Go Deeper American Chameleon: Syllabus for Peace

American Chameleon: Syllabus for Peace

Posted August 24th, 2020

This year for the 2020 Fringe Festival, FringeArts is working with Portland Institute for Contemporary Art to present Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s digital piece American Chameleon: The Living Installments. Taking place over Discord and simulcast to YouTube, The Living Installments invite audiences to join Kosoko and his collaborators in a digital archive that explores the shapeshifting Black queer people must do to survive and heal. Featuring conversation, video, healing sessions, and performance, The Living Installments is an experiment in creating a flexible space where Black voices are able to think and speak out loud.

In conjunction with The Living Installments, FringeArts and PICA are presenting a reading series for audiences to more actively engage with the materials that have influenced Kosoko’s work. Taking place over three consecutive Wednesdays in September, these reading groups will be facilitated by two Philadelphia scholar-artists and one Portland scholar-artist and will follow a syllabus that Kosoko himself has developed specifically for this project. In each reading group session 15 Philadelphia and 15 Portland residents will be asked to read selections from Kosoko’s syllabus in advance and then gather with the three facilitators to listen to a short presentation, split into discussion groups organized by respective cities, and return to a larger group to have a broader conversation. Sessions last 90 minutes and will take place on Zoom.

Audiences are invited to sign up for one of the three workshops. For more information on the workshops and the lead facilitators for each, please visit the American Chameleon: The Living Installments page of our 2020 Fringe Festival.

What follows is Kosoko’s A Meditation on Grief and Healing. These materials are for anyone who seeks to think more deeply about what it means to live under white supremacy, and what kind of work it will take to build a more transformative, justice-filled future. Below you will see affiliated links to the sources Kosoko has compiled. For books, most links will lead you to, an online book-buying platform that directly benefits local bookstores around the country. The rest of the syllabus will lead you to Ted Talks, Youtube Videos, or the platforms of activists and scholars pivotal to Kosoko’s work.

If you’re someone who likes working through a syllabus with a deadline, we encourage you to sign up for the American Chameleon reading group series. Otherwise, peruse at your own pace. You can also read through these additional materials, including the Abolition Syllabus Addendum and a Syllabus for Peace supplement on Abolition.


Farming While Black by Leah Penniman and the Soul Fire Farm group


Transcript of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom


Holistic Lifelong Learning Model from the First Nation’s People, as presented by the Canadian Council on Learning


Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy


In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker


Social Justice in a time of Social Distancing by Kenneth Bailey & Lori Lobenstine from Scalawag Magazine


Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals by Saidiya Hartman


Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown


Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown


Tao Te Ching by Professor Lao Tzu


Opinion: Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police by Mariame Kaba from the New York Times


The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates from The Atlantic


Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis edited by Katherine McKittrick



Michelle Alexander and Ruby Sales discuss MLK’s Riverside Sermon


Tracie Keesee: How police and the public can create safer neighborhoods together – TED Talks



Ruby Sales, Where Does It Hurt?, from the Krista Tippett: On Being Project


Audre Lorde reads Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power


The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith



The United States Institute of Peace


Educator Resource Guide for current nationwide uprisings from the Racial Justice Organizing Committee


Wellness Planning from the Audre Lorde Project


The work of The Nap Ministry


The work of Ocean Vuong


The 1619 Project from the New York Times