After Hurricane Sandy, I am treating myself and everyone to some music from the Jacksons family for Halloween. When we think of Halloween and scary music videos, the first thought may be Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but the Jacksons have dabbled into a few other scary videos. By the way, read two of my Frankenstein posts here and here.
Jacksons – “Torture” (Try not to laugh at the wax figure of MJ.)
We should be“…moving past keep it real…let’s keep it surreal.” Musician Vernon Reid said this in his presentation of Artificial Afrika and it stirred some thoughts on “keeping it real.”
I see it as reality that is presented to us and the reality we create or perpetuate can always be called into question. Reality changes, multiple realities exist and we go outside of our given realities. What we perceive as reality is one sense a set of social performances constructed for and negotiated with a particular audience. Much of the reality we view everyday is not real, but the illusion or mask is often more entertaining and more powerful.
And the people who audiences expect or hope to “keep it real” and truthful seem to be the ones most faking it. Finding out a while ago that rapper Rick Ross was formerly a prison guard and took his name from the real drug dealer “Freeway” Rick Ross, was kind of surprising, but he is not the only rapper, or artist, who has a fabricated image. Nicki Minaj recently confessed that she is not bisexual, but told people she was in order to get attention. Terrell’s response to her on tumblr reveals the silencing effects of shaping an image based on marginal communities which one is not a part. This is also seen in the wearers (including college students) of racist Halloween costumes, which sparked the “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” campaign. Speaking of campaigns, I am also reminded of the presidential campaign, in which there is Mitt Romney, who is always changing his face, and President Barack Obama, who may be a bit more truthful, but also has to put on a certain persona to be acceptable to the general public.
After attending the Oya and Anyanwu program on Wednesday, I did a search on the Anyanwu from Wildseed and came across a dance performance, called Octavia. Dancer Staycee Pearl choreographed this project and presented it last year. It is a tribute and exploration of Octavia Butler’s work and life, bringing her magical and sci-fi literature worlds into physical forms. The project is divided into three sections: 1. In the Begining was…, 2. Anyanwu’s Child, 3. Ooloi introduction.
Without stories, we are nothing but shells, only giving others the physical form of ourselves. Stories ground the spirits and forces around us and make them real.
Oya priestess Isoke Nia expressed this sentiment last night at the Schomburg Center in Harlem at the enlightening tribute to the Yoruba orisha, Oya, and writer Octavia Butler. Part of Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute’s Roots and Stars series, Oya and Anyanwu was the first program of what will be a series of five programs for the end of this year and going into early next year. Hosted by program director Desiree Gordon, this year’s theme is “change,” slightly evoking President Obama’s slogan from four years ago. But this was for the divinity of changer herself, Oya, and her manifestation in the works of Octavia Butler.
Online PhD sent me a link to this list about female philosophers and the post generated some thoughts about the lack of attention around women in philosophy, particularly black women, leading me to a few interesting finds. Philosophy, which means “love of knowledge or wisdom,” is one of the oldest studies in human history. Afrofuturism itself can be considered a philosophy or a philosophical field, since it is a way of thinking about, feeling and engaging with the world. But often philosophy is attributed to men, especially white European men. Philosophers like Aristotle, Sophocles, Kant, and Nietzsche are constantly mentioned and praised with little criticism outside of the usual boundaries. Sometimes other cultures are mentioned in philosophy, like Chinese philosophers, Indian philosophers or a brief mention of the Egyptian Ptahotep, but other than that not much else. So, what space is there for other kinds of philosophers, including female ones of the African Diaspora.
In 2007, the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers had their first meeting to gather together women who are in the field. Later in 2011, when The Philosopher’s Eye did a post on the future of philosophy to celebrate World Philosophy Day, all of the philosopher’s included were men, showing still an uphill battle in recognition of women philosophers and philosophers of color There is already a small percentage of black philosophers, and the amount of women who are is even smaller. Below is a list of some of them: