Radio LUMI

Transformation- Treemonisha

June 02, 2023 Luminato Festival Toronto
Radio LUMI
Transformation- Treemonisha
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Radio LUMI will explore the theme of “Transformation” as part of Luminato 2023. 

In “Grounding Conversations, Part 5: Building Futures and Momentum,”  Dev watches the ripples of transformation that emanate off them and the people that have impacted them as they move through a temporal Lake Ontario.

Then Theodore Walker Robinson meditates on a few things they find worth noting on the themes of transformation and the art of storytelling in opera as Luminato 2023 prepares for both opera productions of Dragon’s Tale and Treemonisha.

Theodore Walker Robinson:

Thank you for listening to Radio LUMI, the Luminato Festival for your ears. I'm your host, Theodore Walker Robinson, and in this episode, we're talking about transformation.

Dev Ramsawakh:

This is Grounding Conversations with Dev Ramsawakh for Radio LUMI. This six-part segment series will lay the groundwork for the conversations that'll be happening on our broadcast during Luminato 2023 and provide a background on the frameworks with which our audio experiences attempt to engage. Many performance shows and arts festivals begin their programming with your typical land acknowledgement. However, many Indigenous peoples have criticized the practice for relegating their relationship with the land to the past, which does more to alleviate settler guilt and discomfort than to demonstrate real solidarity and progressive action.

In my relationship to Radio LUMI, I want to acknowledge these criticisms as a way to use my platform responsibly. I don't want to just acknowledge the trauma Indigenous peoples from all over have had inflicted on them, but to address how our society collectively is hurt by the mechanics of colonialism. I want to try to offer a demonstration of ways to actively engage with decolonial concepts and a practice to move forward on an interconnected journey towards collective liberation.

In Grounding Conversations, I reveal myself as a time traveler, as I embark on a journey that weaves in and out of the past, presence and futures that are rooted in the festival's programming and our city's arts culture, tying them to the themes that the host here at Radio LUMI will be addressing from their own perspectives. This journey will be created using excerpts from my body of work to address the ongoing impacts of colonialism on our collective society and the underlying principles of disability justice that the San Francisco-based disabled arts collective Sins Invalid, imbued into the term when they coined it in 2005 in order to teach us how to resist our interlocking systems of oppression. It's now time to embark on the fifth part of our journey building momentum.

I can't let myself drift in these healing and imaginative waters too long. It's easy to get lost in the possibilities and forget how to move forward in creating them. I have to anchor myself in the past and present in order to do so. I do this by carrying people, ideas, conversations, and feelings in my body. The weight of them pulls me back to the present, reminding me of my priorities, my impacts, and the obstacles I might crash into if I'm not paying attention. But every move I make, every move that I witness, others make causes, ripples that I can watch, grow into what will eventually become a powerful rolling and crashing wave. Like the first time I spoke with Sheri Osden Nault as part of the 2022 Disability Spotlight series for Radio LUMI, in which I got to know them and other artists that were featured in the fourth issue of the zine Crip Collab created by Pree Rehal, also known as Sticky Mangoes.

Pree Rehal:

I think a lot about indigenous futurisms especially. And I think that for so many people, the concept of futurism or imagining futures is very technological and tends to be removed from the natural. But if we're thinking about indigenous futurism, the natural's so present. And to some people, in what is definitely a very unfortunately socially coded racist way, would think of some of the things I see as futurism as even like primitivism because it involves growing and it involves being present with the land, but I think that's a more accurate view of a sustainable future anyways.

Dev Ramsawakh:

Another reminder that time isn't linear, but an amorphous fluid body, past and future, aren't mutually exclusive. Sometimes there are things we left in the past that should have been carried with us. This is another scar from colonialism that has embedded itself into the foundational beliefs of our society.

Pree Rehal:

My art practice tends to reference bodies, both human and non-human, in a sort of entangled relationship, but building on those connections for me speaks to a future that prioritizes coexisting and sees like the entanglement between humans and non-human beings. It's hard to summarize kind of all of the reasons for human and non-human entanglement, indigenous worldviews, and futurism in my experience, but some of it is rooted in being raised in a way where I didn't see myself and like the animals around me in a sort of consumer and consumed or subject object relationship the way I think a lot of other people are raised.

Dev Ramsawakh:

Most of our institutions were founded to support the underlying myths of colonialism and capitalism in order to make them seem infallible and logical. They've been able to summarize these myths into foreign narratives which encourage us to accept violence and suffering as inevitable. First, humans are separate and superior to all other living creatures because they are civilized. Second, all other creatures exist solely to serve the needs of humans. Third, any people's considered primitive or uncivilized are closer to animals, and therefore exist to serve civilized humans. And finally, the most civilized are those that understand and prove this logic, and therefore are the ordained rulers of civilization where rejecting this logic proves primitivity and therefore inherent inferiority.

Systems of oppression become natural byproducts of that logic such as racism through the belief that whiteness and its ideologies are inherently superior or evolved, patriarchy by asserting that bodies can be categorized based on their reproductive roles, which require certain behaviors to continue the human race, which is a system which creates both gender and sexual oppression, and ableism through the belief that bodies are only as valuable as and defined by the labor they produce appropriate to their defined roles in society. A society grows more resistant to the most overt forms of these oppressive systems. More covert systems are able to continue through the ubiquity of their core principles that people can and should be categorized through a hierarchy which can justify violence and exploitation, that everything exists within a definable and rigid binary, that a desire for control and domination are inherent. Human traits meant to be rewarded, and that people are defined by their bodies and the functions they need to perform to support capitalism. These are the principles that our society embedded into our institutions by design.

This is why the concept of property and ownership was established as well, as to create qualifiers for it, excluding women, indigenous peoples, and other colonized peoples by removing their personhood. Building financial and economic systems around property and ownership then makes it easier to further disparities in power. This is how poverty was created and began to be used as a tool in which to maintain the status quo of colonialism. The criminal justice system was built around pushing a narrative of individual responsibility as a way to justify punishing them for their transgression against society that is either not supporting capitalist pursuits or existing in an undesirable body mind. This began in England in the early 1600s with what are now called old poor laws, which instituted houses of correction, early precursors prisons where poor able-bodied people were incarcerated to be forced into labor. The only support for the poor and physically disabled was charity and private alms houses, which were usually religious groups that subjected their residents to severe brutality and mistreatment for their sins against God.

In 1834, new poor laws were instituted that banned any outdoor relief for the poor, requiring all poor able-bodied people to work in houses of correction. Then later, penal colonies. As the age of enlightenment emerged, the scientists became the grounds to create the narratives needed to justify these interests in a new secular world, this was done by constructing artificial models of the perfect human. They created fields of study like anthropology and phonology to manufacture theories that the primitivity of the people they colonized, arguing that it would help them reach civility. Many of these so-called scientists and researchers often impose their own biases onto not only the data that they gathered, but the very research methods they use to support their hypotheses. The theories born out of the scholarships still ground the very foundations of many fields across the arts, humanities, and sciences. Educational systems and assessments were also built around this, inventing measurements like intelligence quotient and other standardized testing to exclude the incoming racialized youth as they began to be allowed into the public education system.

But this would impact disabled and otherwise marginalized students as well. This was compounded by medical frameworks and diagnostic criteria that were created and designed to pathologize particular body minds and groups that they wanted to control. This included diagnoses like drapetomania, which described enslaved people's desire to flee their enslavers as a mental illness that had to be remediated through hard labor in the sun, hysteria, which was used to dismiss trauma responses and anger from women, and was treated with what we now consider medicalized sexual assault, and sexual and gender deviation to reinforce reducing us to our reproductive roles, which has a number of violent corrective treatments. Many diagnoses from every addition of the DSM or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders were created to identify what we now understand to be trauma responses, neurological conditions, or physiological symptoms from illnesses or injuries as biological deficits or failures. This made people considered defective, disposable, making them targets for violence and isolation, compounding their already existing symptoms. Many of these diagnoses, along with a variety of other types of disabilities, were used to pathologized behavior considered counter to the cohesion of civilization.

This wasn't just used against sexual and gender deviance, but also to discredit religious practices and experiences of non-Christians. These medical frameworks were further used to justify violent practices such as unethical research like the Tuskegee syphilis trials and the four sterilizations of black, indigenous and disabled people. Many practitioners of these violent medical practices are still revered within the medical community, such as James Marion Sims referred to as the father of modern gynecology who honed his surgical techniques on enslaved black women, usually without any anesthetic. And what would later become regional police departments started off as slave patrols in order to capture enslaved people attempting to flee their enslavers and enforce their labor-based corrective sentences. These horrors of the past have all rippled out to create the conditions that we live under today. This is why collective access is a key principle of disability justice.

Certain body minds historically have been excluded from having their values and perspectives seen and respected as a strategy to dissolve resistance before it grows, which is why we have to make sure that those body minds, those excluded peoples aren't just known to society, but have the access to engage and participate in the building of it. But as Sins Invalid urges us to remember, we can't just stop at giving them access. We have to make sure that those that are most harmed lead the changes. By leadership by the most impacted, Sins means that our organizing efforts to resist colonialism and capitalism need to be led by organizers who understand and have experienced the multitudes of systemic oppression that function in tandem with each other. This also means that we don't have to wait until we rip out those systems from their very roots in order to start creating the actions that will ripple out into the futures that we want. This reminds me of something that Kay Chan told me in another interview from the Radio LUMI Disability Spotlight series.

Kay Chan:

My grandma had messaged me in the middle of the night asking me, "What would you do to change the future, will flowers?" And she was kind of referencing [inaudible 00:11:43] were also known as the flower bead work people. So at the time I was getting really into beading and my grandma was also just, I think kind of going through her own turmoil as well be with COVID and being secluded in her own home. She's dealing with cancers and stuff right now. It made me stop and think for a solid week just being like, what are ways that we can still grow with the future? I constantly think about that. What are the things that are going to leave my impression on this earth, but necessarily like what are ways that I can do things that can help this earth grow and trying to find power ways to show expressing that.

Dev Ramsawakh:

This is why Sins Invalid made collective liberation, a core principle of disability justice, not just that we are working towards the liberation of humanity as a collective, but that we all individually are active participants in that collective, and we all have our own impacts that we can make if we stop standing in our own ways. This is the transformative magic of art. It's how we can connect to each other, reach each other, make impacts on each other in intangible ways. I am transformed and informed by the art that I consume and create. Like the interviews I conducted with staff from Sketch Working Arts for video series on conflict I made for them earlier this year.

Speaker 5:

Our brains all work so differently. We can only understand our own experience. How we relate to each other and connect to each other is through those actual tangible feelings.

Speaker 6:

[inaudible 00:13:09] unlearning and relearning a lot about making space so that more people would feel that they have a part to play in collective liberation.

Speaker 7:

It's growing, developing [inaudible 00:13:24] and get critiqued, and then get [inaudible 00:13:24] to community, but also in [inaudible 00:13:26]

Speaker 8:

So deeply necessary for us to find ways to continue to be in community with each other, to continue to make art, to address all the varieties of social injustice.

Speaker 5:

I'm figuring out my daily routine because somebody else was judging the way I was doing things. And without that judgment, it's like, okay, why am I actually doing the things that I'm doing? Am I actually doing it because I want to do them or I have to do them, or because somebody made me feel that way?

Speaker 9:

You just can't [inaudible 00:13:59]. You have to acknowledge when things go wrong and move towards solution. Of course, they're not going to be ever the same again, but there is a way to move forward and transition into something new.

Speaker 10:

You're still not doing it perfectly.

Speaker 11:

Making mistakes along the way, it's important to put those out there so that you're able to have discussions with them and take away some that power and give some of the power back to the people that it ends up being built on the past.

Speaker 5:

I listen to conversations so intently, it's like I'm experiencing it in my whole body.

Dev Ramsawakh:

These are the lessons that I try to carry and share with me as I move into the future. That was part five of the six part segment series, Grounding Conversations: Building Momentum. This segment was produced by Dev Ramsawakh for Radio LUMI as part of Luminato 2023. This segment included audio excerpts from interviews with Sheri Osden Nault and Kay Chan for Radio LUMI, and Luminato Festival Toronto as part of our 2022 disability spotlight series, and an audio excerpt from the Conflict video series produced by Dev Ramsawakh for Sketch Working Arts.

The music used in the segment is by G.R. Gritt. Sound effects for either from or fully produced by Dev Ramsawakh.

Theodore Walker Robinson:

What exactly is a classical instrument? What does it sound like to you or look like to you? Perhaps it's a cello made of mahogany wood or a grand piano with glistening ivory keys. What about a classical composer. Who comes to mind when you think of a classical composer? What do they look like to you? What about opera? What comes to mind when you think about opera? Maybe elaborate onstage, grandiose tales sung in French, German, or some other Eastern European language. But depending on who you ask and where you're from, a classical instrument, a composer, or an orchestra will vary in shape, in form and fashion. And if you were raised in the Royal Conservatory like me, certain forms of repertoire and musicality and orchestral instruments are considered the gold standard for learning music. And it makes me wonder, what if the classical instruments of our indigenous heritages became standard curriculum?

What would it look like if we indigenized our orchestras and operas and compositions in Canada? What if that became industry standard? What if we lived into the future of Canadian orchestral music where our ancestral instruments tell our stories alongside cello suites and piano concertos? How can we transform orchestral opera and musical space into something that is authentically us diverse with multiple stories as there are voices. This year at Luminato, once you experience the diasporic orchestral soundscapes of the opera productions of Treemonisha and Dragon's Tale, you may have some curiosity about a particular stringed instrument that appears within this magnificent ensemble of Treemonisha particularly, and that is the kora. To those who are unfamiliar with African classical music. This instrument is the perfect tool for the storyteller, for the poet, for the artist. The kora is an instrument that combines similar features of what Westerners would recognize as the harp or the lute, and it's constructed from a leather covered calabash gourd, which is essentially like a pumpkin, a gourd, something that you would see around fall holidays, a gourd, and it's used as a resonator attached to a long hardwood neck with metal rings.

The kora is the African continent's most sophisticated stringed instrument. It has been in existence in different forms since the 13th century, and this was during the reign of Sundiata, the great of the Mali Empire in West Africa. The origin of the kora though specifically cannot be located, but Gambia and Senegal are the most famous countries for this instrument and have long lineages of Cora players coming from these countries. There are famous kora players from other West African countries such as Burkina Faso, Sierra Leon, Mali, I did mention, and Guinea. In a nutshell, the kora is particular to the people of the Mandinka tribe, which is essentially an ethnic group in West Africa. The instrument itself, it has 21 strings. It was historically made of strings that were crafted from antelope hide that were finally twisted into strings. But since the early 1950s and technological modernization and music manufacturing, there has been the introduction of nylon and fishing line as strings instead.

Modern kora's, you'll find are mostly made of nylon in manufacturing, and our most popular nowadays for a few reason, the nylon koras. These strings are most resistant when it comes to changes in weather, especially playing in countries where it's hot during the day and then cool at night, especially in West African countries. And nylon strings are very conducive for playing outdoors. But also, those strings made of nylon, they don't break easily and they yield a good sound. The kora was a tool of the traveling West African storyteller, professional griots. They were called griots, and they would use the kora to accompany their spoken epic narratives, their poetry, their didactic teachings, family histories, genealogies, recitations and various kinds of songs and praises and all kinds of chants and oral recitations, oral traditions essentially. And the instrument is held upright by the storyteller, by the griot, and it is held and played while standing or seated.

It's lightweight and can easily be carried by these traveling storytellers, these griots, moving within and across the community. The kora as an instrument has a range of a little over three octaves, which is quite vast. And with strings and tensions, you can get quite a range of quality out of it, a spectrum of qualities and tones from each string. And it gives a very unique and gentle celestial sound. In fact, the sound of the kora and the music of the kora are very pleasant to the ear, and it invites the listener into this world of story. It transforms space. It transforms time through the aid of the storyteller into the moment of the creative world, the world of possibility, of imagination, of teaching, of the world of ancestry. And in traditional West African indigenous society, the kora was played at the royal court.

In contemporary times, it's heard at weddings. You'll find them at African weddings, baptisms, at restaurants. It's a very contemporary modern instrument, like a guitar here in the Western world. It's now found even more so in modern orchestras, just as the one you're seeing in Leah-Simone Bowen's adaptation of Scott Joplin's Treemonisha. Over time and over the centuries African-Americans, even those who've been enslaved and taken over the Trans-Atlantic passageway to the Turtle Island, have taken the concept of the kora and have incorporated the kora into their own folk music in African-American style music. When you think of the banjo, the banjo is so embedded in Southern African-American music, very similar to the style, the concept, the sound of the kora.

So very reminiscent, very mnemonic of the concept of the kora in African-American music. But because the kora has so many strings, because it's so expansive in its range, its depth and its quality of sound, it gives the player, it has given African Americans, it has given black folks over time in musical history, a room, the space, the grace to showcase their skill, their versatility, their creativity, their spectrum of musicality, and also their emotive energy in storytelling, in playing. And the kora, as a handmade instrument made from natural materials, you're going to get a certain quality that certain traditional manufactured orchestral instruments like I don't know Yamaha or other manufacturers would create for you in an orchestral experience. And so the kora, other indigenized instruments like that are bringing this earth and awareness to the stage experience, to the production experience.

And I think that's definitely a quality that your typical orchestral instruments won't bring. So definitely bend your ear to that experience as you take in Treemonisha this year at Luminato in this year's production of Treemonisha by Scott Joplin, adapted by Leah-Simone Bowen, and accompanied by the first all black orchestral ensemble in Turtle Island history, [inaudible 00:26:32]. Treemonisha taps into an archive of black musicianship and storytelling through music and transforms the stage space into that historic playing, that playing of black musical memory. This historic orchestra and adaptation will allow us to travel through black musical history and project into the future of black musicianship in Canada on Turtle Island.

And this year at Luminato, world renowned composer, producer, cellist and kora virtuoso Tunde brings a new vision to contemporary African and Western classical music. In popular culture, folks might recognize Tunde's kora playing in the soundtrack of Black Panther and Wakanda Forever. So if you didn't know that tidbit of information, I encourage you to go back, rewatch, and listen for Tunde's kora playing. Tunde is a self-described renaissance man, a man of very deep classical and technical study. He's also a master of the lute and also the harp, and has 20 years of experience, over 20 years of experience. And his unique style is a synthesis of classical music, of jazz, of traditional music, and it embodies the legacy of the idiom of African classical music. Tunde's work has been a force of transformation in the face of classical and contemporary music in Europe and Africa on the African continent, and he's one of the only composers in the world to be playing in both Western and African musical cultures, which kind of brings up the concept of split identity, double consciousness that is explored in Scott Joplin's Treemonisha.

Tunde studied both western classical music and the griot tradition, so holds this double consciousness when he comes to the Quora, to the playing of the instrument. So it feeds very much into the musical production of this opera. Tunde is the founder of seven ensembles, including the art ensemble of Lagos and the African classical music ensemble. He is also the curator of Living Legacies, Gambia's first traditional archive, and the director of New Horizons, an educational initiative to develop young musicians in Nigeria. And over the last few years, Tunde has been the artistic director of the Muson Center, one of West Africa's only music conservatories that specializes in classical music. He consequently set up the NOK Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to the raising of consciousness of music and the arts and West African arts and music culture. But as you take in Treemonisha, pay close attention to Tunde Jegede's kora playing and how he transforms space and time through musical story, through the use of the kora, through the emotion and the expansiveness of the kora's range.

Pay attention to the double consciousness that Tunde infuses into his playing in the production and how it transforms the experience on stage. For those who are cited, I definitely challenge you to read this experience into how you take in Treemonisha. And for those who are blind and low vision, pay attention to that emotive energy in the kora and where it's taking you in story time, in narrative, in the imaginative world. Because from my experience, as a low vision connoisseur of music, I should say. Should I say that? I don't want to sound too elitist, but I've studied music all my life, and as I mentioned, I grew up in the role conservatory. I play a few instruments, piano, guitar, classical and electric. And I've never seen heard experienced an instrument like the kora. It definitely has a way of transforming time and space. And as someone born as a first generation diasporic Afro-Caribbean black musician, to come back to the kora as an instrument to sort of indigenize my experience of music, this has been a very transformative instrument for me to research and to look into.

And so I invite you, listeners of Radio LUMI, to go see Treemonisha and pay special attention to this West African indigenous instrument and how it transforms the experience of the orchestra, of going to the opera, and what it means for you, whether you're Afro-Caribbean or Black, or from another background. See what it means to have an indigenous instrument incorporated, integrated into a musical experience on stage. In continuing with our conversation on transformation, it's very important to note that premiering to the world this year at Luminato is Dragon's Tale. It's co-produced by Tapestry Opera and Sound Streams, and it was realized in whole and brought to fruition in partnership with the Luminato Festival, Toronto and the Harbourfront Center. So you'll have a chance to enjoy a live performance of this production right by the water at the Toronto Waterfront Center, a beautiful new opera. So just a little bit about Dragon's Tale, it's a beautiful new opera performed, as I mentioned, on Toronto's waterfront, and it celebrates the origin story, the mythology, the history behind Dragon boat racing, the Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing.

And in ancient China, poet and politician, Qu Yuan dedicated his whole life to the king in his court in the Chu kingdom until exile charges pretty much ended his world forever. But in present day, Toronto, Chinese Canadian Xiao Liang yearns for liberty in this story of Dragon's Tale and independence, while her father desperately tries to hold her close. So there's that tension of being held to oppressive captivity within a familiar territory, and then that tension of wanting to leave home or a leave familiar territory, oppressive circumstances, and find self-actualization and move towards a place of self-actualization. And so that is the narrative of this opera Dragon's Tale. And reaching across time, the dragon boat's drum beats to the rhythm of their hearts, the characters of this opera, Qu Yuan [inaudible 00:34:36] and struggle with the power of love and the desire for freedom. So there's this tension between art, between love, between politics. And it's funny, when I started my artistic career, I was just coming off of politics myself. And a few times, I've been asked about what really brought me to politics, what really brought me to the forefront as an artist.

And at the beginning, I really was an artist, not a politician born and bred. And what really brought me to that place of transforming myself from an artist into a politician is just that prompt to change, that prompt to be a catalyst for change, and to see not only myself self-actualized, and to see myself reach my full potential and my truest full expression, but to see people like me come to a place of their full true expression of themselves, that full transformation into self-actualized, embodied, empowered being experience of this operatic celebration of Chinese tradition of Dragon's Tale at Luminato, if you have the pleasure of taking this in, it has a Canadian backdrop, and you'll be able to enjoy some soaring music, some magical storytelling. It was created by the world's renowned team behind Sound Streams, the weaving maiden and Tapestry Orchestra's smash hit Iron Road, including accomplished Chinese Canadian composer Chan Ka Nin, and award-winning playwright and librettist Mark Brownell.

So wonderful icons in music across Turtle Island in various traditions, and directed by Tapestry Opera's, artistic director Michael Hidetoshi Mori. You'll be able to take this in on the concert stage at the Harbourfront Center, 235 Queens Key West. I have to stress that for those of you who have access needs, book your access ticket through our friend Emily Maxwell through our Access Concierge service. This is lux service, I'm telling you, front row service for the blind and visually impaired. Book your ticket to see Dragon's Tale. But there's so much to explore in this production itself in this opera, just about change, conversations about change and transition and transformation. As I was alluding to before, this yearning for liberation that the protagonist has, this yearning for self-actualization is something that is very universal across cultures, and so I think there's something that every audience can take from this, that universal tension between breaking free from some kind of oppression, whether it be external, or even internal and self-imposed.

But it's a story that's transgenerational as well, so people of all ages will be able to enjoy this experience, this production. It speaks to the transformative experiences as well within my own family lineage. Just when I was doing research on this opera and just reading about the narrative itself... I'm very happy that I know Chinese opera is also getting fronts and center stage here during this year's festival because it has such a strong history within Chinese culture, opera, and just the genre of opera in itself. But that being said, this production really pulls out my own lineage and my own Chinese family history. And it's funny, a lot of people think, "What? You're Chinese? I thought you were black." But Afro-Caribbean black folks, we're so diverse. We come from so many different places in addition to the African continent, and through colonization and migration, and so many mixtures. There's so much diversity that has come within Afro-Caribbean and black culture.

And yes, within the Caribbean culture especially, my family originating one side from Trinidad and Tobago, the oldest ancestor, we can trace back, my great-great-grandfather came from China. His name was John Sam. And in coming to Trinidad as an indentured laborer, as many Chinese folks and Indian folks, and other folks from across the Asian continent, and even in the African continent were brought over to the Caribbean... And again, the Caribbean is just such a interesting place. It's just a mixture of all of these people coming from different places through various passages for the purposes of indentured labor, and then kind of mixing and mingling together and creating these interesting dynamics and cultures and hierarchies and oppressions within oppressions and interesting dynamics for sure within Caribbean, Afro-Caribbean culture. But in my story, in my family's story and our lineage story, our surname actually went through a transformative experience.

My great-great grandfather, John Sam, he was pressured to assimilate to under a colonization in many ways, and that included changing his surname actually to anglicize his surname to Samuel, which is my previous name, which many of you at Radio LUMI may previously have known me by in that last season, my surname Samuel. But it goes to show how strong language can be to enforce a system, to be a certain way, or to enforce a certain way of being, a kind of politics. And again, the poet whose Work Dragon's tale is based on Qu Yuan, let's remember He was a politician, and that gives him something of a very interesting perspective into a conversation about what liberation can look like, how we can structure society, how we can live together with one another in relation to one another in a good way. And think about how we relate to one another and how we relate to one another, and the impact of what those relationships are to one another. So again, lots to think about.

Again, change transformation, just a wonderful topic that I think is so relatable for anyone, anyone's lineage or anyone's family story, regardless of where you're coming from. But through the lens of Chinese history, through the tradition of dragon boat racing, I invite you to take it in and enjoy it live and in person on the water. That's a great way to embody the experience in and of itself.

Thank you for listening to Radio LUMI, the Luminato Festival for your ears, where my colleagues Ramya, Christine, JJ, Rebecca, and producer team, Dev and Kathy, are working hard to bring you the best of Luminato 2023 in every accessible way. Have you heard that our access concierge service is open for this year? Ooh, how lux. To book the accessible experience of your dreams at Luminato Festival Toronto, or for more on what's available at our festival access hub, call (437) 776-1569.

The music used in the segment is by G.R. Gritt.