The magic of any of Suzan Lori Parks’s works often lies in its ability to make her audience laugh, feel, remember, and rethink. With more of a specific lens on her plays, one might say that Parks masters writing through texts, histories, and time as she uses her characters and settings. Her work is unique and transcends one particular history, memory, or moment. She writes not to recreate, but rather to retell and bring silent voices and stories to life in order to expand the bounds of history. To illustrate such, in this essay I will argue that Suzan Lori Parks’s play, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom, works as a textual and theatrical performance that enables Parks to make a grander commentary on black history. …


Photographed in front of a decorative backdrop while showcasing the crispness of the portrait, one might assume the two figures in this art piece to be a physical marker of success for the black freedom struggle. The multiplicity of Rashid Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas’s Portrait of Two American Artists as Negro Scholars echoes in form of protest. Yet, as one closet examines the presence of two black fists, two sets of black eyes, two black suits, and two black bodies, one questions if this twoness is enough. …


Whenever, I see this painting by Jacob Lawerence, which is part of his Great Migration Series and titled In the North the Negro had better educational facilities, I immediately think of Rise Academy and the wonderful education I recieved here. Now, walking into this building and being here brings back so many memories.

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Jacob Lawrence, In the North the Negro had better educational facilities, 1940–41

Even though I am part of the founding class — I didn’t join this team and family until the seventh grade. And I still had to sit on the carpet, in SLANT, learning all of the new rules and policies, yearning to earn my shirt…. and a chair! …


TRIGGER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, SUICIDE, and SELF HARM

My first memory of Toni Morrison was my senior year of high school. I was enrolled in AP English with Diane (we called our teachers by their first names — very progressive high school) and frankly, struggling. I remember the other texts we read like Alice in Wonderland and Heart of Darkness. We learned literary terms and wrote countless papers and journals. Long story short, AP English was a lot of work.

Diane assigned Beloved during the winter trimester, which for me was both a good and bad thing. Not understanding how depression and anxiety worked at the time, I found myself in a world of pain and angst mentally and internally, but somehow still managing and excelling externally. In many ways, I felt disconnected from pretty much everyone, but I was not brave enough to vocalize it. I tried everything I could think of to express it. I stopped activities such as basketball. I started writing more. I put post-it notes and pictures all over my dorm room. I even starting cutting myself. …


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Haverford College Instagram

Before coming to Haverford, I remember telling myself, “Alliyah, this will be your time to show who you are”. After a challenging senior year of high school, I had an opportunity to start over and to push myself to become a better and stronger person. I chose Haverford to help me complete my mission because it checked so many boxes that were important to me. The size was perfect, the faculty and staff were friendly, the commitment to having a positive impact on the world was strong, and I was only a few train rides away from home.

The day I arrived for Horizons, a pre-orientation leadership program for underrepresented students, I was cheesing from ear to ear and bouncing with excitement. This was the moment I had prepared for: the chance to make a difference. As move-in time with my family slowly began to end, my father pulled me aside and told me, “I want you to have fun. Find good friends. Love your time here and actually enjoy yourself.” The words he spoke were clear but felt heavy. In attempt to be a wiser and more mature Alliyah, on my very first day of college, I nodded my head in agreement and said “But of course!” Little did I know, that this would become the most important lesson I learned during my next four years. So Daddy, you can relax now. You were right and all the tuition dollars you, my mom, and Toy put up went to good use! …


“Womanist’ encompasses ‘feminist’ as it is defined by Webster’s, but also means instinctively pro-woman. It is not in the dictionary at all. Nonetheless, it has a strong root in Black women’s culture.

An advantage of using ‘womanist’ is that, because it is from my own culture, I needn’t preface it with the word ‘Black’ (an awkward necessity and a problem I have with the word ‘feminist’), since Blackness is implicit in the term; just as for white women there is apparently no felt need to preface ‘feminist’ with the word ‘white’, since the word ‘feminist’ is accepted as coming out of white women’s…


This trip was my second time visiting the exhibit and I went through it with a completely new set of emotions and perspective. When I got off the blue bus and waited for my classmates I found myself feeling quiet. I was not excited, happy, or mad. I wanted to go, but I didn’t approach it with expectations. My first time going, I did. I was expecting beautiful African Art, and that’s exactly what I got. I wasn’t thinking critically and I wasn’t bringing myself into it. I brought my camera, but every picture I took was formulated. I knew what I wanted to capture, I knew what I wanted to feel — just art. I wanted a surface level of beauty, form, and artistic expression. It was important for me to know how to move in the space and appreciate the aesthetic. …


Loving yourself is the main goal and should always be. Once you appreciate and put yourself first, you will be limitless. I’ve always had a constant struggle with doing this, but I’m learning that self-love is the key to my growth, which will ultimately unlock my potential and success.


While drinking my cappuccino and people watching in Center City Philly, I thought about my craft. I pondered who exactly I wanted to be and what I wanted to produce. Throughout daily routine, we’re so focused on getting to next place, making ends meet, and crossing something off a checklist. These are just a few components of the 9–5, the regimented structure that provides stability and movement. However, I find this constricting and quite the opposite of what life should be, or in other words, liberation.

After calmly sipping my bitter and creamy drink, I stared at my camera and took of picture of the mug. Well honestly, I took about 20 pictures of the mug. I wanted different perspectives, a narrative. It made me think of the different ways I could live my life and the different persons I could be. I could very easily do the 9–5 in an, perhaps as a software engineer and be successful. Or, I could join the non-profit sector and commit my life to others. The possibilities are endless, but I decided in that moment, that I would not to commit to quickly to one lifestyle or path. …


I don’t typically like to post pictures I take or share stories that here from work but today this really struck me in so many different ways. So please meet Ms. Diane. We took our artist Lanre to meet her today and we discussed the effects of trauma, grief, death, and more that play out in the communities in North Philly. From seeing her own family members die in front of her eyes to seeing so many murdered right in front of her house from gun violence, it shocked me that she was willing to open up to us.

Ms. Diane is the rock to so many others in helping them cope. She takes care of their kids when someone has been shot or sent to jail. She talks to government officials and community organizers about the actions that THEY are, or rather are NOT doing that furthers the hurt, struggle, and grief that persists in her community. I was so lucky to meet her today. Blessed to be able to share this moment and story as well. I witnessed her magic today and absorbed only a fraction of her wisdom. And for that, I am truly grateful. …

About

Alliyah Allen

Artist and Curator

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