Posts filed under Masculinity

Fahamu Pecou Connects Social Justice and Pop Culture with Talking Drum

50 Shades of Black featured artist Fahamu Pecou is on fire...and he's setting every platform that he touches ablaze.  In a Boss move by the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the organization sought to maintain its relevancy to the community by connecting with one of the city's most relevant artists.

 Photo by Jeoff Davis

Photo by Jeoff Davis

 

‘Talking Drum’ puts social justice on blast 

Fahamu Pecou’s Center for Civil and Human Rights exhibit speaks, sings, shouts

By Jacinta Howard

What is an artist's responsibility with respect to social change?

Fahamu Pecou poses the question from inside his cozy Inman Park art studio. It's a question that seems inevitable given the world's current political and social climate. Pecou, who is wearing a college sweatshirt bearing American author/activist James Baldwin's name, smiles when the inquiry is lobbed back at him.

"I don't have an answer," he admits. "That's part of the beauty of it. What's that saying — the best destination is the journey? To ask the question is to begin to answer it. If we're thinking about it, then we can begin to act on it."

COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE

Posted on January 26, 2016 and filed under activism, art, blog, Masculinity, race.

THE TALK: 10 Heartbreaking Instructions To Stay Alive if Confronted by Police

Dear son,

As your father, I feel there are some very important things that I must tell you right now.  Many of them may seem totally contradictory to things I’ve told you in the past but I need for you to listen carefully and do everything exactly as I tell you.  It breaks my heart to tell you this, but it seems apparent from recent events that these measures are what are required to ensure you stay alive if confronted by police.

If you are ever pulled over by police:

1)   Avoid Extended Direct Eye Contact

Yes. I know son. I always tell you to look each person you encounter directly into their eyes as a sign of mutual respect for yourself and as a way to acknowledge the other individual’s shared humanity, but this is a different encounter...and you are black. Because of the confidence you have in who you are, your extended direct eye contact will force an officer to immediately grapple with their own fears and insecurities.  They need to feel in control of the situation, and that they have an upper hand.  Eye contact for too long may be interpreted as a) a challenge or b) a threat…and these are bigger crimes than anything you were stopped for.

Direct eye contact may force an officer to immediately grapple with their own fears and insecurities


2)   Say Yes Sir - No Sir 

Yes. I know son.  Your mom and I don’t require it nor do your teachers.  But (pause, deep breath), I guess police officers think they need more formal signs of "respect" than even your father.  Never say “yeah,” and if the answer to one of their questions is “No” and you forget to say (or can’t make yourself say) “No Sir” DO NOT say “No” with any intonation or with any emphasis.  Saying “Yeah” or “No” may be interpreted as a) a challenge or b) a threat…and these are bigger crimes than anything you were stopped for.

Police Offices think they need more formal signs of respect than even your father.


3)   Don't Ask Why

Yes. I know son. I taught you to question everything.  I know that even when you are in trouble with me you are always allowed to ask questions because I feel you entitled to know why you are in trouble.  But (long pause, suppresses anger) you are not to expect the same level of respect by police you are shown at home.  Sandra Bland asked why she was asked to step out of the car and why she was being arrested 14 times and the officer's response was get out of the car or "I'll light you up". I don't want this to be you.  It seems that asking ‘Why’ may be interpreted as a) a challenge or b) a threat…and these are bigger crimes than anything you were stopped for.

You are not to expect the same level of respect by police you are shown at home.


4) Ask for Permission

If asked for license and registration, ask for permission to reach and get them.

Yes. I know son.  They just asked for it and asking them for permission to do what they just asked you for sounds crazy but because your license will inevitably be in your pocket and your registration will likely be in your glove compartment, you will need verbal affirmation.  Reaching to grab either one without this verbal affirmation may be interpreted as a) a challenge or b) a threat…and these are bigger crimes than anything you were stopped for.


DEAR GOD, I PRAY YOU NEVER NEED THE FOLLOWING RULES

 

5)   Open Door Using Outside Handle and Move Slowly

If you are ever asked to get out of the car, slowly show both of your hands and open the door using the OUTSIDE handle.  Looking down and reaching for the car door on the inside may be interpreted as reaching for something else.

Please make sure every move you make is slow from this point forward. 

*You are about to enter very dangerous territory. 

Once an officer sees your entire body, they will begin to IMMEDIATELY hone in on your physical attributes and no matter what your size is, your physical presence alone, as a black man, will somehow pose an immediate threat…and this is a bigger crime than anything you were stopped for.

Your physical presence alone as a black man will somehow pose an immediate threat.


6) Raise Both Hands Above Your Head

Yes. I know son. You have no idea why you were stopped or what you are being asked to step out of the car for but if you find yourself at this point it is of CRITICAL importance that you do exactly what I say.


7)   Bite Your Tongue

While you are being frisked do not move and do not say a word unless you are asked a question.  If you are inappropriately touched, or groped, or if your genitals are fondled, please Son, do not react in anger.  If you say, “What the hell are you doing?” or “Don’t touch me” like Eric Garner or move suddenly or kick or even snatch away from these violating gestures, your life is now certainly at risk because it is already evident by their actions that you are dealing with an individual who is now intentionally trying to provoke you (because up to this point, you have literally done everything right).


8)   Let Them Cuff You

If they attempt to put cuffs on you, let them.

Yes. I know son.  Your heart will be beating fast.  You will be afraid.  You have never been in this position before.  You will be angry.  You will be confused.  You will be embarrassed.  But PLEASE DO NOT LOSE FOCUS!  If you turn to your emotions now, anything that comes out of your mouth or any movement of your body will bee seen as a threat and WILL BE met with violence.  Please son, hear me!


9)   Remain Silent

You are being arrested and though you may feel as if you have been wronged and your rights violated, this may be the only right you have left.


10)   Know That I Love You

No matter what the situation is. No matter if you turned without a signal or not.  No matter what they said to you or what they did to you or how they made you feel or your sense of helplessness or how stupid you think I was for making you follow all these rules to only end up in jail.  No matter how much the “burden” of your blackness may make you want to wash it all off.  No matter how much confusion comes flooding your mind, know that I am proud of you.  Know that you are a man even if you don’t feel like one right now.  Know that your dignity is not something anyone else determines. 

Know that hate is rooted in fear and fear is rooted in ignorance and ignorance is rooted in being too arrogant to learn and arrogance is rooted in privilege and privilege is the direct result of a well crafted, calculated, systemic plan initiated many years ago to build a wealthy independent empire…and empires don’t work if everyone benefits equally.  Though privilege itself doesn’t make a person bad, it is a very difficult thing to let go of or to use constructively…particularly if there is no acknowledgement of its existence in the first place.

And since "Power" is the bastardization of Authority, it is the most abused privilege of all…with the harshest consequences.

 

But Love.

The love I have for you.

The love we have for each other

can overcome this situation, Son.

Don't do anything now to harm yourself.  

I am coming to bring you home.

And you have permission to be angry when you get there.

And you have permission to cry.

I am crying right now.

May our collective tears serve as baptism

And may we emerge from the water with clearer vision for what to do next

To restore justice
To dismantle this system and its “empire” ideology that put you through this to start with. 

Pick your head up.  Let’s work. 

I love you son. 

---
Carlton Mackey

Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program at the Emory University Center for Ethics
Creator of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE™ and its signature project 50 Shades of Black 

BLACK AMERICANA VOL 1: Amore of the Diaspora

Amore of the Diaspora

As an artist and scholar I want to redefine and re-appropriate Black Americana to reflect, and highlight the positive contributions of people of African decent in the Americas and through out the diaspora. The first installment of the project or BLACK AMERICANA: Volume One explores relational dynamics between black men and black women at various points within the African American historical timeline looking to quantify and establish what it took for one black man to love one black woman in the past and what it takes now and cast vision for it will take generations to come. My hope is to create a body of work that encourages healthy dynamics within the Black nuclear family and helps us identify with the love that sustains us in our darkest moments and inspires us during our best, and brightest. The mixed media creative work spans multiple creative platforms, including a coffee table book of fine art photography, scholarship and documented accounts of the lives and love of real black American couples and includes contributions of notable visual artist of color selected by myself working together to expand and nuance the conversation around the legacy of Black American’s, exploring both the pain and pride in our collective stories.

Using the same two subjects, myself and Atlanta based artist, activist, and cultural influencer Devan D. Dunson we seek to embody the "black lovers” who meet at pivotal moments within black history and various meta moments within black consciousness. Visually and creatively placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, experiencing and connecting with truths and moments they endured and discovering "the love" over and over again. Let our collective knowledge of black history, esteem and honor for the countless black couples and families who’s love stories are the foundation for our own be increased as we unearth the SUBSTANCE and fiber of our communal connection. What it is that binds and bonds us as a community, as brothers and sisters, as man and woman? What is the soul, spirit and dynamic power of black love? So few of us are taught, have modeled or EVER really get to experience what LOVE looks and feels like when its healthy because "our love" story has had to unfold in the midst of injustice, poverty and a racially toxic society, to me the art and the artist are one, as I seek to unlock and creatively express what is contained in my own heart, my own pride and pain found, I hope to heal and celebrate the beauty and spirit of "our stories" and find the “love" in our legacy.  

-Tanisha Lynn Pyron


HERE & NOW: Modern Ideas of Slavery in Correlating Historical Landscapes

In the mid-1800s, Richmond VA was the largest source of enslaved Africans on the east coast of America. "Visitors to Richmond today have no way of seeing these stories, and residents have few ways of marking them." The stories of these spaces are worth recalling, as part of our own representational spaces.

In this two part series by 50 Shades of Black featured artist Breonca Trofort, we recall these stories and discover ways these spaces are part of our own narrative.


PART 1

Silas Omohundro’s Negro Slave Jail - 17th & E. Broad Street 

  Photo by Breonca Trofort from her series HERE and NOW

Photo by Breonca Trofort from her series HERE and NOW

Popularized by the Hip Hop culture, the male fashion statement of “sagging” is often displayed through young men wearing pants revealing their underwear, while usually being overly accessorized with jewelry, mostly chains. “Sagging” was adopted from the United States prison system where belts are prohibited to keep prisoners from using them as weapons or in committing suicide by hanging themselves. This style has become a symbol of freedom and their rejection of the mainstream society. Also popularized by hip hop artist are the use of wearing chains. Chains, primarily used in the past as a form of bondage, has now become a symbol of wealth. Since these ideas can easily be linked back to prisons, I decided to photograph this person at Silas Omohundro’s Negro Slave Jail located on 17th and E. Broad Street, present day Exxon Gas Station. 



"This exploration has given me another way to look at history, realizing the cycle that the past continues to play on the present."

-Breonca Trofort 


Slave Auction - 15th & E Main St

 Photo by Breonca Trofort from her series HERE and NOW

Photo by Breonca Trofort from her series HERE and NOW

Common in the African American community, young males are often taught that the only way they can be successful is through becoming a rapper or an athlete. Mainstream media often glorifies these professions and young children believe that is all they can become. I decided to photograph this young child holding a basketball in the location of where a slave auction was held, in order to describe how the process and system of becoming a college-athlete and/or pro-athlete has been compared to a slave auction. Setting aside the hard work and determination that athletes pursuing this dream endure, it is commonly stated that the professional sports "drafts" are looked at as an auction. During drafts, primarily wealthy institutions predominantly owned by white men are "buying" the persons (predominantly black athletes) they feel will "work" the hardest and benefit their business the most.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

Breonca Trofort is one of four Lead Artists of 50 Shades of Black. She is a sports and portraiture photographer for commercial and editorial clients. 

http://www.balyssatrofort.com/

Posted on July 2, 2015 and filed under art, education, Masculinity, activism.

Fahamu Pecou brings the "Black Male" to the forefront of the Atlanta Art Scene

50 Shades of Black contributing artist Fahamu Pecou explores black male identity and representations of Black Masculinity.  He is one of 12 artists celebrated by ArtsAtL for their impact on the Atlanta art scene.  

As both artist and PhD student in Emory University’s Institute of Liberal Arts, Pecou unravels and scrutinizes representations of black masculinity through satire and caricature, acting out various modalities in which such identities are constructed.

To call Pecou’s work ironic, however, is missing the point. And if you think that, you might be among the multitudes lured by a marketing campaign fashioned after the celebrity culture he critiques.
— Faith McClure
Posted on April 7, 2015 and filed under activism, art, Identity, Masculinity, press, race.

Bisexual Malcolm X: Black History Month

Yesterday 1000 question, comments, and rants ran across Facebook.  Some ran towards but most ran away from my picture below. Homophobic rants, racist rants, nationalist rants, religious rants, lifestyle rants, confusion, and misunderstandings of others is still carrying on the conversation(s) today.....

 Bi Malcolm X

Bi Malcolm X

In Harlem this week and reviewing the latest biography on Minister X from 2011 by Columbia University professor Manning Marable titled "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" and its opposition Jared A Bell's "A Lie of Reinvention".

 Life of Reinvention

Life of Reinvention

Manning Marable identifies a homosexual relationship had by Malcolm X with a white business man, and also identifies him as a street hustler looking to survive by what many deemed necessary means. Regardless of the context of the homosexual activity, it was identified thought US corrections documentation that profiles then Malcolm Little's criminal activity. I only posted this picture labeling X as a bisexual after a picture of Mississippi's NAACP President and politician Aaron Henry who was arrested 4x for "public indecency" and "sodomy" which was documented by MS corrections. I was lifting thhem up and admiring them. I tagged them as my #MCM (man crush monday). The response to Marable was that FBI documents were collected on Mr. X after the dates of his alleged homo activity. What they fail to identify was classification of homo activity by municipal corrections in the 20th century.

 Bi Aaron Henry

Bi Aaron Henry

It should be stated that the American Psychiatric Association identified homosexuality a "mental illness" until 1974, and so did the United Nations as a result. Malcolm was murdered in 1965, but had a profile by corrections facilities and officers since the late 1930's.

Facebook erupted with disgust and skepticism of my label for the more famous and reigning symbol of Black American masculinity, Mr. X, and it disregarded Mr. Henry. Labels are important for their cultural context. Even though branding campaigns like "Labels are for clothes" have pervaded our culture, a more formal labeling of everything is in fact what is connecting our many communities across the globe. Labels are not merely for clothes.

 Lie of Reinvention

Lie of Reinvention

The context of this picture is a loaded one, mainly because a community’s external identification of an individual can differ based the many identities of individuals from the community. For instance, men and women can regularly view rape differently based on their identity and informal understand of that identity. Wealthy and poor individuals regularly understand the activist and anarchist in different ways, as identities often lay within the eyes of the beholder. Malcolm X is such a controversial figure because of the many lives with which his identity lays. We will never completely know how he identified or felt about his lifestyle(s) or work(s). The picture of Malcolm himself was a part of a series on my instagram that put identity labels on images worth 1000s words, for Black History Month.

 Labels Are For Clothes

Labels Are For Clothes

While the truth can be debated regarding Malcolm’s sexuality, the 1000 words used in a growing group of viral comments can be boiled down to the various community's understanding of identity. In an analog era, Malcom’s identity was divided into “Little” & “X”, a luxury that the latest digital spawn of the civil rights movement cannot enjoy. The most thoughtful interpretation of the picture’s 1000 words was from editor Carlton Mackey, the creator of “Beauty In Every Shade” and LGBTQ ally. He asked what if people associate LGBT identities with the worst of Malcolm Little and his early actions. Mr. X himself identifies his early years as “regretful” and “embarrassing” in multiple biographies. My intention with the image was to tie in all of X’s identities while thinking about myself and so many other people who have transformed throughout the journey of life. Erykah Badu's analog girl does not exist in the digital world., and every leader ends up humanizing themselves through digital transparency. Neither Malcolm nor his community of onlookers can wholly own the identity of his person, alone. As individuals we have free will over some of our choices, but those choices are reflections of interactions with others. Having played many different roles in 39 years, it’s important to understand that we as individuals do not have totally autonomy in this world of increasing interconnectivity. We are not alone.

 Malcolm X

Malcolm X

I was only waiting on one question from Facebook. It came very early. “Why is this important?” ...my response:

Civil Rights are about humanizing individuals and integrating them into the social fabric of our community through legal means. Having stated that, labels are important. They come in two forms. The labels that we choose for ourselves and the labels that other people give us. Aside from the label bisexual that was give to Malcolm by a biographer through research leveraging the Freedom of Information Act and government files, his timeline showed that Malcolm was extraordinary in reinventing himself to leave an impactful impression on the people he met directly or indirectly. Through all of the identities that he lived in (street hustle, homosexual, convict, student, minister, traveler, thought leader, badass, proud man) the bisexual one wasn’t one that stuck. Black History Month is here to cover all of the history. This is important because I know it wasn’t something that he could be proud of before 1965. It is also important because in 2015 it is something that he could be proud of, if he were alive, as a result of the work he did 50 years ago. It’s important because “Civil Rights” was not a time period, but it is a continuous period of identifying and including more individuals into the social fabric of our community through legal means. People too often avoid or ignore or reduce the significance of a given reality in order to avoid controversy. I’ve posted this pic of Malcolm with these words to be obviously provocative and integrate the latest spawn of civil rights with Black History as it has always been a piece of the movement. Regarding the comments that state we don’t need to know about someone’s sexuality, you should know that is a ridiculous statement. When we truly look at the most intimate friendships and relationships we share, the intimate details about how who why where when and what we like are relevant. It is a very civil activity that we humans use to identify similarities and build camaraderie with each other. Now we can do more of that around Malcolm X as an ice breaker ;-) #FullSpeedAhead #TheMoreYouKnow

Posted on February 18, 2015 and filed under Homophobia, LGBT, Masculinity.

Can We Men Finally Admit That Misogyny and Street Harassment Are Real Problems?

By now, you've probably seen anti-street harassment organization Hollaback's new viral video of actress Shoshana Roberts walking the streets of Manhattan for 10 hours and being hit on, catcalled or even followed by random men throughout her day of what could best be described as stranger danger for adult women.

While it's sad and disheartening, it's also not that surprising that many of my fellow men across the nation responded to the video with outrage and mockery. In conversations with some of my guy friends about the video, I was glad to see sympathy from some of them who understood just how disturbing it was to see a woman be heckled and followed for simply walking by herself. But what I also heard and felt from comrades and strangers alike on the internet was a strong resistance to the idea that Roberts, and every other woman who has experienced street harassment, had a right to share their fear and frustration with the world.

All across the web, I saw responses such as "we men only do that because women respond to it" or "what those guys were saying wasn't that bad" or "this is just another feminist attack on men." It seemed as though, to these angry men, the idea that a woman would question how they aggressively hit on them was a greater act of disrespect and unfair judgment than visual proof that women are literally being harassed in broad daylight.

However, any so-called "attack" or critique against men doesn't at all compare to the response Roberts got after starring in the video. In a recent interview with Anderson Cooper, Roberts shared that she's received everything from rape threats to death threats for her role in exposing the terrors of street harassment.

 

Another argument against the video was the editing of the footage, which seemed to leave out much of the catcalling from Roberts' white suitors and left mainly jst the catcalling from her black and brown suitors. Clearly, such a racialized omission just adds to the stereotype that men of color are sexually aggressive beasts and Mandingos. And that in and of itself is a cause for outrage and concern.

But it also doesn't negate the fact that women, whether black, white, Latin, Asian, etc., are falling victim to street harassment that's being perpetuated and protected by the misogynistic and patriarchal mindsets of men of all colors. And that point was made clear in a recent CNN panel discussion between CNN anchor Fredericka Whitfield, comedian and TV personality Amanda Seales, and Steve Santagati, the author of "The MANual."

In the discussion, Seales, who is a black woman, explains why street harassment is disrespectful, oppressive and disturbing, and why men should be receptive to women telling them this fact. However, Santagati, who is a white man, trivialized her concerns and, instead going along with the idea of better educating men about women, explained that violence and aggression are tools women should use to respond to these men who are "obviously" of a "lower class."

 


And the deflection and mockery from men has continued throughout the week as videos have popped of about "10 Hours Of Walking Around In Skyrim (While Wearing Skimpy Armour)," in which a gamer seemingly mocke the original street harassment video. Or, "3 Hours of 'Harassment' In NYC," which shows an attractive male model getting hit on by women and even more so aggressively by other men - which, ironically enough, shows another way to look at the aggressive and sometimes inappropriate way in which many men catcall and harass people they find attractive on the street.

However, unlike the 27-year-old Detroit woman, Mary Spears, that Seales spoke of, who was gunned down for turning down a man's advances, we doubt that this male model, or most men for that matter, have to consciously worry about the idea of being physically threatened, raped, or even killed for turning down any of the women who tried to hit on him on the streets.

But getting back to my original point, street harassment is a real issue and I don't have to look far or look at the news to see it. All I have to do is look at what my female friends and relatives have to deal with on a daily basis. All I have to do is look back on the many times my sister asked me to accompany her to the store during her late-night grocery runs because she was afraid some man may approach her sexually or attack her. Or I can look at the numerous times I've been out dancing with my female friends and I've literally had to act as an intimidating physical barrier between them and other men who just won't take no from them as an answer because, in their minds, these women don't have a voice; they're just an object to be claimed. But when I tell these men to back off of my friends, they respond with regret, as if they're sorry for trying to take my "property," all the while still ignoring the fact that my female friends are really the ones they have disrespected and mistreated.

I understand that most men don't want to think of themselves as sexist or misogynistic. They don't want to see themselves as "that guy" violates women. But hate and oppression doesn't have to be manifested as violence to be real. Sometimes, often times, it's manifested through privilege and willful ignorance. And for men to continuously ignore and diminish the concerns of women and try to vilify and attack them for speaking out about their oppression is nothing short of an act of privilege and sexism.

To think about it another way, it's the same hate and oppression that black people complain about when we say that white people ignore our problems and then attack us for speaking out against racism.

it's the same hate and oppression that LGBT people complain about when we say that heterosexual people ignore our problems and then attack us for speaking out against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia.

It's the same hate and oppression that Native American people complain about when they say that the rest of America ignores there problems and then attacks them for speaking out against racism and systematic oppression.

At it's core, it's all essentially the same thing and it all screams of privilege. And privilege is comfortable and it is blinding and it is unequivocally reserved for men in this nation when it comes to gender roles.

But it s also a trap that keeps men and women of all backgrounds trapped in this seemingly endless cycle patriarchy that has left women targets for disrespect and violence for simpy getting out of the bed in the morning and walking out onto the streets to get along with their days.

So can we men PLEASE stop shirking our responsibility in this matter, stop trying to make it seem like our problems are worse, stop trying to attack and vilify women for speaking out, and finally just listen to them when they tell us that how we act and speak has an effect on them and that it hurts them? Can we finally try to walk in their shoes and try to make things better for all of us?

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Why A (Gay) Bully Learned To Let Go Of His Homophobia

When people think of homophobia, they usually think of a group of straight men violently attacking gay men. But homophobia doesn't have to be expressed through violence to be real, and it doesn't have to come from a straight man to be felt. Too often when it comes to LGBT youth homophobia and it's equally hateful sibling, effemiphobia, comes directly from one LGBT person to another.

That was exactly the case when Joseph Barden was a freshman at his Richmond, Virginia high school where he bullied a young gay classmate for being, as he put it, too feminine.

As Barden explains in this new video for "I'm From Driftwood,"nonprofit archive for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories, he was privileged enough to befriend a group of upperlassmen girls. One day, as the group sat at a lunch table, the girls' gay friend, David, walked over to greet them and after he left, Barden trash talked the young man for being gay.

"I said, 'Oh my god! He's just so disgusting!' And my friend Johnetta looked at me and she said, 'What did you say?" And I said, 'He's so disgusting. The way he acts. The way he just prances. It's just uncalled for.' And she looked at me and she said, 'Wow, Joseph. I thought you were better than that.'" Barden recalled.

But instead of getting defensive, Barden explained that he took Johnetta's words to heart and they sparked a lifestyle change in him that not only shifted his mindset about bullying but also forced him to accept the truth about his own sexuality. 

Growing up in a small homophobic town, I know very well how life at school can feel like a battlefield among gay kids, because instead of showing solidarity and standing together to fight against homophobia and effemiphobia, too often young LGBT kids harass and fight each other as attempts to deflect attention away from their own insecurities about their sexuality. And I've personally been on both sides of that offense, both trying to defend myself and trying to belittle other gay men to look cool so that other kids wouldn't bully me.

Looking back, I wish that there would have been a stronger sense of community between the LGBT kids at my school, but I hope videos like this can be a learning tool for the LGBT youth coming up behind my generation to stand together, validate and applaud each other, and love each other. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on October 9, 2014 and filed under Homophobia, Identity, LGBT, Masculinity, sexuality.

Wonderroot Podcast: Interview with the Creator of 50 Shades of Black

In this WonderRoot Artist Feature Carlton Mackey, creator of "50 Shades of Black", talks with WR Interactive Media Manager Floyd Hall about the origins of the project, its evolution as a platform for dialogue about race, sexuality, and identity, and why the tag line "Beautiful In Every Shade" is so meaningful.

For more information on 50 Shades of Black, visit: http://50shadesofblack.com

WonderRoot is an Atlanta-based non-profit arts and service organization with a mission to unite artists and community to inspire positive social change. By providing production facilities to Atlanta-based artists and coordinating arts-based service programs, WonderRoot empowers artists to be proactive in engaging their communities through arts-based service work. For more information, please visit:

http://wonderroot.org 
http://facebook.com/wonderpage 
http://twitter.com/wonderroot 
http://instagram.com/wonderroot

Introducing The New Cool Kids On The Scene: The Tenth Zine

As a black, gay writer, I’m always happy when I see people from my community planting a flag in the world of media, whether it be behind the scenes, writing or designing, or giving me LIFE in pixelated in pixelated form in glossy pages or on my computer screen.

Earlier this month, I’d heard about a new magazine geared toward the black gay community called The Tenth, the first independently published project from the Brooklyn-based Pink Rooster Studio. Recently my 50 Shades of BLACK cohorts, Carlton Mackey and Chris Barker, and I checked out the online site and we all raved at what came across our screens.

 The creators of Pink Rooster Studio,   André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

The creators of Pink Rooster Studio, André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

In the past, friends and I have complained about black gay magazines focusing too heavily on the fluff of party scenes, well-oiled Adonis models, flyers, ads, flyers and more ads. But The Tenth, though only offering a glimpse into its pages on the site, seems to skew left of middle and simultaneously travels the roads of art, fashion, sex appeal and literature.

Boasting more than 80 contributors for its first bi-annual issue, which was released on April 10, The Tenth promises offerings from the likes of performance artist Andre Singleton, fashion designer Telfar Clemens, photographers Idris & Tony, activist Darnell Moore, contemporary artist Rashaad Newsome, and literary critic William Johnson.

"We really talk about what's happening now in our culture and have no agenda to represent an image or counter any perception. We just want to play in the sandbox with other exceptional black gay boys and be faggy and angry and smart and silly and beautiful and ugly and radical and perhaps more than anything just learn to trust each other through collaboration. It really has been an incredible experience," said the founders of Pink Rooster studios to Huffington Post.

"The work is born out of our queerness. We know that we, as black gay men will always be forced into a box. This is us coloring that box, and that is a very queer thing. Making anything beautiful, elegant, and joyous," they added.

Yet, most intriguing, so far, is the Courtney Harvier helmed short film "The Masters." Perhaps playing on the layered opening phrase of “I Saw Africa On His Mind,” the stunning visual piece showcases black men, slaves, on the plantations of the south as they work the fields and their master’s home, all the while yearning for the freedom of their homeland, as well as the solace and familiarity of each other’s bodies and hearts. It’s provocative and immediately enthralling and undeniably an awesome teaser for the work that’s the come from The Tenth.

If you want to know more, check out The Tenth website here. And be sure to watch "The Masters" below. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on April 19, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, blog, Body Image, LGBT, Masculinity, sexuality.

50 Shades of Black Creator in Featured Podcast at Wonderroot

 Floyd Hall in Recording Studio at WonderRoot in Atlanta, GA

Floyd Hall in Recording Studio at WonderRoot in Atlanta, GA

This morning I had the distinct pleasure to sit down with Floyd Hall, the Interactive Media Manager for Wonderroot for an interview.  Floyd curates the WonderRoot Podcasts series which offers listeners a vast array of conversations and insights into WonderRoot, artists and the Atlanta cultural community. Each podcast is recorded in the audio studio at WonderRoot Community Arts Center.

I can't wait to share to share more with you.  Expect podcast release early next week.

 50 Shades of Black Creator Carlton Mackey and Floyd Hall at WonderRoot - Atlanta, GA

50 Shades of Black Creator Carlton Mackey and Floyd Hall at WonderRoot - Atlanta, GA


Atlanta Fans Pack The 'Dear Dad' Premiere Film Screening

 Patrick Saunders/The GA Voice

Patrick Saunders/The GA Voice

The "Dear Dad: Letters From SGL Men" premiere screening was everything we expected and more as Atlanta fans poured into the Emory Center For Ethics on Wednesday night to watch the film with creator Chase Simmons and 50 Shades of BLACK creator Carlton Mackey.

Over the course of an hour and a half, more than 100 audience members crowded into a lecture hall and watched as the eight black gay Atlanta men poured their hearts, minds and tears into confessional interviews and, of course, deeply personal letters to their fathers about their relationships and how it strengthened them, hurt them and ultimately shaped them as adult men.

Throughout the film, the audience could be heard laughing and whispering with intrigue and emotion at the storis playing out on the screen, sharing in the intimate, comical and sometimes heartwrenching moments of film until the very last credit rolled.

But the real magic happened during the following Q&A, which featured cast members Gee Session-Smalls, Kevin Dwayne Nelson, Chris Barker, Marcus J.W. Borders, Jon Diggs and myself, Nicholas Harbor. The cast shared both sweet and bitter updates on the state of their relationships with their fathers, such as Nelson and Smalls, who discussed making peace with their journeys now that their fathers have passed on. Barker and Simmons also opened up to the crowd about continuing to work to better their strained relationships with their fathers.

Many of the men in the audience personally related to the cast's stories and offered up their own struggles to change and strengthen their relationships with their parents. But if a tangible example of hope was needed, it certainly seemed to come forth when the fathers of both Borders and myself stood up and announced themselves to the crowd as they showed their support for their sons and shared some poignant, comical and touching words for the crowd.

By the end of it all, little else could be seen other than smiles sailing across the room as the cast, their families and audience members all mingled and bonded over what could only be described as a night where we not only celebrated eight brave men who decided to come out, but a tribe of people who decided to come together in unity and love.

If you couldn't make it to the premiere, don't fret too much. Simmons announced that "Dear Dad" is being submitted to film festivals, and there are plans in the works for future screenings in Atlanta, Tennessee and other states.

And if you want to see a bit of Wednesday night's magic, check out photos from the screening courtesy of Patrick Saunders of The GA Voice below. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, Storyteller and Blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

'Dear Dad' Letters from Same Gender Loving Sons Screening At Emory University [New Date]

Dear Dad - Feb Screening Poster.jpg

After being postponed last month due to Atlanta’s first Snowpocalypse of the year, the “Dear Dad” screening is finally back on.

Following a successful launch of the “Dear Dad” film last year, the film’s creator, Chase Simmons, and 50 Shades of BLACKs own, Carlton Mackey, have teamed up to facilitate a public screening for the film at Emory University.

For those who haven’t watched the film yet – and you should. No, really. Why haven’t you watched it yet? What’s wrong with you?! – “Dear Dad: Letters From SGL Sons” is an aptly titled documentary about eight same gender loving men from the Atlanta area who have allowed cameras into their world as they explore their relationships with their fathers, whether good or bad, and confront those feelings head on as they write their fathers "Dear Dad" letters. Through these letters, the eight men, including myself, discuss the ways in which their relationship has shaped them and, if possible, where they want that relationship to go from here. 

Sounds utterly, completely and undeniably interesting right? Of course it does!

So, if you haven’t seen the film already - or even if you have - and you live in the Atlanta area, come by Emory University on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. and watch the film with Chase, Carlton and myself as well as the rest of the cast. Afterwards, you can chat with us and ask us all the questions you want – but don’t get crazy – as the cast sits down for a Q&A session with the audience.

Trust me when I say it’s going to be an amazing experience and there may even be Oprah/Iyanla, Fix My Life tearjerker moments, and who doesn’t love those?!?

See you there and check out the trailer as well as our interview segment from HuffPost Live below.

 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, Storyteller and Blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on February 13, 2014 and filed under community, family, Identity, LGBT, Masculinity, sexuality.

[UPDATE] 'Dear Dad' Letters from Same Gender Loving Sons Screening At Emory University

*****EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO WEATHER*****

Hello:
Due to the current weather crisis in Atlanta, today's Dear Dad Screening at Emory University has been postponed. Emory University will actually be closed today. We will let you all know the moment we've set a new date. We hope everyone is safe and warm. Thank you for the support and we look forward to hosting this event soon! 

Dear Dad Screening Small-002.jpg

After a successful launch of the “Dear Dad” film last year, the film’s creator, Chase Simmons, and 50 Shades of BLACKs own, Carlton Mackey, have teamed up to facilitate a public screening for the film at Emory University.

For those who haven’t watched the film yet – and you should. No, really. Why haven’t you watched it yet? What’s wrong with you?! – “Dear Dad: Letters From SGL Sons” is an aptly titled documentary about eight same gender loving men from the Atlanta area who have allowed cameras into their world as they explore their relationships with their fathers, whether good or bad, and confront those feelings head on as they write their fathers "Dear Dad" letters. Through these letters, the eight men, including myself, discuss the ways in which their relationship has shaped them and, if possible, where they want that relationship to go from here. 

Sounds utterly, completely and undeniably interesting right? Of course it does!

So, if you haven’t seen the film already - or even if you have - and you live in the Atlanta area, come by Emory University on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. and watch the film with Chase, Carlton and myself as well as the rest of the cast. Afterwards, you can chat with us and ask us all the questions you want – but don’t get crazy – as the cast sits down for a Q&A session with the audience.

Trust me when I say it’s going to be an amazing experience and there may even be Oprah/Iyanla, Fix My Life tearjerker moments, and who doesn’t love those?!?

See you there and check out the trailer as well as our interview segment from HuffPost Live below.

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, Storyteller and Blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on January 26, 2014 and filed under film, Identity, Homophobia, LGBT, Masculinity, personal stories, race, sexuality.

Fahamu Pecou Using Art to Shape Discourse - Feat in Emory University Publication

fahamu-pecou.jpg

50 Shades of Black featured artist Fahamu Pecou was recently profiled in the Emory Wheel, the student run newspaper of Emory University.  An Emory University PhD student himself, Pecou offers reflections about his work, scholarship (excuse me...scholarshit), his journey to becoming a global artist.

READ COMPLETE STORY AT: http://www.emorywheel.com/pecou-using-art-to-shape-discourse/

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Atlanta Music Video (by Fahamu Pecou) with Stic Man (DEAD PREZ) features black fathers and their sons

Posted on January 9, 2014 and filed under art, blog, Masculinity, personal stories, press.

Questioning: Black Transexuals & Intersex People

  Michael Quattlebaum Jr., better known by hir stage name Mykki Blanco, is an American rapper, performance artist, and poet.

Michael Quattlebaum Jr., better known by hir stage name Mykki Blanco, is an American rapper, performance artist, and poet.

If one is attracted to intersex or transexual people, they are not technically bisexual. They classify as pansexual. Identity, is something that the individual has to adopt and communicate. 

In the video above are clips from the Underground Black Gay Ballroom Scene, of which there have been a growing number of participants since the 1970's. The Latex Ball in New York City is still the largest ball and attracts international participants who identify as straight from Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. In short, people come from all over to imitate the black boys who showed acts like Madonna how to "Vogue"    

This niche culture has been participating in the main stream for decades, and it is understandable that they've peaked some of the macho interests of even a traditionally homophobic culture like Hip Hop. Some weeks ago, a legendary Hip Hop DJ and producer of acts like Notorious B.I.G. and Big Daddy Kane named Mister Cee was profiled on New York's Hot 97FM radio station after being charged with engaging illegal prostitution in his home state. Because sexuality is something that can, but will not necessarily evolve, the acronym LGBTQ is the best representation of categories, and stands for (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Question). The tears and nerves of Mister Cee coming out as "Questioning" his sexuality are real events.

Shortly after the interview with Mister Cee Melissa Harris-Perry’s “Open Letter” went out to Hot 97 Program Director Ebro Darden, who refused to accept the resignation of Mister Cee, a DJ at the radio station who admitted to sex with transgender women. She says, “Mr. Darden, when you intervened this week, you helped to interrupt this practice. For a moment you made room to question this automatic reaction. A reaction that has life and death consequences for transwomen.”

Today the face of Hip Hop culture is changing as the raps represent the newest minority compelling tolerance from their minority peers. I'm not sure if Mister Cee can or will ever identify as pansexual, but perhaps Hip Hop can be the genre of the extreme minority for yet another generation. 

Azealia Banks - 212

Mykki Blanco - Wavvy

@JFKII
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black

 

Posted on December 4, 2013 and filed under sexuality, Masculinity, Identity.

Hip-Hop, Bitches, and the adage "Cock Sucker" Pt 1

Words are important. As an 80s baby, I find myself forever connected to Hip Hop, its culture, its faces, its raps, and it as an identity. I own it. We own it. It’s ours. We made it Pop after it was created by older brothers, sisters, and intersex people (recall Mr. Cee pioneering influence on hip-hop) .

On J. Period’s Abstract Mix tape, Q-Tip (Abstract) called "Hip Hop ignorant; coming from an age of revolution both sexual and civil…an ignorant group looking to express itself used what they had – language over loops". While rapping is something that is done, Hip Hop is a bonafide culture far greater than rhymes over loops. 

 Beyonce via ArtInFact Mag

Beyonce via ArtInFact Mag

Fast forward 30 years: the most influential black rapper of all time married the most famous black woman of our time. They flaunt their power by solidifying the word "Bitch" into our everyday language while ironically endorsing the fragrance of an openly gay man. [Jay-Z doesn't pop molly, he "rocks Tom Ford" and Beyonce is a "Bad Bitch" from the "H-Town".] This is nothing new, as their cultural forefathers propelled the use of nigga into our every day vernacular through Blaxploitation, R&B, and so many other cultural strong holds. It all originated from and manifests itself in the most modest of social interaction: our neighborhoods, out friends, and our families.

 Transgender Male via Z107.9

Transgender Male via Z107.9

Culture is personal: So, I think about the so-called "niggers and bitches" I encounter in my life. I’m reminded of a group white tranny kid’s -powdered white faces, red lipstick, and black leather kufi to match their black leather jogging pants. I met these high teenagers one night at the Cafeteria Restaurant in New York City as they were calling each other “my-nigga” just before they invited me to sit with them in the 3AM line for an overpriced $25 plate of waffles and chicken. These "sort-of" boys, had horrible conversation, mostly about knife-fights and former lovers. One talked about his girlfriend getting lost in the club which shocked even me. A girlfriend!? The others gave me a one over and asked about sharing my taxi ride. They were aggressive like tiny dudes, because they were tiny dudes. They were also "bitchy", especially the mulatto kid who called himself “Queen B” after Beyonce. Mostly, they were bitchy about standing in line at 3AM after a night of dancing on MDMAs and other drugs. 

As a "Bitch", Beyonce would have to be glamorized like a Diva: a bitch that can get away with it...or plainly Bad in order to validate her inherent wretchedness: an unfortunate state. Unlike the popularized slang "ratchet" which misuses the name of  a mechanical hand-tool to suggest a person as being belligerent or ignorant. In Hip Hop and society our gender reality is such that even the woman who holds that "girls run the world" is deemed unfortunate for her uncontrollable gender status. Everything unrelated to a chauvinistic God-like hetero male figure is wretched. Cocksuckers and those who fantasize about fellatio are forever burdened by the fact that their deemed submissive acts, add them to the category of the inherently weak or wretched. While it’s unlikely that we’ll remove "bitch" from the cultural clichés of the day, it’s necessary to acknowledge it as a heuristic

Today I was invited to a group on LinkedIn called Reaching Out MBA for LGBTQ people with Masters of Business Administration degrees. For the unfamiliar, MBA’s are the most formidable and ambitious people with training on the planet, they hold more offices of power than any other discipline. These are not the punks of their generations and cultures. They may even be sociopathic cannibals. Luckily society has Jurist Doctorates to curb their enthusiasm.

In the United States, the formal tolerance of homosexuals at the Supreme Court after its DOMA and Porp8 decisions is actively changing the perception of women’s inherent weakness. While tolerance is a desirable first step for civil rights wins, acceptance is the end goal. We are different; and actively recognizing our individuality as it's own niche. Further it brings into question all of the ignorant language of machismo that Negro culture’s spawn shoots from the hip. Hopping from man to woman to other is still considered a scandalous act, but it’s an acknowledged and accepted reality of the feminine sexual prowess in 2013, even the black and effeminate. What will happen when we live in a post tolerance world that actually accepts the ideal that feminine and effeminate people who have a preference for fellatio aren’t actually bitchy, but formidable. I suspect, nothing much. 

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Jimmy II Sticks
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black
Creator of Moral PromiscuityMemoirs of a Black Polyamorous Bisexual Man

@JFKII
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black

Posted on November 30, 2013 and filed under music, sexuality, feminism, Masculinity.