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The Panther Express Project seeks to simultaneously raise awareness of an African American mural sited at the Ackerman Student Union Food Court at the University of California, Los Angeles (adjacent to Panda Express) and to invite opportunities for reflection on race and racism, bias and power. The project has four streams, which interrelate at the levels of embodied performance, consciousness raising, web deployment, and interviews with Arami Walker, a bi-racial undergraduate UCLA student. I created a symbolic performative character named ‘Lade Fader-Mural Awareness Worker,’ and I dressed similarly to a Panda Express worker in order to engage food court patrons. I created this character in order to function as metaphoric translator between the newly uncovered mural (it was covered for about 20 years) and the students who pass through this active liminal space on a daily basis, while engaging the public in a secret dance of conversation and action. This significant mural, titled ‘The Black Experience,’ was painted in 1970 by eight African American students from UCLA. Again, the mural is located just next to Panda Express. The mural was painted just one year after the Campbell Hall murders, which occurred on the UCLA campus in 1969. This horrific event involved two groups that were affiliated with the Black Panthers. These ‘factions’ were in an antagonistic relationship at the time of an event at UCLA/Campbell Hall. This antagonism was manipulated and fueled by the LAPD, causing a tragic outburst of violence in which two people were killed. At this time there is an increased awareness of serious and continuing issues of racism and bias on the UCLA campus as well as around the country. With this project, my intent is to find a respectful and sophisticated way to utilize a trans-disciplinary approach for a socio-political purpose.

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