I Am A Creator: A Truth We All Should Embrace

I AM A CREATOR. I am. And so are you.

 AM A CREATOR. I am. And so are you.

I know we don’t say it often. It’s not our immediate thought when we look in the mirror. It’s not how we greet those around us in our community. We assign people dozens of labels, but “Creator” is rarely one of them.

But it should be and here is why…

The more people I talk to, the more research I do, and the more experiences I live through, the more I am convinced creativity is key to not only unlocking purpose, but is essential to self-expression, self-carepersonal and professional development, andtransformational change within Communities of Color.

Creators — From the Beginning

The truth is, creativity is at the core of who we are — as individuals and as a People.

One Sculpture from Cheryl Ekstrom’s Earth Warrior Series at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

I am often baffled by how little attention our society gives to our origin myths, given they are so critical to how we understand history and to underpinning our worldview. These spiritual and historical text outlines a way to understand how we are made in the ‘image’ of the divine — literally evoking our capacity to call things into existence, to design our own realities, and take action for the benefit of our world. These type of origin stories have been preserved over generations to remind us that the distinguishing quality we all share as human beings is our role as ‘Creators’ as well as our subsequent requirement to put that innate ability to work in our lives.

It is no coincidence then that many ancient cultures were built on traditions where art and creativity rested at the center of everyday life — whether it was expressed in how we adorned our bodies, decorated our homes, lifted our worship, or led our communal rituals. Not to say that this isn’t true to a certain extent today, but the difference is major and twofold: 1) American society’s concept of creativity is highly specific and commodified, and 2) our idea of creativity, when it is engaged, is generally not applied to our lives in a holistic manner. Instead we use terms like ‘creatives’ to imply creativity is a skill of specialization within our economy and society, when in fact creativity is and must be accessible to all.

It is out of this core belief that the ‘I Am A Creator’ Collective was born. Out of a need to recognize the inherent power and creativity that we possess as People of Color; a creative power we must bring to bear in everyday life, in every situation.

It recognizes that as People of Color — our teachers, parents, pastors, conveners, community activists, artists, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between — act as catalysts who have and continue to create change.

A Safe Space for Creators

This Collective is dedicated to reorient ourselves toward the importance of our own creativity as individuals and a community, in part to lessen the toxic grip of consumerism and reactionary social critique within Communities of Color. This is not to say these concepts have no role in our lives and our discourse, but in a wider culture dominated by mass and social media we can ill-afford to let these ideas crowd out the truth expressed through our own creativity.

Thus, the ‘I Am A Creator’ Collective is an interactive, multi-media platform convening a wide spectrum of Creators who support one other in producing social and cultural transformation while inspiring others to do the same.

Our Collective is a community that celebrates creativity birthed from People of Color.

We are a platform dedicated to helping Creators develop and express their talent and ideas. Moving forward, we are working to develop systems to assist people with bringing creative thoughts to action. We are also committed to working with Creators and other networks to find fair and equitable ways for them to be compensated for their creative energy and efforts.

Our end goal is simple: to produce a virtuous cycle of creativity. To give ourselves a safe space to nurture, support, inform, and affirm. To elevate our stories — and to do so in a way that does not require compromising those stories to fit the expectation of the wider culture or approximations and stereotypes about who we are.

I Am A Creator — Joining the Collective

A key part of the Collective’s platform, the #IAmACreator Medium publication, exists as a rich tapestry of creative work in an array of formats, including: Op-eds, essays, fictional short stories, poetry, video and short films, music, photos, infographics, and any other multi-media work that can be shared on this digital platform. We are here to showcase and foster our Community’s creativity, and our editors are willing to get creative with you to make it happen.

Every six to eight weeks we will rotate the topics and themes we highlight for publication and submission. Most of our topics will capture the complexity of our current personal, social, and political realities and the ways our creativity presents itself in these moments.

Our current topics include:

#SLAY — /slā/

1. To kill (a person or animal) in a violent way; to murder.
2. Greatly impress or amuse (someone).
3. Killing it. To excel or succeed as if your life depended on it (because as a Person of Color it often does).

This space addresses with themes around death, dying, Black Lives Matter, and the innumerable expressions of beauty and excellence People of Color create in face or spoken and unspoken opposition and oppression.

#REVOLT — / rəˈvōlt/

1. To rise in rebellion.
2. To cause to feel disgust.

In light of our fraught political climate this is a space to explore ideas around revolution and well as the range of issues that cause anger, frustration, and angst in the individual and collective lives of People of Color.

#Patchwerk — /ˈpaCHˌwərk/

This is a permanent space in our publication for loosely-threaded thoughts, initial musings, brief reflections, short poems, photos, or any other offerings that do not fit into our current themes. We welcome posts inspired by current events if the pieces fit together to support our larger design toward a greater, creative whole.

If you are interested in contributing to this collective creative work, submit your stories through Medium.com or email us at editors@iamacreatorcollective.com.

‘I Am Here To Create:’ Foundational Principals of a Creators’ Collective

I Am A Man” — Photo taken by Ernest Withers of the Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike in 1968.

Long before I considered launching #IAmACreator, I spent most of my life fascinated by social movements. Of all types. From around the globe. Anti-slavery movement, anti-colonialism, anti-apartheid, anti-war, voting rights, civil rights, LGBTI rights, human rights, black arts, Pan-Africanism, women’s liberation, independence movements. In hindsight it can be hard to understand how everyone was not on the side of peace, social justice, or freedom; but the truth is getting individuals to coalesce around an idea and take group action, especially against staunch opposition, is hard work. In an effort to understand movements past and present, we often oversimplify the role of leaders, overcomplicate the process to get involved, overestimate the effort required, and undervalue the impact that we can make.

That is why our Collective created a platform with a focus on people and a fairly low barrier of entry (you can draft on Medium.com from your mobile phone). We did this because we believe creativity is not just the tool of some magical talented tenth. Or the powerful. Or the influencers.

‘I Am A Creator’ is a vehicle built around the belief that everyone is valuable and every creative contribution matters to the ongoing healing within our community.

This project is about honoring the creative tension of what is and what could be. This space acknowledges that we create out of necessity. We create out of joy. We create out of frustration. We create to tell the stories that need to be told and the ones we are scared to faced. This Collective is about creating in a way that connects with the full range of humanity expressed in our lives, homes, organizations, neighborhoods, and institutions. We believe through our collective creative energy and effort we have all we need to find our way through, our way out, our way forward.

 

In the end, the “I Am A Creator” Collective isn’t about theoretical distinctions or branding. It’s about identity. This is a platform centered around a vital self-affirmation.

WE ARE CREATORS. We are.

This is a message we can all get behind; it is one you can help us bring to the forefront.

We hope this is a message you will help share.

We look forward to exploring our creative future together.

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Check out iamacreatorcollective.com to learn how to join the Collective and follow I Am A Creator Collective on Twitter. To get stories from #IAmACreator in your Medium.com feed, recommend this story or click follow our Medium publication to receive our newsletter.

You can also find this entry on our Digital Publication #IAmACreator Collective on Medium.com.