In 2020, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of masks was disseminated as the most effective way to combat the spread of the virus. In the same year, the Black Lives Matter movement gained an unprecedented repercussion. Bringing the two events together, I started to reflect about how many other invisible masks have been used without us realizing it.
Thus came the proposal for an event, which my colleague Ismar Hačam and I presented internally at the LCB literary center in Berlin, where we worked back then. In the following weeks, the idea grew to such an extent that, in addition to the event, it ended up becoming the theme of a literary fellowship program in digital format, coordinated by another colleague. Under the supervision of mentor Natasha A. Kelly, this project produced texts about racism and discrimination in different cultures. Djamila Ribeiro and Jeferson Tenório from Brazil participated as fellows, as well as Logan February, Precious Colette Kemigisha, Olumide Popoola, and Sheree Renée Thomas.
On the evening of December 7, 2020, Ismar Hačam and I finally organized our event. It was named after the digital literary fellowship program, “Un_Masking Difference,” with the subtitle “Literarische Stimmen hinter der Maske” [literary voices behind the mask]. The evening symbolized the closure of the fellowship program and the release of the e-book (in English) with the resulting essays. We broadcast it live with no audience on the spot due to pandemic restrictions. The event included a debate between Mohamed Amjahid and Amina Eisner mediated by Natasha A. Kelly, a video lecture by the celebrated writer Conceição Evaristo made especially for the occasion, a virtual exhibition of Ratão Diniz’s photographs, and the performance “E daí? / So What” by Mariana Bahia and Elissa de Brito.
All this can be watched here:
Below, you can see some photos from that evening.
Event date: December 7, 2020
Location: Berlin, Germany