From a Single to a Multiple Identity
Joycy Paixão Fortes
Ancestral capeverdean fashion artiste who speaks 8 languages and loves to travel the world
Music, culture & storytelling are at the heart of my art and my creations are a vehicle for cultural celebration, education and joy.
I'm Capeverdean and I'm proud of where I'm from and the diversity my culture represents. I grew up in a place where I faced a lot of racism, people telling me to 'integrate' or leave.
"We don't integrate, we recreate" - Yara Shahidi
I don't believe in integration because it's assimilation and I'm not willing to give up the cultural treasure I inherited from my ancestors to get approval from society.
Fanm FORTES: Les Porteuses de L'éspoir
Strong Women: The Carriers of Hope
When my mum was little, every day she and her sisters would wake up and walk barefoot to go get water. They would carry this on their head. One way was 1.5 hours so in total they would walk 3hours daily to have water.
To this day my mum realizes the importance of running water and is grateful for it because as she puts it, "it's a luxury compared to what we had"
My mum was about 12 when she received her first pair of shoes (flip flops) and to this day I notice my mum doesn't really like shoes :D She prefers walking in sandals the most and I'm sure that if she could she would walk barefoot :-)
Is the glass half full or half empty?
I admire her strength, resilience and I know it's in me because she's my creator. I'm grateful for the long journey she and my dad walked to create a better future for me and whenever I feel discouraged or down, my parents and ancestors legacy put things in perspective.
The glass is half full or half empty depending on where you started.
Compared to where my parents were, what they've done and even my grandparents, my starting point is miles ahead.
My glass is not half full, it's overflowing with gratitude for what the carries of hope in my family have done to create a better future for me.
Kola San Jon Art: a Capeverdean tradition
Strong Women: The Carriers of Hope
Every year Capeverdeans all over the world celebrate San Jon (usually the 3rd week of June). São João is also a tradition celebrated in portuguese speaking countries like Brazil & Portugal.
Walk to the Beat of Your Own Drum
I grew up with music in my house. My godfather Horacio is a musician and played cavaquinho and guitar in a group. For San Jon he was also one of the percussionists who participated in this religious and musical tradition.
Immaterial Cultural Patrimony
My uncle in Lisbon is also part of a San Jon group. He lives in Buraka / Cova da Moura, which many consider a ghetto. Most of the people living here are Capeverdean. (Lisbon is the 2nd city outside of Cape Verde with most Capeverdeans living there, Boston being nr.1 and Rotterdam nr.3)
A couple of years ago they wanted to tear down the whole area and the houses. Much like a favela this place was built by immigrants without a permission. Since most of the members of the group also live here they were able to preserve and protect their art, culture and home by making Kola San Jon part of the immaterial cultural patrimony of Portugal.
Kola is the dance women and men dance to the beats of San Jon. It's also a fertility dance.
When I started painting the cultural figures representing part of my culture I started with a spiral which later transformed into what looks like a seed sprouting
My painting process is very intuitive and my ancestors guide me in my work. They're like seeds that are planted in me and their legacy, talent and treasure sprouts whenever I align with it.
Ancestral Immaterial Treasures
All of us have lots of untapped potential. I studied my history and ancestors and it helped me understand and love me more. I followed the path of curiosity and passion and without knowing it led me to my ancestors and the immaterial patrimony which was planted in me.
My love for writing comes from my dad's side. I inherited my talent for sewing and creating from my grandma. I discovered this only a few years ago.
If I'm able to speak 8 languages it's because my ancestors are from everywhere.
Gente de Toda Cor: Me Aceita Como Eu Sou
People of All Colors: Accept Me Like I Am
My family is 50 shades of black. My mum is a white looking black person and every color of black is represented in my family.
I remember when my parents would explain what being Capeverdean is and how we are mixed with the world. Hearing that it made me feel like a superhero! I have the whole world in me and every time I travel I find bits and pieces of my culture everywhere I go.
Having a cosmopolitan look is both a blessing and a burden. People don't know where I'm from yet a lot of people think I'm one of their own. Many think I'm Brazilian. Growing up in a Moroccan neighborhood was challenging when they thought I was Moroccan. Some would insult me and call me 'kechba' (means whore) because of the way I dressed and make racist comments about my hair. When I defended myself they called me a 'racist who was ashamed of her own race'.
And a lot of the racism I suffered was because white people 'thought' I was Moroccan...
I also suffered from colorism which is discrimination amongst blacks based on the shade of your skin. I didn't understand this until I started getting dirty looks and evil comments.
I love that the world and its people are so colorful and diverse. Diversity is the spice of life! Our similarities bring us to common ground whereas our differences make us travel :)
Yet so often our looks can be the cause of suffering because it triggers hate and judgement in ignorant people.
Genie in a 'Lamp'
I love this bit of the Disney Aladdin. The genie says he has phenomenal, cosmic powers in a little box. And people are the same.
We are powerful beyond measure 'trapped' in our human, colored bodies. Yet I want to invite you to look beyond the horizon, beyond the social masks, beyond race and see the beautiful cosmos that exists in all of us. A higher power that connects us all because we're in this journey together. And together we're strong
Quem mostra' bo ess caminho longe
(who showed you this long road)
I've come a long way yet I'm still at the beginning of my journey.
If I look like the world and speak the languages of the world is because one of my missions is to build bridges of understanding between cultures. Although I'm an island girl, people are not islands and we can bridge these differences with education, art and love.
Education expands the mind and eradicates the shadows of ignorance.
Art just like music is the language of the heart and can pierce the armors of hate because it travels on the frequency of love.
And if you put all your Love into what you make any object can become magical and transform into a talisman that carries blessings.