Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Missy Elliott – WTF

22 Nov

Missy Elliott, WTF video

Missy Elliott, WTF video

She’s back!  Missy Elliott is better than ever in this video, WTF (Where They From).

Missy, Pharrell, killer dance moves, and, wait for it…marionettes! It’s been too long for this woman of great talent and substance, and with over 15 million views on YouTube after two weeks, seems a lot of other people are happy to have Missy on the scene again, too.




www.youtube.com, Missy Elliott, featuring Pharrell Williams, WTF (Where They From), posted by Vevo

Photo Credit:  www.dazeddigital.com

A Reader Responds: Elissa Butson, On Why She’s Attracted To Black Culture

16 Nov

Elissa Butson

Elissa Butson

Last month, I wrote a post that responded to the often asked question of why I am so attracted to black culture and matters of race relations.

I had a few post comments and comments on social media where readers briefly shared their attractions to other races and cultures, including a response from a friend of a Facebook friend, Elissa Butson, who, as a white woman, said that she couldn’t relate to my essay, and that her response to the question would be very different than mine.

After I quickly got over the paranoia that my post had perhaps offended her, and it had reeked of white privilege, I excitedly engaged in a series of FB messages with Elissa.Turns out that her differences were related to her upbringing that didn’t exactly include a home or community life full of references to black culture, or black people, for that matter. Yet, Elissa seemed burning with passion to reflect on her own strong attraction to black culture, to explore the how and the why, just like I continue to do on this journey via Wendy Jane’s Soul Shake.

I love her honesty, the details she uses to capture her family, the time she grew up in, and the white girl coming-of-age explores her love of black culture memories, she vividly shares here.  Here it is: [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Natural High by Bloodstone

8 Nov



I heard this 70’s soul anthem, while out on my morning walk, plugged into my Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes Pandora station.  While I usually opt for my 80’s and 90’s Hip Hop, my MJ (of course!), Prince, or at times my Bhangra station, to get me moving faster along the path, on this crisp, sunshiny morning, I took it easy with some classic soul.

Bloodstone, originally named The Sinceres, formed in Kansas City, Missouri in 1962, gaining more attention and  fame after moving to London and signing with Decca Records.  Most popular in the 1970’s and 80’s, the hit, Natural High, definitely a part of the soundtrack of my youth, reached the Billboard 100’s Top Ten in 1973 when it was released under the album of the same name.

I get a natural high from my morning walks, from listening to Marvin Gaye loud in my car with the windows rolled down, and from that feeling of pining away for that person you just met, or locked eyes with, and in your mind and your heart, you begin to imagine what Charles Love, vocalist and guitarist for Bloodstone, sings of. Because, really, if you think about it, aren’t we all looking for our own natural high?

What’s yours?



www.youtube.com, Natural High, by Bloodstone, posted by J Ausaru



Photo credit: www.allmusic.com

Black Major Movement Rally In Providence

2 Nov

Today in my city of Providence, Rhode Island I attended a rally for the Black Major Movement on the steps of City Hall.

The Black Major Movement is working to make change in law enforcement, the judicial system, the school department and community organizations by calling for an increase in black leadership throughout the city of Providence, and in particular there is a call for the city to hire a black Major in the Providence Police Department, since there are no black officers higher than rank of Sargeant, and it has been this way for quite some time. The movement is being led by among others, community organizer, Kobi Dennis, founder of the Night Vision program, and the Providence Midnight Summer Basketball League, and Jim Vincent, President of the local NAACP.

The rally was a peaceful one, with people holding signs calling for attention to the lack of representation of people of color in leadership roles throughout the city, as well as wearing signs on their backs that read, “Black Major Movement.”  As noted in the Talk Back following Trinity Repertory Company’s “Every 28 Hours” I wrote about last week, the call for equality, and the statement that Black Lives Matter is not calling for violence against police–in fact the flyers announcing today’s rally circulated support that, clearly stating at the bottom, “Please Come In Peace As We Are Pro-Police.” The rally is instead a call for awareness, a call to validate the rights and concerns of people of color, and a call to validate the deservedness that black people  should have people that look like them represented in community leadership.

Here are some photos from today’s rally. I’m hoping that change will come soon, and wish to keep doing what I can to support this important work.

men with signs on back


Helen Baskerville Dukes and Eugene Monteiro

Helen Baskerville Dukes and Eugene Monteiro




Some of the crowd at the rally, Kobi Dennis (far left)

Some of the crowd at the rally, Kobi Dennis (far left)




Trinity Repertory Company Performs Every 28 Hours, A One-Minute Play Festival

29 Oct

One-Minute Play Festival, Every 28 Hours

Every 28 Hours

I witnessed a historic theatrical event Monday night–the world premiere of the One-Minute Play Festival’s Every 28 Hours at Trinity Repertory Company here in Providence.

The One-Minute Play Festival is a theater company out of New York City that produces one-minute plays which aim to tell a neighborhood’s story through community engagement.  Every 28 Hours is the current festival theme, and is based on the events surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white police officer in the summer of 2014 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Every 28 Hours stands for [Read more…]

We White People Think White Culture Is Cultureless – My Daughter Leni Looks For Hers In An Essay Assignment

23 Oct

This is a kind of culture, too, right? little sister, Darla, (left), Leni, essay author, (right)

This is a kind of culture, too, right? little sister, Darla, (left), Leni, essay author, (right)

I was glad when my daughter Leni told me that her 10th grade English teacher gave her class an assignment to write an essay, titled “My Cultural Identity.” I’ve heard white people say many times that they feel like they don’t have a culture. That to be white is to be bland,to be a white American is boring. That to be anything else but a white American is more interesting–that people born in other parts of the world, who come from people with a more ancient history, have richer traditions, foods, and manner of dress.  I’ve been guilty of this myself. White people sometimes use words like “exotic,” “intriguing,” and “fascinating” when describing cultures different from theirs, and can have a difficult time defining their own culture or even believing that they have one. I’m told this “othering” of people of color is typical when one is a member of a dominant group.

I know that the color of one’s skin doesn’t  define one’s culture, and that ethnicity is only one element of culture, though again I’ll admit that growing up I thought [Read more…]

Looking At A Popular Question for WJSS: Why Are You Attracted To Black People* And Black Culture*?

2 Oct

always MJ

In The Beginning..There Was…And Still Is:  MJ

My friend Keith Thompson suggested, as part of his birthday greeting to me in early September, that perhaps now would be a good time to write a post where I reflect back on this blog, and see where I’ve come from, what I’ve learned along the way.

My first post on February 14, 2012, started off as a so-called Valentine to black people. The last paragraph of my About page, states that I would be sharing about my attraction to black people and black culture.*

I hadn’t read my About page in some time, but when I saw those words they reminded me that was what I thought was the original purpose of the journey– [Read more…]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?

27 Sep

A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest

It’s been a while since I posted a song and I was thinking I’d post a song from The Jungle Brothers to explain the reason why, but then I heard that A Tribe Called Quest is reissuing a remastered version of their classic 1990 debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths of Rhythm, and I had to honor that with a song of theirs.

MC Q-Tip and his childhood friend, Phife Dawg, or Malik Taylor, grew up in Queens, New York, and joined together with Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White, to form A Tribe Called Quest. The group was a part of what was called The Native Tongues Posse, a collective of rappers including De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers. The Posse differed from the more hard-core and strictly socially conscious rappers of the late 80’s and early 90’s by producing a blend of a more conversationally, fun, lyrical and somewhat socially conscious sound, that incorporated jazz samples into their work.

So many classic cuts on this album, like I Lost My Wallet In El Segundo and Bonita Applebaum, but for today here’s Can I Kick It?  Looking forward to hearing the re-released 25th Anniversary album!





photo credit:  www.bet.com

Charles Blow Talks “The New Civil Rights Movement” at Brown University

21 Sep

Charles Blow, John Hazen White Lecture, Brown University, September 2015

Charles Blow delivers John Hazen White lecture at Brown University, September 18, 2015

Last Thursday, I was fortunate to attend the John Hazen White Lecture at Brown University given by The New York Times journalist, and author, Charles Blow.

Mr. Blow, 45, who began at the Times in 1994 as a graphics editor, later went on to gain experience there as a journalist covering stories on the war in Iraq, as well as on 9/11. As a current Op-Ed writer for the Times, Blow focuses on [Read more…]

Dancing With The Queen: The Magic Of Ga’amang Mama G, Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Jamaica

31 Aug

Ga'amang Mama G

Ga’amang Mama G. Wouldn’t you want to dance with her?

“Just tell the story like you told it to me. I had goose bumps when you told me,” said my writing friend, Susan, when I lamented that I wanted to write about my recent trip to Jamaica, but loathed that the story looming inside my head felt like I’d be turning my summer vacation into a book report.

My daughters, Leni, 15 and Darla, 13 accompanied me on the trip, a gracious invitation from my friend, Diana Fox, an Anthropology Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Diana, whose work focuses on the Caribbean, has been visiting and forging relationships with people and communities in both Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago for over twenty years, and has developed student fieldwork trips to both islands.

This summer, she and Assistant Professor of English, Allyson Ferrante, took thirteen students to Jamaica, stopping in Kingston, the Blue Mountains, the village of Bluefields, and Negril, in service of studying cultural heritage tourism efforts created by local Jamaican individuals and community groups, as opposed to the majority of tourism that is controlled by European, U.S. and other entities outside of the island. Darla, Leni and I joined the group a week and a half into their tour, visiting Bluefields and Negril. [Read more…]