Disrupting Spaces | Sing Our Rivers Red and Rise Up!

sing our rivers red

Last week, Frost library was home to the Sing Our Rivers Red earring exhibit and accompanying events that aimed to shed light on the typically silenced narrative of murdered and missing indigenous women across North America. Additionally, the spoken word event intended to make space for voices of people of color, LGBT+ people and allies. The event ended up being particularly well timed, as news of eleven women from Attawapiskat attempting suicide broke early last week. The Sing Our Rivers Red and Rise Up! events were so successful because they disrupted traditionally colonized spaces on our campus.

The placement and timing of these events were crucial to their effectiveness. The healing fire (which allowed victims and allies to come together and make offerings in the form of letters or notes) took place right on the freshman quad, a central point on campus. The earring exhibit found a home on the first floor of Frost Library, allowing all passerby to bear witness to the emotionally challenging exhibit. The spoken word event also directly gave voice to those who are traditionally silenced. The passionate poems and songs performed rang throughout Frost Library. Echoes of the words being shared could be heard from floors up and down from where the actual event took place. I found the event to be so successful because it disrupted and challenged the traditionally white,structured space of Frost and transformed it into a space for these voices to be uplifted. It’s clear that this concept hearkens back to the work of Amherst Uprising: breaking down a structure to make space for those who are typically pushed out of it.

Also of note was the great community effort that this event became. Not only did various organizations at the college come together to help the event come to fruition, but community members from the surrounding area also joined in to show their support and aid in the efforts. The event was intended to be for the community, and one of active participation, making collaboration a crucial element. It was great to see this interactive nature and the way the community responded. The events reinforced how imperative it is to keep these conversations going and to continue to create spaces for voices that are traditionally suppressed.

Mo Better Blues | Space for Women


Let’s think about the spaces that Bleek occupies in the film versus Indigo, whom we barely see outside of the home or simply, outside: she only really gets to spend time outdoors in her wedding scene, after she has been chosen by Bleek. Women’s spaces are circumscribed, limited, interior: compare this to Bleek, who has so much sprawl. He bikes around Prospect Park, he wanders the city streets, he shows up all over New York. Even Clarke, distinctly un-domestic compared to Indigo, rarely shows up outdoors: she is inside the club, inside apartments, inside the record store. Indigo is almost always within the home: her excursion to the club is unexpected and upsetting to Bleek because it is not where she belongs, in his mind.

I want to look specifically at the spatial dynamics of Bleek and Indigo’s final seduction/coercion scene that we looked at in class. There’s the fact that Bleek walks across the city to get there, through the rain: he is in the outdoors and of the outdoors, thoroughly drenched in it. Indigo is the picture of interiority and domesticity: she is nestled in her home, and rather than leaving to meet Bleek, she lets him come inside. The inside of her house is a contrast between shadows and stark, yellow light: this lends a sense of containment, further enhanced by the way Bleek tries to contain her in his arms, again and again. At first she resists and beats him, but in the end she (willingly, or coercedly) allows herself to be enveloped by him. When they are together Bleek continually dominates the frame: he is wider, taller; she often disappears within him. This inverts the beginning of the scene, where it is Indigo who allows him into her space.