Introducing Rha Goddess

Among those who presented at the 2012 BALLE conference a few days ago, in Grand Rapids, was performance artist Rha Goddess, who shared a number of pieces from her “Opportunity Now!” series. Here’s the piece that she began with, in which she takes on the character of a recently paroled individual looking for a job.

The series, from what I’ve been able to find online, was commissioned by The Opportunity Agenda, to convey the “challenging and inspirational stories of individuals facing barriers to opportunity in jobs, housing, and transportation.” Here’s how Goddess describes the project.

I wanted to give voice to the stories often obscured by the facts and figures. My hope is that this performance provides greater access to the human impact of the crisis, which can often be lost in the complexity of political analysis. Opportunity Now! is meant to promote a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding economic recovery, while artistically and creatively inspiring viewers toward action.

Rha Goddess, when she’s not performing, consults with young, urban entrepreneurs, encouraging them to “stay true, get paid and do good.” The entity through which she does this work is called Move The Crowd. The following is from their webpage.

…With an interdisciplinary curriculum that acknowledges, honors and elevates the whole person, Move The Crowd works with clients to leverage their unique creativity, strengths and passion. Entrepreneurs emerge with the vision to move forward, the knowledge to up their game and the power to achieve their own flavor of success. Move The Crowd uniquely focuses on empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs — urban cultural creatives and innovators from a variety of sectors who are re-defining their “work” as a vehicle for creative expression, financial freedom and societal transformation.

While I’m a bit conflicted about the “get paid” part, I have to say that “stay true, get paid, and do good” is probably the best tag-line I’ve seen in years… As for why I’m conflicted about the “get paid” part, it probably deserves a more thoughtful discussion than I’m able to engage in right now, but, for the time being, let’s just say that I struggle with the idea that it’s not only acceptable, but noble, for one to reap the financial rewards of his/her activities in the business world… It’s something that I’m trying to come to terms with.

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  1. LisaD
    Posted May 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Wait, I can’t ‘like’ this – it’s not facebook. Besides, I saw her, and liked her last week, and that’s probably enough liking. I’d heard a bit about her work before I saw her at the conference – it’s good to learn more here. I really have an admiration for artists who really develop the artistic part of themselves and somehow ALSO manage to do practical business-y things like grow entrepreneurs.

  2. Posted May 23, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure how to say this, so I will just put it out there. I spent many years working in Detroit (first in legal aid and then as a teacher). “Getting paid” is a common phrase that I heard lots of folks, almost all of them black, use. Such as–“I didn’t like the work, but I was getting paid.” I took it to mean that we ain’t workin’ for free (I don’t, either) and so make sure you have enough to take care of yourself and your loved ones. It doesn’t mean to go out and do something just to get rich, but to make sure you are being recognized and respected for your work.

  3. Anonymous Mike
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    A lot of good people feel bad about making money from their initiatives. We need to change our relationship with money. Greed is bad. Making money, however, is not, especially when you use that money in constructive ways. I’m all for “getting paid”.

  4. dragon
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Wow, patti, I didn’t know you were bilingual. Maybe you can help me with some translating:

    ‘S’mofo butter layin’ me to da’ BONE! Jackin’ me up… tight me!


  5. Brainless
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I take “getting paid” to be a more modern and less eloquent version of Malcolm X’s “until I am satisfied”.

  6. EOS
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink


    LOL-made me laugh.

    Reminds me of Mrs. Cleaver on the movie Airplane. “I can talk jive.”

  7. EOS
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    It was Mrs. Cleaver! It still makes me laugh.

  8. Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    ‘S’mofo butter layin’ me to da’ BONE! Jackin’ me up… tight me!

    This motherfucking crack is killing me, sir, and making my very bones hurt. Further, it is making me feel insane and rather mad.

    Note that the use of the term “butter” in place of crack is not 100% accurate, as the term only refers to crack that has lots of shit cooked into it. Most addicts know not to use it, but when you are desperate….

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