Inspiring Image(s) #59 Kesha Exhibit

Kesha is an exhibit currently showing at the (downtown) Jacksonville Public Library.

Check these out:


As you can see, the exhibit displays intersections of gender and race, hence the title, Kesha.

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However, some works are clear portrayals of the impact of systematic African American oppression.

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Shout out to Shawana Brooks for an amazing concept.

This is a very small sample of what the exhibit offers.

If you’re nearby, then plan a visit.  It runs until late April.

 

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Monday Notes: 10 Songs that Depict Black American Culture

I wanted to write this two years ago when I first started blogging.

Initially, the idea was to post in honor of Black History Month. February came and went. Twice. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about how “black” I wanted to be on my blog. Two years ago, I was tired of being the “black hire,” the “black prof,” or the “black colleague,” and my blog felt like a place where I could just be, no matter my racial identity.

Somewhere between Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland, I decided that if I was going to have a platform, then my black experience would be an integral topic every now and then. February 2017 would be the time when I would finally post specific songs that I listen to because they represent voices of understanding.

There were only two challenges. The first is I wanted to share a few lines from each song, but then that made everything too long. The second is I couldn’t think of a good title. The songs don’t really inspire me as much as they illustrate through great lyrics what some of us have observed or experienced being so-called Black Americans.

So without further ado, here are the ten songs I’ve chosen, with the artist, the title and a few lines. Of course, if you want the full effect, you’ll have to click the links.

Janelle Monáe Tightrope
“When you get elevated,
 They love it or they hate it
 You dance up on them haters
 Keep getting funky on the scene”

Kanye West Spaceship
“I’ve been workin’ this graveshift and I ain’t made shit
I wish I could buy me a spaceship and fly past the sky”

Solange’s F.U.B.U.
“When you know you gotta pay the cost
Play the game just to play the boss
So you thinking, what you gained you lost
But you know your shit is taking off, oh
When you’re driving in your tinted car
And you’re criminal just who you are
But you know you’re gonna make it far, oh"
Talib Kweli Get By
“We sell crack to our own out the back of our homes
We smell the musk of the dusk in the crack of the dawn
We go through episodes too, like Attack of the Clones
Work ‘til we break our back and you hear the crack of the bone”
Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) Umi Says
“My Umi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see
My Abi said shine your light on the world
Shine your light for the world to see”
Angie Stone Brotha
“You got your wall street brotha
 Your blue collar brotha
 Your down-for-whatever-chillin'-on-the-corner brotha
 Your talented brotha, and to everyone of ya'll behind bars”
Erykah Badu Other Side of the Game
“See me and baby got this situation
 See brother got this comlex ocupation
 And it ain't that he don't have education
 Cause I was right there at his graduation
 Now I ain't sayin that this life don't work
 But it's me and baby that he hurts
 Because I tell him right he thinks I'm wrong
 But I love him strong”
Janelle Monáe (featuring Erykah Badu) Q.U.E.E.N.
“Hey sister am I good enough for your heaven?
Say will your God accept me in my black and white?
Will he approve the way I’m made?
Or should I reprogram, deprogram and get down?”
Common Misunderstood
“She thought back to when she was at Howard and
Dreams of doing scenes with Terrence Howard and
Broadway plays and dancin with Alv and them
The ones that make it ain’t always the talented”
Kendrick Lamar Mortal Man
“Do you believe in me? Are you deceiving me?
Could I let you down easily, is your heart where it need to be?
Is your smile on permanent? Is your vow on lifetime?
Would you know what the sermon is if I died in this next line?”

That’s my list. What or who would you add?

What If?

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Royalty Free

What if I told you that you’re enslaved and it has nothing to do with picking cotton? Would you believe me? Every time you seek education that has nothing to do with your passion or purpose, or whenever you pay for things that you really cannot afford, then you’ve created your own 21st century slave experience. Cause that thing that you don’t want to do and can’t afford? It owns you.

What if I told you that American schools are still segregated? Would you believe me? Or would you make me open an education textbook, cite facts and statistics and validate my statement? Maybe I could invite you to visit a school that is dissimilar to your own child’s. Trust me, there’s one right in your city. Then, you might notice that de-segregation is just a concept, an illusion.

blk_history_school
Royalty Free

What if I told you that historically black colleges and universities were initially created as means for African Americans to attain post-baccalaureate degrees that were otherwise denied by predominantly white institutions? Would you respect them as a part of black history? Would you include them as a US history lesson focused on racial progression?

What if I told you that the American housing industry was designed to keep African Americans in one concentrated area? Would you believe me? Could we discuss “white flight” as a thing? And then move on to urban sprawl and gentrification, and all the other ways that space is used to mark and re-mark racial territory. Could we discuss the concept of building circles around one another, instead of working hand-in-hand with our neighbors?

What if I told you that we could praise Madame CJ Walker’s creativity and business savvy while simultaneously criticizing how she used tools to perpetuate unnatural standards of beauty? Or would you tell me I’ve gone too far? She was a product of her environment kg. Yeah, I know. We all are.

What if I told you that you don’t have to work twice as hard to be seen as just as good as your white counterpart? Would you believe me or would you fall back on passed-down, generational myths? I promise you it’s not true. And if you find it to be so, then you might be in the wrong pocket of American society.

blk_history_obama
Royalty Free

What if I told you that when President Obama ran on “hope” and “change” eight years ago, he was also implying that we all do our parts in our own communities? Would you argue with me? Would you describe how many jobs past presidents have so-called created and how they made our American lives better? Or would you admit that it’s easier to place blame than to vote, legislate, or organize?

What if I told you that we have overcome a lot but there’s still much more to do? Would you take a day off work to figure it out? Or would you use your job as an excuse for not protesting on your capitol’s steps for better schools, stand your ground, police brutality, clean drinking water, or anything for that matter?

Would you?