Babies at the Atlanta Caribbean Carnival, 2008
"PERHAPS, TO BLOOM" will be a storytelling project that excavates the growing cultural impact of the contemporary Caribbean presence in Atlanta and the South at large.
Perhaps, to Bloom will document, through narratives, the subtle veneer that the Caribbean presence has formed on the city, framed early on by Julius Scott's ("The Common Wind") geographical conceptions of the Caribbean's northern contours; lingering around The Institute of the Black World which convened Caribbean thinkers such as Sylvia Wynter, Walter Rodney and C.L.R. James; and spilling into the still-running Atlanta Caribbean Carnival that started the same year as the National Black Arts Festival—a year after the City’s Office of Cultural Affairs was formed.
I think of Atlanta’s many artists and cultural producers that I have come to find are of Caribbean descent—from the land tillers in West End and Southwest Atlanta, to the fowl keepers in rural Georgia, to the culinary arts curators reimagining new food fusions and how that feeds into Atlanta's culture and artscape. The conversations will suss out what it means to identify as Caribbean and Southern—a combination of identities that, to date, has been quietly experienced but its edges not fully articulated.
I want to investigate how people are expanding geographies of the circum-Caribbean to incorporate their sense of place for now and into the future; to document the experience of a migrating people that leans future and past, equally.
Finally, I want to look at one way Atlanta can understand itself as a diasporic city—not as a gateway or pass-through, but as a catchment for all the cultural makings of a home for people who decide to stay—be it in the music, foodways, art, festivals, rituals and politics.
The title, Perhaps, to Bloom, comes from an early edition of "Black Boy," written by Richard Wright. Wright's words also appear in the epigraph for Isabel Wilkerson's nonfiction text, "The Warmth of Other Suns."
"I was leaving the South
To fling myself into the unknown….
I was taking a part of the South
To transplant in alien soil,
To see if it could grow differently,
If it could drink of new and cool rains,
Bend in strange winds,
Respond to the warmth of other suns
And, perhaps, to bloom."