Blessings! My name is Cyepress Rite. I was born and raised in Long Island, New York but my heart and soul reside in Trinidad and Tobago, where my parents grew up. I am a first-generation American and college student. I am a Black Queer artist, culture-keeper, and storyteller. All my work, whether it be creating paintings, writing poems, or organizing, is rooted in collective healing and the power of art to revolutionize community perspectives and galvanize cultural imagination to envision and build an equitable global future. I am passionate about and dedicated to decolonizing education, religion, and humans’ relationship to the Earth, and I intentionally center BlaQ* people in these healing modalities. The Art of Resistance in Gendered Blackness, my self-designed major in the Integrative Studies Program, is an example of my determination to align my education with my lived experience. During the ‘20-’21 academic year, I will be working with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life as a President’s Fellow, with Hierald Osorto as my mentor, to begin to outline a decolonized framework for how higher education institutions like Ithaca College can resource and sustain holistic wellbeing and belonging for Queer Trans People of Color who are exploring/practicing African Traditional Religions (ATR’s) and/or non-Abrahamic indigenous religions.
*BlaQ is used to honor the specific experiences of (en)dark(ened) people who pridefully embody and declare their African roots as well as actively discover, recover, and develop decolonized practices and spaces to resist and heal from anti-Blackness. BlaQ is spelt with a capital "Q" to center the inherent Queerness in Blackness and elevate the people in the Black community, namely transgender, agender, gender nonconforming, and non-binary populations who have been and continue to be at the forefront of the global Black freedom struggle, despite intracommunal marginalization.