David O. Fakunle

David O. Fakunle   Artist and interviewer: C. Harvey

David O. Fakunle

Artist and interviewer: C. Harvey

Love would definitely be the number one word that describes me best. 

For me it's all about exuding love. I’m very fortunate that I feel like I know what my purpose in life is at a relatively young age. How do I manifest love and understanding in everything that I do? The public health sector allows for manifestations of love in so many different ways. When we talk about the structural barriers in Baltimore, and throughout the United States, including structural racism, classism and all the ways they manifest, we have to talk about change in policy. Policy is what makes the world go round. Through my Baltimore Corps fellowship, I am placed with the health department and work on community engagement, outreach and policy. I make sure the policy the health department supports, whether it’s on a citywide or statewide level, includes racial equity. People confuse equity and equality. Equality is what we want but equity is how we get there. Policies have to reflect a shift in the advantage/disadvantage continuum. It’s about community empowerment not engagement. Everyone won’t be ready for what that truly means. 

I’m a big, black man getting a PhD from John Hopkins University. I ruffle feathers just by my sole existence and I embrace it. It blows my mind that I don’t get as much pushback as I have been conditioned to believe I would. I’ll take all the cooperation and collaboration I can get in this fight. It’s more of a revolution than a fight. It’s about shaking the system and destroying it to rebuild it. You can do this in so many different ways. Arts & culture is the greatest medium to bring about a revolution because everyone speaks the language of art in any form or manifestation. It’s a universal language.

This year, I had the fortune of working with Light City and my rhythmic group Kinetic Frenetic. We’ve been drumming for more than 15 years and our performances were a manifestation of cooperation, collaboration, understanding, and love through art. A couple I met at a Light City planning meeting mentioned that they made light instruments and I had the idea to make light drums! We collaborated with one of our elders who happens to be a world-renowned drum maker, and he helped bring together both arts and sciences to create African light drums. Over the 7 nights we performed at Light City, we saw people of all colors, class, and ages coming together to dance and sing to the sound of our drums. Music is the true equalizer. The African rhythm touches our core and makes us human. The essence of humanity is best manifested in African drumming. It makes your body move! It has the power to touch the collective humanity and strip of our societal constructs. If we could bottle that energy up, we’d all be better people which would make the world a better place.