Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

14Feb/162

Black Love, 2016

Today I'm reposting last year's Black love message, with three additional songs added to the playlist. These include Gregory Porter's defiant stand against love's failure, No Love Dying, followed by a plea for the approval of one's true love's parents, in Real Good Hands. To help close out the set, there's another Porter favorite, When Love Was King, a lyrical painting of the world we want our children to re-member.

The major lesson I'm learning as time passes is that love really isn't that complicated. It's our ability to create space for its full and healthy expression that's complicated; that includes space for love's giving and receiving. And it's all of that stuff that we've accumulated through the years and now carry with us that takes up that space. I'm clearly still a work in progress... but I do still believe.

lotus flower - meditation before blooming

Black love is beautiful,
even if a little complicated.
As we continue find our way back to ourselves,
love's spirit always finds its way home.

In celebration of this year's weekend celebrating the timelessness and enduring beauty of Black Love, I pulled together a musical tribute in celebration of the beauty that we are. I hope you enjoy the playlist, and I welcome your comments, and any suggestions of songs that you'd add to the list.

love our people...

Step into the music: black love music celebration

This year's 24-song playlist...

  1. Mali Music - Beautiful
  2. India Arie & Musiq Soulchild - Chocolate High
  3. Gregory Porter - No Love Dying
  4. Gregory Porter - Real Good Hands
  5. l Jarreau - So Good
  6. Otis Redding - Try a Little Tenderness
  7. Leela James - Fall for You
  8. Alicia Keys - If I Ain't Got You
  9. India Arie - He Is the Truth
  10. Ledisi - I Blame You
  11. Gregory Porter - Be Good (Lion's Song)
  12. Randy Crawford & Joe Sample - One Day I'll Fly Away
  13. Raheem DeVaughn - Woman
  14. Esperenza Spalding - Black Gold
  15. India Arie - Break the Shell
  16. Whitney Houston - Greatest Love of All
  17. India Arie & Akon - I Am Not My Hair
  18. Stevie Wonder - Isn't She Lovely
  19. Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit
  20. The Isley Brothers - Caravan of Love
  21. The SOS Band - Tell Me You Still Care
  22. Earth, Wind & Fire - Reasons
  23. Gregory Porter - When Love Was King
  24. Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers - Be Encouraged
6Oct/140

Ferguson Protesters Delay Symphony After Intermission; Polite and Awkward Applause Follows

By now many of you have probably heard about or seen some of the footage from this weekend's St. Louis Symphony protest, highlighting the tragic killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri cop Darren Wilson. This occurs amid the relative silence among a great many whites whose primary complaints tend to be focused on the inconvenience of the aftermath and continuing protests to the comfortable (racial) social arrangements they are used to between Black folks and white folks.

In case you haven't seen or heard about this symphony protest, brief video and audio clips are shared just below.

The expressions seen in the faces of the couple at the 1:14 mark are priceless. Many words come to mind as I observe their reactions. Let's just say that "support" and "solidarity' are not among those words - at least not support and solidarity with the family of Michael Brown nor the larger community of African Americans who have to deal with the indignities of Black life in and around Ferguson.

Additional description, and a small amount of commentary, can be found at St. Louis Public Radio.

The St. Louis American reported that the protest was organized by "Sarah Griesbach, 42, a white woman who lives in the Central West End. She said that the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, has opened her eyes to the inequalities that exist in St. Louis."

Griesbach told the American: “It is my duty and desire to try to reach out and raise that awareness peacefully but also to disrupt the blind state of white St. Louis, particularly among the people who are secure in their blindness."

Click here to read the full write-up, including the audio and commentary.

After watching the video footage, and listening to the audio capture of this protest at St. Louis Public Radio, I can't help but reflect on the distinct contrast between the relatively "warmer" reception to this version of protest, and the horrendously violent response to those protesters on the streets of Ferguson (both in real-time by the police, and also in the equally as brutal aftermath shaped by the media).

If previously disengaged and oblivious whites really want to get out of their comfort zone, it seems they should also join en masse - in support, not as leaders - the protesters that have been braving it out on Ferguson streets day in and day out since the killing of Michael Brown.

The reality is that White people clapping in dignified solidarity, especially as a brief commercial break during their night at the symphony, will not ultimately move the systems and structures of power - especially those that repeatedly refuse to see and affirm the dignity and value of Black life.

Hopefully, however, at least for some of the people involved, this helps to create a pathway to more of that foundational engagement of those power structures.

5Oct/140

The Price of Blackness, Parts 1 & 2 – African American Experiences with Law Enforcement

Below are some additional perspectives on the experiences of African American communities and law enforcement.

The Price of Blackness (Part One) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.

The Price of Blackness (Part Two) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.

4Oct/147

Another Horrible Example of Police Behavior and Apparent Racial Profiling

This horrendous episode is one of the latest examples of police who - by all appearances - seem to be way out of line, and overstepping their authority. Fortunately, in this case, the brother who is riding in the passenger seat was able to record most of the encounter. And he appears to be the primary target of the officer's "concern".

This is absolutely horrible, but seemingly less and less uncommon! I'm just glad they were able to walk away from this relatively unscathed, and with video to help them make their case.

From The Free Thought Project...

Sandusky, OH — A mother and father were on their way home with their 2 week old baby when they were stopped by Sandusky police officers.

Andre Stockett, the father and the passenger in the vehicle, and the man who took the video, has a good understanding of his rights when dealing with police.

Despite the police pulling over the vehicle, for an alleged “traffic violation,” they do nothing to the driver. Her license is run and it comes back valid so they have nothing on them, yet like bullies on the playground they begin ganging up on Stockett.

Stockett has committed no crime and has not been suspected of committing a crime, so he lawfully refuses to identify himself. This assertion of his rights does not go over well with the bullies on the playground, so Officer Denny throws a temper tantrum.

Read more here.

Related Video:  Sandusky Police Over-Stepping Their Bounds

19Feb/140

Truths You Won’t Believe – S1 Ep1 – Are There More Black Men in Jail or College

30Dec/130

More on the Increasing Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys

I came across an interesting discussion about the increasing investment by philanthropy in supports for African American men and boys.  It's about an hour-long, and includes a number of major foundation program officers.  It sheds at least a little light on how they are thinking about the work of supporting African American men and boys.

[Video Description]  A panel of thought leaders and Bay Area foundation representatives review funding trends through the lens of two recent research studies on philanthropic investments in support of black males. The panelists shared current strategies and lessons learned from portfolios dedicated to serving black men and boys. In addition, this moderated panel included a discussion of the recently launched Leadership and Sustainability Institute for Black Male Achievement, an innovative initiative designed to build the capacity of practitioners and funders working in this field.

Along with the video below, you should also check out a related report I recall from 2012, Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys, produced by The Open Society Foundations and the Foundation Center.  Among the key findings from the 40-page report:

  • Foundation funding explicitly designated to benefit black men and boys held steady in recent years, rising modestly from $22 million in 2008 to nearly $29 million in 2010.
  • Education was the top priority of grants explicitly in support of black males, receiving 40 percent of grant dollars.
  • Most foundation dollars explicitly targeting black men and boys provided program support (87 percent).
  • Recipient organizations in the South received the largest share (32 percent) of foundation dollars explicitly intended to benefit black males. the Northeast received 30 percent of funding.

23Dec/130

Daniel Beaty: Spoken Word Performance and Presentation at Black Male, Re-Imagined II

Black Male, Re-Imagined II: Performance by Daniel Beaty from Open Society Foundations and The American Values Institute on FORA.tv

10Dec/130

Why Do People Stereotype Black Men? Ask Your Brain.

Here's a short yet insightful video (approx. 2 min.) from the Open Society Institute, and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement...

How do we overcome preconceptions and anxiety about race? "Part of understanding racial anxiety is simply naming it," says Alexis McGill Johnson, executive director of the American Values Institute.

Once you identify your own racial preconceptions, Johnson says, "you can give yourself different guidance in how you want to treat the conversation, by recognizing that no one is in this conversation to call you racist. We're just in this conversation to have a better dialogue."

27Nov/130

Black Fathers: Bombshell Family Secret Leads Photographer on Unexpected Journey

I just came across this powerful 5-minute video on the profound beauty and integrity of Black fathers.  Within several minutes, and stemming from his own very personal story of discovery, photographer Zun Lee offers an insightful perspective on the profound tragedy and pathology that characterizes the misrepresentation of Black / African life in the American psyche, especially the role and presence of African American fathers.

The idea of African American fathers, in many ways, is an oxymoron within the popular American imagination, courtesy of this nation's history of racism and oppression directed at African (-American) people.  Any casual examination of popular media forms reveals a distorted and extremely problematic idea of African American male absence and/or irresponsibility.  This short video challenges that pathological and widely accepted - yet false - narrative.

You have to watch this, and share it with others.  I see myself, my family, and the many other powerful examples of African American fathers I've known and observed, reflected in this emotionally moving and reflective clip.

Many thanks to brother Kenneth Braswell for passing this along via twitter, and brother Zun Lee for taking the time to share some of his journey in this form.

From the Video:

I had a lot of assumptions about what it meant to be a good father. And a lot of these assumptions were shattered just by being in the presence of these fathers.

For me it was an eye opener to see how many fathers take their responsibility seriously, that go about their business very quietly, doing something everyday to be there for the kids.  A lot of them have very difficult situations, yet they still find a way to make fatherhood work for them.

And you see it in the eyes of the partners, you see it in the eyes of the kids. These men were contrary to the stereotype, very demonstrative with their feelings, and very forthcoming with a lot of love and affection.

And that's something that was very difficult for me to be around, to witness, because it brought up a lot of emotions from the things I never experienced as a child.

 

For me, initially, this project was about exploring the feelings of anger and hurt and resentment that I had towards the dad that I had never known. But witnessing so many Black fathers that are trying to be the best father that they can be… they are not absent, they are not irresponsible. It really led me to a path of forgiveness and redemption because each of the fathers that I worked with and that I photographed, could have been my father. And just forgiving myself even for hanging onto the resentment for so long. I think this project more than anything else helped me on that path.

 

Description of this Video Project:

In this episode of The Weekly Flickr, we profile street photographer Zun Lee. A family secret inspires him to pick up his camera and confront stereotypes of African-American fatherhood. Zun embeds himself in the lives of black fathers who are trying to be as involved in their children's lives as possible. It's a journey he hopes will lead him to a path of forgiveness and redemption.

 

 

28Jul/130

Are African-American Men ‘Invisible?’

President Obama recently called on the nation to rally around young African-American men. But is that easier said than done? Listen as host Michel Martin asks a panel of dads on NPR (approximately 18 minutes)...

  • Eugene Robinson, Writer for The Washington Post, and father of two
  • Leonard Pitts, Columnist for The Miami Herald, and father of five
  • Gregory Ellison, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Emory University, and father of three

The transcript is also available at NPR.