Hello ACI family! My name is Allegra Fletcher, and many of you may already know me as this past year’s Programming Fellow, the one who sent endless emails leading up to the Arts Equity Summit. I am so excited to continue the journey as Associate Director this year, and I’d love to take a moment for share a little bit about my path to ACI. Here we go!
Home, Sweet Home
A Boston native, I was raised mostly in the Dorchester area. I also lived for a few years in New Orleans (where my father’s family is from) and Honduras (where my mother’s family is from). This allowed me to expand my definitions of ‘home’ and ‘identity’ from a young age, and gave me a love for travel I’m sure I’ll always have.
All the same, Boston is home base. Boston has given me a sense of purpose and drive, and I’ll never grow out of proudly rocking my ‘617’ area code and obnoxiously rooting for our sports teams. Boston has a history both beautiful and painful, and there’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and make better decisions going forward. I plan to be one of the change agents that sees and makes that happen.
Processing Privilege on the Journey
As an Afro-Latina who grew up in a single-parent immigrant family home, I was not accustomed to thinking about my privilege until far too recently. Owning my privilege comes with a commitment to use it responsibly. I went to Boston Latin School for high school and attended Bryn Mawr College as a Posse Scholar. As I join ACI, I have just completed my masters in Arts in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I am grateful for the many things I have gained through these institutions, and the connections with them I still have, that I get to bring to the work I do at ACI.
I am one of those people who trusts their instincts. Against any and all sense of conventional wisdom, I applied only to Harvard for my masters. It worked. I decided to apply the same logic to my search for internships, choosing ACI because of the holistic approach to systemic change and the inclusion of the arts in our programming and other activities. I did not know it then, but I had found a place in which I could bring my entire quirky self to the office without fear. At ACI I can be the over caffeinated arts and craftsy songwriting research nerd who for some reason sings while she eats when she really likes the food, that I always wanted to be (and truthfully always have been).
The Roots, The Branches, and the Leaves
This June, as I prepared for my future with ACI, I explored our past. I visited ACI Artist Alum and peace ambassador Hyppolite Ntigurirwa in Rwanda, and our friends and partners over at Art and Global Health (ArtGlo) Malawi. I joined Hyppolite’s 100 day performance, Be the Peace Walk. This year is the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi, and Hyppolite aims to highlight the importance of seeding peace and stopping the intergenerational transmission of hate. In Malawi, I and the staff at ArtGlo shared ideas around best practices and the effects we want our work to cause.
The personal and professional impact of this time is indescribable. In Rwanda and Malawi both I was adopted, told I am a daughter of the land, and reminded multiple times that the next time I visit, I am coming home. Professionally, I appreciated the opportunity to step into parallel justice work. I saw the same drive and passion to make the world a better place and to expand our ideas of collaboration.
I am blessed to recognize that mine is not the only story of pain and oppression, and to know that it doesn’t take away from my struggle to acknowledge someone else’s. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King,
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
As ACI’s Associate Director, I accept the invitation and challenge to say and do the difficult things I shrank from in the past, and to recognize the responsibility that comes with greater influence. In short, I commit to being the change I want to see.
ACI family - past, present and future, I look forward to us growing together.