Ask Me Anything: Mali Simone Jeffers

Racial healer

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Mali Simone Jeffers - September 2014

Photo by Tony Valainis

After pushing boundaries at the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indy native Mali Simone Jeffers has created Mosaic City to build inclusive urban areas. Jeffers, 33, earned a spot in this fall’s SLK Executive Leadership Series, a group that discusses solutions to Indy’s most pressing issues.

So what do you do, exactly?
I’m a consultant. I connect people. It might be sending a newsletter, or it might be renting a lime-green school bus, stocking it with beer, and saying, “We’re going to have a conversation about living downtown.”

What’s your goal?
Diversity. I’m trying to move us past sprinkling people of color into a photo to really being more inclusive and having events that are relevant to more than one type of people.

Our biggest road block to a more-integrated Indy is …
Unhealed wounds. Take the Fred Wilson project. [His sculpture, a version of a freed slave depicted on the Monument that replaced the original’s broken shackles with a flag, was nixed by the city after much controversy in 2011.] I don’t think the African-American community disagreed with the art or artist as much as they used the project as an outlet. One woman said to me, “No one even knows why we’re fighting. No one knows the history of mistreatment against black people in downtown Indianapolis. And no one wants to find out.”

Who here does inclusion well?
The Pacers. I’m high-fiving whoever is sitting next to me as soon as I’m in my seat, and we don’t even know each other’s names.

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