a tale of two cities
Weird Charlotte: Are you originally from Charlotte, or did you come here from somewhere else? If you came here from somewhere else, where was that, when did you land here, and why?
Dia: Originally from Fort Bragg, NC. Came to Charlotte for grad school at UNCC, living between here and Guadalajara Mexico since 2000.
WC: Of all you've contributed to the cultural fabric of Charlotte, what are some of your personal favorites?
Dia: God City art exhibits and artist talks. We've been able to generate such a diverse crowd, ranging from the uptown banker to the underground battle rapper. H.E.L.P (Helping Empower Local People) and Alpha Phi Alpha (BNL) are not just talking about change but contributing to change with projects like 'A Voteless People is a Hopeless People', 'Big Brothers Big Sisters'.
WC: What strengthens your dedication to do what you do, in spite of the fact that Charlotte has not yet developed a critical mass of creatively-attuned people?
Dia: The youth strengthen my dedication. As a teaching artist I firmly believe what I put out will return to me and is a reflection of my perspective on the youth. The money sucks, so it all has to be done with passion. And this cookie cutter society we live in needs change (vote Obama, do your research). We need to stop allowing BET and MTV raise our kids.
WC: What sometimes discourages you about Charlotte and makes you dream of living somewhere else? And where would that somewhere else be?
Dia: I have to mimic my brother Litina Egungun here: what might discourage me in Charlotte is the complacency of the citizens. Nothing changes here from the 'Old Boys' way, or changes very slowly. When I leave Charlotte I'll most likely return to Guadalajara Mexico or St. Thomas USVA, live on a farm and do art.
WC: What would help make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?
Dia: A mayor that actually cared would be a great start. Economic and cultural diversity within our school system. God City taking over the board of education…
WC: What can we do right now to make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?
Dia: Raise the salary of teachers and allow them to place creativity back in the classroom (more interactive learning) which will place the creativity back in our amerikanculture.
WC: Let's say there's some creative person out there who's considering moving to Charlotte. If you could say one thing to them, what would it be?
Dia: We have an open market here for creativity: come contribute! Leave the negative attitude at home, we have enough of that already. Don’t talk about it, be about it. Play an active role in our political process.