Black Sex Matters is a campaign conceived by poet, playwright, and #LetUsBreathe co-founder Kristiana Rae Colón, designed by #LetUsBreathe co-founder Jennifer Pagán, and hosted by Nikki Patin. We have collaborated with Art AIDS America, the AIDS Foundation, Prep4Love and many other artists and community organizations to bring dynamic cultural programming, free testing, and healing arts to Black, brown, young, and queer communities.
Kristiana Rae Colón is a poet, playwright, actor, educator, Cave Canem Fellow, creator of #BlackSexMatters and co-director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective. She was awarded 2017 Best Black Playwright by The Black Mall. Past works include good friday (world premiere Oracle Productions, 2016), Octagon (world premiere Arcola Theatre, London, 2015; American premiere Jackalope Theatre, 2016), but i cd only whisper (world premiere Arcola Theatre, London, 2012; American premiere The Flea, New York, 2016). In 2013, she toured the UK for two months with her collection of poems promised instruments, winner of the inaugural Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize and published by Northwestern University Press. Kristiana is an alum of the Goodman Theatre's Playwrights Unit where she developed her play florissant & canfield, which debuted at University of Illinois-Chicago in February 2018. Her play Tilikum opened in June 2018 with Sideshow Theater and was the winner of Outstanding New Play at the ALTA Awards. She is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and one half of the brother/sister hip-hop duo April Fools. She appeared on the fifth season of HBO's Def Poetry Jam. Kristiana’s writing, producing, and organizing work to radically reimagine power structures, our complicity in them, and visions for liberation.
Nikki Patin has been writing for over two decades. She has taught hundreds of workshops on performance poetry, body image, sexual assault prevention and LGBT issues. Patin has performed, taught and spoken at elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities such as the University of Chicago, Adler School of Psychology, Northwestern University, Nancy B. Jefferson High School (located within the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center), University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and many others. Patin was featured on the fourth season of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, was voted one of 30 under 30 most influential LGBTQ people in Chicago by Windy City Times and took the gold medal in the 2006 Gay Games International LGBT poetry slam. Patin was voted “Best Standout Performer” in the Dunedin Fringe Festival while headlining a tour of her one-woman show, “The Phat Grrrl Revolution” throughout New Zealandand Australia. She has released several chapbooks, a full-length collection of writing and design, two EPs and a full-length album entitled “Bedroom Empire.” She is the creator of Surviving the Mic, an organization dedicated to creating safe space for the creation and telling of stories of survivors of all kinds of trauma, with a specialfocus on Black- and female-identified survivors of sexual and domestic violence who also identify as performing writers. Nikki Patin is an MFA candidate in Creative Non-Fiction at Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. Her work can be found at www.nikkipatin.com and www.phatgrrrlrevolution.com.
Jennifer Pagán was born & bred in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from the University of Missouri in May 2015 with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. At the age of 13, Jennifer taught herself how to use Adobe Photoshop and has since become well versed in graphic and web design. She has designed websites and graphics for various community-based organizations in the Midwest. Jennifer currently provides ongoing design of the website, event flyers, and banners for Kristiana Rae Colon's Black Sex Matters and The #LetUsBreathe Collective. Motivated by the transformative power of education, love and justice, Jennifer is currently enrolled in a teacher preparation graduate program at the University of Chicago.
Tita Thomas is a self-taught visual artist, educator and youth advocate from the Southside of Chicago. After graduating from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in 2014 with two B.A.s in Cultural Anthropology and International Studies, Tita has been actively invested in the self-liberation of black and brown communities and uses the arts to actively heal, reimagine and transform the world around her. Thus her creative work invites you into intimate moments of self-reflection that embodies her deep connection to the ancestors, the cosmos and the feminine divine.
Tita is a teaching artist at Breathing Room and organizes alongside other movement artists as a core member of For The People Artists Collective. Tita is also the current teaching artist/arts & volunteer coordinator at Blackstone Bicycle Works, which is a community bicycle shop and youth education program at the Experimental Station on the city's southside.
The #LetUsBreathe Collective is an alliance of artists and activists organizing through a creative lens to imagine a world without prisons and police. We organize artists to love and transform themselves, their families, their communities, and their cities through radical imagination and healing. The Collective produces cultural events and direct actions that disrupt oppressive systems, amplify marginalized voices, and serve people and communities most directly harmed by mass incarceration, police violence, and systemic injustice. We leverage access, power, and cultural capital to steward resources from the institutions that stole them to the people and communities who have been historically pillaged. The #LetUsBreathe Collective programs and operates The Breathing Room space, an arts, healing, and organizing headquarters and platform for liberatory and cultural work in Chicago.
Chicago Birthworks Collective The Chicago Birthworks Collective was launched In 2018 by a mom and daughter doula duo, as the premier birth and postpartum agency for Chicago families of color! Our mission is simple: to connect our families to the services they deserve and desire surrounding their most enjoyable, empowered birth and postpartum experience.