…In My Life…

This year is going to be a long one…

During the fall semester, I will be working on three projects: my honors thesis on Psychosocial Politics of Percussion in Hip Hop, a Jazz paper comparing the reception of early Jazz and the reception of Hip-Hop and a paper on the racial and cultural representation in Madonna’s career. So far, for my honors thesis, I will structure it around two books, John Mowitt’s “Percussion: Drumming, Beating, Striking” (Duke University) and Tricia Rose’s “Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America.”

The two-semester-long thesis will look at how perceptions and meanings of the drum in American culture have impacted the perceptions and meanings in Hip-Hop music and dance. The second paper is part of my Jazz: Cultural Touchstone of the 20th Century class and we have listened to speakers like, jazz journalist Larry Blumenfeld, writer for the TV show Treme, Lolis Eric Elie, and musician Bobby Sanabria, give us historical perspective on Jazz, New Orleans and the relationship of Jazz to other music styles like the mambo, salsa and hip hop (ex. clave beat). We also watched this great documentary in class, “From Mambo to Hip-Hop,” about Latino, including Afro-Latino, contribution to the mambo, salsa and hip hop.

The last paper is part of my music capstone class (highest class) and the professor wants everyone to write about Madonna. Personally, I do not love Madonna, but I do love my topic and I do understand that she is a major cultural icon. I will discuss how Madonna’s personal background and her relationships to other races and cultures has impacted her career, how she can more easily benefit from these interactions because of her race and analyze different aspects of her career from her music videos to her interviews to her love affairs.

So, I am going to be swamped, but I will try to enjoy most of it and I will try to keep you all updated on how it is going.


What Is Afrofuturism?

“Curator Ingrid LaFleur is a world traveler. She is an art advisor and curator whose work has taken her to the far reaches of the globe. She has traveled South America, Africa and Europe to make visual art more accessible to people who don’t generally experience the arts from around the globe. As an advocate for the support of artists and the arts Ingrid co-founded several initiatives to bring local contemporary artists to areas where the arts rarely flourish.” (Source: TEDx youtube page)

In this TED Talk, LaFleur wants to highlight Afrofuturism and discusses the visual aesthetics of Afrofuturism. Coined by Mark Dery in 1994 essay “Black to the Future,” LaFleur speaks about how Afrofuturistic artists, writers, musicians use their work to imagine possible futures and alternative worlds through “black cultural lens,” mixing the past, present and future. Afrofuturism allows for experimentation, re-imagining of identities, and actively working towards liberation. In November, LaFleur will be curating her own exhibition in Pittsburgh on Afrofuturism, called “My Mythos,” featuring artists Ayanah Moor, Alisha Wormsley, D. Denenge Akpem, Krista Franklin, and Staycee Pearl. For more on Afrofuturism, read this interview with artist and educator D. Denenge Akpem.

Fela Kuti Meets De La Soul…

Gummy Soul artist, Amerigo Gazaway, combined the music of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti and Hip-Hop’s legendary group De La Soul to create “Fela Soul.” The song above is called “Breakadawn” and uses samples from Kuti’s “Water Get No Enemy” and De La Soul’s  “Breakadawn.” This is one of the best fusion/mashups that I have ever heard, so show some support by downloading the free album.

The New Black Imagination!

Rob Fields, creator of the black music blog Bold As Love, is planning for the first Festival of the New Black Imagination in Brooklyn, New York on Oct. 15 and needs your support. This is the description of the festival:

Our Story

The Festival of the New Black Imagination is about the future of black culture. It’s a forward-looking showcase for the great creativity emanating from the arts, culture, media and business that’s helping to expand  notions of blackness in the 21st century.

The format’s simple: During the day on October 15, there will be conversations, panels and discussions.  At night, there will be an afterparty featuring performances by some of the leading voices in progressive, black alternative music.

The Impact

Your support will help ensure that this celebratory, provocative and inspirational event actually happens.  Right now, there are no corporate sponsors to defray the cost of event production. But that hasn’t stopped us from assembling a variety of voices and perspectives from people in the black creative community who are pushing culture forward.  In their explorations of the complexities and nuances of life today, we see examples of new ways to live, think and be. We want to give people the inspiration to be agents of cultural change.  And we’ll do this by providing a platform for those who are already thinking about–and creating–what’s next in global black culture.”

So far, the festival will be at two venues in Brooklyn, Long Island University and Water Street Lounge, with more than 14 speakers and a a few performers for the after party. If you want to support, either donate or help spread the word about this event and visit the websites!

Justice Is Not Always Just Part 2

Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied Troy Davis a stay and he was executed at 11:08 pm. We may have lost this battle, but let us continue the war on the death penalty and the prison industrial complex:

1) “Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated, can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date on which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not to be encountered in private life.” – Albert Camus’ “Reflections on the Guillotine.” (Especially when they test death row inmates beforehand to make sure they are healthy enough to kill…)

2) 10 Things Anyone Can Do To Help Exonerate Innocent People and Prevent Wrongful Convictions

3) Ohio State Research claimed in a study that “states that sentence the most criminals to death also tend to be the states that had the most lynchings in the past…” Researcher David Jacobs said that the death penalty has become a legal replacement for it. Here is more information on racial bias in court cases.

4) If you know very little on the subject of the death penalty, the prison industrial complex and social biases, try reading these:

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press, 2010.

Butler, Anne, and C. Murray Henderson. Angola: Louisiana State Penitentiary, a half-century of rage and reform. Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1990.

Curtin, Mary Ellen. Black prisoners and their world, Alabama, 1865-1900. University of Virginia Press, 2000.

Davis, Angela Yvonne. Angela Davis—an autobiography. Random House, 1974.

———. Are prisons obsolete? Seven Stories Press, 2003.

Jackson, George. Blood in my eye. Black Classic Press, 1990.

———.Soledad brother: the prison letters of George Jackson. Bantam Books, 1972.

James, Joy. Resisting state violence: radicalism, gender, and race in U.S. culture. U of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Lichtenstein, Alex. Twice the work of free labor: the political economy of convict labor in the New South. Verso, 1996.

Oshinsky, David M. Worse Than Slavery. Simon and Schuster, 1997.

Shakur, Assata. Assata: an autobiography. Zed Books, 1987.

Wells, Ida B. Southern Horrors. 1892. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14975/14975-h/14975-h.htm&gt;

From theycallmezorawalker

Slavery in Canada?!

When many people think of slavery, they tend to focus mostly on the United States, which is a given since the United States has been a huge power over the rest of the world. However, we tend to forget that the entire world was affected by the Transatlantic Slave Trade. One of the places where the history of slavery is largely forgotten is Canada. However, one filmmaker, Mike Barber, is trying to give light to slavery’s impact on the country. In his future documentary, “A Past, Denied: The Invisible History of Slavery in Canada,” Barber wants to tackle the issue of erasure of a large part of Canadian history. Here is part of the description of the film:

“History is not the past, it is how we recount the past. A Past, Denied: The Invisible History of Slavery in Canada is a feature-length documentary by independent filmmaker Mike Barber. The film, which is currently in production, explores how a false sense of history—both taught in the classroom and repeated throughout our national historical narrative—impinges on the present. It examines how 200 years of institutional slavery during Canada’s formation has been kept out of Canadian classrooms, textbooks and social consciousness….The film will show the connections between the practice of slavery in the past with racial disparity, tensions, and racism in the present. It will illustrate why telling history in a neutral, accurate and more complete manner is vital to understanding the causal relationship between past, present and future. The overarching point being more than just “history matters,” but rather honest history matters.”

Barber has had some difficulty in getting backing for this project because of the subject matter. He said, “The struggles faced by independent documentary filmmakers in Canada is even more arduous. In two recent articles on documentary filmmaking in Canada—one from the Globe & Mail, the other from the Ryerson Review of Journalism—one word is consistently used to describe the current state of funding for Canadian-made docs: dire.” If you are interested in seeing this film come to fruition, please click on the above link to Barber’s website and make a donation for the film’s production.

Justice Isn’t Always Just…

I do not believe in the death penalty because there is always a possibility of doubt, and our justice system has never been perfect often with racist, classist and sexist underlying issues within it. As I think about the possible execution of Troy Davis today, I can’t help but think of another story of the youngest person executed in this country, George Stinney. Stinney was only fourteen when he was accused of murdering two white girls, Betty June Binnicker (11) and Mary Emma Thames (8) in South Carolina on March 23, 1944. Although officers claimed he confessed to the crime, the confession was not recorded, the 3-hour trial was not recorded, no witnesses were called to the stand (black people were not allowed to testify), no evidence was presented from the defense and Stinney’s slight stature would have made it extremely difficult to actually commit the crime the way the police said he did it. So, Stinney was not given a fair trial, yet we was sentenced to death by electric chair. Now we come to trial of Troy Davis, who was accused of murdering a police officer, Mark MacPhail, n Georgia on August 19, 1989. Although the murder weapon was not found and several of the witnesses had recanted their statements, in addition to a number of other problems, Davis was denied clemency on Monday. So, I am asking you to please either sign the petitions at Amnesty International or Innocence Project or call the Georgia Board of Pardons

Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles:
Phone: 404-656-0693 and 404-656-5651
Fax: 404-651-8502 and 404-651-6670

Savannah District Attorney Larry Chisolm
Phone: 912-652-7308; Fax: 912-652-7328

Local Judge Penny Haas Freesemann
Phone: (912) 652-7252

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal 
Phone: 404-656-1776

Do it for Davis and in remembrance of other people who may have been wrongfully executed and/or jailed in the past, like George Stinney.