What Happened to Keisha?

I wrote an article for The Ride or Die Project Blog which was launched this week. Check it out…

The Ride or Die Project

By Amanda Parris Note: This article includes hyperlinks to videos and articles that include intense scenes of violence. Click at your own discretion. A question that I asked all of the interviewees in the first phase of research for The Ride or Die Project was: How would you define what it means to be ride-or-die? In the numerous varied responses that I received, there was one name that kept coming up. When the name was said, I would smile and nod in recognition and we would laugh and shake our heads as though reminiscing over an old friend. However, she was not someone any of us knew personally. She also was not a celebrity or well-known actor. She was not a rapper or a b-girl or a graf writer. This person did not preside over turntables, host radio shows or direct music videos. In fact…this person was not even “real.” The…

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Check out Footage from “In Conversation With…”


After procrastinating for way too long I finally uploaded the footage from my session of In Conversation with…and now I am finally (after procrastinating again) sharing it with folks beyond the very few who are subscribed to my YouTube channel. It is a pretty long talk and so I broke it down into chapters with a short synopsis describing what I am talking about in each chapter. I have also put them into a playlist so you can watch from beginning to end if you so choose.

Just a re-cap on the event itself:

On Monday, September 15th, 2014 Manifesto in partnership with Cultural Hotspot: Next presented a session of “In Conversation with…” Featuring Amanda Parris and hosted by Tina Khan at R.I.S.E Poetry

Part 1 – In this section I discuss the start of my educational experience

Part 2 – In this segment, I discuss the creation of R.O.O.T.S. and Lost Lyrics

Part 3 – In this section I discuss my academic research and experiences as a Visiting Scholar at NYU.

Part 4 – In this section I discuss The Ride or Die Project.

Part 5 – In this section I discuss artivism, mentorship and Rhymes to Re-Education

Part 6 – In this section I discuss pop culture.

Part 7 – In this section, I respond to Q&A

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Thesis Research Presentation at the Power of the Arts National Forum at Carleton U

Toronto Youth Cabinet Ignite n' Impact Awards 2012

Toronto Youth Cabinet Ignite n’ Impact Awards 2012

Between November 7 and 9, 2014, Carleton University will be hosting the Power of the Arts National Forum. This year’s theme is “Acting Now for Social Change.”

The Forum is co-organized by the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and Carleton University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. It convenes researchers, business leaders, legal experts, policymakers, urban planners, architects, youth, health practitioners, artists, and representatives of other key sectors of Canadian society. The main objectives of the Forum are to reinforce a Pan-Canadian and multi-sector network of researchers, practitioners and organizations using the arts as tools for social change and to enhance an action plan reinforcing national, regional and local initiatives using the arts to improve the quality of life in underserved communities.

I will be presenting my thesis research on Saturday, November 8th during the Public Safety and Access to Justice Workshop.

Presentation Summary:

This presentation is inspired by my direct experiences as a Hip Hop educator and my subsequent journey as a scholar to document and investigate the potential of Hip Hop education in the task of social transformation. Specifically I will introduce the possible challenge Hip Hop educational spaces can pose to the punitive and exclusionary norms that constitute the cultural groundwork of the school to prison pipeline. I will also consider how the strategies employed by Hip Hop educators when dealing with conflict and violence in the classroom, have the potential to challenge general ideas of how justice is defined in contemporary North American society.

The normalized presence of police in schools as the first response for principals in disciplinary action, the increasing use of lawyers as everyday advocates for students, the correlation between exclusion (i.e. suspension, expulsion and dropout rates) and increased chances of incarceration illustrates that Canada’s notion of justice in education is closely related and often borrows from the criminal justice system. Considering that as bodies that are raced, gendered and classed, the populations that receive consistent punishment in the school system fit a similar discursive structure as bodies within penal institutions, it becomes apparent that particular societal relations of power are being produced and reproduced from the classroom to the prison.

This conversation on justice is not only a consideration of it as a historically constituted concept but also presents justice as a practice that is embedded in technologies of morality, regulation and management. In recognizing the capacity that educational institutions play in legitimizing and reproducing dominant culture this presentation will create a space to explore the simultaneous potential of the classroom to be a space for disruption, questioning and innovation.

Based on the research I conducted for my M.A. thesis, I will be sharing data gathered through interviews with Hip Hop educators in New York and Toronto that details their attempts to create alternative spaces of learning. The focus on Hip Hop educators who are invested and committed to social justice provides a unique opportunity to find parallels and intersections between a Hip Hop world-view and practices of restorative justice.

For more information on the forum and to see a detailed program, please visit the Michaëlle Jean Foundation website:  http://www.fmjf.ca/en/programs/power-arts/

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Amanda Parris is a Guest Speaker Today at Centennial College’s Creativity in Context Course

I will be visiting Centennial College’s Creativity in Context course to speak about Music Community Engagement in Canada. I have been asked to speak about how I developed skills to achieve my creative projects and how I help creative professionals achieve their objectives. It has been interesting to reflect on the huge role music has played on my work considering that I am not a musician by any stretch of the imagination.

Thank you to Michael Murray for the invitation.

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32C at Alameda Theatre’s De Colores Festival (October 23rd)

De Colores

Amanda Parris’ one-woman play 32C is being presented at Alameda Theatre’s De Colores Festival this Thursday, October 23rd.  The reading marks the culmination of her one-year playwriting residency where she worked under the guidance and support of dramaturge Stephen Colella to develop the script she began back in 2008 while an artist-in-residence at d’bi young’s anitafrika dub theatre (now called Yemoya).  The festival is also the final instalment by Alameda Theatre which will be closing at the end of this season. Alameda Theatre Company produces Canadian theatre with a distinct Latin American perspective. The De Colores Festival of New Works is a playwright’s unit and festival that exclusively features Latin American Canadian writers and exposes Canadian audiences to new theatrical works featuring Latin American actors and directors.

32C is a one-woman play by Amanda Parris that explores the baggage that three generations of women accumulate, carry and unpack through their intimate relationships. The play moves across time, borrowing from settings such as the Salem witch trials, the Grenada Revolution and toonie-Tuesday movie nights at Sheridan Mall in Toronto.  The audience is invited to ride on the 32C Eglinton West bus as a triptych of stories reveal the ways masks are constructed, armour is tightened and baggage is carried and passed on.

Written by Amanda Parris
Starring: Bahia Watson
Directed by: Anita LaSelva
Dramaturgy by: Stephen Colella

When: October 23rd
Time: 8pm
Where: Wychwood Theatre at Artscape Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street)

For more information, please visit: http://www.alamedatheatre.com/decolores2014.html

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