Updated March 2016
WHO IS THE RENAISSANCE NEGRESSE?
Haitian/Chinese-American multi-media healing artist Cassendre Xavier coined the term *”renaissance negresse” in 2002. A musician, writer, fine artist, and actress, Cassendre (who also works under the names Amethyste Rah and Amrita Waterfalls, and who also became an ordained Interfaith Minister in September 2010) says the term describes a black woman who is skilled or gifted in 3 or more arts. Xavier is a recipient of a $15,000 Leeway Transformation Award which “supports women and trans artists creating art and social change”. Cassendre founded and directed several Philadelphia arts initiatives including The Women’s Writing & Spoken Word Series (Est. 2002) and The Black Women’s Arts Festival (Est. 2003). She also teaches classes, and leads or co-leads workshops and support groups related to creativity, personal growth, recovery (from abuse and addictions), relationships, and yoga. She is originally from Brooklyn, NY and has been living creatively and joyfully in Philadelphia since 1990. [*”Negresse, Negre: In the French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean Islands, these words often have a connotation of affection, entirely non-racial in meaning. `Ma petite negresse, mon negre, are equivalent to `My dear, my darling, my sweet.'” [From Masters of the Dew, a contemporary classic novel by the Haitian author Jacques Roumain, translated by Langston Hughes and Mercer Cook.]
More to come…