Modern Griots Reviews: Roots Reversion – “Rehistory” Lessons from Black Rock Coalition and CCCADI


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Deep Roots of Rock and RollBlack Rock Coalition and CCCADI (Caribbean Cultural Center) hosted events last week that reminded audiences, especially those of the African diaspora, of how much black histories, stories and voices get erased, revised, transformed, hidden, abducted, revised, whitewashed or any other term you would like to call it. And just like kinky or curly hair after it is straightened, eventually our histories will revert back.

The other day, for example, I was watching Mysteries at the Museum, and found out that the first black Major League Baseball player was not Jackie Robinson, but Moses “Fleetwood” Walker (although some sources say it is William Edward White). Walker was also an inventor and author and played professional baseball until the late 19th century when Jim Crow Laws were enacted and the League was segregated. After the Major Leagues, he became a businessman and black nationalist, writing a pamphlet titled Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present, and Future of the Negro Race in America.

As time goes on, we see our histories often revised or hidden like that, but we still must keep revealing the truth. One such history is rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’ roll is often whitewashed to the the point that it seems only white people created the genre and continue it, ignoring the contributions of people of color, including black Americans, in it. Black Rock Coalition, which will be celebrating 30 years next year, continues to fight that erasure and did with “Deep Roots of Rock and Roll” last Saturday. at Lincoln Center Featuring performances from Toshi Reagon, Nona Hendryx, Tamar Kali, Corey Glover of Living Colour, Karma Mayet Johnson, Kimberly Nichole, Jason Walker, and Adaku Utah, the show was two hours of electrifying truth, hosted by poet and writer Carl Hancock Rux as the radio DJ speaking his rock and roll gospel. Rux opened the show and repeated throughout the question of “What is Rock and Roll?,” giving a rundown of the various voices and histories that contributed to today’s rock music, like minstrel songs, jazz, blues, spirituals, ring shouts, gospel, early rock ‘n’ roll, and then the demonization and later “abduction” of rock. Bo Diddley, as Rux quoted, did say, “I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob.”

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Amanda Johnston

Amanda Johnston Pic

Source: Prose and Cons Editing

Women Writers in Bloom is a literary salon I started attending a couple of months ago and this month’s featured Texan poet Amanda Johnston. Today I feature her here with some of her poetry influenced by science fiction/fantasy films, like Blade and The Matrix.

Below are two poems, “Mixed Blood” and “Blade Speaks at Career Day,” published in Kinfolks Journal based on the Blade movies:

(click on the image to see full screen)

Amanda Johnston

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Modern Griots Reviews: State of Grace – Grace Jones Retrospective

Grace Jones Retrospective at Joe's PubGrace Jones’ exemplified “the human right to self-express,” singer Davi said before he performed Jones’ song “Living My Life.” The Jamaican-born British singer did just that with her commanding stage presence never apologizing for who she is, her androgynous look, striking beauty and out-of-this-world style. And neither did any other of the performers for the night matching Jones’ suave and yet assertive persona.

Presented by Black Rock Coalition, who will be celebrating 30 years next year, and curated by musicians Gordon Voidwell and Tecla,the show featured several musicians, including Daví, Tamara Renee, Angelica Bess (Body Language), Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum), and Bryndon Cook (Starchild, singing their own tributes to various Jones’ songs. Joining them in the band were other noteworthy names from the co-curator Tecla on keytar to Val Jeanty on electronic percussion.

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Otherworldly Videos: Tamara Renée’s The Moon Goddess

Last Friday, I attended Black Rock Coalition‘s State of Grace: A Grace Jones  Retrospective and Tamara Renée was one of the musical guests for the night. So, before I give you the review for the show tomorrow, here is her latest video for “The Moon Goddess.”


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Moving on the Wires: Recent News and Posts

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This post has been missing for the past couple of weeks, so here is a combined one:

Rasheedah Phillips’ “Black Quantum Futurism” theory

*Should Science Fiction and Fantasy be Included in the “New Wave of African Writers”? on Books Live: Since Science Fiction and Fantasy are still considered genre fiction and not high literary fiction, I can see why this happened. Still not right though.

*”So I Geek Yeeah: Six Black Women Geeks You Should Know” on For Harriet.

*”Afrofuturism through the eyes of Bill Campbell” Interview on Oak Park: “Oddly enough, I’m one of those artists who’s not really into definitions. However, I think of Afrofuturism as an artistic movement spanning the different disciplines where the Diaspora gets to examine its own past and future, its own humanity within the context of speculative fiction. It is global and quite disparate and, to me, incredibly hard to pin down in just a few words. I think that’s why I like it so much. There are so many possibilities within Afrofuturism — and within all of us.”

MLK, science fiction, innovation, creative thinking and Afrofuturism” Interview with Ytasha Womack on Chicago Tribune: “[Afrofuturism is looking at alternate realities through a black cultural lens. It’s expressed in so any different mediums, but it brings in science, math and philosophy. It provides a window to look at all these different ideas.”

*Submissions call for next issue of Joint Literary Magazine: “Capitalist Realities and Their Consequences.

We are looking for work that responds to the question, “How do capitalist conceptions of time expand or limit how we perceive reality and negotiate our identities as persons within the African diaspora?” Consider capitalist notions about time and space, the commodification of body and/or intellectual resources, etc.”

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Modern Griots Interviews: Colored Girls Hustle Part 2

Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape*Become a patron and support my blog and other writing endeavors on Patreon!


Here is part two of yesterday’s interview with Colored Girls Hustle’s Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris.In this part, they talk about their plans and expectations for the mixtape and Colored Girls Hustle, and how their work is both futuristic and ancient. Enjoy!

5) What other plans do you have in addition to the release of the mixtape? Will be there be a Volume II in the works?


Taja: Right now, we’re focused on promoting this mixtape. We want as many people as possible to hear it, bump it, get with it, love it and love on themselves. In the next year we’d love to bring this show on the road! We’ve got some performances coming up and a menu of workshop offerings will soon be available so folks can bring us to their schools/universities and communities. And while we plan to continue to make songs on our own and with other artists, I’m not sure about another project just yet.


Some Colored Girls Hustle swag is on the way! We’re working on t-shirts and a mixtape zine will soon be available. These things will be available for purchase later this summer.

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Modern Griots Interviews: Colored Girls Hustle Part 1

Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape

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Hey, everyone! I’m returning after a short break with an interview I did with Colored Girls Hustle’s Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris. A few weeks ago I did a review of their Colored Girls Hustle Hard mixtape and below they talk about their inspirations for the mixtape and the process of making it as well as upcoming performance they have planned. Tomorrow I will post part two!

1) What inspired you to make the mixtape and who or what were specific inspirations for each of the tracks?

Taja: Back in 2012 we were both talking about how Colored Girls Hustle needed an anthem… a remix of a popular song that talks about hustling. Jessica and I have been friends for 10 years and we’ve spent about half our friendship as roommates. So, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and we were stuck in the house for several days, we got the inspiration to finally write the anthem. That was the genesis of the mixtape. We released a webcam video of us rapping the “Colored Girls Hustle Hard Anthem” and we were surprised by how many views we received so quickly. Friends shared the video. Friends of friends. And their friends. And we got so much positive feedback! From there we were like yeah, lets keep this going. Lets continue to make songs! It was fun for us and people liked what we had to say. That led us to create the Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape.

Inspirations and meanings behind various tracks:

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