This morning I attended CreativeMornings RVA networking / keynote event titled Taboo. This is a series of international conversations that local CreativeMornings across the world are discussing this month’s idea of the taboo and what that means in a creative sense to the the respective keynote speaker.
My morning began with entering in and receiving a name tag with a thought provoking question of the event’s talking topic; Taboo.
The rooms that led towards the November Theatre of the Virginia Repertory Theater were filled with creative professionals talking up the morning with Lamplighter Roasting Company Coffee in nearly everyone’s hand. Just walking through the room made you feel like you were a fish out of water if you were not networking with somebody or saying good morning.
After the first thirty minutes of networking and officially waking up, all participants were filed into the breathtaking November Theatre that is currently set for the show The End of War.
Following introduction’s of Doug Nunn; Host of CreativeMornings Richmond, and Susan Davenport; Director of Communications of the Virginia Repertory Theater. Doug Nunn got the minds of many working with a creative activity to create a “face” out of miscellaneous items that were in your pocket or purse with the person you were sitting next to, and then followed by an impromptu game of Taboo, the card and buzzer guessing game.
Following being introduced by host Doug Nunn, the keynote speaker Duron Chavis; Urban Farmer/ Change Maker / Community Engagement Coordinator at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and volunteer with Renew Richmond. Duron Chavis took to the stage and delivered a groundbreaking and riveting talk on his personal narrative of life, taboo’s, and how they relate to the being of a creative minded professional.
Duron Chavis wasted no time immediately breaking the ice with the idea stated, “In a time of alternate facts, telling the truth is a revolutionary acts.”, bringing reference to telling the truth about the reality in which we all face on a day to day basis, and what is actually occurring in society, not letting obfuscation take place in everyday culture.
Chavis then continued into his narrative by giving the audience his personal journey of life about his father’s capital business venture, Chavis said, “My father got his masters in hustle-nomics.”, giving frame of reference to the idea of drugs being a taboo that society is not comfortable in speaking about but nevertheless does exist in communities. Chavis also shared his experience growing up in Hanau, Germany by stating “My first love was books.”, and the societal reactions that being a literate, black male and moving back to the United States had on Chavis around the ages of 12 to 13. Chavis said, “Black people said I talked white.”, and the micro-aggression of Chavis’ literacy made Chavis step back and think about being stigmatized and stereotyped as another piece societal taboo’s that Chavis had faced throughout life.
The climax of taboo talk came when Chavis opened up about being shot multiple times by a SK Semi Automatic Russian Rifle at a Block Party in South Richmond. Giving a voice to the experience of the shooting as well as comparing it to the movie ‘The Matrix’ in how everything seemed to take place in slow motion of watching the bullets fly from the barrel of the rifle. This then led to a segway of how being one of the surviving of the incident led to the thoughtful quote from Audre Lorde stating “I began to ask each time: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?’”, and by this point the audience is gripped to every single word that Chavis is saying yearning to hear more.
Chavis then discussed social actions that he has taken to enact change within the communities in which he is a part of. From Happily Natural Day to protesting the VA General Assembly’s celebration for the 400th year anniversary of Jamestown with the assistance of the drummer Questlove and the band ‘The Roots’. Chavis enlightened the audience by informing them that history is not through the rose colored lenses that history books try to paint colonization as.
Being mindful of time Chavis then left the audience with the closing thoughts stating, “your narrative has value” and “empower the individuals to create the change they want to see.”, and in conclusion leaving us with a final quote:
“And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
– Audre Lorde
Thank you for reading,
Miles S. Hicks