“The army stationed me down South when I was younger, and I couldn’t even use the same bathroom as white people. But things have changed so much. The younger generation isn’t nearly as racist. I’ve been sitting here for fifty years. So much has changed. This neighborhood used to be all black. A white person couldn’t even walk down this street. All the races kept to themselves. Now you’ve got Indians talking to Pakistanis, blacks talking to whites, everybody is here and learning from each other’s cultures. I’ve been sitting here for 50 years. Things are getting better.”
With so much going on in regards to race that is negative, I look to places where there is positivity, movement to make things better, to connect in positive ways. This man gives me some hope.
Thanks, Brandon, for the amazing photos, and even more so for the stories that you get people from all walks of life to share with you, and in turn, with all of us. They are little treasures, each one of them.
Visit Humans Of New York’s blog at www.humansofnewyork.com. You can also “Like” HONY on Facebook, or follow on tumblr or twitter. And now, you can buy their New York Times Best Seller book of the same name.
SOURCE: Blog re-post from Humans of New York, February 28, 2014
Photo Credit: Brandon Stanton
Remember these names: Dylan and Ethan Itkin. These two 12 year-old twin brothers are the voices behind the blog, flick flack movie talk, two boys talking about film. I know the boys because they are in the same grade as my daughter, Darla. Also, their mother, Anisa Raoof, the new Executive Director of the Providence Children’s Film Festival, is one of the first people I met when I moved here, and as soon as we honed in on that creativity and the arts fuel us both, we became fast friends.
Dylan and Ethan are extraordinary in their love for film, and everything about film. These boys are serious–they make films, write screen plays, and review films on their blog. They do their homework, too. I remember once seeing stacks and stacks of books on film and film criticism in their room, and I know they can’t wait for the New York Times Sunday paper so that they can pore over the movie reviews there.
Last night, at the boy’s annual family Pre-Oscar Party (I told you they were serious–they once held the party Oscar night, but the adults were too noisy and they couldn’t hear the show, so now the party is the night before) we were treated to great food, conversation, and movie screenings of two Academy Award nominated films, 20 Feet from Stardom, and Frozen. And, a moment we all look forward to: Dylan and Ethan’s Oscar winner predictions. [Read more...]
When I first heard The Man by Aloe Blacc on the radio, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. I couldn’t tell what kind of song it was. Initially, it felt like an epic patriotic song by a country singer. I didn’t know it was Aloe, who I love, and have featured here on WJSS twice before with his rendition of Billie Jean, and Dollar.
But then the more I heard it, still not knowing it was Aloe, it grew on me, and now I love it. It makes me feel hope deep down in my bones, and then it makes me feel like I can soar. It makes me think of this Emily Dickinson quote:
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.– Emily Dickinson
I wish I could say I was enlightened enough to have listened to Nina Simone’s music while growing up, but I can’t. I knew of her, heard her name mentioned by artist friends as I got older, but didn’t truly know her music. I’m grateful to finally learn more about this most gifted singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist, whose birthday was just this Friday, February 21st. Nina, who passed away in 2003, would have been 81 years old.
SOURCE: www.youtube.com, Four Women by Nina Simone, posted by Nina Simone
I’m certain there are droves of white people who were both saddened and outraged over the Michael Dunn mistrial verdict which fell short of convicting Dunn of murder charges for the shooting death of teenager, Jordan Davis. Yet this past week, their presence on social media told a different story.
As you know, Dunn was the white man who fired shots into the SUV Jordan and his friends, all black teenage boys, were sitting in at a, (surprise!), Florida gas station. There had been a brief dispute amongst the teens and Dunn, who felt their music was playing too loudly. Jordan Davis, 17, died from the gunshot wounds inflicted by Dunn.
I always notice who is talking about what when it comes to race. After the Dunn verdict, on Facebook and on twitter, I saw that many people of color were paying tribute to Jordan, and expressing their outrage over the verdict, and the very fact that the lives of young black men don’t seem to matter in this country. Some white people were doing that too, but not nearly as many.
The next morning, a friend of mine on Facebook (and in real life:), poet Christopher Johnson, who is known for not mincing words, spoke out on his own “noticing.” He noticed that black people were posting about Jordan and Dunn, but white folks were posting about the snowfall. Christopher who recently shared a powerful poem on Facebook about his fear as a black man of being taken by violence while simply walking down the street, and not being able to watch his daughter grow up, wondered if we even cared at all.
On twitter, since I am following many people of color who are interested in the topic of race, (see I Was On Black Twitter And U.O.E.N.O.) the divide was even sharper. People of color were tweeting about Jordan Davis and Dunn, and damning the Stand Your Ground law, and white people were tweeting about a favorite book or the Olympics.
What does this say about us? About white people? Does it show we don’t care? Or is it we don’t express our feelings about trial outcomes on social media? Are we afraid to broach it because we are worried about racial tension? Or do we feel a posting on facebook doesn’t do any good? Another friend on FB, a man of color, posted after the verdict a warning about..”all the “psuedo cyber-activists”…who would now share their outrage here on the page, but seemingly questioned how that would effect change.
I myself responded to Christopher’s post, saying that I clearly noticed what he noticed–the racial divide between posting about the Dunn verdict vs. how many inches of snow we got. I stated I didn’t consider myself political or an activist, even though with my blog Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake, I suppose I am becoming somewhat of an activist, or at least advocate for awareness on race relations, racism and privilege.
I went on to say though that this was a matter of humanity and that for me personally, when I post something on Facebook, and I have, about Trayvon Martin, Troy Davis, and Jordan Davis, I hedge on getting too vocal, because I feel at the same time, well, I’m not doing anything out in the community–I haven’t attended a march, or I haven’t written a letter to the proper politicians to get rid of the Stand Your Ground law. And, so I don’t want my words to be hollow. But, yes, I hope with all my heart that white people acknowledge the fact that yet another young black man has lost his life for no reason at all, and his murderer has not been brought to justice. I hope that we pay tribute. That we care. That we talk about it. That we want to work to break down the systems of racism and racial injustice that were not afforded to Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, and Jonathan Ferrell, and their families. I know I need to do more on that end.
At this point in my post, I took a break and went out to breakfast with my friend Karina Wood, and our daughters–a good wrap up to school vacation week. I’ve always admired Karina for her willingness to be vocal and speak up on matters on education and politics, and to call out our local politicians and school officials via social media and town meetings, and ask for clarity, transparency and change when things don’t seem right to her.
Midway through breakfast Karina exclaimed, “I was so astounded, and think it’s so awful about that guy not getting convicted for that shooting in Florida.”
And, it’s not like I said to myself, Yay! aha, see, here is a white person talking about Jordan Davis and Michael Dunn. It is important to us, but I did seize upon the moment to open up the discussion. I asked Karina if she had seen Christopher’s post on Facebook. She had. This is how I remember our conversation.
“I saw that, and I did feel bad. I felt like he was speaking to me. I was one of those people talking about the snow,” she began. “But, usually I keep up with the news every day, but I hadn’t this past week, and so after his post, I looked it up, and was angry about the outcome.”
“Did you feel guilty about what Christopher said?” I asked. And then I shared with her my take about some people not wanting to post things that are political, or think or talk about these events on social media.
“I did at first,” Karina replied. “I often do post about things I believe in and want to support, and I missed this one (on the day of the verdict)…I was thinking how black people must be feeling–that they’re NOT surprised by this. That you want to be surprised that something like this unbelievable verdict happened, but the fact that it keeps happening, you’re not surprised anymore.”
She added, “I think we do need to say something, do need to show that we care and it matters.”
I appreciated the conversion with Karina, and her suggestions to me to write letters to the editors of local newspapers, and politicians denouncing the verdict and the Stand Your Ground law, when I spoke about not knowing how to take action.
Maybe the space in which you speak up is not on social media. And that is fine. But, I hope we are all paying attention. I hope that we all care. And, I hope that, as a nation of diverse people, none of us remain silent. As Dr. King once urged us all, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
As I’ve said before, my friends often share articles and news they think I’d appreciate because of my work on WJSS. They send me cool links to music, too. I decided to start giving shout outs to those friends, when I feature the tune they’ve shared with me.
So, here goes…
My friend, Andy Cutler, pointed me to this gem, After Laughter, by Wendy Rene.
Andy is quite the man about town here in Providence–runs his own strategic communications/public relations firm, Cutler & Company, and aside from all the community boards he serves on, Andy also started the initiative called Smaller Cities Unite!, a new model platform that uses citizen diplomacy to connect cool, smaller cities with one another to explore collaborative opportunities in the areas of arts and culture, economic development, entrepreneurship, policy, and student engagement. Andy also is one of the people who started the Twitter handle @ourpvd, which shares all that’s going on in our fair lil’ city of Providence, a place small in size, but large on creatives, entrepreneurs, and tech start-ups. Click here to see a cool video put together by #ourpvd and Smaller Cities Unite! that shows just that.
And now, on to our Weekend Sounds:
Wendy Rene, born Mary Frierson, in Memphis Tennessee, was signed to Stax Records in 1963 as a teenager, and sang professionally for about only four years, saying that she wanted to have more time at home with her children. Her stage name, Wendy Rene, was chosen by contemporary, Otis Redding. Ominously, Wendy was to perform with Redding and the Bar-Kays, but changed her mind at the last minute to stay home. Redding and several members of the Bar-Kays lost their lives in a plane crash in Wisconsin that Wendy would have been on had she decided to perform.
I love her voice and the song, and look forward to checking out more of her work. Enjoy!
Happy Valentine’s Day, and Happy Anniversary to us! That’s right–to us. Last year on this date, I posted a happy anniversary to Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake, but really it is happy anniversary to us, right? I mean if there was no you, there would be no me.
Thank you for reading and commenting and challenging and enlightening me this past year. I look forward to continuing into year three with all of you still along for the ride.
Here’s a little song, Anniversary by Toni, Toni, Tone to celebrate our two-year Valentinanniversary. I don’t mean it in a creepy, romantic way with y’all, but still…once again, Will you be mine?
SOURCE: www.youtube, Anniversary by Toni Toni Tone, posted by rattanb52
The evening was sponsored by local non-profit racial equity organization Community Change, Inc. Serving as interviewer was Community Change’s new Executive Director, Shay Stewart-Bouley. Ms. Stewart-Bouley is also known for her blog, Black Girl in Maine, which is described as the musings of a black woman living in one of the whitest states.
Waking Up White was published this month and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but have been looking forward to it’s arrival ever since I met Debby at the Muse and the Marketplace Writers’ Conference in Boston several years ago. [Read more...]
I wanted to share two soul-shakin’ cultural events going on this weekend, and Monday.
First off, my friend, Diana Fox, anthropology professor at Bridgewater State University, and Executive Producer of the documentary: Earth, Water, Woman: Community and Sustainability in Trinidad and Tobago will hold a special local screening this Sunday at the Cable Car Cinema and Cafe in Providence, RI. (Link to their site above to watch a trailer of the film.)
The film is about an inspiring community of Rastafarian environmental activists, who have reforested hillsides and restored their water table. There will be a post-film discussion and refreshments. Invite your friends! Even if you can’t come, you can help spread the word!
Earth, Water, Woman is showing, Sunday, February 2, at the Cable Car Cinema and Cafe, 204 South Main Street, Providence, RI at 11:30 a.m., $10/person
Next, I was lucky enough to have a serendipitous meeting with author of the new book, Waking Up White, Debby Irving, at the Grub Street Muse and the Marketplace Writers’ Conference a few years ago. I remember her talking about the book she was writing on recognizing her lack of awareness of how her upbringing and, in her words, how wanting to help people of color revealed to her how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race.
The book’s publication was this month, and Debby is now launching a book tour–next stop, Monday, February 3rd at friend and Executive Director (I’m so lucky to have such accomplished, artistic friends) Catherine Carr Kelly’s, Central Square Theater in Cambridge, Mass.
Debby will be interviewed by Executive Director, Shay Stewart-Bouley, of the non-profit racial equity organization, Community Change. The interview will be followed by a question and answer session.
The event is co-sponsored by and being held Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7pm.at the Central Square Theater (450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA). Free.
Copies of Waking Up White will be available for purchase at $20 and Debby Irving will be available for signing. All proceeds from this night’s book sales will be donated to Community Change.