Black and Brown people don’t often have the luxury of being selfish, nor do some of us truly seek it.
A substantial part of the Black and POC experience is community. This way of life extends beyond modern times and Black/Brown Americans – we’ve been implementing a shared sense of responsibility for centuries. We share our meals, time, thoughts, talents, and energy, with the knowledge that we are uplifting ourselves and each other. With that, we recognize our individual differences and unique identities, for the strengthening of the person and the group.
One half of Lunchbox Miami (a collective for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women), Najja Moon is a member of, and leader within, the Black, queer community. The queer body has been celebrated for its cultural additions, such as art, music, and fashion, but it is also ruthlessly persecuted for its existence. This harsh truth has made certain queer people of color all the more willing to proudly display their sexuality as if to say “we’re here, whether you like it or not.” This declaration comes in many forms, but for Najja Moon, it’s the most prevalent in the initiatives she aligns herself with. Moon honors the link between her identity and her work.
“As a Black, queer, woman there is visibly quantifiable evidence of my otherness in almost all parts of my identity.
Sometimes creative individuals, such as the late Whitney Houston and Queen Pen, are made to think they have to hide their sexuality or make sure that only their productions receive attention. The downside of this is that it creates a confusing image for young LGBTQIA+ people, who don’t know the backstory of their heroes and may feel excluded due to the fact that they may think their artistic fave is heterosexual.
Moon went in-depth about how her sexuality informs the work that she does:
“As a Black, queer, woman there is visibly quantifiable evidence of my otherness in almost all parts of my identity. Existing with that experience was a lowkey education in how powerful identifying intersectionality is in communicating, surviving, thriving in community.”
Essentially, it is nearly impossible to separate who she is from her collective’s identity or her sexuality. Moon has set up her career to where you must acknowledge queerness and how there is such a sense of community present, especially amongst people of color.
Moon also made sure to say that Miami is a safe place for emerging artists of color to dwell. Safety is important, possibly now more than ever, due to random acts of violence and unwelcoming attitudes.
When asked to explain, Moon said, “I want to focus in on celebrating the fact that there are several collectives..highlighting the work that people of color are creating in this city. Their commitment, along with the people of color, working in our Miami based arts institutions, who have been intentional about challenging the status quo of representation in the art world, have made Miami a safe place…”
Basically, Najja is all about efforts that benefit everyone.
“First and foremost, I create for myself, but I do not live on an island. Working in collaboration, in a variety of mediums, has allowed me to tether the varying spectrums of my community together with my work.”
She loves herself and her work, which is how she is able to so clearly identify the creative needs of others. The world is certainly better because of Moon and her passion.
Nominate yourself or someone you know who embodies the spirit of the CASSIUS Creative Class series by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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