Author Archives: ajahweh

Red Tails! Must See!

I’ve always been fascinated with history in general and was so excited to see Red Tails because I wanted to support the film.  But after reading the controversial posts about Red Tails, I was disappointed but even more anxious to see the film for myself.

I was most disturbed by the comments posted about the lack of historical content in the film.  I  wish people could see the bigger picture.   This is an opportunity to show Hollywood that black films can be successful without degrading our culture by appearing ignorant or obnoxiously self righteous.  It’s not like Red Tails was a minstrel show.  It was “inspired by true events.”  And the cast was excellent.  After reading so many comments it seemed as if there was some expectation for George Lucas to make an educational film.  WAKE UP PEOPLE! You must take responsibility and educate your children.  I say we must take responsibility because of my own experience.

I grew up in a household where we read and watched documentaries about Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, and Dorothy Dandridge long before seeing the movies.  We discussed concepts like apartheid and gentrification.  I remember the day my parents took me to see Nelson Mandela when he visited Harlem.  I was only 5 years old.  My exchanges with people like Ambassador Dudley Thompson and Randall Robinson made their books and history come to life!  So when I did go see Malcolm X, Glory, Amistad and Sarafina etc. I was familiar with the content.  There are so many free resources available to educate ourselves.

I’ve also seen many posts about the interracial relationship between Lightning and the Italian woman.  She was the only love interest in the film, which made sense to me since there weren’t loads of black women living in that region at the time.  Even now, think about the number of military men who marry or date women outside of the race because of their assignment.  Besides, how many women don’t like a man in a uniform who looks like he has something going on for himself?  I think the love story humanized Lightning.

I’m glad I saw the movie on opening night. I’ve been digging even further into the history of the Red Tails, African American women who were pilots and other Tuskegee experiments.  I just hope that people will be excited about the fact that a part of the “Red Tails” story is being told, see the bigger picture and support the film.

 

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Make this year a great one!

Happy New Year and Melkam Genna.  We are exactly one week into the year 2012 and celebrating Christmas today according to the Ethiopian calendar.  I had a wonderful holiday season.  Traveled to various places and spent time with lots of loved ones.  I’m hoping all of our readers did too.  Most people use the holidays to rejuvenate, make resolutions and prepare for movements in the coming new year.  I charge each of you to make 2012 even better 2011.  Help someone in need, reinvent yourself, take a trip somewhere you’ve never been and contribute to the community.  I’m sending much love, light and well wishes to all of you. Let’s make this year a great one!

Art Basel Miami Beach 2011

What a weekend I’ve had!!! So I spent the last two weekends enjoying the cool breeze and palm trees in Miami. I decided late Friday night that I would try my best to catch the first flight to check out Art Basel Miami Beach. Set back #1. The alarm was set but I didn’t hear it. So I jumped out of bed got ready, grabbed a few things and rushed to the airport. I checked in online, cleared security and boarded the plane just in time for take off. YES!!! I was on my way. My mother was anxious to attend the festivities with me so I just knew she would be at the airport waiting. Set back #2. FLAT TIRE! At that point I had no idea how long it would be until I met with my crew to hit the streets. Soooo what does a girl like me do? Find the nearest spot to get my toes beach ready. 😉 As soon as I’m finished I walk out of the airport my crew is there waiting for me. So I call out to the the Universe. “No more set backs. I only have 32 hours to get it in!”

Off to Native Films to shoot Merid Tafesse, a Contemporary Fine Artist visiting from Ethiopia. Tafesse was creating a huge masterpiece in the Wynwood Art Disctrict. Jimmy Malcolm accompanied him with soulful sounds on the piano. Mixed media on canvas and live music in the same space. I felt like I was watching the ultimate duet. Two major forms of art being created simultaneously in front of my eyes.

It was getting late I was hungry so I walked around the corned to a small Jamaican restaurant a new friend suggested. Of course the person who made the suggestion isn’t Jamaican nor would he understand why I never eat Jamaican food out but I thought I would give it a try. The rice and peas lacked some essential flavor but wasn’t too bad but, the brown stew and red velvet cake won me over. Nourishing dinner and a pleasant surprise. I love sweets.

I was exhausted but had to push through to check out more of the festivities. Since the Rubell Family Collection was near I tried to catch that and managed to see Art Africa, Moksha Art Fair and a few other places Saturday night. The next morning I was up early to prepare for the 2nd Annual Art Basel Panel Discussion on Contemporary African Diaspora Fine Art, which was held at the University of Miami, College of Arts and Science. The panel featured Tafesse, Howard Mills, Valerie Cooper, Dr. Meghoo, Armando Marino and Ludlow Bailey. The audience engaged the panel after initial presentations with some heated comments and questions pertaining to the advancement of African Diaspora Fine Art in America. Tafesse and Marino gave great insight on artist success over seas as well. The panel discussion was very informative and I look forward to the next one. I had a light lunch then went to the main event at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

WOW. At first I had no words. I saw the sea of people and thought I’d be so overwhelmed but I wasn’t. I couldn’t believe the collections. My time was limited so I saw a small portion of the galleries represented at the main event. Jack Shainman and Alexander Gray Associates were most memorable. Aside from the piece Tafesse completed the night before I must admit I fell in love with the Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare. I have no words to explain his genius. You just have to check it out for yourself. With just a few hours before my flight home I stopped by the Kehinde Wiley fish fry at the Shore Club. His work is simply amazing! I had a wonderful night. What a fabulous way to end a 32 hour trip. And I made it to the airport just in time to board the plane once again.

I can’t wait to attend Art Basel next year!

Feature Image: Artwork by Kehinde Wiley

Top Right Image: Artwork by Merid Tafesse

Bottom Right Image: Artwork by Yinka Shonibare

Happy Christopher ComeBusUs Day!

This morning I would have been up at 5:30 am to get ready to go to school.  Instead I slept in, had a great breakfast and completed a few chores.  It is nice to have a long weekend from time to time but this holiday doesn’t mean much more to me. In fact, the principle behind this holiday is disheartening.  Each year on the second Monday of October, Christopher Columbus and his invasion in the West is celebrated as a federal holiday.  Some school districts, federal institutions and banks are closed for Columbus Day.  Though memorialized for the first time in 1972 in New York City, Columbus day became a federal holiday under President Roosevelt.  We really need to rethink this day and which honors the tragic and brutal annihilation of the indigenous people who were “so called” discovered.

Below is a link for the Native America Rights Fund. This is a non profit that provides assistance for tribes, individuals and organizations. They also post information about events and ways to donate.

http://www.narf.org/

Black Girls Run Atlanta!

Last night my sister came over and told us about a group she has been running with called Black Girls Run.  She demanded that we wake up early to meet her at the starting point by 7 a.m.  I like to sleep in on the weekends but not this morning.  My mother woke up around 5:45 a.m. and I was up just a few minutes after.  (She is visiting for a few weeks. YEAY!)  We got our sweats on and grabbed some fruit.  Then jumped in the car and met the other ladies in the running group.  The air was brisk, the roads were clear and we were in a half sleep state awaiting our 3 mile run.  Which at 7 in the morning seems like 300 miles.  Especially since none of us had worked out in a while.  Upon arrival we noticed my sister followed by about 50 other cars that filled the parking lot.  Then it was time to run.  Just before receiving our route I counted approximately 75 (black girls).  It was so amazing to see so many beautiful women of all ages gathered to run this Saturday morning.  We hit the pavement together then branched off to our 3, 5 and 7 miles journeys to fitness.  Within one hour all of us had completed our respective runs.  I completed 3 miles.  As we gathered to cheer each other on at the finish line a huge 18 wheeler passed by, blowing his loud Mack truck horn and threw up the peace sign…  a sign of respect to the sweaty sistahs.  What a great way to start the day! To find out more information about Black Girls Run check out their blog at http://www.blackgirlsrun.com

If you are in the Atlanta area check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/groups/BlackGirlsRUNAtlanta/

Here’s to your health!

MLK Memorial postponed… until September or October.

As I got ready to go to sleep I think about how my weekend could have turned out.  Then I had a moment where I gave thanks for the little and big things that make me smile.  I am so glad to have life and health.

Yesterday the official dedication ceremony for the King memorial was scheduled to occur.  However, the potential damage and flights that could have been effected by hurricane Irene were reason enough to postpone the events.  On Sunday morning, I would have stopped my alarm clock around 6 a.m. to get ready to go to the mall in Washington, D.C.   My father and I planned to attend the ceremony together.  We would have arrived there no later that 8 am and I would have had my parasol, hand fan and camera. READY!  I just knew I was going to make it and witness an awesome service.  On Friday,  I was notified that my flights were cancelled.  I was a bit disappointed but decided I would change my departure and arrivals.  Then my aunt who lives in Washington, D.C. sent a text stating that the service was cancelled.  But I didn’t believe it because I was too excited to go.  So I prepared myself to start packing.  Shortly after, my father called about the weather alerts and his concerns about me traveling.  I started to look up articles and as soon as I saw “postponed” my heart dropped.  I was devastated. Only because I worked myself up for months about going to D.C. to witness the dedication.  This project had been in the works for the last 15 years I was told and it was ready for the world to see.  President Barack Obama and Aretha Franklin were going to be there.  How could the official dedication be postponed? I took a moment to digest the new information.

I got over the disappointment and am happy I stayed away from the north.  Had I gone I probably would have been stuck there for a few days or had a miserable time with the power outages and fast winds.  I know that this happened the way it was supposed to and now that the monument is open to the public I can go visit whenever I choose.  I can’t wait to make that trip.

Martin Luther King Jr., monument in Washington D.C.

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.  Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.  The foundation of such a method is love. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964 (Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech)

Yesterday the memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was opened to the public on the mall in Washington, D.C.

WOW!!! I can’t believe it!  I knew for some months that the event would come but it is finally here.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend today but I will be there Sunday along with the anticipated 300,000 people.  I’m just so excited!! Dr. King is the only African American and non president to be honored in this way.  Furthermore, there is no more space on the mall for any other monuments of this stature to my knowledge.  I will give you all an update when I return.  There will be musical tributes before and after along with a speech from President Barack Obama.  If you are in the area and can attend here is a link with some pertinent information and FAQ’s regarding the dedication service which will be held on Sunday, August 28th. http://www.dedicatethedream.org/site/c.4nJHJQPoEiKWE/b.7629861/k.8321/Dedication_FAQs.htm

Police Brutality Strikes Again… So does the bystander effect.

I was listening to WRFG 89.3 around 5 pm when I heard a father, Ron Thomas,  speak about his son, Kelly Thomas who was a known homeless man in the community.  The interview was brief but powerful.  Ron Thomas, a retired Deputy Sheriff,  told the story about his son who was beaten into a coma then died shortly after.  There was a total of 6 Fullerton police officers who beat and tazed Kelly while he cried out for help.  Officers stated that Kelly resisted but bystanders disagreed.  A few locals described Kelly as a kind man.  The City offered Ron Thomas $900,000 to settle any claims but he rejected the offer.  Kelly’s last words were “Dad, Dad, Dad.”  Hearing this story was tough.  The injustice system is so corrupt.  It’s not like I’ve never had this feeling before.  But when will it stop.

After listening to the radio interview I looked up an article and a few YouTube videos.  Then I had flashbacks of conversations held with friends regarding the bystander effect/Genovese Syndrome.  The videos showed a group people who stood around, shared their opinions and filmed  as Kelly was beat excessively by the 6 officers.   To my recollection, the bystander effect/syndrome usually occurs when people watch others being hurt by someone and are more times than not helpless.  People may stand around and watch a horrific event almost in a daze.  Somehow the expect another person to do something.  It’s a interesting topic to read up on especially when you get into the difference between individuals and groups.  When one is alone and the risk is low people are more likely to offer assistance to those in need.  Groups of people tend to stand back and wait for someone or something to help.  I’d like to charge all of our blog readers to think about this situation the next time you see someone being hurt.  I wouldn’t ask you to put yourself in danger.  I’m only asking that we become more conscious. Collectively.   Re post it on your social networks to remind other people that is it okay to help someone out or speak up about injustice.  If I was being mistreated by police or some stranger I certainly hope someone would help me.

*Check out this article about Kelly Thomas.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/03/kelly-thomas-fullerton-ho_n_917713.html

School’s In for Summer

As the month of July comes to a close most children in the traditional school settings will be returning to their classrooms within the next 2 to 5 weeks.  Some have been reading or going to different camps and others have probably spent a large portion of their summer in front of a Wii or Facebook.  Summer is a great time for parents and other mentor like adults to make the biggest impact on students.  My parents made sure I was well prepared for the world and the classroom before the next school year rolled around by enhancing our informal education and setting high standards.

Each summer my mother would take us out of school approximately two weeks before the year started or two weeks before the year ended.  Most parents wouldn’t dare trying this especially since we would be home all day for the summer and “needed” to spend every moment in the classroom.  Well my mother didn’t agree with that philosophy at all.  She preferred to nurture our minds with experiences outside of the classroom.  No TV in the bedrooms, limited TV if at all during the school week, lots and lots of reading, went fishing with my dad, camped in the back yard, played all kinds of instruments, and often museum visits.   We played a lot with each other and even made our own home music videos.  Each summer my family would use those extra weeks towards our annual trips up and down the East coast with anywhere from 6 to 9 of my siblings in one vehicle.  One summer we even drove from South Florida to Canada.  These trips were most exciting and continued from the time I was in elementary school until my junior year in college.  We would stop along the way and learn about the states we were passing through, the history of our culture in each place and visit family.  My most memorable stops were always Savannah, GA, Washington, DC and Philadelphia, PA.  Reading was simply a requirement.  The books we read were mainly about our culture and successful people around the world.  I think that was when I began to develop an interest in non fiction, especially biographies.  I cherish those summer trips and learning experiences I shared with my family.  I know these trips along with some very special teachers are what sparked my interest in education.  The American school systems miss the mark in almost every subject across the board, so my summer trips helped to pick up the slack.

Now I spend my summers traveling, studying other schools systems and getting ready give my students a richer education each year.  I do this because I see each child as a new opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.  Tests, evaluations, salaries nor achievement gaps deter me from giving my best to any child.  We must continue to take our childrens’ education seriously, as early as two years old.  It’s not just about teaching them the test or making the deans list every semester.  Children must know that someone cares about their educational success and they have to be groomed to compete on a global level.  I plant seeds of success, faith, dignity, integrity and a love of service to the community in every child I teach.  By imparting quality information and a positive attitude I feel like I am paying it forward.  They know within the first lesson that I have high expectations because I know that they can ” be the change they want to see in the world” M. Ghandi.

This is a short list of films every teacher, mentor and parent should see.  Try a movie night with friends or other parents.  Netflix has #1 and #2.

Top 3  Films

1. The Lottery

2. Waiting for Superman

3. The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System