HERSTORY: THE NEW CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

carla's car

1.

You’re looking for another generation to sell, so sell this.  This story.  In 2000, the year I graduated from high school, I decided to become a man.  Being a black woman from Florida, from a small town about 300 miles from Zora’s Eatonville, this involved only three things: 1) cutting my hair; 2) wearing baggy clothes and 3) watching Boys Don’t Cry. So I could see what not to do and so I could live to tell the tale.

2.

I applied to Morehouse College, the renowned black all-male institution on October 5, 2000.  My acceptance letter came on March 3, 2001.  I left a note for my parents telling them I loved them and left in the middle of the night.  I moved into the dorm on August 27.  And for some reason I felt, for the very first time, happy and free.

3.

Let me make it plain: it was not that I wanted to be a man.  Or that I was running from what I truly was—a black woman.  I did not hate myself.  I was not abused as a child by a stuttering uncle, or suffering from an odd Freudian complex (that I knew of).  I was engaging in a grand social experiment, an existential game, recreating myself and the world I wanted to see through my words and actions.   And I understood the nature of this quest, that to create herstory you have to leave history behind, all the traditional things that make us typically what we are in modern society (family, consumerism, marriage, religion, etc.).  I just felt and still feel—that the American game and world history has operated duplicitously off false binary systems of reality that unnecessarily pit blacks against whites, Jews against Gentiles, Christians against Muslims, God against Satan, and men against women.  The way to end these wars, to pull off the mask of intolerance, hate, violence, misogyny and racism, is to end all essentialist theories, to violate their myths and bend their laws from straight lines into circles.

4.

Being a man was easy.  Pretend you shave.  Get greedy: about everything, but especially pussy.  Choose the light-skinned girl with long hair over the dark-skinned sista with short. Eat a lot of chicken wings and play a lot of XBOX and spill beer in front of the TV during games while talkin bout bitches that wont call you back. That shit was the easiest thing ever.  I would do all that then go down the hall to the bathroom to change my tampon.

5.

I fell in love with a guy and a girl while I was there.  And I dated them at the same time.  The guy was bi—his girlfriend was an AKA from Spelman, and she had no idea. The three of us grabbed Philly cheesesteaks from Gutbusters a lot, and she thought he and I were just roommates. Best friends. Little did she know. That I masturbated while they had sex on the other side of the room.  And after having sex with her, he would climb in the bed with me and I would suck his stuff.  Sometimes I wondered if he would have been so into it if he knew I was a girl.  Secretly, I wanted him to be mine, to have kids with him, love him forever.  I fantasized about our future sometimes, but I never told him the truth.  When I realized my heart couldn’t take anymore, I found a reason to disappear.  And the girl I loved, well, that was tragic in the opposite way.  I was the man she always wanted.  She wanted me to marry her, have kids, build a family, even tried to take me home to Jersey to introduce me to her family during the holidays.  I never told her the truth.  I just couldn’t.  I kept my clothes on when the lights went off.  I ate her pussy for about a year.  Then I left her a note, just like the one I left my parents.  I left and I didn’t come back.

6.

I began to write poetry after those relationships.  And for some reason my poetry was tormented by America, and by the insane, absurd politics of my blackness, and my newfound maleness.  It was as if inside my female body there was a black man, a tormented African king, an enslaved spirit with an erect penis trying to break out, trying to escape.  When I read the book The Signifying Monkey, and when I saw the statues of Esu—his long erect dick and that big broad smile on his face—I shuddered and began to understand.  I was pregnant.  Africa had knocked me up.  And my life, my heartbreak, my trauma, my wayward outlaw lifestyle and shuddering poetic visions and stories and experiences were the result.  I gave birth to my first child, a poetry collection.  The black men in the poems were not me but yet were all mine.  I called the poetry collection i.  And for the creator’s name I put the only name that made sense: Esu-Elegbara, otherwise known as Papa La Bas.

7.

This world needs a disruption.  Disruption causes evolution and evolution is the only chance we have at survival.  The problem with revolution is that at some point the revolutionaries leave the zone of disruption to become the rulers, at which point they become useless, limp dicks. Tyranny is tempting. See Animal Farm. The way out of that conundrum is for a new class of cyber-feminists to be born that are not interested in politics: they’re interested in self–evolution, in the bodiless nature of cyberspace and technology, in masturbating, in taking walks in the woods, in videogames, in Walden fucking pond, in accepting the end of race and gender and nature and religion and humanity itself as the new normal, in being disobedient to the notion of civil disobedience itself. Fuck everything. Be yourself. And create the future from there.

8.

Old school Feminism is another bag. But I take it seriously.  After reading The S.C.U.M. Manifesto, it occurred to me that any man that realizes his fecundity, his divine nature and creative power, can become a woman. A wom(b)man.  And any woman that realizes she can run a household, be a protector and a provider, can realize her divine nature, and become a man.  That said, it is the 21st century and most women, especially in the black community, have become men out of necessity—our men are in jail, shooting each other, or lost playing the hip hop capitalistic, misogynistic pimp-ass games they see on TV.  That said, we women have careers and children, and strong viewpoints on the way the world should spin.  We’re not fucking around.  We can run shit, and we know it, and we’re done waiting for the rain to stop.  We now have an imbalance in our communities.  The woman has become the man.  Out of necessity.  But the man is scared.  The man refuses to become a woman.  We women have evolved.  But the man has refused to evolve.  He refuses to become a Bitch, and still denigrates her, that sacred part of himself.  Little does he know that that’s the only thing that can save him.

9.

I first heard the band Deep Cotton on a stormy Thursday night.  A show in Paris at a bookstore called Shakespeare and Company.  How did I miss them in Atlanta at Apache Café? Why were they dressed as tuxedoed buppies playing Gibsons and congos outside the store where Hemingway and Baldwin and Wright used to hang out? I liked the music but I didn’t understand it.  Chuck Lightning told me they wanted to be the Rolling Stones.  To which I responded don’t you know they were just trying to be Muddy Waters who was just trying to get his black ass back to Africa.  They laughed but we stayed in touch.  After they finished their first release Runaway Radio, Nate Wonder reached out to me to write a video treatment for their song “We’re Far Enough From Heaven Now We Can Freak Out.”  I listened to it.  Loved the song.  Especially the part about Boccaccio.  So I wrote the treatment and told them if they changed anything—1 fucking idea, 1 fucking shot—I would take my name off of it.  They read it and were blown away and told me they were gonna make it happen.  And they did.  But when I heard they had a man named Alan Ferguson directing, I changed my mind about the whole thing.  I thought it’d be impossible to do this project correctly without the omnipresent male gaze, especially with a man directing.  So I told them they could shoot it.  But take my name off.  Put Chuck Lightning’s name on instead.  When I saw the video, I laughed.  I found it cute, hilarious, sexy, fun to dance to—and most certainly, certifiably not what I intended.  But I’ll give it to the guys: you can jam to it.  And at least now, The SCUM Warriors are alive.

10.

I approached them afterwards with the idea of the Scum Warrior Vision Cards.  I wanted to give all the warriors, those beautiful women, their own vision of the world, their own voice.  How these cards should be used: like playing cards.  Throw the card down on a table and discuss it.  The quotes. The books mentioned.  The worldview.  The photo itself.  Crawl back into your memories. Tell stories. Joke. Cook. Argue.  Burn the card if need be. Sacrifice it. Then get drunk and fuck.  Before falling asleep.  Write down the dreams you have after this fucking.  These angry orgasmic dreams will become the new Constitution of America.

12.

I realize now that I went to Morehouse College not to get a degree, but to marry myself.  And that is a wonderful thing.

13.

Like the song says: Let’s cook. Let’s clean.  Let’s paint the fence.  Together. All of us. Men. Women. Black. White. Green. Purple. Christian. Muslim. That’s our only chance.

14.

I’m on the move again.  Crossing another border.  My hair is growing.  Perhaps I will become a woman again.  Perhaps I will stay a man.  One thing is certain: I will do all it takes to remain happy and free.

 

See the SCUM Warriors in action below in the emotion picture “We’re Far Enough From Heaven Now We Can Freak Out: Part 1.”

Real Man 101 by Megalyn Echikunwoke

megalyn2

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘Feminism’ as: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”  Do I consider myself a feminist? Not really. But obviously, what it means to be a feminist has changed over the last several decades–from second wave, to third, to now.

Have we as a society moved beyond the third wave? If we haven’t yet I’d like to think we are at a tipping point. One where, as the roles of men and women in society continue their gradual shift, the reaction of men to a smart, ambitious, confident, emotionally and financially independent, modern women isn’t one of fear and intimidation but of respect and understanding. I find that women like this are often very threatening to your typical “manly man” especially the ones of my generation: a generation which seems to be producing more women like this and less men capable of handling it.

It has been said that for various reasons, this is a generation of men raised by women. You would think this is a good thing. But when you consider that to function in a patriarchal society where what it means to “be a man” is so narrowly defined, it might be that this dynamic has consequently created a whole generation of lost boys: Boys stuck in a state of arrested development. Boys who run from a self-possessed woman. Often this type of woman finds it difficult to find male partners that can be on her level, and consequently ends up alone. How many stories have you heard about the successful, kick-ass woman who has defied the status quo of a male dominated world and risen to the top only to find she is up there alone, loveless and probably childless because she scares the shit out of most men, especially her peers?

After getting a degree in psychology in the late fifties, Valerie Solonas went on to become the radical feminist writer who literally shot Andy Worhol. She published the controversial text The S.C.U.M Manifesto in the mid sixties partly in reaction to her own abusive upbringing but mostly in reaction to the times and what she saw going on around her. Though her writing is militant and often belligerent she makes some very poignant and interesting points about the many poisonous cultural dynamics between men and women in terms of sex, family, religion and more.  Like I said, I don’t consider myself a feminist and actually quite adore men. But when I read The S.C.U.M. Manifesto I found myself getting excited and indignant that someone was so passionately examining the often absurd ways the two sexes coexist and interact, the ways men handle fear of women, and most interestingly, that what drives men to mistreat women historically and presently comes from the idea that they are so deeply, primally jealous that women are fundamentally superior to them they have shaped whole civilizations and built complex institutions around denying this fact. Sure, she often speaks in hyperbole about the issue.  And, yes, the ideas behind “feminism” have undoubtedly evolved since this was written. I’d like to think it has not only become more sophisticated but that it has transcended the notion that feminism is something women alone have to fight for on our own behalf.

Ideally, the full realization of womanhood can’t be confined to an “ism.”  I’d like to think that today’s woman has the opportunity to move beyond fighting for equality with men. Because (at the risk of sounding like a man hater) men and women really and truly are not equal. Most women, and probably men for that matter, would agree that men are, in general, pretty simple creatures. Women are far more complex beings than men. When do women get to be equal to men and then some? When do we get to be all of what we are? There are probably matriarchal societies that understand this notion better than I do, having only known the limits of the American patriarchy. But like I said, a paradigm shift is upon us. I meet sexy male feminists more and more. Are they considered manly? Who cares? Why can’t feminism in the traditional sense be left to the modern man? We ladies already know who we are and why that’s important. Let them spend some time catching up so we can stop being preoccupied with diminishing ourselves to appease them and focus on being fully realized females.  If you ask me, feminism should be Real Man 101.

 

See the SCUM Warriors in action below in the emotion picture, “We’re Far Enough From Heaven Now We Can Freak Out: Part 1.”

The W List 7.13.12

W-LIST-W

VOLUME IX. 7.013.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)

1. Color Outside the Lines (trailer)

“The film is the brainchild of one of the world’s most widely recognized black tattoo artists; Miya Bailey. For over 5 years the idea has always been in his head to create a film that not only sheds light on the artform, but also allows the artform to be represented in the right way. There are a lot of stigmas attached to black tattoo artists and their side of the culture; ranging from a lack of creativity to overall poor quality of work. This in turn has lead to artists from other backgrounds and those in the black community choosing to take their business elsewhere in search of quality work.

The primary purpose here is education, basically if people knew better they would do better. There are dozens of black artists who are trained and highly skilled in any form of tattooing one could ask for. Once people watch this film we really want them to have a better understanding of their options and a deeper appreciation for the art form.”

Directed by Artemus Jenkins
conceived and produced by Miya Bailey

http://www.coloroutsidethelinesfilm.com/HOME/

2. C.R.E.A.M. (COSMOLOGY Rules Everything Around Me)

GZA, a founding member of Wu-Tang Clan, is linking up with astronomer, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson for the former’s new album about the cosmos, set to debut in the fall, entitled “Dark Matter”. The new album, set to debut in the fall, will tackle subjects ranging from the solar system and physics to black holes and frenetic energy.

“God put the needle on the disc of Saturn / The record he played revealed blueprints and patterns.” According to the Wall Street Journal, it was in Dr. Tyson’s office where the spark for those lyrics came about when GZA was inspired by the rings of Saturn on a model. Dr. Tyson is certainly inspiring, but this may be the first time he’s gotten to add muse to his impressive list of credentials.

Brian Walton, The Nerdist

3. Frank Ocean, channelORANGE

Frank Ocean’s debut album, channelORANGE, has been all the rage this week around Wondaland. The physical copies arrive in stores (sans Target) on July 17th, but the iTunes version dropped this past Tuesday. This kid is a writer, pure and simple. Presenting an album that plays like a well-written book of prose, Frank Ocean has crafted an impressive entry into the musical milieu. Stay tuned for the Wondaland review coming soon. In the interim, here’s his television debut on the Jimmy Fallon show:

4. Higgs Boson Particle

Scientists at CERN have announced that they have discovered evidence of a Higgs-like particle with an evidence signal of 5 sigma, the agreed threshold for positive identification of the so-called “God Particle.” Announced at a live streaming press conference from the Large Hadron Collider, the confirmation means there is a 99.99997-percent chance that the Higgs boson has been identified in the 125GeV mass range. The news has huge implications for the so-called Standard Model of physics.

Ainissa Ramirez, Yale University, describes it the following way:

“In its simplest terms, at the moment the universe was created, the Higgs boson allowed the universe to go from a collection of massless particles to elementary particles that had mass. Or to simplify further, things went from nothing to something.

Here’s what we know about how that happened.

Over 13.7 billion years ago, there was a Big Bang.

Before the Big Bang, all matter was in an incredibly hot, dense state, squeezed into something the size of an atom. How small is an atom? Imagine whittling a strand of human hair 100,000 times. One of those shavings would be the width of an atom.

Just after the Big Bang—less than a billionth of a second afterwards–the universe began to expand exponentially. Particles had no mass and moved through space at the speed of light.

Probably the most important and puzzling thing that happened is that the universe went from being a collection of particles without mass, to a place where some particles did have mass.

As the universe continued to expand in those first billionths of a second, elementary particles such as quarks, electrons, and gluons started to emerge, which did have mass. These particles are some of the building blocks of our universe.

But wait. How did we go from nothing to something? Specifically, how did we go from particles with no mass to particles that have mass? Higgs bosons.

Higgs bosons help elementary particles gain mass.”(Forbes)

5. Angelika Dass Skin Tone Project

Brazilian artist Angelika Dass is out to show that race is not as clearly defined as we think. Her latest project, called “Humanae,” provides an active comment on the porous boundaries of race and identity by cataloguing each individual skin tone using the Pantone color scheme.

On her website, Dass explains she placed her subject in front of a tone extracted from a sample of 11×11 pixels of their face. She uses Pantone guides, represented by an alphanumeric code, to classify the colors as if they were a scientific measurement. We suggest the next time you are asked to check in a box defining your race, try writing in “Pantone 7522 C” instead. (Huffington Post)

6. Cody ChesnuTT: Landing On a Hundred

Our dear friend, Cody ChesnuTT, is back and has something new to present to the World. He’s enlisting help this time around. Read about his KickStarter campaign here and view the footage of his awesome live show in Paris below:

7. Worst Scandal in US College Sports History: Penn State

What exactly happened?
Who knew what?
When did they know?
For how long did they know?

We now know the answers to these questions.

Heaven help us.

8. Nas, Life is Good

Can’t wait. July 17th.

9. Gilbert Gottfried Reads Fifty Shades of Grey

Try to UNhear this once listening. *shivers*

10. Happy Birthday Bill Cosby!

Happy 75th to our favorite Ghost Dad ever. Shouts to Leonard 6.

The W List 7.06.12

W-LIST-W

VOLUME IX. 7.06.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)

 

1. The Book That Cannot Wait

 

2. Blackface Rears its Ugly Head…Again

This group is called The Bubble Sisters. They are a pop girl group from South Korea who were told that, despite their considerable talent, they’d never make it in the industry unless they come up with an attention-grabbing gimmick because they are not pretty enough. The group decided to base their gimmick on being ugly, talented and proud of it, so they thought blackface would be the best way to communicate to their audience that they are ugly. And talented. And proud.

 

3. Paula M.L. Moya’s Interview with Junot Diaz

After gulping down this interview as quickly as possible and suffering through the resulting brainfreeze, we have spent the week savoring little bits and mouthfuls of it. And it has sustained us. Here are some excerpts:

“Think about that final line in [Frantz] Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks: ‘O my body, make me always a man who questions!’ I remember reading these sisters and suddenly realizing (perhaps incorrectly but it felt right to me at the time) that women-of-color writers were raising questions about the world, about power, about philosophy, about politics, about history, about white supremacy, because of their raced, gendered, sexualized bodies; they were wielding a genius that had been cultivated out of their raced, gendered, sexualized subjectivities. And what they were producing in knowledge was something that the world needed to hear in order to understand itself, that I needed to hear in order to understand myself in the world…”

“One of the arguments that the book makes about Oscar is that he ain’t getting laid because he’s fat and nerdy. That might be part of it, but that is also a way of hiding other possibilities. Perhaps one of the reasons Oscar ain’t getting laid is because he is the son of a survivor of horrific sexual violence. In the same way that there is intergenerational transfer of trauma from mothers who are rape victims to their daughters, there is also intergenerational transfer of rape trauma between mothers and their sons. But most readers don’t notice how Oscar embodies some of the standard reactions of young rape victims to their violations.”

And, finally, a description of his new novel; one of two works-in-progress:

Monstro is an apocalyptic story. An end of the world story set in the DR of the near future. It’s a zombie story. (On that island, how could it not be?) It’s an alien invasion story. It’s a giant monster story. It’s about the Great Powers (China, the United States) attempting to contain the growing infestation by re-invading the Island for, what, the twelfth time? I always say if people on my island know about anything they know about the end of the world…I have of this fourteen-year-old girl, a poor, black, Dominican girl, half-Haitian— one of the Island’s damnés—saving the world. It’s a book is about this girl’s search for—yes—love in a world that has made it its solemn duty to guarantee that poor raced ‘conventionally unattractive’ girls like her are never loved.”

 

4. D’Angelo Tours the US

At long last, D’Angelo trusts his US audience enough to tour here. He played the House of Blues in LA on the Fourth of July. Here’s a lil snippet of D’Angelo genius for that a$$:

 

5. On Closets and Independence

Frank Ocean and Diana King declared their independence on the Fourth of July. As closet doors swung open in Black entertainment, they let in light, and love, and fresh air; and let out free people.

Frank Ocean, singer/songwriter, writes a thank you letter on his tumblr page that describes the first time he fell in love. Dream Hampton writes a beautiful response that mirrors Wondaland’s sentiments.

Diana King, aka KingSinga, Jamaican singer/songwriter best known for her hit “Shy Guy” and her cover of “Say a Little Prayer for You” declares YES! I AM A LESBIAN on Facebook.

In other news, Queen Latifah released a statement disconfirming her LGBTQ status, and the Based God Lil B continues to play on words. Take your time; your identity is yours to tell.

 

6. The Music of Gary Clark, Jr.

Every time I see this guy live, it takes me somewhere new.

 

7. Ghost Cities

All over the world, from Spain to the US to Angola to Mongolia, there are newly built, carefully engineered, thoughtfully laid-out cities. Satellite imagery show these cities with housing, parks, government buildings, schools, roads, sanitation, communications capabilities–and no residents. This phenomenon that we have in the States of rampant homelessness and equally rampant empty homes (from foreclosures and/or over-development) is not unique to our economy. In China, Mongolia and Angola, the ghost cities have in common that they were all built by the same Chinese state-owned development corporation.

The media has spun this “Chinese Ghost Cities” story in a couple of different ways: first, there is the spin that Chinese developers are terrified of their bosses and have to prove that they’re building developments at the rate of 20 cities per year for 20 years, so they just build them in the middle of nowhere even though there’s nobody living in them. Second, there is the spin that the Chinese ‘are planning something’ (cue villain music).  The third spin is that they are building cities in every location they plan to take over. I personally don’t believe that “the Chinese” are a billion robot people with a single mind; there are probably lots of reasons for each of the developments. One Chinese report states that the cities were built to encourage families to move out of the overcrowded urban centers and into these ‘rural cities’. Our question right now is “Why isn’t it working?”

 

8. Serena Williams’ Comeback

This week, at Wimbledon in London, Serena Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka, a debilitating foot injury, and death. In the year since her last Wimbledon appearance, this phenomenal athlete survived two blood clots in her heart and returned to the court as magnificent as ever.

 

9. The Art of Nicole Dixon

Excerpt from her Artist’s Statement:

Art is my method of processing my experiences living in this skin and in this world. I work through, sort out, piece together, analyze, arrange, rearrange, construct, deconstruct, and communicate what I experience and perceive as a woman, an African-American, and a human. My work is about personal and social examination, such as the relationships between women and men, joy and suffering, intimacy and distance, the past and the future, the sacred and the profane, and the spaces in between.

See more of her work here.

 

10. The Unintentional Immortality of Henrietta Lacks

In 1951, a tobacco farmer by the name of Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Her doctor extracted a portion of the tumor and donated it to a lab for testing–without Mrs. Lacks’ knowledge or consent. In fact, the only reason that the family of Mrs. Lacks ever learned that her cells were being used was that, 25 years after she died, her cells were still living, still creating, and still giving life, and the scientists that had been experimenting with them wanted more of them. They were given the code name HeLa cells, and lies abounded as to where they were from and how they were collected.

For decades, many cell cultures thought to be from other tissue types, including breast and prostate cells, were in fact HeLa cells. They went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity.  They could float on dust particles in the air and travel on unwashed hands and contaminate other cultures. They are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

The W List 06.22.12

W-LIST-W

VOLUME VII. 6.22.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)

1. The Passing of Rodney King (1965-2012)

I was in the seventh grade when the news of a video depicting 4 LAPD officers savagely beating a Black motorist reached Atlanta. Outrage, and fear, and disgust, and fatigue, and disassociation, and shock, and a million other emotions rippled through my city in waves throughout the trial. My mother was driving me to the meeting point for a field trip when Ryan Cameron announced that the officers were acquitted, and urged us to turn on our headlights in protest. My mild-mannered mother turned hers on. Ten seconds later, she turned them off and exploded, “WHAT ARE HEADLIGHTS GOING TO DO?! WHAT PURPOSE DOES THAT SERVE?! WILL IT SAVE MY HUSBAND AND MY SONS FROM THOSE MURDERERS?!!” She pulled the car over and cried. Later that night, once the rioting was in full swing 3000 miles away, Atlanta police in full riot gear descended upon a quiet Morehouse campus, in the midst of final exams study week, and ordered all the students into their dorms. Once the students had complied the police shot tear gas into the dormitories, sending my oldest brother into seizures. The lessons I learned from the brutality Mr. King endured have opened my eyes to the difference between justice and the US justice system. The simple act of capturing the beating on video has provided our generation with a new tool in the fight for protection from our ‘protectors’. Thank you, Mr. King, for your sacrifices.

2. Ice T’s Documentary Hits Theaters

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap opened June 15.  Legendary!!!!!

 

3. UK Soul Singer Omar Lye-fook Gets Knighted

 

4. The Passing of Erica Kennedy (1970-2012)

Honestly, I’ve never bought into the narrative that little Black girls don’t have any role models. My parents introduced me to many and provided me with the tools for discovering many more. The lovely and talented Erica Kennedy was especially inspiring to me, however, and losing her this week has been extremely emotional. A Sarah Lawrence College and Oxford University grad, Erica is a youthful, beautiful, gifted, graceful and successful journalist and bestselling novelist. Thank you for the life that you lived.

 

5. Ladies and gentlemen, Voyager 1 has left the building

As we speak, an object conceived in the human mind, and built by our tools, and launched from our planet, is sailing out of the further depths of our solar system – and will be the first object made by man to sail out into interstellar space. The Voyager 1, built by Nasa and launched in 1977 has spent the last 35 years steadily increasing its distance from Earth, and is now now 17,970,000,000km – or 11,100,000,000miles – away, travelling at 10km a second. Indications over the last week implies that Voyager 1 is now leaving the heliosphere – the last vestige of this solar system.

6. James Joyce or Kool Keith?
Don’t be scared to post your quiz score. I stay at 100%!!
7. Fiona Apple has a new album! The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do dropped 6/19

8. Maxwell

Which do you want first: the good news or the bad news?

The bad news is that Maxwell has canceled his 3-city summer tour, in which he was going to perform his ENTIRE DISCOGRAPHY, due to vocal hemorrhaging. *Get well soon, Maxwell.

The good news is that Maxwell will complete the tour later this year when he releases HIS NEW ALBUM! blackSUMMERS’night is set for a fall 2012 release. Here’s a really sexy video from his 2009 album, BLACKsummers’night, in which both Kerry Washington and high-water slacks are featured prominently:

 

9. Radiohead Postpones Tour Following Roof Collapse in Toronto

“Whilst we all are dealing with the grief and shock ensuing from this terrible accident there are also many practical considerations to deal with,” the statement read before listing upcoming shows in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland that will be postponed. The band plans to announce the new dates on June 27th, and they will also offer information for fans who will be unable to attend the rescheduled shows and will be seeking refunds.

“We will make every effort to offer the fans the very best show possible under the circumstances – thanks for your understanding and support,” the statement closed. The accident claimed the life of drum technician Scott Johnson and injured 3 other crew members.

10. Middle of Nowhere Hits the Summer Film Festival Circuit

Ava Duvernay’s film — the one that earned her place as the first African-American director to win Best Director at Sundance — plays this weekend at the LA Film Festival. Check film festivals in your area for a chance to see the film before it hits mainstream theaters in October.

Here’s an interview with writer-director Ava Duvernay.

The W List 06.15.12

W-LIST-W1

VOLUME VI. 6.15.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)

1. Season 2 of Awkward Black Girl

Fresh off her 2012 Shorty Award for Best Web Show and recent deal with Pharrell’s I am OTHER network, Issa Rae has returned with a new episode of our favorite YouTubery. Follow the lead character, J, as she navigates love, life and hilarity with equal parts awkward, black and girl.

2. Shellie Zimmerman Arrested

As the writer Ferrari Sheppard notes, “murder a black kid for nothing, get out of jail. lie about your assets, go to jail.”

3. Israel Rounds up Africans, Detention in Dent City

What a short-term memory…

“Israel’s interior minister said on Friday he hoped to soon start moving tens of thousands of illegal African migrants from Tel Aviv and elsewhere to a detention camp being built and a planned “tent city.”

4. The Artwork of Fahamu Pecou




5. Killer Mike “Big Beast” featuring Bun B and T.I.

Killer Mike (whose most recent album features the artwork of Fahamu Pecou) dropped this Zombie apocalypse meets Drive themed video for his first single from R.A.P Music. Be on the lookout for the album review right here next week.

6. Cord Jefferson’s Gawker Article

(“What’s 50 Grand to a Revolutionary Like Me?: Watch the Throne and the New Black Power”)

Must Read. Therefore, do so here.

7. Darryl Reeves “Mercury”

This has been in heavy rotation since it dropped a couple months ago. Please take the time and read Kyla Marshall’s review. You want some of this goodness in your life. Who said jazz is dead?

8. Dear White People

9. Germany Sets New Solar Power Record

According to the Institute of Renewable Energy Industry, Germany’s solar power plants produced 50 percent of the country’s midday electricity needs. This gives a reason to be optimistic about realistic, alternative sources for energy.

10. For Your Weekly Dose of Black Brilliance

“16-year-old Michael peeping Stevie’s magic in the studio (1974). A piece of black music history…”
photo credit: Todd Gray

The W List 06.08.12

W-LIST-W

VOLUME VI. 6.8.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)

1.Greatest Student Voicemail Ever

Because you haven’t laughed enough this week.

2. Beasts of the Southern Wild

According to IMDB, this film is about a five year old named Hush Puppy who faces the fading health of her father, along with an army of prehistoric creatures that are released by some environmental changes. Wow. Hush Puppy looks like a star. And the whole experience seems like magic. Watch the trailer here.

3. The Art of Hebru Brantley


The paintings depict triumphantly defiant beings with raw emotion, drawing from youthful expression. They capture the universal essence of the human condition through an energetic portrayal of urban characters. The work comes about spontaneously, utilizing a vast array of mediums such as wood, found objects, spray paint, coffee and tea. He constructs multi-layered, textured environments referential of the complex, urban life. Brantley tells the stories of his peers and of the spaces which they occupy.

4. PROMETHEUS is finally here!

In all fairness, we’re hearing some bad news about the film and the dreaded “C” word (cliched)…but we’re still going to support and hoping for the best…and you should as well…time to see what all this space jockey business is about!

Also time to pay homage to a new cinematic Android named David (see the video below):

5. The Immortality of Prince Rogers Nelson

 

6. Django Unchained

A first glimpse of Quentin Tarantino’s “Southern” has finally arrived! Watch it here!

7. Lenddo seeks to base credit scores on online reputations

“The company gauges a person’s creditworthiness using his or her online reputation, as assessed through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. To secure repayment, it forgoes collateral and instead relies on peer pressure through the same social networks. The target market is a demographic often ignored by banks today: the 1.2 billion people, largely in developing countries, who are part of the world’s emerging middle class but who still struggle to access credit because they lack a documented financial history and strong identity records.

“Our theory is, we could duplicate the social dynamics of microfinance, but instead do it online,” says CEO Jeff Stewart, referring to the practice of making small cash loans to the world’s poorest people and relying on peer accountability to ensure low default rates.”

8. Usher makes back-up dancer dreams come true

Usher is looking for virtual backup dancers for his upcoming London concert, which will be live-streamed June 11 from Hammersmith Apollo. Starting today, fans can create digital avatars of themselves to win the chance of becoming a choreographed dance square during Usher’s performance of “Scream.”

9. Frank Ocean’s Summer Plans

Frank Ocean has released a new song, “Pyramids”, off his upcoming album Channel Orange. He also announced tour dates in July and August.

10. The Beauty of Time Travel

The W List

W-LIST-W

 

VOLUME V.  6.1.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)

1. The Coiffure Project by Glenford Nunez

Glenford Nunez, founder and photographer of TYP Photography Studio in Baltimore Maryland, brings natural hair to the forefront of fashion and art photography with his creation of ‘The Coiffure Project.’ Starting as simple cell phone portraits of his assistant, who kept her hair natural and unmodified, he has expanded the project to depict something the world has not seen before: beautiful, natural hair on beautiful, natural people.

2. US Postal Service creates Gwendolyn Brooks and Robert Hayden commemorative stamps in its new Literary Giants collection.

 

 

 

 

3. On Fire and Phoenixes

In the same vein of those great immortal struggles of Malcolm vs. Martin, DuBois vs. Washington and Prince vs. Morris Day, the recent exchange between Melissa Harris-Perry and Cornel West has the black community asking itself if it must (once again) divide and choose sides.

In the aforementioned cases and those like it, we musn’t assume that disagreements can only mean destruction. Arguments are disruptive, for sure, and firefights cause important things to burn; but fires give rise to the greenest of new growth and the most golden of immortal creatures. And we can in no wise live with the seething silence that is heated discussion’s only alternative.

4. Paul McCartney’s re-issue of RAM

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is an album from a long, long time ago, when the world was different. This is an album that is part of my history – it goes back to the wee hills of Scotland where it was formed. It’s an album called RAM. It reminds me of my hippie days and the free attitude with which was created. I hope you’re going to like it, because I do!” Paul McCartney, 2012

5. MATAANO

Idyl and Ayan Mohallim founded this rich and gorgeous line of women’s garments in 2008. The line expresses the beauty that is the twins’ experience of being Somali-American: colorful prints that are simultaneously delicate and indestructible, classic silhouettes, and an elegance that bests all obstacles.

6. Zimmerman finally on wanted list

George Zimmerman’s bond has finally been revoked and the presiding judge has ordered that he turn himself in within 48 hours. We find it fascinating how generously the terms of habeas corpus are applied to his case.

7. The Ascension of Leo Dillon

One half of the dynamic children’s illustration duo, Leo & Diane Dillon, passed away last weekend. This couple’s body of work is otherworldly in its beauty, skill and capacity for adequate representation of limitless imagination.

8. The Art of Kehinde Wiley

Wiley’s larger than life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men.

9. The Cinematography of Bradford Young

We loved the visuals in Pariah and Restless City, and now that we know they were shot by the same guy, we can’t wait for Middle of Nowhere, directed by the first Black woman to win Best Director at Sundance, Ava Duvernay.

“I’m big on faces,” Mr. Young said, his own collapsing into a sweet, easy grin. “I like to fill the frame with heads. I use faces as landscapes, as architecture. That always feels like the right place to start.” Mr. Young, 34, a New Yorker, is one of a cadre of emerging black filmmakers — including the “Middle of Nowhere” director, Ava DuVernay, and the filmmakers Dee Rees and Tina Mabry — making visually compelling cinema addressing the outliers at the edges of black culture in America. Working mostly outside the auspices of Hollywood, they’re finding new ways to circumvent traditional channels (“Custodian of the Moment”, NY Times, 5.20.12).

10. MAKEY MAKEY

These 2 MIT students created a panel that lets you turn anything you want into a keyboard. Does that sound boring? Watch the video~

The Spear

Zulu Homopobes

This is the kind of post you never want to write…

but someone has to…

In South Africa, there is a rampant phenomenon known as corrective rape…

throughout the country men are raping lesbians in an attempt to “cure” their sexual orientation…

(watch an excellent Dan Rather corrective rape report here…)

overall the statistics are alarming…

In general, South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world: 1 in 2 women can be expected to be raped at least once in her lifetime, and 1 in 4 men admitted that they had committed rape at one time or another.

Even the president Jacob Zuma has been charged with rape.

According to court testimony, he raped the daughter of his deceased friend: a 31-year-old woman and family friend at his home in Forest Town, Johannesburg. She was an AIDS activist and HIV positive.  Zuma knew this, and yet he did not use a condom.  He told the court that to reduce the chance of contracting the disease he took a shower afterward.  He also told the court that he believed the victim was sending him sexual signals by wearing a knee-length skirt and no underwear under her kanga, or wrap, and sitting with her legs uncrossed, and that it was his duty, as a Zulu man, to satisfy a sexually aroused woman.

(For a timeline of the trial read here.)

These comments bring the recent controversial painting of Zuma rendered by the white South African painter Brett Murray into a new light.  The painting is named The Spear, and in it, Zuma stands bravely like a Russian Lenin, a defiant champion of the people–and yet, there is something off with the civilized depiction, for he is nude from the waist down.

(Above please see the Brett Murray painting in question alongside its proxy, an actual portrait of Vladimir Lenin.)

With Zuma’s rape charge in mind, I would argue now that Zuma’s exposed loins are thereby revealed to be a brutal weapon, a weapon of twisted tradition and history, the embodiment of South African misogyny, patriarchy, and violence against women–and by extension, yes, the violence of Africans and Christians against the LGBT community. (Let’s not conveniently forget that South Africa is predominantly a Christian nation. And before Muslims rejoice at the savagery of Christians: let’s also remember that in 2011, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation led a walkout of Muslim states from the Human Rights Council in Geneva because  they thought the gay rights legislation promoted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would promote “licentious behavior” and lead to the “legitimization of many deplorable acts, including pedophilia and incest.”)

The Spear painting has been vandalized, and there have been uprisings and arguments regarding its significance- with black Africans incensed that a white South African could disrespect the ANC president by exposing his painted penis to the world.  But I wonder why these same Africans are not rioting in the streets over the victimization of women in general, and the rape and murder of lesbian women in particular, and the terrifying shouts of “We’ll show you you’re a woman” that resound in the night as these lesbians are raped and stabbed across South Africa.

The perverse irony is that, legally speaking, South Africa is ahead of America in the legal struggle for gay rights, and certainly ahead of Africa, and much of the world.

When the ANC came to power in 1994, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the anti-apartheid crusader Reverend Allan Boesak supported gay rights, and in 1996, President Nelson Mandela spearheaded the adoption of a constitution that overturned sodomy laws, and gave the LGBT community rights in areas such as adoption, immigration, inheritance, and medical aid.  Gays now serve openly in the South African military, and in 2004, the South African common-law definition of marriage was changed to include same-sex marriage.

On paper and in the courts South Africa is one of the freest, most loving places in the world.

But in the streets and in the townships the battle continues against ignorance, against violence, against hate, against bigoted police officers, hateful Christian ministers, and THE SPEAR, Africans that believe “gayism” is un-African, and that “jackrolling”–rape by organized gangs–is the only cure.

How this African attitude toward gayness corresponds with black American attitudes and black church attitudes toward the LGBT community is the subject of a study or documentary I’d love to to see…

Until then, please pick up the May 28, 2012 New Yorker, read “Violated Hopes” by Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and support the movement to stop the madness.

You can begin your fight for change by leaving thoughts, comments and questions below.

Thanks for listening. And as we fight, may we all keep laughing to keep from crying.

–c.lightning

 

 

The W LIST

W LIST W

VOLUME V.  5.25.12

We hereby present to you the Wondaland W LIST….a funky gathering of remarkable art i facts and experiences guaranteed to keep you balanced and on the tightrope for at least the next seven days…

(in no particular order, but arrayed in a fashion to make you smile)

1. The Return of D’Angelo

Thanks to GQ Magazine, we can all rest a lil easier. D’Angelo appears to be back, in good spirits, working out, and sanging his ass off. With 50 songs in hand, it seems his new album is on the way.  And according to  ?Love, he’s used his 11-year sabbatical to gain his 10,000 Gladwellian hours on guitar.  Which is a great thang. For proof watch here. And read the revealing, must-read GQ article here.

2. The Apple Campus Has Landed

Okay, not quite yet.  But we can’t wait. We want to visit! And then build a complex just like it. What would Wondaland do with 13,000 employees? hmmmmmm….For more breathtaking pics and a full expose into the new building’s construction, please read here.

3. The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson

It’s the YEAR OF THE FILMMAKER.  We have new films coming from Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Woody Allen (who’s been on a roll), Wes Anderson, Ridley Scott, and yes…one of our true favorites…Paul Thomas Anderson.  According to news outlets, his coming film “The Master” is about a Scientologist like evangelist who starts a new religion after his experiences in WWII.  The film stars none other than Joaquin Phoenix.  See the new intriguing trailer below:

4. Prometheus Featurette

Speaking of Ridley Scott, we’ve found another featurette on his coming Alien prequel named Prometheus.  In the featurette, Charlize Theron explains the personality and actions of her character Martha Vickers. You also get a glimpse of the ship’s technology and great behind the scenes footage of the immense sets.  Enjoy the featurette below!

5. Public Enemy! 2 New Albums!

PE Celebrates its 25th anniversary with 2 new albums titled Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp and the Evil Empire of Everything. According to Pitchfork, the funds for these albums were provided by fundraising campaigns. The first album is due for release this summer and the second will follow in the fall. Start your anniversary now by watching the classic “Night of the Living Baseheads” video below:

6. Jay Z Made in America Festival/support Obama gay marriage

Jay Z announces his debut made in America Festival for this upcoming fall. The roster for the festival includes our very own Janelle Monáe, D’Angelo, Pearl Jam, Odd Future and many more amazing acts. We are also overjoyed Jay has stepped in to support Obama in gay-rights. See the video below:

7. Facebook IPO Stumbles, Stock Tumbles

Due to unfortunate NASDAQ glitches Facebook stumbled on its opening IPO day.  After a brutal first day, Facebook landed close to its $38 opening price– massively underperforming and costing the global investment community millions of dollars. Is the king of social media dead on arrival ? For a blow by blow of the opening day action please read here.

8. Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music

Killer Mike’s new masterpiece combines his Southern swagger with  political snappin a** rhymes and Bomb Squad-like firebombing beats courtesy of El-P.  Mike fires shots at everyone from Reagan to Wall Street, while showing love to his wife and the gurls at Magic City. For a taste, listen to the song “Reagan” below:

9. Cruel Summer by Kanye West

This week Kanye West premiered his seven-screen multimedia film Cruel Summer at the Cannes Film Festival.  According to the GQ editor Logan Hill who attended the premiere, “Cruel Summer is the story of a Lamborghini car thief who falls for a beautiful blind Arabic girl whose father will let them marry if he can help her see. So he (Kid Cudi) does– using strings that lead her around the palace to play music.” Hmmm….For photos and more info read here…And for ol’ times sake watch the full Runaway film below:

10. The Spear by Brett Murray

Art continues to shock, titillate and amaze around the world. This week white South African artist Brett Murray debuted his painting “The Spear,” which featured Zuma, the South African president…naked…from the waist down…insulting South Africans everywhere…For the CNN news story read here and for reactions to the painting and exhibit see the video below: