Monday, April 21, 2008

Calabash Festival 2008: schedule is out!

Festival Dates: May 23-25, 2008
St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

According the their website: "The mission of the Calabash International Literary Festival Trust is to transform the literary arts in the Caribbean by being the region's best-managed producer of workshops, seminars and performances. We will achieve these goals by focusing on our audiences, managing our budget, creating a community of supporters in the media, government, business, the performing arts, philanthropic organizations and publishing, and by becoming the festival of choice for the world's most gifted authors."

It's quite a line-up including Derek Walcott, Chris Abani, Natasha Tretheway, Yusef Komunyakaa, Erna Brodber, Lorna Goodison (whose recent and critically well-received book, From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island, I'm looking foward to reading this summer), Achy Obejas, Cornelius Eady, Abraham Rodriguez, and other notable international writers, and a line-up of acclaimed Jamaican musicians as well on the "Bob Andy’s Songbook" panel.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

UBIQUITA NYC...Presents...the chil'ren of...

Courtesy of Olive and Hanifah over at U People:

The Queens Daughters: Women Who Rock With A Little Bit of Soul....

Again, if only I didn't need to sleep...

But hopefully someone will write a banging post about this show (OH! INDUSTRY ? Bold As Love? ) Here's where we have a moment of silence for the departed Bluegum, but hope that former Bluegummers Tavia Nyong'o (NightShift Chronicles, Tropical Mint) or Kandia Crazy Horse (San Francisco Bay Guardian) will attend this show and write about it on one of their other music/culture criticism outlets.

Oh, what am I going on about? Dang, dontcha know?

The folks over at UBIQUITA NYC are paying homage to the original black rock sistahgirl supergroup : Labelle!!

Saturday, May 10th
The Queen's Daughters: Celebrating Women Who Rock with a Touch of Soul: Honoring the Musical Legacy of Labelle .

Who's on the bill?
Shelley Nicole’s blaKbüshe
and....all the way from the ATL...
JOI! (no lie!)

UPDATE 5/7/08: recently added: Angela Johnson and Stephanie McKay.

UBIQUITY ain't playing, OK well their DJ's are playing to warm you up for the ladies...cause if you ain't warmed up when they hit the stage you might hurt yourself, y'know?

The Grand Ballroom at The Manhattan Center
311 West 34th Street, Corner of 8th Avenue
• Doors open @ 6:45pm for VIP pre-show reception;
• 7:45pm for General Admission;
• Show starts @ 8:30pm
• $30 VIP Ticket Code: VQD777 | $20 GA Ticket Code: QD777
(both are a deal compared to the Manhattan Center price)
Tickets available through Ticketmaster.

Or (if you want to avoid the Ticketmaster, ahem, service charge), purchase tickets directly through the Manhattan Center: call 212-279-7740. Ask to speak to Mia, Lena, or DeVash.


Christiane John Wikane's 30 October 2006 PopMatters article which asks, where is the "black female presence in rock music."

Some aural goodness from the high energy & sweet-spirited Stephanie McKay, "Take Me Over":

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Aimé Césaire, poet, politician, cultural leader: 1913 - 2008

Aimé Césaire (25 June 1913 - 17 April 2008)

From The Associated Press:

Aimé Césaire, Martinique Poet and Politician, Dies at 94

FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (AP) — Aimé Césaire, an anticolonialist poet and politician who was honored throughout the French-speaking world and who was an early proponent of black pride, died here on Thursday [17 April 2008]. He was 94.

A government spokeswoman, Marie Michèle Darsières, said he died at a hospital where he was being treated for heart problems and other ailments.

Mr. Césaire was one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated cultural figures. He was especially revered in his native Martinique, which sent him to the French parliament for nearly half a century and where he was repeatedly elected mayor of Fort-de-France, the capital city.

In Paris in the 1930s he helped found the journal Black Student, which gave birth to the idea of “negritude,” a call to blacks to cultivate pride in their heritage. His 1950 book “Discourse on Colonialism” was considered a classic of French political literature.

Mr. Césaire’s ideas were honored and his death mourned in Africa and France as well as the Caribbean. The office of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said Mr. Sarkozy would attend Mr. Césaire’s funeral, scheduled for Sunday inFort-de-France. Students at Lycée Scoelcher, a Martinique high school where Mr. Césaire once taught, honored him in a spontaneous ceremony Thursday.

Mr. Césaire’s best-known works included the essay “Negro I Am, Negro I Will Remain” and the poem “Notes From a Return to the Native Land.”

Born on June 26, 1913, in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, Mr. Césaire attended high school and college in France. In 1937 he married another student from Martinique, Suzanne Roussi, with whom he eventually had four sons and two daughters.

He returned to Martinique during World War II and was mayor of Fort-de-France from 1945 to 2001, except for a break from 1983 to 1984.

Mr. Césaire helped Martinique shed its colonial status in 1946 to become an overseas department of France.

He was affiliated with the French Communist Party early in his career but became disillusioned in the 1950s and founded the Martinique Progressive Party in 1958. He later allied with the Socialist Party in France’s National Assembly, where he served from 1946 to 1956 and from 1958 to 1993.

As the years passed, he remained firm in his views. In 2005 he refused to meet with Mr. Sarkozy, who was then minister of the interior, because of Mr.
Sarkozy’s endorsement of a bill citing the “positive role” of colonialism.

“I remain faithful to my beliefs and remain inflexibly anticolonialist,” Mr. Césaire said at the time. The offending language was struck from the bill.

Despite the snub, Mr. Sarkozy last year successfully led a campaign to rename Martinique’s airport in honor of Mr. Césaire. Mr. Césaire eventually met with Mr. Sarkozy in March 2006 but endorsed his Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal, in the 2007 French elections.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

• April 19, 2008 burial notice from the International Herald Tribune
(deals with the controversy over Césaire being buried in Martinique versus the Pantheon Paris, in France, with other notable personages)
• April 17, 2008 obituary from the International Herald Tribune.
• April 17, 2008 notice from Paris division of International Herald Tribune.
Bio from the Academy of American Poets.
• from Global Voices Online : "Remembering Aimé Césaire."
• April 21, 2008 Democracy Now! Aimé Césaire Remembrance Program with historian Robin Kelley.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Afro-Latino/a Music Hightlights @ Tribeca Film Fest

The following Tribeca Film Festival
(April 23- May 4, 2008) listings are courtesy of Nedslist:

"they've been turning 'em away from screenings of this in new orleans. everybody i know who's seen it says it's great."

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans

Tribeca Film Festival Program Listing

[FAUBO] | 2008 | 68 min | Feature Documentary
Directed by: Dawn Logsdon and Lolis Eric Elie

World Premiere

Cast & Credits
Director: Dawn Logsdon and Lolis Eric Elie
Principal Cast: Glen David Andrews, Lenwood Sloan, Eric Foner, Brenda Marie
Osbey, Irving Trevigne, John Hope Franklin
Executive Producers: Stanley Nelson, Wynton Marsalis
Producer: Lucie Faulknor, Dawn Logsdon, Lolis Eric Elie
Screenwriter: Lolis Eric Elie
Director of Photography: Diego Velasco, Keith L. Smith, Bobby Shepard
Editors: Dawn Logsdon, Sam Green, Aljernon Tunsil
Composer: Derrick Hodge

Program Notes

Faubourg Tremé is a first-person documentary by New Orleans natives Dawn Logsdon and Lolis Eric Elie. Drawing on several years of pre-Hurricane Katrina footage, the film brings alive the history of Black New Orleans through an in-depth look at one historic neighborhood, the Faubourg Tremé. Executive produced by Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Nelson, the film follows journalist and first-time filmmaker Lolis Eric Elie, who sets out to renovate his 19th-century house in this now deteriorating neighborhood. Drawn to the architecture and its mix of old and new, Elie soon finds that the history of this place is the real story. This once vibrant neighborhood, he learns, was in fact the center of African American economic independence and political activism from slavery through Reconstruction, Jim Crow, andthe civil rights struggles of the 1960s. In recent years, the Faubourg Tremé, now more often referred to as the Sixth Ward, has suffered from blight, drugs, and crime, and even more recently was devastated by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina-the effects of which we see here in heartbreaking detail. Yet Logsdon and Elie bring an insightful perspective to the retelling of this community's past, particularly through its literary and musical artifacts. The result is a fresh approach to historical documentary storytelling. The filmmakers interview prominent historians to elucidate the facts, but mostly what we hear and see is the music, dance, poetry, and voices of contemporary residents. We meet people several years before Hurricane Katrina and follow their stories through the storm's aftermath. We come to understand that, just as it has in the past, this deeply rooted community is determined to rebuild and to persevere.

--– Nancy Schafer

Screening Times & Locations: go here for links to maps to theaters.
Fri, Apr 25, 9:15PM
AMC Village VII Theater 6 (Map)

Sat, Apr 26, 8:30PM
Village East Cinema 6

Mon, Apr 28, 9:30PM
Village East Cinema 1

Thu, May 01, 3:15PM
Village East Cinema 1

Fri, May 02, 5:30PM
AMC 19th St. East Theater 1

I posted a video of pianist Bebo Valdéz playing with his longtime friend, the late bassist, Israel "Cachao" López performing "Lágrimas Negras," a little while back here.

Old Man Bebo

In Spanish with English subtitles.
Tribeca Film Festival Program Guide Listing

[OLDMA] | 2007 | 111 min | Feature Documentary

Directed by: Carlos Carcas
North American Premiere

Cast & Credits

Director: Carlos Carcas
Principal Cast: Bebo Valdés, Chucho Valdés, Leonardo Acosta, Omara
Portuondo, Israel López "Cachao", Fernando Trueba
Executive Producer: Angelica Huete, Fernando Trueba
Producer: Angelica Huete
Editor: Carlos Carcas
Production Coordinator: Nerea Aizpurua
Production & Research: Rosa Marquetti

Program Notes

Legendary Cuban musician Bebo Valdés' career didn't really take off until well after he turned 80. At 81 he won two Grammy awards and has since gone on to win four more and achieve international recognition. This extraordinary portrait of the man and the musician, recognized as a key figure in the development of mambo, recounts his remarkable life and career. Friends, relatives, and fellow musicians reminisce about the man who went on to become a living legend. He was born in Cuba in 1918 to a family that did not even own a piano, but he still managed to become an important influence upon Cuban music during its golden age in the '40s and '50s. Evocative footage and photos of Havana at that time take us back to when he was a
member of the orchestra at the legendary Tropicana nightclub, and he and his friends were changing the sound of Cuban music. Then the revolution came. Hotels and bars closed, and Bebo could not embrace the new regime. He fled his homeland and eventually found himself in Sweden, where he married, raised a family, and earned a living as a pianist in a cocktail lounge.
Thirty-four years later, his career would hit a high note. He is now 89 and playing strong.

"Bebo struts his stuff in several mesmerizing performance clips in this film. At the end, he plays a beautiful rendition of "Old Man River" as we watch a montage of images from his long and rich life. It is a moving testament to Bebo's talent and endurance. Producer Fernando Trueba observes that Bebo's life is "a triumph of art over all the accidents of life, and an act of poetic justice." This is indeed a story of triumph.

--Garrison Botts

* * *
Screening Times & Locations: go here for links to maps to theaters.
Fri, Apr 25, 9:30PM
AMC 19th St. East Theater 3

Sun, Apr 27, 12:30PM
AMC Village VII Theater 3

Tue, Apr 29, 4:00PM
AMC Village VII Theater 2

Thu, May 01, 1:30PM
Village East Cinema 7

Sat, May 03, 7:30PM
AMC Village VII Theater 2

Monday, April 14, 2008

Elvis Mitchell's The Treatment on KCRW

For those of us who miss reading the thoughtful film critic Elvis Mitchell at various news outlets. He's got a radio program broadcasting out of KCRW 89.9FM in Santa Monica, the major National Public Radio affiliate in southern California. The program now can be downloaded or listened to as a podcast.

On "The Treatment," which he's hosted since 1996, Mitchell does 28:30 minute (the standard public television/radio half hour time slot) interviews with filmmakers, screenwriters, film archivist/curators, film writers and historian. As you would expect Mitchell is erudite, and highly knowledgeable about European and US film (he may be knowledgeable about film from other areas as well, I just don't recall him writing on films from other parts of the world) .

I first listened to his interview with Charles Burnett following Milestone Films's 35th Anniversary Re-release of Burnett's first feature film, shot in 1973/74, the classic Killer of Sheep after a long effort securing the music rights (with the support of International Film Circuit, Inc., filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and Turner Classic Movies.)

"The Treatment" also features insightful discussions of craft, influences, film scoring, screenwriting, directing actors, literature and playwrighting etc. with filmmakers as accomplished as Kimberley Peirce (Boys Don't Cry, Stop-Loss), Brett Morgan (The Kid Stays in the Picture, Chicago 10), Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty), Nancy Oliver (screenwriter, Lars and the Real Girl) Joel and Ethan Cohen (Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men), Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Not Smoking).

• Movies reviewed by Elvis Mitchell at the New York Times (1998-2004).
New York Magazine coverage of Mitchell's departure from the New York Times.

Some Cecil Taylor...Just Because

OK, also because a composer friend has been talking to me about Taylor in a way that's making my head open up:

From Ron Mann's 1981 documentary four figures in experimental jazz--pianists Cecil Taylor and Paul Bley, tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp, and trumpeter Bill Dixon: Imagine the Sound. A performance from Taylor:

From, All the Notes, the 2006 documentary on Cecil Taylor from photographer/filmmaker Christopher Felver. An extended riff from Taylor on various subjects (including: composition, synesthesia, dance, musicianship, John Coltrane, and guitarist Derek Bailey):

• Imagine the Sound was re-mastered and re-released in 2007 and is available through directly from the filmmakers at dvdswelike.

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A little visual poetry...

I guess I'm the last to know about the work of young phenom new music composer Nico Muhly or that successful mainstream actor Taye Diggs has a serious dance background to which he's finally returning as a choreographer. What is the six degrees of separation between these two artists?

Fall a dance piece choreographed by Taye Diggs and his longtime friend and creative partner Andrew Palermo who together direct They are now in their fourth season. The piece is set to Quiet Music, a solo piano piece by Muhly (pictured at the center of the photo above right, credit: Hiroyuki Ito). Below some video of the choreography which explores camaraderie, masculinity, strength, grace, virility, and vulnerability and, ultimately, a friendship's response to frailty.

• Fall (with Tiger Martina and Ron Todorowski)

• Taye Diggs interview on the beginnings of, excerpted from a 2007 interview. See the link below.

Andrew Palermo and Taye Diggs on "The Leonard Lopate Show" June 28, 2007, on 93.9.

• March 19, 2007 New York Times review of Nico Muhly's work at the In Your Ear concert series.
• An October 7, 2007 profile of Muhly in New York Magazine.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Junot Díaz: 2 days after the Pulitzer in conversation with Albert Raboteau and Emily Raboteau

OK, that post title was because of the funny thing about time and the seeming "before" and "after" of certain cultural anointings: 2 days after the Pulitzer, 2 weeks after the Pulitzer, 4 weeks before the Pulitzer, 6 months before the Pulitzer...? Wherever you might point to on that timeline, this is a great writer. Period. Thusly, I'm glad he and his work have been recognized.

Here's my offering from that evening: Photos. Among said photos, an image of Díaz listening appreciatively as Albert Raboteau reads the main epigraph from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), an excerpt from the first section of Derek Walcott's poem, "The Schooner Flight":

"Christ have mercy on all sleeping things!
From that dog rotting down Wrightson Road
to when I was a dog on these streets;
if loving these islands must be my load,
out of corruption my soul takes wings.
But they had started to poison my soul
with their big house, big car, big-time bohbohl,
coolie, nigger, Syrian, and French Creole,
so I leave it for them and their carnival—
I taking a sea bath, I gone down the road.
I know these islands from Monos to Nassau,
a rusty head sailor with sea-green eyes
that they nickname Shabine, the patois for
any red nigger, and I, Shabine, saw
when these slums of empire was paradise.
I’m just a red nigger who love the sea,
I had a sound colonial education,
I have Dutch, nigger, and English in me,
and either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation,"

Derek Walcott, “The Schooner Flight” from Collected Poems 1948-1984. Copyright © 1990 by Derek Walcott.

(below l-r: novelist/professor Emily Raboteau, her father, esteemed religion professor Albert Raboteau, and Díaz)


Counterpunch Interview (circa March 7, 2008) with Junot Díaz by writer/playwright Wajahat Ali.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

April Is...: Poetry Month & Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This month I had planned to post a poem everyday, inspired by fellow (and much more prolific) blogger J's Theater's example. Unfortunately, I haven't even had the time to read a poem everyday, although I made up for that with a marathon of poetry reading last night after going to see and hear writer Junot Díaz in conversation with Princeton religion scholar Albert Raboteau and novelist (The Professor's Daughter, 2005) and CUNY English professor Emily Raboteau (his daughter). After listening to Díaz I became aware of a voracious thirst, and needed to dive into some elements of language. So I am grateful to J's Theater for introducing me to the work of Brigit Pegeen Kelly (pictured left), whose latest book of poems, The Orchard, I looked for and found in the library after reading her poem "The Satyr's Heart" on the collection's BOA Editions/American Poets Continuum Series website. I do think the poem J's Theater reprinted, "ISKANDARIYA", is more stunning in some ways for the particular unfolding of its unexpected journey. (J's Theater is still posting at least one poem per day, so do head on over and get your daily read on.)

But I like the questioning, ambiguity and final resolve Kelly embraces in this poem as well:

The Satyr's Heart

Now I rest my head on the satyr's carved chest,
The hallow where the heart would have been, if sandstone
Had a heart, if a headless goat man could have a heart.
His neck rises to a dull point, points upward
To something long gone, elusive, and at his feet
The small flowers swarm, earnest and sweet, a clamor
Of white, a clamor of blue, and black the sweating soil
They breed in...If I sit without moving, how quickly
Things change, birds turning tricks in the trees,
Colorless birds and those with color, the wind fingering
The twigs, and the furred creatures doing whatever
Furred creatures do. So, and so. There is the smell of fruit
And the smell of wet coins. There is the sound of a bird
Crying, and the sound of water that does not move...
If I pick the dead iris? If I wave it above me
Like a flag, a blazoned flag? My fanfare? Little fare
With which I buy my way, making things brave?
No, that's not it. Uncovering what is brave. The way
Now I bend over and with my foot turn up a stone,
And there they are: the armies of pale creatures who
Without cease or doubt sew the sweet sad earth.

© BOA Editions, Ltd 2004

Today at The two black women professors, Salamishah Tillet (pictured left) and Melissa Harris-Lacewell (pictured below, right), wrote about the need for the African American community to address the issue of sexual violence perpetrated against African American women by African American men. Tillet is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harris-Lacewell is Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University. Bravely, to me, over the course of their respective articles both Tillet and Harris-Lacewell also disclosed being a survivor of sexual assault.

Each wrote on the various factors that keep many African American women from reporting instances of sexual assault when the assailant is an African American male, with Harris-Lacewell giving a succinct delineation of the major impediments to reportage in such cases:

In African American communities rape narratives are not women's stories. They are men's stories. Rape is tied to the historical legacy of white terror. Strange fruit hanging from Southern trees has led to a legacy of disbelieving women who report sexual violence and intimidation.

Black women raped by black male perpetrators often remain silent because they are alone. They don't want to confirm white racial stereotypes; their own families and communities tell them to shut up; they have little reason to think that authorities will take their cases seriously; they fear the devastating ramifications of a manhunt in black communities if they are believed; and in the history of lynching white women have been adversaries, not allies, on the question of rape.

Recovering from rape is burden enough without having to shoulder this vicious legacy.

These articles appear at the same moment as the conviction of 71 year old Civil Rights leader, Rev. James L. Bevel in Louden County, Virginia for having had intercourse with his daughter (and apparent namesake), Jamese Machado who agreed yesterday to be identified by the press. Since filing the charges she has (understandably) changed her name, and disclosed that information as well. She is now Aaralyn Mills. Bevel reportedly molested his now-29 year old daughter for several years starting when she was six years old and eventually raped her when she was a teenager. According to AP coverage of the trial Bevel maintained a number of disturbing philosophies "for eradicating lust, and parents' duty to 'sexually orient' their children." I found myself wondering if none of his colleagues were aware of his beliefs, and if they knew what if anything they did about Bevel's practices. Not surprisingly, Bevel molested a number of his daughters, which came to light when some of them shared with each other at a 2004 family reunion. Sadly, the family was split in its support of Mills, with family members testifying both for and against Bevel. Also, not wholly surprising was Mills's own seemingly contradictory feelings about her father, reportedly during trial breaks she and her father stood together and "cooed" over Mills's infant daughter. However, it was the birth of a daughter by Bevel's new wife that prompted Mills and some of her sisters to take action fearing the safety of the little girl (the child now lives with her maternal grandparents). Following the verdict The Washington Post reported:

Mills, 29, said her father, who organized some of the nation's most storied civil rights marches and was a confidant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is a pedophile and deserved to go to prison. At the same time, she was sorry it had come to that.

"The real objective would have been for my father to just apologize and to work on this with us as a family," she said in an interview from her home in suburban Maryland. "In life, you pretty much have a right to do what you want to do. But there are consequences to doing some things."

In Bevel's case he is paying some consequences for his actions, but so are the women in his family who were subject to sexual molest, rape, and other forms of spirit-breaking behavior that were aspects of Bevel's family philosophies. Since Bevel's philosophies and behavior presumably didn't spring forth fully formed from the head of Zeus we can hypothesize that he too was subjected to sexual assault or forced witness something of the kind in his own youth--indicating this to be a multi-generational issue in his family.

In her article for The , Tillet commented on the alarming statistics concerning rape and African American women, asking why African Americans aren't addressing this as the crisis it obviously is:

I hope to bring awareness to the fact that even though African-American women make up about 7% of the U.S. population, we currently constitute 18.8% to 28% of the reported sexual assault victims. These women are, and have always been, our grandmothers, our daughters, our partners. And our friends.

Given the staggering statistics, I cannot help but wonder why this pandemic does not constitute a crisis within both African-American communities and the larger American body politic.
When you realize that 18.8% to 28% only accounts for the reported female African American sexual assault survivors, and that as both Harris-Lacewell and Tillet have indicated there is serious under-reportage by African American women, the weight of the issue becomes more apparent. Again, since these statistic didn't just come out of nowhere we have to consider that we're not just dealing with a problem of the present generation, but, I would posit, the legacy of intersections of sexual violence, race, class, and gender as they've played out during the history of this country.

In her article for The, Harris-Lacewell detailed a screening of Aishah Shahidah Simmons's NO! The Rape Documentary, (I saw this film in an early stage of its development, but still haven't seen the finished work) at Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. She marveled that the screening was organized by a group of black men. "[A] community group called Black and Male in America. Under the leadership of writer, activist and Congressional candidate Kevin Powell." The organizers had filmmaker Simmons (pictured right), who is herself a rape and incest survivor, in attendance to discuss the work and help people process the experience. Who was there? According to Harris-Lacewell, "an intergenerational group of black men and women, gay and straight, survivors and perpetrators, all grappling with the legacy of rape and race."

This reminds me of Rebecca Walker's recent Huffington Post article on some of the problems with US feminism in which she talks about how certain stances within white women's feminism could be an affront to the concerns of various women who couldn't go along with the sentiment that "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" because they did need their fathers and brothers and uncles, and weren't willing to sacrifice those relationships and weren't willing to struggle for a freedom that was non-inclusive either of those family members, or of the brother down the block who always chivalrously let them get on the bus ahead of him.

For some, the end result of healing is not a permanent estrangement that is analogous to so many of the ways in which African American communities have been torn asunder by indifferent urban planning, drug trade, the "benign" neglect of city government, and the abandonment of the civic charge of public education. Instead, healing is the way in which communities individually and collectively can imaginatively reconfigure how to express the legacy of violence that extends back into slavery and forward into the violence enacted on African American bodies detailed in books such as Harriet A. Washington's Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (2008, Reprint), James W. Loewen's Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (2006), the James Allen edited tome, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (2000), James H. Jones's Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, Revised Edition (1993), Elliot Jaspin's Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America (2007), and Rachel Holmes's African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus (2007) (though I do recall some mixed feelings about Holmes' portrait).

It's not enough to look for the straight trajectory of violence causing like violence, causing like violence ad nauseam. Violence is like a stain or a virus, it spreads in some predictable and unpredictable ways, nevertheless reproducing itself and its effects, and initiating new outcomes as well. In looking at medical and scientific violence, the violence of erasure and uprooting, some of the particulars are in how these are enacted upon, or how they engage with the black body, and change African American's relationships to their own and others bodies such that for some the body itself becomes problem, alien, a place of unease and dis-ease--how else to explain Bevel's philosophies--such that it's borders and boundaries come to express, (to (sadly) negatively paraphrase poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly,) "how [un]surely we are contained/how [un]well our small boundaries love us."* The consequences extend forward into our present, and can be seen in works such as Tricia Rose's Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy (2003), filmmaker Mya B.'s documentary, Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality in America (2004), Charlotte Pierce-Baker's Surviving the Silence: Black Women's Stories of Rape (2000), Lori S. Robinson's I Will Survive: The African-American Guide to Healing from Sexual Assault and Abuse (2003), and of course Simmons's NO! The Rape Documentary (2006/2007). However, these works also foreground change and the potential for healing, and, at their best, forward an inclusive narrative that doesn't hide painful histories in shame. This new narrative tells the whole of its story, simultaneously calling for both a present and future where that story evolves and compels us to a new place, and is an integral part of the building of that new place, for all concerned.

Endnote I:
A Long Walk Home, Inc., the non-profit organization co-founded by Salamishah Tillet "which uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to document and to end violence against underserved women and children."

*quoted from "After Your Nap (for Maria)", Brigit Pegeen Kelly, To the Place of Trumpets (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988).

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What a little black girl knows...

I know this photo has been making it's way around the 'net. My friend Q said she had already gotten it four times before I forwarded it to her. But I have to post it here; otherwise I know I'll want it for something later and then will have to spend hours searching for it online. As I wrote to some folks to whom I forwarded it: I know it's wrong to smile at this straight-on read (poor Hillary, but I guess this little black girl wasn't buying whatever Sen. Clinton was selling ). But really, can you blame me...?

The information I still don't have is 1) a credit for this photo, 2) knowledge of where and when it was taken, and 3) a name for the little girl.

Recently, I was talking to some folks about the Obama-Rev. Wright situation, but more to the point about the primarily style, but-brilliant, candidate (Obama) versus the primarily substance (but what kind of substance?) candidate (Clinton), implied race-baiting (Clintons) unfortunate mis-stepping (Obama), scary resentment for having forsaken her own political career for her philandering charismatic husband (HC), and thank goodness for a solid (and better?) half (BO re: Michelle Obama). All of which had us throwing up our hands and wondering what's next for the country. I want to believe in Obama's presidential leadership abilities as much as the next audaciously hopeful citizen, but wish he had more experience, and a more definitive political presence. I'm disappointed too that the dynamics between Clinton and Obama have gotten so intransigently negative in the past few months. Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (central organization of the national Democratic Party) who claims to have been attempting to influence the tenor of their responses to each other behind the scenes finally gave up and made a public statement about the potentially negative impact of their campaign rhetoric on the Democratic party as a whole. His concern being the larger consequences that could play out down the line, no matter which one of them gains the party's nomination. We'll all find out soon.

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