School of Arts and Social Justice

Founded at the beginning of the COVID_19 pandemic, the School of Arts and Social Justice at Make Shift Boston is a series of free online classes by local community leaders who’s work spans the intersections between community organizing and artistic disciplines. All classes are free and professionally captioned.

Upcoming Classes:

Poetry in Protest–With Najya Williams 5/15/21 3pm

Poetry is a powerful tool that appeals to the hearts and minds of the world. Join Najya in exploring how we can use this gift to raise our voices for equity and justice for ourselves and the communities that hold us. “Poetry in Protest” is a 60-minute workshop that will allow participants to read, watch and write poetry that pushes against the boundaries and systems that serve as the foundation for injustice.

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Nuestras Canciones De Liberación/Our Liberation SongsWith Doctora Xingona Diana Alvarez 5/20/21 7pm

What stories are you called to tell, and what are your liberation songs? Singer-songwriter, multidisciplinary artist, and scholar Doctora Xingona will offer listening, writing, improvisation, music, and performances exercises during this workshop to help you find your most expansive, roaring voice as a vocalist and songwriter. Rooted in the traditions of queer and trans BIPOC artists, Dr. Alvarez will interweave wisdom from activist artists and thinkers such as Gloría Anzaldua, Nina Simone, Lama Rod Owens, Alok Vaid-Menon, Audre Lorde, and many more. Join us to nourish your voice and creativity in a welcoming space with no borders. Open to all levels of experience with music and art!

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Painting As Social ActivismWith Sumeya Ali 5/27/21 7pm

This class will be focused on how art, specifically painting has been used historically and is currently used a form of resistance. This class will discuss paintings from local Black & Brown Boston based artists who have created works in response to the current social issues including police brutality. All works shown will be created by Black & Brown creators to center their voices.

Unlearning Ableist Metaphor — With Ilyus Evander 6/3/21 7pm

In this class, we will be exploring the use of ableist metaphors in poems (ie. Blindness as a metaphor for things unseen, or deafness for things unheard, calling an activity “crazy”, etc.) and challenging ourselves to come up with better, stronger images to make our same points in our works.

Best Practices when Photographing Protests and ActionsWith Echo Harris 6/12/21 7pm

This class is intended to provide basic instructions on keeping yourself and others as a safe as possible when doing the important work of documenting protest movements. Topics covered will include but may not be limited to, the removal of sensitive information from digital photos, framing pictures in a manner that minimizes risk to others, face blurring tips and a discussion about the variety of equipment that can be used to take photos and the safety concerns of some of the major ones.

Laughing Through It All: Comedy as Coping With OppressionWith Lavender 6/24/21 7pm

When bad things happen, we joke about it; in this class we will discuss the history of comedy as a way to deal with oppression+hardship, weigh the benefits and risks, and better understand the ways in which oppression affects us as maginalized people and how we can come together and support each other in harrowing times

Past Classes:

Fat Justice 101–With Ms. Fatastic 4/23/20

-An Introduction to Fat Justice Frameworks and movements with special attention to fatphobia as it relates to covid-19, race, and class dynamics.

“When people hear the term ‘fat justice,’ they often assume it relates to ‘body positivity.’ This is a piece of fat justice framework, but not the whole picture.”-Ms. Fatastic

Queer Poetics Through Quarantine–With Mai Lord 4/30/20

-A brief lesson on how quarantine affects the queer community, followed by a discussion on our thoughts surrounding what we as writers can do to support each other, and a workshop on writing about sexuality and gender. This class is led by a youth poet with mostly youth attendees.

Staying Connected: Mindful Arts–With Abby Neale 5/7/20

-A trauma-sensitive meditation practice focused on compassion building followed by some journaling and an art therapy activity

“You don’t have to sit with your legs in a pretzel or anything like that. You can walk, you can dance, you can lie down”-Abby Neale

Radical Theory Made Accessible–With Lennox Orion of ‘Learning with Lennox’ 5/14/20

-Students are guided through different radical texts that range from critical race theory to disability studies. Often these texts are incredibly dense and therefore inaccessible to the greater population. By bringing the academy into the streets, Lennox provides tools to finally be able to read and understand the most important thinkers of our time.

Social Justice Filmmaking–With Elliot Higger of ‘Sunny Mind Productions’ 5/21/20

Students learn the essentials of pre-production and production to make a social justice video using their cell phone; including skill-building games, story structures for online social justice videos, framing techniques, and audio recording tips.

“Making videos is one of the most powerful and persuasive mediums of our time. With cell phones, almost everyone has the ability to represent a story. Before cell phone video, only the wealthy, for the most part had access.”-Elliot Higger

Beyond Trauma porn: Equitable Narratives in the Arts–With Hassan Ghanny 5/28/20

The phrase “trauma porn” describes any piece of media that unnecessarily broadcasts the undignified for public consumption. While this kind of narrative gets a lot of airplay in the media, it also tokenizes the marginalized people telling the stories in deeply uncomfortable ways. This workshop is intended to build storytelling skills that do not rely on “trauma porn narratives.”

Songwriting for Social Change–With Ava Sophia 6/18/20

A workshop on the role of music and songwriting in propelling social change. Through analysis and practice, we write songs that empower us to imagine the change we want to see to create a more equitable world.

“Songwriting and all artmaking gives me the opportunity to process the current state of the world, or imagine new worlds that operate from the love and togetherness I want to see.”-Ava Sophia

Reclaiming Imagination–With Payal Kumar 6/25/20

Imagination is the catalyst that takes us from reform to revolution, from tempered expectations to transformation. In this workshop, we collectively and playfully activate our imaginations to envision the worlds we want beyond the limits of what we’re told is possible. What does liberation look like?

“The work of the artist is to imagine freedom, and we can all be artists and embody freedom-making every day! We all have the capacity to imagine–in fact, we’re already doing this work as kids, before we’re socialized by systems that tell us our imaginations are not ‘profitable’ or ‘productive’ How can we re-connect with this creativity as we think about crafting a new world?”-Payal Kumar

How to Craft a Protest Chant–With Flight Or Visibility 7/2/20

In this class we explore the musical language of protest chants and talk about why some chants are picked up by a crowd while others fall flat on their face. We then have some time to craft new chants for future rallies.

“Protest chant is a musical language. Most good protest chants follow unspoken rules about consonant placement, word order, and momentum. Make it rhyme is not essential and often not enough.”-Flight Or Visibility

Debunking the Nice White Woman–With Lennox Orion of ‘Learning with Lennox’ 7/16/20

White women are given the perception of innocence–this innocence is weaponized. As we move through these times it is important to recognize the most dangerous and insidious forms of supremacy, white women who are protected from consequence while perpetuating harm. This class focuses on how to confront the nice white woman inside yourself and how to confront her racism in the workplace. We boldly and courageously challenge white femininity as a weapon.

Be safe and Be heard: Vocal Projection and Diction with a Mask–With Nora Borealis Maynard of ‘Wholetone Music Academy 8/13/20

In this class, we build the vocal skills to ‘say it, not spray it,’ speaking clearly and confidently even with a mask over our noses and mouths.

“Fully embodied use of the voice helps us experience more agency and grow into our higher self.”-Nora Borealis Maynard