Friday, August 19, 2011

Philly Zine Fest 2011 Entry.

   So a friend of mine approached me a few days ago with an assignment: to write a poem or creative essay that exemplifies in some form the idea of being a black woman. Last night, in my sleeplessness, I wrote a tentative, ranting first draft that I would like to share with you. My style inspiration for this piece was the wordy, informed, yet whimsical and metaphorical lyrical style of Aesop Rock. I'm not quite sure I achieved it, but I'm happy with the results nonetheless. Comment as you please.

Black Widow
By Amanda "Meta-Physical" Skeete

   Broken bits of silk-screened scenarios threaded tight the gold rope necklace your great-uncle Tom recieved birthdays ago, the forget-me-knot bow of what humanity forgot to eradicate mere decades ago, the synching of wind-pipes and the plucking of forbidden fruits from the front lawn where scorch marks criss-cross the burned bark of a tree which never stands far from its fallen apple, the arrow William Tell and later Newton struck the fear of spliced gravity with protruding from the Adam.

   If it is humanity which doubles as the edged sword of inhumane human management then it is also true that we raise our enamored selves from the dead as widows do from wasted webs on winded willows, so reflected in the window is the widow black whom you name the source of all evils, not just in color but for her busty blood-lusty thirsting drive for perpetuating and fermenting till ripe the black stereotypes that old albino devil keeps trying to bury alive and zombify, that we black women tend to devour dark loves.

   But if Black Widows we be, then the title is not self-proclaimed. 

   In the painstaking making of names we must become what we speak, so if your speech is in the gutter then the mind must surely follow, which leaves little else but garbage for us Black Widows to swallow - so these dark loves are really types of filth-exuding stereos where biters go to fill poked holes in hip-hop harems of hoes, clothes, and blow, so, Black Widows seem to believe that they are what they eat and end up becoming this consumer of sweetly-stenched defeated hood-rats who swim in and swallow gutter speech from the punctured breech of pock-marked bass-heavy baby-booming boom-box radio hype-beasts.

   That is to say, a Black Widow is also a leech.

   But I refuse to be the eight-legged bulbous black-bottomed web-wig-weaver of double-dutch dreams with bubble-gum pink fingertips which pinch the ghosts of future spliffs, with pig-tails, doo-doo braids, or the whip-lashed sheen-soaked over-burdened worker of cornrows, the cotton-picker, the picked nose of little girls aspiring to be that brick rose, the feathered band-aide of scraped knees from sidewalks where bended prostitutes in alleyways were certainly not meant to be, but it's the same place we used to believe our knight in shining armor would swoop to and make our monsters flee. 

   In reality, our Dark Knights are dark nights of self-destruction, the open-palm open invitation of secret sins to our bedrooms where only lustful lustrous moon-maidens bare witness to this quiet devastation of sisters with black faces brimming starry-eyed the twinkle of perpetuation, affirming the firm belief that wide-thighed nights are devastating stereotypes which conclude in racial degradation, where we only believed that to devour dark loves within the beauty of our blackness would erase the hatred of self without and escalate us straight to oblivious elation.

   To be a Black Widow is to be in constant depravation.

   This conclusion should close the bedroom portal where widows wail at their painless window reflections whilst weaving wistful whisps of webs wherein entraps the Flyest lord of them flies. The dark love Black Widows work so hard to devour is an obsessive destruction we women should attempt to defeat. Not as depraved leeches of lovers lost in sheets, not as consumers consuming soley in vain of ever being complete, not as wheels in heels who's drive is to perpetuate inhumane stereotypically black beliefs - but as miracle workers we witches become weilding hip-switching drop-jaw heart-aching magicks of beauty manifest as the purest of shadows - 

   For Black Widows are Black Women who can only love in the shallows.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Habari Gani?

   Read through these interesting articles and find out what's happening in the motherland. I'm going to continue wasting my brain away on Afro Samurai whilst you all enhance yours with what's going on in the world.

   News on Famine

   "The extreme drought has destroyed crops and caused the death of 80% of the livestock. For most Somalis who live a pastoral lifestyle, these conditions amount to an American losing their home, job and all worldly possessions, with no food or water available to beg for or borrow.

   At the Dadaab camp along the Kenya-Somalia border, more than 1,600 refugees arrived on the day of our visit, bringing the total past 50,000 for the past month. Designed for 90,000 people, the camp is swollen beyond capacity with 430,000. Another 45,000, typically malnourished with crippled immune systems, wait outside the camp with little water, no sanitation, minimal health care and only makeshift shelter."

   "Until now HIV patients had to wait until their CD4** counts were below 200. The World Health Organization recommended the higher threshold in November 2009.
   South African HIV activists became frustrated when a few months later, the government updated the national HIV treatment guidelines to allow only HIV-positive pregnant mothers and those co-infected with tuberculosis (TB) to access treatment at the WHO-recommended CD4 levels."
**CD4 cells (or T-helper cells) are a type of white blood cell that fights infection and their count [and] indicates the stage of HIV or AIDS in a patient.

   "What if 9-year-old Rachel Beckwith survived the car wreck to see what her generous and inspiring birthday wish produced: more than $1 million in donations to bring clean water to African villages."

Sneak Peek for SamboSwag.

   What's coming up for SamboSwag this month? TONS. We've got events, artists, concerts, and movies. Take a look.

  • Artist of the Month feature: "Hired Gun"

   A.K.A. Mikal Amin Lee. Not only is he an aspiring Hip-Hop artist with inspiring lyrics - he's also made a lot of moves in the non-profit and youth education communities. Spoken Word poet, Program Director of Urban Word NYC, Mentor, and personal friend, Mikal has seen several of his students discover their talent and work towards their future success. He's currently working with a group of artists in a program called The Family of Poets alongside such wonderful people as Shawn Bolden (a.k.a. Damospoetik) and Abiodun Oyewole. Needless to say, Mr. Lee is an amazingly busy man with his influences in many places, doing awesome things. I will be reviewing his up-coming performance at Megaciph's album release party, where he'll be onstage with several other up-coming and inspirational artists. $10 in advance, $12 at the door - just get ready for a good time.


  • Poet of the Month Feature: Ashley "Ajay" Johnson

   Young poet Ashley "Ajay" Johnson, student at Drew and Pace Universities, author of "Love and Other Black Magicks", and non-profit innovator is this month's prime example of America's next generation of ground-shakers. Her current business endeavors include her self-published book, working and creating with evoLution NYC ("we're loving for a change, because growth isn't sinister."), among other creative and wonderful projects. Want to know more? Ask her yourself. Thursday, Aug. 18th - "Let's cast a Love spell on you." Come through to Ms. Johnson's book release party, and prepare to be spellbound.
  • Afro-Punk Festival - Aug. 27th, 28th

   Get ready for Afro-Punk festival! It's free this year, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bring your wallets or your change. The line up this year is pretty killer (featuring artists such as Cee Lo Green, Janelle Monae, Fishbone, Santigold, Ninjasonik, Gym Class Heroes, Bad Rabits, and MANY more) but that's not all that AP Festival has to offer. There will be Nike-sponsored skate and BMX competitions, an AP Food Truck Festival, a custom bike show, art wall, and merch vendors from all over the city - all in two days, all at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, NY. Pictures, videos, and reviews for those who won't be able to attend will be posted within the following week. Keep checking in for more goodies and updates!

  • Bamboozled, Pt. 2
      Welcome back to the world of black-face and Coon-ism! I hope you've all had the time to check out the first two parts of Bamboozled via Youtube (and if you haven't, click here to get started) because we'll be revisiting and discussing them very soon. Focus on the symbolism, your initial reactions, your second reactions, gut feelings, the imagery, and so on - we'll be exploring all of the gory details. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Racist Commercials Around the World...

   ...and if there are many, then this one must be an example of what's banned and...not racist?

   I actually liked that commercial when it aired. Can someone please enlighten me as to why this commercial is considered racist? 

   Anyways, on to the actual racist commercial. Most are now banned, others are just...from a different time. Enjoy.

   Yeah. Crazy, right? 
   So, this last one is just something I always find hilarious. I'm not really sure if it's an actual commercial, but I know it's definitely something I've thought about doing a couple times in my life.

   If anyone knows of any other racist commercials, banned or otherwise, please don't hesitate to post a link up in the comment box! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Civilize the Cannibals!

   Watch this early Shirley Temple short film, "Kid in Africa" - one of a series of baby burlesque shorts that, over and over again, exploited young children by making them play roles fit for adults.
   "Kid in Africa" stars a host of toddlers on an African missionary party, led by Shirley Temple. In the middle of the jungle, she is captured by "savage" natives, who throw her in a large pot and begin to prepare her for a Shirley Temple stew. A young Tarzan parody named Diaperzan comes to save her, and together, he and Ms. Temple bring civilization to the natives. The closing scene shows the two young "heroes" in a tree-house full of squalling babies, and the promise of migraines to come.

   Cute, right?

   In a matter of 8 short minutes, we see young black children being used as pack animals - shirtless, and carrying sacks on their heads. While taking a rest, one after another, the little boys wake up and flee in fear from a "cannibal" tribe of little black toddlers in face paint. They don't alert each other - they focus on saving themselves. The kids then get into a brawl, where Ms. Temple pulls out her pistol, and the "cannibals" run around pouring salt on their potential dinner's heads.
   The natives who helped Ms. Temple in the Cannibal Expedition warned her to flee - but no. Ms. Temple is adamant that "these cannibals must be civilized"! Tall and proud, she exclaims that they wouldn't dare to touch her. Why? Because she is white, and she knows what's best. Skipping ahead past some of the stew scene, the head cannibal chef calls another cannibal tribe over for dinner. A little boy picks up and accepts the offer - because if there's anything he loves, it's stewed missionary. Yum.
   The last thing I'm going to comment on about this movie is the chase scene. Shirley Temple later recalls about the film:

   “I was being chased by the little black boys who were playing the African natives. The director wanted all the children to fall at one time. I got through on the path and then they put a wire up and tripped all the little black boys at once and, of course, they all fell in a heap, and some of their legs were cut.” - Shirley Temple, on "Kid in Africa"

   I'm going to leave you on that note. Comment as you will.

Didn't Mama Always Tell You...

   ...not to waste your food? There are starving children in Africa!

   No really, there are. East Africa is currently going through the worst drought (<-Link to NY Times Article) that it's seen in 60 years. That coupled with the constant warring and political crises, mainly in Somalia, has brought famine to itself and many of the surrounding countries.

Recent photo taken of Somalia Food Crisis

   As reported Here by the NY Times, the lack of food is also due to the fleeing of aide workers from the country. The article reports at least 20 murders among the workers during the time it was written in 2008. The ruling Islam extremists labeled them as "infidels" and began a "terror campaign" against them. The article also (briefly) theorizes that the killings and abductions were the work of covert Western government operations aiding anti-Western Islamic groups to make the country's state seem more chaotic than it really is.
   In any case, the country is now sending its pleas to allow the UN aide workers back into Somalia to help deal with the growing starvation rates, but the UN itself is wary of sending its people back into a potential death-trap - so now, 3.7 million people are in danger of dying from hunger.
   So what can we expect to see, if we don't do something (donating, volunteering) to help? The usual exploitation. Ad campaigns featuring children thinner than skeletons. Distended bellies. Disease. Twisted, bony limbs and eyes filled with pain and suffering. All of these images staring you in the face to the tune of sad, emotional music. Can you really stand to see our people put on display like stricken animals in a commercial for the ASPCA?
   There are many answers and promises that need to be found before the UN decides to send physical aide to those countries in need, but the least that we're doing is allowing aerial food drops to certain areas. So, for the time-being, what can we do, besides digging deep into our pockets for the little extra change we may have and dropping it into the proverbial Red Cross piggy bank? There are a few websites where one can simply employ the use of their minds to donate a few grains of rice, some sacks of flour, and a couple drops of water to these and other starving countries. Click the links below to get started - and to refresh your vocabulary and geography knowledge.

   Free Flour Donation Game

   Free Rice Donation Game

   Free Poverty Donation Game

Recent Photo Taken of Somalia Food Crisis

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Good Hair".

   I keep being told that I have "Good Mulatto hair". That, somehow, being of mixed race gives you "better" hair. I've always thought that permanent relaxers and weaves were just different ways for African American women - and sometimes men - to make themselves "fit in" with the Majority race. Another way of affirming that some African Americans are jealous of white people. But why damage your own beauty just to fake another's?

   I'm sure many of you have seen Chris Rock's documentary, "Good Hair". Around the time of it's release, Tyra Banks did a special on her show about the topic. I'm not the biggest fan of "Do what I say, not what I do" theory, as Tyra is almost never seen without a fresh weave or wig, but the truth within the show speaks truth. As far as fads go, I've seen that Black women have begun to embrace their natural hair, wearing afros, locks, or just rocking the bald look. But the fact that we still have such a huge market for products that promote Euro-Asian assimilation among our people proves that we really are as psychologically damaged as I previously stated in former posts. We soak our hair in base chemicals that leave burns and boils on the scalp, that make our hair fall out and discolors the skin - chemicals you wouldn't normally want to touch in the first place, but that we let sit on our skulls, because the longer you let it sit, the straighter your hair becomes. We braid up our kinky, beautiful, natural hair and let someone sew another's into it, or put a cap over it all and wear wigs in styles we could never physically emulate ourselves. 

   I can see that there will always be a large number of women who will refute the idea that their natural hair is actually "good hair" as opposed to overly-chemically treated or fake hair so long as Jill Scott, India Arie and Erykah Badu are some of the only women representing us in American media. If we're going to start a natural hair campaign, it has to begin with Black celebrities. They get the most attention, and are the most idolized (unfortunately) in our communities, so if they buy into unsafe hypes about Black beauty while refuting their own natural looks, why wouldn't we?

   In any case, take a look at these videos from the aforementioned episode of The Tyra Show, and tell me what you think.