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So Proud of Our Young People: Providence Student Walk-Out Should Inspire Us All

24 Jan

Our beautiful city students practicing civic engagement.

Young leaders of Providence Student Union Walk-Out

On Friday, January 20, 2017, at precisely 11:08 a.m., a thousand students from over eight public, charter, and private high-schools in Providence, Rhode Island, walked out of their classrooms, and poured into the streets for a unified march to the State House. They rose to action to show their solidarity for those they felt were endangered, and at the least, would not be well represented or cared for under the new presidency. (I still refuse to say his name.)

When plans for the march were first announced, there was concern from some high schools students because the march fell on a day of mid-term examinations. For about a week leading up to the walkout, there were conflicting reports of whether students who participated would be penalized or not, or given zeros on their exams. I have two daughters, a freshman and a junior at Classical High School.  They wanted to march, but were concerned about missing their exams.  I knew I wanted them to want to march, but that it wasn’t my decision. We talked about the fact that making decisions to stand up for something might mean you put yourself at risk, make yourself uncomfortable, because the people you care about who are being oppressed are often at risk, and live uncomfortably, and don’t have the luxury to choose to forget about what it means to be Black, or Muslim, or an immigrant, or gay or trans, and if it means you sacrifice something to stand up, then maybe that’s what you should do, and not worry about the zeros. In the midst of the girls deciding, with them still leaning strongly toward marching if they knew they wouldn’t get zeros on their mid-terms, an announcement came from the school saying […]

Happy New Year: WJSS Weekend Sounds: George Michael and Queen – Find Me Somebody To Love

1 Jan

George Michael

George Michael, photo courtesy of www.shauntwax30.com

On Christmas Day, after a year of tremendous loss of once-in-a-lifetime artists like Prince and David Bowie, among others, the soulful George Michael passed away at the age of 53. I must say that as I listened to and watched video after video of his hits like Freedom, Faith, and Careless Whisper, and going back even earlier to his Wham days with Wake Me Up and Everything She Wants, I realized what a […]

2016: The Year In Review. 2017: You Have To Do Better

31 Dec

Philando Castile, Alton Sterling Mourning Umbrella

Philando Castile, Alton Sterling Mourning Umbrella for Providence, RI Memorial March

You know. I don’t even have to say it. 2016’s posts pretty much say it all, and this isn’t the half of it.  Thanks for following along throughout the year.

In January, I was barely done pondering how my father shaped my views on race relations, when the 2016 celebrity death avalanche started out, shooting an arrow to the heart with the loss of David Bowie.

In February we lost the great Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire, and Prince’s muse, Vanity 6’s, Denise Matthews.  We didn’t know then, what was to befall our Godly Prince.  In between those losses, I thought about how integration plays out in our day-to-day lives, noting that while we may have more diverse work settings than in the past, we still pretty much all live, and spend most of our time, apart from one another.

I got to highlight the first play written by friend, poet, Christopher Johnson: Invisible Upsouth that showed at the Wilbury Theater in Providence in March.

In April…in April..our hearts cried..Our Prince left our earthly presence and went up to make music with David, Maurice and Denise.

In May and June I became quiet on the blog, and in July I shared why, after a month of yet another, and another killing of Black men by police officers. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile lives were taken, July 5th and 6th.

Then I got quiet again.

In October I recalled a conversation with a friend, an anti-racism activist, who questioned my willingness to truly stand up against racism, all while standing in line for gourmet donuts.Later in the month I got to revisit Trinity Repertory Company’s Every 28 Hours plays, and their new Community Response plays, noting the sad state of the plays’ continued relevance this year.

And, just when I was hopeful for our future after hearing about the dynamic work of local community activists, and arts activism programming by youth from AS220Youth, at the AS220 FutureWorlds panel, I, along with much of the country, were devastated by the election of the new President, and what that will mean for Black people, women, and the Muslim, immigrant, LGBTQ communities. I channeled the memory of my mother, and she channeled Kendrick Lamar to let me know, with resistance, fighting the wrong, and love, we gonna be alright.

First setback after the election: the mistrial of the police officer who killed Walter Scott.  It was caught on video. And the judge called a mistrial. It’s December–and still you wonder why Black people don’t believe their lives are valued. As I stepped away from my writing desk this year to learn how to be an activist, I gave a tip of the hat to all those that came before me, and those currently working day and night to fight racism. On the cusp of 2017, I vow, like many of my friends, to stay vigilant, to stand up for what is right, to fight hate, and work for positive change. I vow to love. Sending love and light to all of you, and many thanks for all the love you’ve shown me this year. <3

 

 

 

 

A Tip Of The Hat And A Fist Raise To All The Anti-Racism Activists Past, Present, and Future

23 Dec

Black Lives Matter Founders, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi

light-brown-raised-fistI want to give major props to all the activists out there fighting the good fight. The good, hard, exhausting, frustrating, dangerous fight against racism. Personal racism. Systemic racism. Institutional racism. Jim Crow racism. The New Jim Crow racism. And every other kind of anti-Black racism in-between.

See, I’m like a baby taking its first steps when it comes to learning what it means to organize, to march, to protest, to take concrete political action to fight against racism.  Before this year, the only two things I could put on my activist’s resume was […]

Too Angry To Scream.Too Sad To Cry.

6 Dec

Walter Scott

Walter Scott

Too angry to scream. Too sad to cry. Instead I bought a hot chocolate with almond milk and whipped cream to comfort myself on the way home from work after opening up twitter and seeing that the judge declared a mistrial in the case of the South Carolina police officer, who in 2015, shot Walter Scott in the back, more than once, while Mr. Scott was running away from him.  And. it. was. on. video.

A mistrial. And here I was drafting a post last night about […]

Presidential Election 2016: Overcoming Hate, Finding Hope In Unlikely Places With My Mother and Kendrick

14 Nov

me-and-rosa-parksIt’s been five mornings of waking up to what feels like a nightmare of a reality with the new President-elect of the United States. I won’t say his name, just as I avoided the social media postings displaying his racist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic pot stirring over the course of the campaign. I didn’t want to promote his image or his message, and I didn’t want to internalize that negative energy myself. To be honest, I didn’t click Like and Share on Hillary articles either.  I admit to not being fully knowledgable of the complexity of, or the mechanics of the political machine. But I know I didn’t think Hillary was a perfect candidate either. Bright, strong and accomplished, yet also seemingly “bought” by the corporate powers that be. It was under the Clinton presidency that the era of mass incarceration of young, Black men persisted, thanks to legislation that Bill Clinton passed. It was the same era in which Hillary Clinton used the term “super predators”  to refer to young, Black men of color said to be predisposed to committing horrific violent crimes, like the wrongly accused Central Park Five. Still, I believed that she would make the better leader, and that those of us concerned, could […]

AS220 Panel: FutureWorlds: Call To Action

7 Nov

AS220 Panel: Future Worlds: Call To Action

AS220 Panel: Call To Action: Marco McWilliams, Anjel Newman, Je-Shawna Wholley, Shey Rivera

AS220 Call To Action Panel. L to R: Marco McWilliams, Anjel Newman, Je-Shawna Wholley, Shey Rivera

On Thursday, September 8th, 2016, I attended the panel talk, Future Worlds: Call To Action, which was hosted by the non-profit art organization, AS220, at 115 Empire Street in Providence, Rhode Island.

The thriving, multi-facility, and internationally recognized arts organization held the panel in one of its earlier spaces–the intimate gallery/performance area adjacent to the organization’s restaurant. Shey Rivera, AS220’s Artistic Director, who served as moderator of the panel, welcomed the audience and shared the mission of AS220 as an artist-run organization committed to providing an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. AS220 also offers artists opportunities to live, work, exhibit and perform, and envisions a just world where all people can realize their full creative potential, and see the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change.

FutureWorlds: Call To Action panel discussion, was one of a series of events , along with […]

Sadly, A Still Timely Encore: The Every 28 Hours Plays and Community Response Plays at Trinity Repertory Company

20 Oct

Every 28 Hours PlaysIt didn’t matter to me that I had already seen The Every 28 Hours Plays at Trinity Repertory Company last October.  I wanted to see them again.

Trinity Rep actor, Joe Wilson, Jr., was one of a group of fifty actors, playwrights, artists and activists invited to be part of the non-profit organization, The One-Minute Play Festival’s, Every 28 Hours Plays project. All fifty went to Ferguson, Missouri a year after the young, unarmed, black teen, Mike Brown was killed by a white police officer , and met with […]

What Are You Gonna Stand For: Donuts or Freedom?

13 Oct

gourmet-donutsI knew it wasn’t cool to, in my texting conversation with my friend Marco, to right after I asked him if he saw Birth Of A Nation the night before, ask if he wanted to meet me in line outside the new gourmet donut shop in our neighborhood. From slave rebellion film to over-priced trendy sweets in one text bubble to the next? […]

Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Don’t Touch My Hair by Solange

9 Oct

solange-knowlesHonoring Black women who speak their truth to power.  Here is Solange’s, no longer needing to be known as Beyonce’s little sister, Don’t Touch My Hair.

Also having checked out Cranes In The Sky, I look forward to listening to more of her album, A Seat At The Table.

Take a listen, and soak in the visuals, of this important piece of work.

 

 

I also wanted to share Just Latasha’s review of A Seat Of The Table, where she breaks down Solange’s work song by song of what this creative output means to her as a Black women.

 

 

 

SOURCES:  www.youtube.com, Solange, Don’t Touch My Hair, posted by Solangeknowlesmusic

www.youtube.com, JustLatasha

www.justlatasha.com

Latasha, is a NYC based artist with a background in Communications whose passion for Black art & activism led her to create JustLatasha, a site where you can find her comedic vlogs about social issues which reaches over 8,000 subscribers twice a week. She is also the creator and lead actress of the comedy web series, Sit Black & Relax, which debuted March 14th, 2016.

 

 

 

 

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