Mission Statement

I write to link my personal experience with what’s happening in the world.

I teach to link the personal experiences of my students to the work that we’re studying, and to the world.

Devious Secret Plan

I want to use my plays to build a social justice organization that supports life-changing educational experiences for young people. Specifically:

  • Create and sustain excellent urban public schools in New Haven.
  • Link young people to organizations like the New Haven / Leon Sister City Project that will enable them to study and work abroad, get a broader perspective on the world, and connect with people different from them.
  • Create a hip-hop based True Gang Truce movement actively working to create peace on our city streets and in our national policy – linking the deaths of our young people here with the deaths of our young people in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Connect young people with youth- and hip-hop-based voter education, mobilization, and registration organizations.
  • Create a sustainable investment program that will enable young adults who have extra money to support the above efforts.

If you want to be down with a devious secret plan, email aaronjafferis@gmail.com.

Call to Action at Arts Awards 2011

by Aaron Jafferis

I’m particularly grateful to all the teachers – schoolteachers, friends, coworkers, and my parents – who taught me. Because making art is easy compared to making a kid. The initial act of kid-making may be easy, but after that it gets hard. If you mess up a work of art, you revise it or throw it out or hide it in your closet. If you mess up a kid, you…send him to juvenile detention, or jail, or wait for him to kill someone or be killed.  That happened a lot when I was a student at Hillhouse and ECA – there were about 30 murders a year in New Haven, just about what it is now, but then I knew the young people getting shot, or had friends who did. So I was angry as hell at all the arts institutions in New Haven that weren’t doing anything that had anything to do with us.

I’m not angry anymore, because I am those arts institutions. And I don’t know those kids anymore. And art can’t do anything about murders – that’s the economy’s fault.

Speaking of the economy, we have a Percent for Art program where 1% of funds for New Haven public buildings must go to put art in them.

What if there was a Percent for Youth program where a percentage of funds or at least efforts – from any art institution or program or multimillion dollar playwriting fund I benefit from – had to go to New Haven youth?

What if the percentage correlated exactly to the number of youth, or young adults, or people in general, killed in New Haven each year? Next year, we’d each be putting in at least 31%. What if our livelihoods were at stake – would we then bust our behinds to make art for and with New Haven’s toughest kids?

What if it’s not the economy’s job, but rather the job of art to cry out the value and beauty of life itself?

What if art’s job in this city is to teach, always and better and stronger, the value and beauty of life itself?

What if the 31 murders in New Haven this year mean we as artists are not doing our job?

What if we made art for and with New Haven’s toughest kids as if our lives depended on it?

What if they do?


  • “Critic’s Choice. With the raw spirit of the hard-hitting ‘Kingdom’... rap, Latin sounds and razor-edged rock tap into pure blasts of emotion, like a needle dropped straight on the brain. A bold step forward for the Globe.” – San Diego Union-Tribune
  • About Aaron

    Aaron Jafferis is a hip hop poet and playwright. Read his bio, his CV, or contact him.