Aug. 23

4:00 PM
Live on Facebook


Cultural Work In the Wake

Panelists: Cecilia Aldarondo, Iyabo Kwayana, Ruha Benjamin, Mark Gonzales, Mia Birdsong
Moderator: Sage Crump

Featuring the perspectives of cultural workers creating and sustaining life against the backdrop of disaster capitalism in Puerto Rico, Detroit, and the American South, this conversation asks what is to be gleaned from moments of deep foundational fractures, finally coming to the surface and fissuring. This panel follows generations of cultural workers whose lives have been dedicated to creating radical lifeways in the aftermath of racial and economic violence and offers wisdoms on what we can learn and shape in this “pandemic as portal” moment.

This panel is free and open to the public. It will stream live with closed captioning on August 23rd from this web page as well as BlackStar’s Facebook Live channel.

Presented by:

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Sage Crump

Culture Strategist

Sage Crump is a culture strategist, artist and facilitator who expands and deepens the work of cultural workers, and arts organizations in social justice organizing. Based in New Orleans but working nationally, she believes in leveraging art, creative practice, and the cultural sector to transform systemic oppressions. Sage is also member of Complex Movements, a Detroit-based artist collective whose interdisciplinary work supports local and translocal visionary organizing. Sage is principal and co-founder with artist muthi reed of The Kinfolks Effect (TKE) Studios. TKE studios is an incubation space for multimedia interdisciplinary artwork that examines the movement of Blackness through time and space. She is the Program Specialist at the National Performance Network and holds the position of Chief Architect at the Emergent Strategies Ideation institute, a body that shapes the way movements think about and go about transforming the world we live in. Sage’s work incorporates complex sciences, emergent strategy and creative practice to imagine the world we want to live in and build strategies and practices that will get us there.


Cecilia Aldarondo


Cecilia Aldarondo is a documentary director-producer from the Puerto Rican diaspora who makes films at the intersection of poetics and politics. Her feature documentaries MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART (2016) and LANDFALL (2020) were selected to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and air on the award-winning television series POV. Cecilia’s films have been supported by ITVS, HBO, A&E, the Sundance Institute, Cinereach, Tribeca Film Institute, the Jerome Foundation, and many others. She is a 2020 New America Fellow, 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow, two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, and recipient of a 2019 Bogliasco Foundation Residency. In 2019 she was named to DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list and is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2015. She teaches at Williams College.


Iyabo Kwayana

Artist/ Professor

Iyabo is a cinematographer, independent filmmaker and professor based New Hampshire. She is the recipient of several awards and fellowships including the Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, the Edie and Lew Wasserman film fellowship, the Stanley Kramer Fellowship in Film Directing and the Women in Film Foundation’s Loreen Arbus Fellowship in Cinematography. Her film Macarrão is a BAFTA shortlisted film. She won the Jury Prize at Zanzibar International Film Festival and BlackStar International Film Festival. Her film Practice began its festival run at Visions du Réel festival in Nyon, Switzerland and continued onto over 20 festivals worldwide. Other works to which she is a key collaborator have screened widely both domestically and internationally.


Ruha Benjamin

Writer & Professor

Ruha Benjamin is Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she examines the relationship between innovation, inequity, and imagination. Ruha is founder of the Just Data Lab, and author of Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code among many other publications. For more info visit


Mia Birdsong

author, facilitator, culture keeper

Mia is a pathfinder, community curator, and storyteller who steadily engages the leadership and wisdom of people experiencing injustice to chart new visions of American life. She has a gift for making visible the brilliance of everyday people so that our collective gifts reach larger spheres of influence, cultural and political change, and create wellbeing for everyone.


Mark Gonzales

Mark Gonzales is a futurist operating at the intersection of technology, design thinking, and theories of change. Currently, he serves as the Inaugural Chair of the Department Of The Future (leading their #EmpathyTech and #futureLabs initiatives), a John F. Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, and a founding partner of The New Medina. With 20 years of global experience, his understanding of the world’s pulse is unparalleled. Portfolio highlights include building real-world applications to emerging technology, designing government-resident partnerships to scale difficult conversations, and launching a global impact fund for youth entrepreneurship in northern Africa.

He has been awarded visiting professorships and fellowships from a variety of institutions (including Stanford University and the United Nations) while creating original content for idea convenings such as Summit series, the World Islamic Economic Forum, and NEXUS.