Monday, December 21, 2009

"Memoirs from Afar: The Overseas Diary"

My past autumn quarter with the University of Chicago (not to be confused with UIC), I studied abroad in Toledo, Spain. I was forewarned that Spain is generally one of the lesser racially tolerant countries of the world but was assured that it would still be a positive experience and it truly was. I lived with a host family, spoke in Spanish at all times, and traveled the larger part of Europe. However, I did encounter awkward situations involving race. Due to my complexion I more times than not was mistaken for a dominican or puerto rican woman, which is still "black" for Spaniards but it wasn't as bad as being "actually black" in their eyes. This aspect of my residency, while wrong and uncomfortable, was at the very least blatant and readily recognizable. What made my interaction with the people of Spain curious, was their tendency to associate me with black public figures of America. Once I was stopped in a street by a man just so he could pump his fist and yell "OBAMA!" and on another occasion I was beckoned by a man yelling "Jimi Hendrix! Jimi Hendrix!" I asked my friends, a black girl and two white girls, what they thought that meant. The two white girls viewed the gesture of the men as an affiliation between me and black Americans that they admire and it was a compliment. The black girl was at as much of a loss as I was on whether to buy into that explanation or be offended for being stopped on basis of race. I mean do these Spanish men stop white men and say "CLINTON!" or "JOHN LENNON! JOHN LENNON!"
In case you were wondering, I responded to both men with a smile and went about my day in case it was a compliment and even if it wasn't, I never respond to negativity with more of the same. While I do not loose sleep over these instances nor dwell on it in my daydreams, I have yet to come to a conclusion. The best I can say for it is I would have rather been called by two influential black men than a "nappy headed ho."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Nobody Built Like You, You Design Yourself"

In writing this blog, I find myself trying to put it into a framework that I feel people would be excited about and drawn to. By no means will I write about celebrity scandals or whatever current celebrity obsession in order stay current but I do want to gain an interested audience. I choose to write about my people and my community and my dilemma came when I began to question "Will people listen and more so will they care?" I ask this because it seems to me that Jimi, Huey, and Malcolm have been replaced with Jay, Diddy, and LeBron. Not to insinuate that the latter figures aren't great in their own right but we now admire figures for their lifestyles more than their moral code.
...Then came another pearl of wisdom from a friend who in so many words told me I should say "fuck people" and follow my own design. He went on to share his belief that the progression of the black race is stagnated due to our fear of individuality, we feel the need to be apart of a group even if that means allowing our true passions to subside. Who wants to carry a torch if they feel their light won't be noticed?
However, if we can break the chains of comfort, complacency, and conformity as well as support each other-we may be able to have our cake and eat it too. We can have our Dwayne and our Martin because at the end of the day we are all endowed with unique talents; couple these gifts with enCOURAGEment and imagine the results. So without further adieu...J'ai Fame.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Denzil Forrester & Tam Joseph: Cries Against Injustice in a Racially Divided Britain

Written by: Henry Love
They say every generation has a voice and it should be extended to say that every struggle has an artist. With that being said, the struggle for race relations in Britain has at least two. The works of Denzil Forrester and Tam Joseph offer insight to what it meant to be Black and in Britain during the late 1970’s to 1980’s. This period in history was characterized by violent race relations between
White and Colored British citizens. Caribbean Blacks were at the heart of the great migration that occurred in the late 1940’s to mid 1950’s. This influx of foreign individuals caused racial tensions from their arrival, but these tensions hit an all time high in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Britain never had to deal with a significant population of people of color up until this period in its history. The race riots’ in the London’s Notting Hill neighborhood in 1958 seem to have served as the marker between the period of increase tensions and violence. Denzil Forrester, as well as Tam Joseph, offer a captivating narrat
ive, serving as artistic-documentaries that probe deep into this horr
ific period of racial violence between the 1970’s to the late 1980’s. The topics they address and the emotions they evoke are key tools in the effectiveness of their art, or rather their reporting of events.

"...You Cannot Kill a Revolution"

So I think it's fair to say that we have a friend that puts us on to stuff. Whether it's the one saying "you heard bout them Space Jam jay's mannn?!" or the one who is briefing you on the current political state of the country; in life, someone is always trying to put you onto something.
Yesterday, this was of benefit as my good friend from Morehouse introduced me to his current VIBE song: "We Almost Lost Detroit" by Gil Scott Heron. Honestly, the song is dope! and it sent me in a frenzy to uncover all of his work, which led me to discover he is apart of The Last Poets, is a Chicago native, and renowned as a revolutionary poet.
It also led me to the uncovering of his later years, which are sullied with jail time and drug addiction. All I can come up with is: knowledge is power but it's also dangerous. He who knows the true detriment of his people is a sad man indeed.

"...It ticks each night as the city sleeps seconds from annihilation. But no one stopped to think about the people, or how they would survive, and we almost lost Detroit this time..."

Hopefully Fred Hampton Jr's (2009 marked the 40th anniversary of his assassination) words still hold meaning "You can kill a revolutionary, but you can't kill a revolution!"