, Geko and I were feverishly brainstorming places to host a New York performance for Titica,Â once we found out she wouldnâ€™t be able to stay in town for Que Bajo next Thursday. Feeling like now is a crucial time for LGBTQ issues in Africa, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity for Titica to gain some visibility outside of her home context, and help open up the dialogue in regards to what is permissible in the realm of â€œAfrican values.â€ While that will perhaps be a longer fight, the “Space” problem was quickly resolved when our traveling companionÂ Thanu YakupitiyageÂ offered herÂ iBombaÂ party at Bembe on Monday night. Thanu’s work and focus made for quite theÂ serendipitousÂ pairing, perfect to host Titica in NY, thus initiating a kind of an informal inaugural collaboration between Thanu and Dutty Artz, the collective of cultural agitators with its spiritual heart in the county of Kings, New York.
On the eve of that event, it is my pleasure to introduce Thanu as the collectiveâ€™s newest official member (something weâ€™ve been planning before that fateful train ride)! While weâ€™ve been bringing you blog posts, music, parties and merchandise of various sorts for a few years now, Dutty Artz has been steadily heading in a direction in which weâ€™re trying to find ways to expand beyond music and the limitations of the Internet. It has always been our desire to facilitate ways to nurture a creative community across social and cultural borders. Adding Thanu to the lineup is a key part of us manifesting that intention in the real world!
Thanu traverses the lines between immigrant rights activist, mediaÂ producer, researcher, and political/cultural organizer. Reppinâ€™ Sri Lanka via Thailand and Massachusetts sheâ€™s now based in Brooklyn, and has been in New York since 2007 where she has worked for organizations highlighting youth media, racial justice, and immigrant rights. When Occupy Wall Street kicked into gear in the Fall of 2011, Thanu was part of a crew of organizers of color who started theÂ People of Color CaucusÂ in order to highlight and organizeÂ around issues faced by communities of colorÂ that were being ignored by the larger OWS movement. She also helped lead theÂ Immigrant Worker Justice working groupÂ in the Fall, and put together theÂ December 18thÂ International Migrantsâ€™ Day march. She is on the editorial team and blogs for,Â In Front and Center: Critical Voices in the 99%, and is one of the new culture editors forÂ Organizing Upgrade, which isÂ re-launchingÂ this month.
While those experiences will definitely add a new dimension to the aims of Dutty Artz, it is her interests and passions in the role of global music and dance in the creation of transformative political and cultural spaces that dovetail nicely with the work weâ€™ve already been doing. For her, politics, music, and dance are intricately linked. She is an aspiring DJ and late last year, joined forces with DJs Beto and Mios Dio to organize and bring new acts and guest DJs to iBomba. We think that Thanu is a perfect fit and welcome addition to the family.
Check out a sample of her bad gyal writing on politics and pop culture here:
And check her out this Monday as she hosts iBomba alongside DJ Beto and Mios Dio, with guests DJ Ripley and Angolan Kuduro star Titica! Look out for more from Thanu soon!