Asase Yaa School of the Arts, Rubie Inez Williams, Brooklyn, #EndSars, police brutality, community, African dance, Nigeria
Photo: Asase Yaa Youth Ensemble

This Thanksgiving Eve, open your hearts and minds to the Asase Yaa School of the Arts’ “Rise Up! A Virtual Benefit Concert to #EndSARS”.

The funds raised for the benefit will not only go towards the movement ending SARS, the notorious anti-robbery squad in Nigeria, but also to families severely impacted by COVID. 

Photo: Asase Yaa School of the Arts

End SARS is a protest against police brutality in Nigeria, but is no different from the Black Lives Matter movement that has erupted across the United States showing how the fight for Black liberation is a global one.

“There are people here in America who are committed to looking at injustice and to provide support to the people affected,” Rubie Inez Williams, Asase Yaa’s director of operations, said.

“We’re all globally being affected. It’s our job to help our community whenever we can.”

The event will be held virtually on Facebook and YouTube Live at 8 p.m. and will feature African inspired music and dances.

Zakiya Harris, the artistic director of the Brooklyn-based School of Arts will be the host, and there will be a slew of performances by the Asase Yaa Youth Ensemble, Chief Sekou Aláje, Chief Ayanda Clarke, Grammy Award-winning percussionist The Fadara Group Music Collective and others. 

The event will amplify West African music and influences and will challenge students to use their artistic voices to speak out for global social justice, with them speaking out on the #EndSars movement and giving their own thoughts.

“We want the youth to understand that unity among people of African descent across the globe is so important,” Williams said. “It’s invaluable, it’s monumental especially since we’re also a country in turmoil. George Floyd and all these different moments of police brutality and then Nigeria, it’s all different but the same misuse of power.” 

Photo: Michelle Tabnick PR

The mission is to provide understanding towards the importance of reaching across oceans and countries to show that even across cultural contexts, solidarity is important.

Community is the main thesis of this benefit, a point that Williams hopes not only her students understand, but the audience as well. 

“We’re going to have both the Chief in Nigeria and the Chief in Ghana speak,” Williams said. “Both of them are giving their support to the cause as it’s really about us needing to rise up together, rather than an independent community. We need to really take it upon ourselves to uplift and empower each other.”

Donations to the event and the End SARS movement are being accepted through mightycause.com and will be accepted through Christmas Day. 

Asase Yaa has also created a lottery to provide three winners with extra money for the holiday season. You can purchase tickets for $25 and the winners will be announced during the benefit. You can purchase them here.

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Yannise Jean

Yannise Jean is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in publications like Okayplayer and Well + Good. Follow her on Twitter @yjeanwrites.

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