Oakanda Forever (12" x 18", 2015)


Melanie Cervantes
12” x 18”
4-color handmade screenprint, Cougar, 100lb paper
Printed in my kitchen, San Leandro

Late last summer, I learned that I have a rare form of lung cancer. After a successful surgery and a half year in recovery, I learned that my latest scan showed no new cancer growth. In the nine months of wrestling with the weight of this disease, I watched as places around the world were devastated by the intersection of climate chaos and the intentional abandonment of affected communities.

The continued threat of police executions of Black youth and the kidnapping and expulsion of Brown families broke my heart. I was unable to act. I was literally learning how to breathe again with 1/3 of my lung removed. I had to take it slow. When I received the good news, I knew that I waned to celebrate with an action and an act of solidarity.

I initiated a partnership with Culture Keepers at McClymonds High School to support their fundraising efforts to take students to South Africa. As the film Black Panther has become a global & cultural phenomena, I have spent countless hours listening to director Ryan Coogler talk about how “I had a lot of pain inside of me due to not being able to know my ancestry” and that the film allowed him to explore "what it means to be African." I believe this trip to South African will allow young people from Coogler's birth place of Oakland to answer this question themselves, to begin to salve the pain of fragmentation caused by colonialism and slavery, and to build bridges with youth in South Africa.

Many people, myself included, have had the privilege of traveling to different places in the world very different from the U.S., and each experience deepened my knowledge of self, strengthened my world view, and grew my love for my community back home. I want these young people to know we have their back and we will support them as they grow as leaders in our community.

* Please note these prints include a with a blended background (or rainbow roll) and thus each print is unique because it combines multiple colors. Each print varies slightly and is unique.

To learn more about the trip and donate visit https://www.gofundme.com/oaklandtojoburg

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