By Mirishae McDonald, Staff Writer

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For BOP, the Our Story Event Series is a space where the true experience of what it means to be part of the Black community is uplifted and celebrated. As a collective we have the opportunity to be rooted in our stories of resilience, and take ownership of the ways in which our stories our told. We are able to come from a perspective of power and strength, rather than victimhood and negativity. The Black community is as broad and dynamic as the ocean! Our Story events have been traditionally themed to uplift our interests, passions, and draw attention to the various issues facing our communities by allowing community members to share their expertise on  topics like education, public health, and relationships from their direct experiences. Our latest Our Story focused on music and the arts, in the basement of Quilombo, a Black space in Afrika-town in the heart of West Oakland.

It is important as a collective, that we make time to hear stories we can resonate with, so we know that the struggles we endure are not isolated and the triumph bound to come is for the betterment of all of us. By opening up discussions with the community members as experts, we give ourselves time to think about the larger systems that hold power over our lives and how we can make sense of them. When we have spaces like Our Story of Arts and Culture, the Black community has the opportunity to celebrate all of its greatness–in these spaces we laugh and cry when the spirit so moves us.

Who are we looking to be part of these Our Story Events? You, your grandma, your nieces and nephews. The overall Black community is welcome at these spaces, especially those who thrive around the arts, people who love to be in fellowship with one another, and folks who get inspired by each others’ gifts and talents. We want every generation to look upon each other with awe and wonder.

“I am Black and Proud,” was born out of a time when Afro’s were thick and big. It was a time when we saw melanin as the only true beautiful color. We believe our babies have something to learn from the adults and elders and that the elders can learn from the youth. BOP has always taken the multi-generational approach to restore the Black community, and in the Our Story spaces we welcome ALL to get the opportunity  to imagine a world without limitations.

Today we continue the legacy of our ancestors. BOP loves to create new and unique opportunities for folks to feel and be alive. Our stories get to be uplifted whenever we create a space for Black people to congregate. Coming together will always naturally be golden, because everything we need already exists within our own communities, sometimes we just have to be reminded of our own brilliance and resources. Our struggle will always be rooted in love. We have to learn to pass the baton and not beat people with it! Everything we strive to do is to reveal how great we are as a people. Culture is the essence that makes us who we are– how we talk, walk, live with others and how we as a people make connections to life. The Our Story Series continues to reflect all of who we are and hope to be as a community. Hope to see you there next time.