• In 1992 Zoe Leonard wrote her now-famous poem ‘I want a president’ calling for a dyke president, a fag, someone ‘who has no health insurance’. She was inspired by fellow-poet Eileen Myles, who ran that year as an ‘openly female’ independent candidate. Two days before the 2016 general election, a group of artists, performers and poets met to share responses to Zoe Leonard’s text. And facing the prospect of a Trump victory, Myles performed a presidential acceptance speech of her own: ‘First I want to say this feels incredible. To be female, to run and run and run to not see any end in sight but maybe have a feeling that there’s really no outside to this endeavor this beautiful thing.’

 

iwantapresident Discoveries Manifesto

 

 

  • In 1963, with the Civil Rights Movement in full swing, James Baldwin and a San Franciscan TV crew made a film documenting the racial inequality of the city. The film ends with a startling monologue from Baldwin, in which he turns a vile racial epithet against those who use it: ‘I’ve known and I’ve always known, and really always, and that’s part of the agony, I’ve always known that I’m not a nigger. But if I am not the nigger, and if it’s true that your invention reveals you, then who’s the nigger?’ For Baldwin, the injustices of institutional racism were ‘involved only symbolically with color’: in essence, it was simply one set of people enacting violence on another to preserve a position of power.

 

 

  • Writing for Granta in 2008, Nelson Mandela condemned the egregious colonial actions of Western nations, actions that have led to Africa being ‘held out as the outstanding example of the beneficiaries of charity’. He called for an African renaissance ‘to secure Africa’s rightful place within the world economic and political system.’ Eight years later, Pwaangulongii Dauod’s ‘Africa’s Future Has No Space for Stupid Black Men’ extends Mandela’s vision. The piece is a vibrant, Afro-modernrist manifesto seeking to write a new narrative for the continent: ‘We are neither a theory nor a movement. We are open space: Africa’s newest genre. We are the unemployables, dissidents, techies, pan-Africanists, designers, etc., coming out, in the twenty-first century, in our different corners, to challenge the centuries-old notion that Africa does little thinking, trades badly and is even worse at buying.’
A Scale Model of Gull Point
The Boat