Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer of Darkinboddy: The Project Continues!

Wherefore, Darkinboddy? 

It is July...and every July brings me to the commemoration of the NYC Draft Riots, the worst riots in American history. The aspect that I write about has to do with the children of the Colored Orphan Asylum, which was burned on July 13, 1863. Several readers have asked me why I haven’t posted in The Darkinboddy Chronicles, my multimedia/varied arts (including baking!) weblog project which ran from 2013-2015—and which is still in development. Well, I have been working on a number of related projects—which will come to fruition soon—and which I hope will please the Darkinboddy fans out there.

I have not had a great deal of time to write—I am working on that aspect of my life—shifting my priorities to reflect self-care, completion of personal projects, and fulfillment of external obligations. I keep a daily journal (I have done so for the past 20 years), through which I work out my ideas in writing fragments, poem lines, drawings, etc., and sometimes I read back a month or two of entries to see what I viewed as important then. What has been coming to the forefront consistently is writing about the completion of two short story drafts—they are near completion, but I just keep procrastinating. A theory of procrastination is that it is based in fear—I will see about that.

One thing that I should say, though, is that between full-time employment as an English professor at Essex County College, my work as a councilwoman in the City of Plainfield—which usually comprises about another 20-25 hours a week, and other volunteer projects/obligations/responsibilities, there is a lot to juggle. I guess I must become an expert juggler! 

Anyway, thanks for all the support you have given me—I am doing my best to bring a couple of pieces to fruition before the fall semester beginsand also to figure out how to successfully work on projects even in the midst of other workthat is the key!

All best,

Monday, July 3, 2017

Land on the Shore - Sustenance for the Weary Soul

For a while now, I have been going to the Toshi Reagon and BIG Lovely Annual Birthday Celebration in January at Joe's Pub in New York. Toshi Reagon is an artist whose music cannot be easily categorized, because she flows through so many genres--I will just say that her music follows a Black tradition of social protest in music. The song I have uploaded, "(I'm Gonna) Land on the Shore," is one that she originally recorded in 1997, on her album titled Kindness. She sometimes sings it at the annual celebration--it is one of my favorites. Her mother, the legendary Bernice Johnson Reagon, also recorded this song back in 1971 (reissued in 1986) on River of Life: Harmony One. One of our greatest civil rights heroes, the late Fannie Lou Hamer, also recorded the song, which is on the album Songs My Mother Taught Me, originally recorded in 1963 and re-released by Smithsonian Folkways African American Legacy Series. I think that you will be moved by all three renditions.

Bernice Reagon Johnson

Fannie Lou Hamer

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Necessities of Life Redux

This year, Plainfield will be observing LGBT Pride Month with a flag raising ceremony at 7:00 pm tomorrow--Thursday, June 15 at City Hall Plaza. It is fitting that we do so, as we also observe and reflect on the one year anniversary of the horrific act of homophobic violence that resulted in the deaths of 49 LGBT folks at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. I posted about this last year, but feel the need to revisit it. As I also noted last year, I was especially struck by the faces of Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22, originally from New Jersey, and of 18 year-old Akyra Murray, a young black lesbian, who were among the youngest of the victims. I cannot right now articulate why they stand out so clearly for me...perhaps because they remind me of my students...may they rest...but still haunt our collective conscience as we fight to end gun violence. The words of the late Marlon Riggs resonate even today: 

"It is necessary to constantly remind ourselves that we are not an abomination." --Marlon Riggs 

At right are the images of the 49 mostly Latinx and black victims. For those of you who snicker, call names, make homophobic comments (and/or stand by while others make them), who minimize the nature of this specific attack on our LGBT sisters and brothers of color with attempts to deflect or deny that this was a hate crime, who don't believe that people like me (black, gay, out, proud) deserve the same rights as you, who misuse religion to spread hatred while saying that you are a Christian...for those of you who deny the children, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, friends, mothers, fathers, and church friends in your own lives whom you KNOW are LGBT family...think about the seeds of destruction that you have sown through your own acts and thoughts, and how that contributes to horrific acts of violence.