Tag Archives: Erykah Badu

M.G. Recap: The Bag Lady Manifesta

Based on Taja Lindley’s solo healing performance ritual that debuted at La Mama’s SQUIRTS in 2015, “This Ain’t A Eulogy” is drawing parallels between discarded materials and the violent treatment of Black people in the United States. People in the African Diaspora have a long history of repurposing, remixing, and transforming oppressive systems into valuable cultural practices. In this post-Ferguson moment, Lindley is calling on this legacy to imagine how we can recycle the energy of protest, rage, and grief into creating a world where, indeed, Black Lives Matter. “This Ain’t A Eulogy” is the origin story of The Bag Lady, and serves as a preamble to Lindley’s one woman show “The Bag Lady Manifesta” which debuted at Dixon Place on September 9th.

Below is my review of The Bag Lady Manifesta:


dream where every black person is standing by the ocean

& we say to her

what have you done with our kin you swallowed?

& she says

that was ages ago, you’ve drunk them by now

& we don’t understand

& then one woman, skin dark as all of us

walks to the water’s lip, shouts Emmett, spits

&, surely, a boy begins

crawling his way to the shore

by Danez Smith

from Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems

Last week, I read this poem from Danez Smith and I was reminded of it again when watching Taja Lindley debut her The Bag Lady Manifesta on the night of September 9th at Dixon Place.

One question I left with was: what is our responsibility to remember, especially remembering a past still struggling to speak? Is remembering like being Lot’s wife who had the audacity to look back when the world was ending and in ruins? And like salt can be healing, Lindley’s Bag Lady Manifesta was a ritual performance in search of healing — healing that involved giving reverence to people, pasts and even parts of ourselves that we can so easily throw away. Because as Lindley had put up on one of the walls — “letting go is a lie,” we always carry them with us.

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Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts

“Invisible Man” by Hank Willis Thomas Source: T Magazine

*Please DONATE to the blog! Any donations will be appreciated! Either click on the donate button on the side or send them via paypal to my email svfreebird87@gmail.com. Thank you!

*”Newly Discovered Octavia Butler Stories to be Published in June!:” “Two newly-discovered Octavia Butler stories are coming out this summer! “A Necessary Being” and “Childfinder” will be compiled in a single volume titled Unexpected Stories. The ebook will be released by Open Road Media on June 24, and will feature an introduction from Walter Mosley, who previously praised the author’s novel Kindred as ‘everything the literature of science fiction can be.’ ABC News, quoting Open Road Media, reports:

‘A Necessary Being” tells of how the leaders of two ancient tribes “must broker a delicate peace to ensure that their peoples are to survive.” In “Childfinder,” a young woman “locates children with budding psionic powers and teaches them to protect themselves from society.'”

*A new reading series at the University of Chicago called Speculating Darkly, or The Folk Surreal Future, began today with Duriel E. Harris and Francine J. Harris. Based on poet Roger Reeves essays on Poetry Foundation, the series “features emerging African Diaspora writers from the Midwest who focus on the black fantastic, the grotesque, the Afro-surreal, the Gothic, the speculative, and science fiction” and the other readings will be on May 18, June 8 and June 22.

Continue reading Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts

Modern Griots Reviews: Tongues of Fire and Erykah Badu

Sekou Sundiata – “Space”

Last weekend, I attended the Tongues of Fire tribute to Sekou Sundiata at the Apollo and I must say it was a beautiful, stirring and electrifying tribute. Curated by musical director Craig Harris, the show included his band Nation of Imagination as the musical background as for a few moving musical numbers, some with lyrics written by Sundiata and sung by the three singers of the band (“Song for a Friend,” “I Found God,” “The Writer,” The Sea.”). The other performances were a mixture of spoken word performances of works from Sekou Sundiata and Amiri Baraka arranged with music as well as performances from The Last Poets member Abiodun, rapper Rakim and Nigerian artist Wunmi.

The show opened with poet Liza Jessie Peterson reading “Urban Music” from Sundiata’s album Long Story Short and continued with Amiri Baraka’s “In the Tradition” and “Something in the Way of Things,” the humorous critique of today’s hip-hop with Abiodun and Rakim, “Some of It’s Hip, Some of It’s Not,” and ended the first part with Sundiata’s “Sound of Memory” and a funky “Blink Your Eyes” with Vernon Reid and all the performers.

The second half of the show began with Ngoma Hill’s reading  his yoruba-inspired poem, “Poem for My Egun,” leading to a cacophony of poems and music with Peterson, Baraka, and Abiodun performing together “Reparations,” and “Whys.” Wunmi grooved on stage, even getting down with Harris, during the performances of  wish-to-return home “The Healing Song” and Baraka’s recitation of Sundiata’s “Space.” Rakim was brought back out to finish the night with his classics, like “The 18th Letter,” bringing the night packed already with so much to a full-circle.

Continue reading Modern Griots Reviews: Tongues of Fire and Erykah Badu

Black Girls/Black Women Are from the Future: Q.U.E.E.N., Black Girls Code and MBIB

Janelle Monae’s “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring Erykah Badu. This song is a much better anthem than, dare I say, “Run the World (Girls).” It is funky and fierce with thoughtful commentary about those who judge and put others down. Check out Monae interview yesterday on 106 and Park.

Black Girls Code Trailer — the short film about the Kimberly Bryant’s San Francisco organization, and directed by Shanice Johnson will be shown at the Cannes Film festival this month. The organization is also developing a web-series and a feature.”

My Black is Beautiful trailer for Imagine A Future documentary, which will be released in July on BET (it showed with the Tribeca Film Festival last month), is part of the Imagine a Future initiative that began last year with Black Girls Rock and United Negro College Fund to open up a dialogue with young black girls about self-acceptance, beauty and empowerment. The film follows Janet Goldsboro trip to South Africa as she learns to accept herself as a beautiful. However, although I think this is a nice effort and I want to see it, I find it problematic that Procter and Gamble supports the film and My Black is Beautiful, but also sells “skin lightening” creams all over the world (read all the articles here). Hmmm? Some people say that these are only skin tone evening creams, but is that how they are marketed or used? I imagine a future where companies actually do make a legitimate effort not to make money off our low self-esteem, not seem to support something to assuage their guilt (but should I expect companies not to be hypocritical in their actions?)

Moving on the Wires: Afrofuturism 2.0 Call for Papers, Janelle Monae + Erykah Badu, Kelis

*Call for chapters for an anthology on Afrofuturism 2.0:

"We are soliciting scholarly research, theoretical essays, and applied
studies that explore how the concept of Afrofuturism is related to
Africana Studies for an anthology...Authors are to submit a 250-300 word abstract 
for consideration by the editors by June 10, 2013. Authors of accepted 
abstracts will be notified by July 10. Final submission will be 
due by October 30, 2013."

For more information on essays wanted, click here.

*Here are two new funky tracks from Janelle Monae and Kelis:

Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu – “Q.U.E.E.N.”

Kelis – “Call On Me”

Moving on the Wires: Black Women From the Future, Griotworks, CCCADI, Jimi Hendrix, Erykh Badu…

Black Women From the Future*Kwan Booth, who edited Black Futurist Speaks, is hosting Black Women From the Future event in Oakland, California on Saturday in celebration of both Black History Month and Woman’s History Month in March. Today is Nina Simone’s birthday, so it’s perfect timing. For more information on the event and the artists featured, click here.

* Griotworks is presenting “‘Afrofuturism’: Exploring the Future of Black Media, Myth and Culture” event on Sunday in Philadelphia, Pennsylviania. The conversation will focus on the history and future of Black movies and media, taking into consideration the seven slavery-themed films coming out this year. For more information, click here.

*CCCADI and ImageNation are presenting the “8th Annual Re-Defining African American Convening: What’s At Stake?” on February 26th in Harlem, New York City. The topic is: “Who are the REAL African-Americans? Navigating Identity Nuances of African Peoples in America.” For more information, click here.

Continue reading Moving on the Wires: Black Women From the Future, Griotworks, CCCADI, Jimi Hendrix, Erykh Badu…

The My-Stery: The Gaze in 2012

Rockwell- Somebody’s Watching Me

With the recent death of Rodney King, I wanted to reflect on the gaze or surveillance in our society and how it has manifested itself during this year so far. The gaze has implied that the bodies of others, like Black bodies, should always be under scrupulous examination because we are threats to dominant groups. Theological philosopher James W. Perkinson said that one of the main modi operandi of Western culture has been technologies of the eye. In their superficial use, much destruction has occurred in the world. I would also add that our own eyes as a kind of technology themselves have been just as harmful. The world we see is not actually what we see – images are flipped, there are perceptual errors and the brain creates illusions to fill in gaps. Yet entire cultures for centuries were and still are built off of what we see only, and it has had dangerous and paralyzing effects on people of color.

In Black Skin, White Masks, Franz Fanon describes himself like the wave that becomes a particle under observation: “The white gaze, the only valid one, is already dissecting me. I am fixed. Once their mircrotomes [used in microscopy] are sharpened, the Whites objectively cut sections of my reality. I have been betrayed” (95). As Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man also exposes the simultaneous hyper-visibility and hyper-invisibility that people of color face. For their eyes do not see the full spectrum of all, but only what they wants to see of others and it is stifling.

This year, the gaze still has shown itself in a variety of ways. We have seen Black men and women watched, stalked and killed for just being, as in the killings of Trayvon Martin, Kenneth Chamberlain, Ramarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, and Darius Simmons. We have families who are threatened because they look different in a community as with the Kalonji family who were held at gunpoint in their home by neighbors in Georgia. The debates and protests over “stop-and-frisk,” which happens to males of color more often, is reaching a peak in New York, London and other cities as well. Although statistics show Black and Latino people do not use drugs more than other groups, they are actually stopped and frisked way more than their actual percentage in the population. While we suffer at the hands of this practice, we have people who have the nerve, like NY mayor Bloomberg, to obnoxiously tell us that it is for our own good.

Not only is it governmental and penal policing, but also institutional and media policing. We do not have access to or it is viewed as insignificant for us to have control of the information and images given to us and that depict us. The most recent example is the Erykah Badu and Flaming Lips controversy over the video for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Whether this is a real feud or publicity stunt, Badu’s claim that her rights in collaborating on the creation of the video were taken away in favor of her and her sister, Nayrok’s sexual objectification highlights the manipulation of images of people of color in general. The killings, police beatings, stop-and-frisk, and media dehumanization are continuous parts of a system that denigrates, criminalizes and hyper-sexualizes us on sight. Our blackness implies our inhumanity to the greater society that refuses to question why when they look us, they do not really see us. Maybe its time for another Invisible Man.