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


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

Some Reflections and a Song for the Evening: Marc Dorsey – People in Search of a Life (1995)

Feeling pretty tired after this week, and actually pretty disturbed by the increasing level of overt racism, violence and intimidation we see all around us. This includes a deep pain and sadness associated with the daily insanity that has evolved from our collective experience adjusting to and fighting racism and white supremacy in this country, as well as the state sanctioned violence directed at our people at alarming rates. While there is an intellectual component to understanding and strategizing against racism, this is no academic exercise. This madness is very personal, and can be seen and felt on streets and in homes throughout each of our cities and neighborhoods.

Our people are hurting. The stuff we're struggling with and fighting against is no joke. We have to take better care of ourselves and each other, good people. There's no magic day in the future when we can make time for doing things differently. Now is our time to bring some sanity back to this world. And within our history, we have examples of what that can and should look like. Don't give into the craziness that has been born of and normalized as a result of white racism and oppression. Fight back. We can and must create something better. And we have to put our people, and our struggles, and our aspirations and dreams, at the center from today forward.

Below is my song for the evening, as I think about the limits of resilience, and the increasing urgency for justice, voiced most effectively today by our younger generations.

There's no reprieve from the struggle, though. And the struggle will continue.

And we will win.

Marc Dorsey's People in Search of a Life (1995):

There is a place that is so hard to find
Behind the walls we build inside our minds
Some break the walls, some break the rules, some even get things changed
And when they do, that leads to truth
Their questions still remain
But all that it's sayin'

Somewhere in life there's a joy to be
Between the hope and reality
There in a mirror and then the street
That's where you'll find
People in search of a life

And what of love, is that a point of view?
And when you're alone, it can seem so confused
That's when a friend can pull you in, bring you a helping hand
But what happens when your only friend sells you out in the end
How do you face it?

Chorus x 1

Beyond the sheets of skin, beyond the rules of hate
Within the project walls
There is a cry that will not die
A cry for life

Chorus x 2

In search of a life
Oh, tell me about people
In search of a life
Oh people, people
Looking for a life
Searching, looking in a bottle
Lookin' in a needle
Lookin' in the street
Searchin' everywhere


Bobby Ross Avila featuring Jasiri-X – “No Apology”

A push to stop the violence against Black and Brown people...


The Babies – Jasiri X

Introductory comments by Jasiri X, via The Perception Institute...

Samuel DuBose was on his way home to watch a movie with his 9-year-old son, Samuel Jr. According to Samuel Jr., “He was coming home that night and we had a projector so we were going to watch a movie on it but we didn’t get to do that … because he died.” University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing shot Samuel in his head after pulling him over for a missing license plate. And while Officer Tensing gets to go home to his family after posting bond, Samuel Jr. and his 12 brothers and sisters will never see their father again.

“I can’t get him back,” Samuel Jr. told WLWT-TV, “he’s gone, he’s watching me right now, I can’t see him or talk to him or nothing.”

In April of this year the New York Times published an article called “1.5 Million Missing Black Men“:

In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing.

They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars.

What effect do these missing black men have on the most vulnerable members of our community, our babies? What impact does it have on children to be denied invaluable time with their parents? What does it do to the psyche of black youth to see the people they love being mass incarcerated or murdered? How do they feel when they see their peers killed by the police and their families receive no justice? These are the questions I attempted to explore in my latest video, “The Babies.”

Produced by Idasa Tariq, “The Babies” contains a sample of legendary poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron singing, “but no one stops to think about the babies.”  Sadly, I believe he’s 100 percent correct. We are often so contradictory in what we say to our children and the way we actually behave, it’s laughable. We suspend children for fighting, while we bomb our enemies. We punish them for lying and stealing, yet reward corporations and politicians for doing the very same thing. It’s my hope that this video will make us think deeply about the need for us to be involved in our communities, and what steps we have to take as a country, to truly make America a place of freedom and justice for all.


Ava DuVernay’s Full Conversation With Q-Tip From Tribeca Film Festival

A great conversation for artists, and especially aspiring filmmakers. What I appreciate about listening to Ava DuVernay is the ease and clarity with which she speaks about a craft she is continuing to master. Listening to this discussion, as well as others I have observed, it's evident that DuVernay has given a great deal of serious consideration to questions about why she does her work, and for whom she does her work. She sits within a tradition of African American excellence, an exemplar all of our children can learn from (not to mention adults).

Among the themes in this discussion...

  • #StayShooting
  • Creative vision
  • Filming film versus television projects
  • Finding liberation in every film medium
  • Authentic stories
  • Beauty in cinematography
  • Capturing the range of African American skin tone on film
  • Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant
  • Black Lives Matter
  • We must tell our stories
  • If you want to see it, watch it and/or make it
  • If you don't want to see it, don't watch it
  • History lives with us today
  • Black brilliance lives within Black complexity
  • Being in love with what you do
  • Magnifying the magnificence of Black people


If the Novel is Dead, So Are We All. Keep Reading Alive.

Literature must live...

Literature, explains Pulitzer-winning writer Junot Díaz, is the closest that we've come to telepathy. It's through literature that we educate our souls by transporting ourselves into some other character's mind. It builds empathy. It allows for new perspectives. It triggers provocation in all the best ways. Novels aren't as popular a medium today as something like Twitter, but that doesn't mean they're not still hugely important.


Lianne LaHavas – NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Lianne LaHavas featured on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert.

A beautiful spirit in song.  Also be sure and visit her official site.

(approximately 14 minutes)


Vusi Mahlasela – Say Africa

I may be walking through the streets of a city called Detroit, Michigan
But the dust on my boots and the rhythm of my feet and my heartbeat Say Africa.

I may be walking in the streets of a city called Bowie, Maryland
But the dust on my boots and the rhythm of my feet and my heartbeat

Say Africa, Say Africa, Say Africa…


You Are Beautiful Because You Exist

While the world we live in may be complex, there is one truth I know... that of your eternal beauty. That truth is simple and unchanging. You are beautiful, because you exist. You were beautiful during all of our yesterdays, you are beautiful today, and you will remain beautiful for as long as the world remembers that you exist. We do still see you. And we still believe.

Goapele - Strong As Glass

Mali Music - Beautiful

Musiq Soulchild - Yes

Alicia Keys - Superwoman

Randy Crawford & Joe Sample - Almaz


Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s New Release is Brilliant – ‘Stretch Music’ (Introducing Elena Pinderhughes)

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - Stretch Music

Last week Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah released his newest project, Stretch Music. After listening to this many times since last week, I'm loving this project more and more each time. It's clear how much thought and creativity went into this entire project, and especially the collection of musicians assembled for this. I'm very confident that this project, both in substance and in the use of technology to tell the story behind the project, will become a classic for many generations of musicians and music lovers alike, for many many years to come.

"To be in a band like this, you have to be willing to listen, and not always waiting to speak."  - Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

I hope many of you all, especially the jazz lovers out there, will check this project out with a quickness.

Just released on September 18, 2015.