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Reimagine Seattle: Ebo Barton

The challenges of the past two years have changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we show up for each other. They have also given us a rare chance to collectively reimagine our future. Through the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project we invite community members to reflect on their current experiences in Seattle, how they have been impacted by recent events, and their hopes for the future of our city.

The Future of Seattle

by Ebo Barton

There is something so incredible that I’ve witnessed because of the people I am connected with. This virus, this government, this millionaire, these damn police, this other millionaire, these laws, the people we have lost and lost and lost in all of this, my people are still able to be soft.

There must be nothing that breaks my people. Despite all the tragedy we have to endure, we are still here with hugs if you want them, open ears, laps to sit on, Facetimes to answer, falling asleep together, family dinners, and infinity heart emojis.

This is not to say that I don’t wish us relief. This is to note what remarkable creatures we are. Have you seen us dance together? The air fills with our spirits when our laughter harmonizes. Have you noticed how much food we’ve had together? The boomerang videos of our glass tipping towards each other. Have you seen our children learning? The quality time we are savoring with each other.

Over the past two years, I have witnessed the softness push its way forward. As if this is what we have been missing in our busy lives before it all changed. As if this is what is keeping us together. And it just might be. Because I really don’t know what I would do without BIG hugs from my friends, handholds, and quality time in whichever way is working for us today. We all are so much more open to being honest in our conversations, embracing each other in the ways we need, and to really listening. My people are saying, “I love you,” and “checking in..” and “text me when you get home.”

I wish our future holds onto this softness as we transition to whatever is coming next. Because we know well that we can’t always be soft. We know well that softness is not something we will be given. But we can be with each other.

This is not an invitation to drop our coping shells. The rough edges and sharpness we create to survive are not left behind. We still need armor. There is so much more left to do.

But in the right moments, our softness will be part of our durability.

With Love,

Ebo Barton

face of Ebo Barton. they are standing outside in the sun. they have dark hair and beard. they are wearing a striped button-down shirt. their head is tilted to the right and they are looking into the camera.
Ebo Barton comes from salt— from the moment before worlds converge. In this world, we are still trying to articulate that mixed Black and Filipino, Transgender and Non-Binary, Queer, Artists and Educators not only matter but are precious. In another world, Barton is loved, safe, and valued. The only difference being that the latter is a path they must make themselves. You may have seen Ebo’s work in Natasha Marin’s Black Imagination and heard in the audiobook read by Grammy and Tony award winner, Daveed Diggs.  You have also seen Ebo’s work online on Write About Now, Button Poetry, and All Def Poetry channels.  In 2016, they placed 5th in the World at Individual World Poetry Slam. In 2017, they co-wrote and co-produced the award-winning play, “Rising Up”.  In 2018, they played “Invisible One” in Anastacia Renee’s “Queer. Mama. Crossroads” and reprised the role in 2019.  Ebo debuted his first published collection of poetry, Insubordinate in 2020.  In 2021, Insubordinate was named a Washington State Book Award Finalist in the Poetry Category and Black Imagination was named a Washington State Award Finalist in the Creative Non-Fiction Category.

This piece was commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained herein do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas of the City of Seattle.