Thursday, October 21, 2010

until the real thing comes along...

no, not the song... just talknabout the next blog i'm wanting to write.
until then, this will hafta do...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

disintegration of america's black neighborhoods

eugene robinson on npr

we're slowly getting to the point where we can openly speak about the negative side-effects
of integration on the black community. eugene robinson touches on a few points of interests,
but i think he sidesteps acknowledging the main component plaguing the legitimacy of
empowerment for african americans - i'm talking about 'integration' itself.

not saying integration is bad; it's just that african americans were badly integrated.
we didnt step headlong into 'the great american project' hauling our culture with us; for the most
part, that culture was what we were wanting to get away from - slavery, jim crow, stereotype,
disenfranchisement, poverty, ridicule, self-hate, etc... the only thing is we also abandoned
the positives that go along with thriving within your own culture as it battles outside forces
to maintain its dignity, relevance and reverence to the world at large: community, pride-in-self,
accomplishment, solidarity, social inclusion.... all the things currently coming up short in
black communities across the american nation; the dwindled social aspects that caused
mr. jello (bill cosby) to launch into his tirade about the perception of social malfeasance
existing not only in our neighborhoods, but in how our images play out in the media and beyond.

400 years of second class (on a good day!) citizenship has intrinsically damaged our self-esteem
and yet 'post traumatic slavery syndrome' is a laughed at phenomenon. and yet we treat
children held hostage over night by irate family members, lovers, co-workers, etc... we treat
soldiers who spend any amount of time in active combat situations (whether weapons are fired
or not). and yet african americans have had to deal with the legacy of being the offspring of
those violently taken from their homes and loved ones, we have all come of age living with
this banner of supreme victimization and yet america expects us to shrug it off/get over it/accept
their somewhat-welcoming and not-all-together-immediate embrace...
we probably COULD get over it if our medical practitioners hadnt abandoned us in our mad rush
to join in with the mainstream - black communities where left with the void of business
professionals rushing out in attempts to earn gainful employment where financial reward was
more likely to equate to their experience, know-how and cognizant abilities. ask any black
person over 50 and they'll recount tales of neighborhoods thriving with black businesses -
bakeries, restaurants, dry-cleaners, lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc... black professionals who
worked within the borders of the communities in which they lived. this is called 'being invested'.

and in the mainstream of america, our white counterparts had already called dibs on the goods
and services we once provided. this is how a black doctor under segregation becomes a factory
worker at general electric. of black elders who believed the grass was always greener on
the other side, so they'd comment that 'white doctors are better than black doctors', exposing
the 400 year legacy of being victims in a harsh environment. not that we all individuals suffered,
but as a black collective, which is what mr. robinson's article addresses.

we'll get it straight one day; i know that about us. but it will take bolder language out in the open
than what currently exists at this time. eugene does an excellent job in adding this subject to
the national discussion...

it's time our artiststs and writers to back him up; for our work as individuals to reconnect us
to our cultural heritages existing before melting-pot-theories watered us down. its not america's
pollutants that have pulled us down, its the dilution of our cultural fabrics that have splintered
us the most.

(and where's the 'black newspaper app' for our smartphones? ...damn!)

time to kill (and the sacred desk)

i love days like today, when me and crys are on the same creative schedule,
where we're not rushing our own individual projects and each other 'making time'
before rushing beyond our doorways appeasing the projects of other people.
days like today are good. we get to lounge, catch up on tivo, cradle each other,
wash clothes/dishes/behinds (or not!), make grocery lists and other day-in/day-out
activities at our own leisure. even when we both retreat to ten paces away from
each other to work or play on our computers the actions are casual. there is a pleasure
at not being pressured to surf the web when on a time-line... being in the same room
while surfing the internet is relaxing. i'm left to wonder what the percentage is of
internet users who feel a high level of anxiety just from being 'connected'. i know
such an activity, over time, affects our cognizant abilities - how is it affecting our
physical health? maybe it doesnt and its just the on-going battle being waged within
us as our old-school upbringing resists the lure of technological advancements...

anyway, what i'm saying is: today i get to surf the web more slowly and with a bit
more sense of purpose/less the sense of urgency... i came across this video about
the way we use our workspaces, real and imagined. having crys nearby without
the invasion of 'work' hanging above our heads has me able to process the trillions
of daily websites i stumble across on a daily basis. the posting of this video reflects
the peace of mind i'm currently aware of...
tomorrow is back to the grind; but we're grown...
so even if stressed, we know that tomorrow will hold its own type of beauty.

Desk - Music and Sound Design from Aaron Trinder  Film:Motion:Music on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

canonical black lit

there are many factors shaping the aesthetics and acceptance of the black creative in this modern era.
mostly, we are affected by the loss of a common, communal plane of existence to house our muses.
in this overly-assimilated era we've lost our own cultural mt. olympus from where our creative gods
held fish-fries, rent parties, and shot dice before heading to church.

to fit into 'the mainstream' america asks its subcultures to streamline their baggage. if you can not
fit your heritage into a carry-on (or is over 2 megabytes of memory), then you have to get from
here to there all on your own (not impossible to do, but once you arrive you'll find no welcoming
reception). so, if a black creative is to ride the uncle-sam-express he's less the history of his people.
or if not 'less' then at least very simplified. you can not enter their boxcars with your convoluted
community ties. come 'clean and articulate' or not at all.

you can opt for 'not at all', but there are no publishing houses or exhibit curators flipping through
their rolodex searching for your contact information. black narratives no longer seem to channel the
communal black experience before being funneled into the wide open world. we sieve our creativity
through the institutionalized avenues of acceptance: art schools, mfa programs, the assembly lines of
writing collectives.
when's the last time a completely 'unknown' forced his or herself onto the social scene?
because our avenues for success are now narrowed by academia our creative geniuses are no longer
recognizable to the common people: popular black writers and artists are no longer marketed to
the black communities where legacies are fostered. black creatives chase after 'legitimacy' which is
now the sole-property of higher institutions. 'legitimacy' is what pays the bills. unless you ply your
trade in coffeehouses and cafes, no one leaves a legacy to inspire the common people in their own

now, i know this is not exclusively the problem for black creatives. i'm not saying it is.
all i'm doing is discussing how the monopolizing of the creative process has specifically hindered
our cultural progressions. if you are over 40 years old, then you grew up at least knowing about
such writers as langston hughes, james baldwin, toni morrison, sonia sanchez, etc...
but ask someone under 25 to name their favorite black literary writers... 9 times out of 10 they'll give
you those exact same names. ask them to name someone under 30, they stumble for answers.
unless you participate in creative workshops and classes, you'll stumble to name any also.
you might luck up and get a saul williams or jessica care moore. maybe someone will say jill scott
or mos def or some other frequent flier on the cable tv spokenword circuit. tyler perry might even
be mentioned; not knockin' his hustle - we all need one.

... (stops to take one long pull from an inhaler) ...

what books are the coffeehouse audiences carrying with them? are they the same ones being used to
teach black creativity in academic classrooms? audre lorde, langston hughes, james baldwin, toni
morrison, richard wright... all extremely venerable in the pantheon of black literature. but how long
can they carry the load for us? at what point do we champion their successors to carry on the legacy?
and whose job will it be to do so? it's been nearly 25 years since chuck d. said "our heroes dont
appear on no stamps" - well, some of them are now, but who writes letters these days?
we have to find our voices, our new icons and hold them dear no matter the advancements to
technology, education, and society tempting us to pull away. when america places its seal-of-approval
on 'the next new thing' it needs to be because the masses put that person in position to be honored;
this is how we as a whole become invested in the world at large. otherwise, america will prop up
'the new thing' like a foreign dictator and when his or her usefulness has expired then so does the
resources once available to that person. 'the new thing' returns home, angry that we can not support
his 15 minutes of fame... we shrug at his anger because, shit, we're angry too, asking him "and who
did you say your mama was? ...pfft! you didnt come up through us anyway."

every black writer can tell their own authentic black stories, but in this day and era where
the institutionalized whole is more important than the communal parts, what's that mean to the black
society at large still trying to fit in? has black legacy become the woolly mammoth frozen in a glacier
or has it moved beyond the scope of our community elders once chosen (hand-picked or self-assigned!)
as our keepers of the flame? an extremely limited coven of black literary artists create work that is
canonical to the black experience, working equally on universal and marginalized plains of existence.
can anyone now do so effectively? should we even expect our geniuses to attempt so?

black trees fall in our forests everyday... 'hearing' them or not is not the question; the question is:
how do we even get people back into the forests to begin with?