Posts filed under religion and culture

MLK: A REVOLUTION OF THE MIND AND HEART

I believe Dr. King wanted folk to actively engage in a process of reformulating the way they thought and felt about themselves. In a society where your ancestors had been enslaved, in a society where you couldn’t vote, it’s not hard to see how people might begin to think of themselves as secondclass citizens. It’s not hard to see how people might begin to think of themselves as inferior to other members of society. So I believe the first step in the Civil Rights Movement was revolutionizing the mindset of Black folks. It was about getting people to see and understand themselves in a new light. Therefore, I believe that certain aspects of the Black Power Movement were essential in advancing King’s efforts. What was required was a movement that would raise the consciousness of a generation. Black people needed to see themselves for who they were and not simply for how they were being treated. Black people had to see themselves as people worthy of more, as people who were more, and as people who must not wait, who must not waiver, and who must be willing to sacrifice much. People had to incrementally begin to see their own strength. King, in his own way, but much like the Black Power Movement, had to be the herald of the banner that said “Black is beautiful.” -cm

Published in HOSPITALITY (June 2015) Vol. 34, No. 5 << Click to Download full article

The Open Door Community is a residential community in the Catholic Worker tradition (sometimes called a Protestant Catholic Worker House). We seek to dismantle racism, sexism and heterosexism, abolish the death penalty, and proclaim the Beloved Community through loving relationships with some of the most neglected and outcast of God’s children: the homeless and our sisters and brothers who are in prison.

Posted on January 18, 2016 and filed under activism, blog, history, race, religion and culture.

President Barack Obama Delivers Powerful Eulogy for Clementa Pinckney

 Beautiful and moving, please take a moment to watch if you have not seen or heard this in full.

Obama eulogizes pastor in Charleston shooting. Obama sings Amazing Grace at funeral of Charleston shooting victim Clementa Pinckney. Washington (CNN) President Barack Obama on Friday eulogized the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims in last week's church massacre, calling him a "man of God who lived by faith."

Slavery and Salvation...Fury and Forgiveness: Reflections on the Charleston 9

 Original Photo by featured artist Chris Charles |  Creative Silence . Edited by Carlton Mackey

Original Photo by featured artist Chris Charles | Creative Silence. Edited by Carlton Mackey

“…This is proof. Everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. Hate won’t win…” Alana Simmons, Granddaughter of Daniel Simmons, Charleston Shooting Victim

“I forgive you, my family forgives you…”

“Love is patient, love is kind…” Whether we’re believers of these words in the Bible or not, at some point or another, we have all heard the definition of what love is, and what it is not: “…it is not envious, boastful or puffed up…rude, selfish, it is not provoked, thinks no evil…endures all things.”

To the human psyche, in the name of all logic, the very being of all that love is sounds ludicrous. The idea that the loved ones of the Charleston 9, as they’ve been called, can find it within themselves to utter the words, “I forgive you…” to a man who so brutally took love from them is evidence that it does exist.

Many won’t understand, or even agree with these individual’s conscious decision to walk in love. But that is exactly what true love takes: Walking in the teachings of Jesus through every circumstance. As Black Americans, living a life established in the principles of Christianity is a difficult tow to haul. How can the descendants of enslaved Africans worship the God of the very men who enslaved them? How can we believe the words of their book? Or believe that the freedom found in Christ is even meant for us?

These are questions that only a relationship with your creator can answer. While slave owners may have intended to use the Word to keep our ancestors enslaved, throughout the generations, we have gained knowledge for ourselves beyond ritual, establishing individual relationships through Christ. This knowledge and understanding providing peace for our hearts and minds, power in all things and wisdom in our daily living.


Whether one considers themselves a Christian or not, the same principles can be applied and taught as we teach others to love by the way we love…and forgive. -Nina Brewton


Experiencing the love of God through our relationships with others is what will continually build our faith. Displaying that same love is what will help others comprehend our faith and reasoning. Our daily walk will show them how patience and kindness, and as in the case of the family members of the Charleston 9, forgiveness are possible in the face of unthinkable adversity.

  Alana Simmons leaves a message on a board set up in front of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after a mass shooting at the church killed nine people, on June 22, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Alana Simmons leaves a message on a board set up in front of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after a mass shooting at the church killed nine people, on June 22, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Being Black or being Christian shouldn’t be exclusive. Our dedication to living as both doesn’t make sense and it’s not meant to for every person in every space to understand. Forgiveness is a thing that isn’t for those we’re forgiving. Forgiveness brings peace to the heart and minds of those who are strong enough and willing to continuously make a conscious decision to walk in it.

Alana Simmons and other loved ones of the Charleston 9 know that the ability to walk in love and being everything that love is takes a concerted effort every day of our lives. Whether one considers themselves a Christian or not, the same principles can be applied and taught as we teach others to love by the way we love…and forgive.

-Nina

Nina Brewton is the newest member of the 50 Shades of Black Blog Team.  Visit each week for her personal reflections into womanhood, spirituality, black identity, and inspiration.

Visit her on her website baldheadqueen.com

ALSO BY NINA: BLACK. SELF. LOVE. Just Because I Love Me Doesn't Mean I Hate You

Posted on June 24, 2015 and filed under current events, faith, family, race, religion and culture.

Tywanza Sanders: Youngest Life Lost in Charleston Shooting Will Now Smile Forever

SMILE FOREVER. 


**I utilized this photo from Wanza's Instagram page. The caption he had under this photo was: "Believe you can and you will. Believe in God and he will."

BLACK MEN SMILE is a new signature project of 50 Shades of Black "Celebrating the Way We See Ourselves".

BRINGING THE GIFTS: An Exhibit by 50 Shades of Black Creator Reflects on the Hopes and Dreams of Enslaved Africans

 

January 31, 2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which abolished the forced labor and enslavement of human beings.  On June 19, 1865, known as Junteenth the last remaining slaves in America were declared free. It was a day that many enslaved Africans dreamed of, struggled for, and died for in an effort to obtain…but never saw in person. 

In 1935 the federal government created a program known as The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). The project employed photographers and writers, who travelled throughout the United States photographing and collecting stories of Americans across a spectrum of society.  Among the FWP projects was the Slave Narrative Collection [Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938]

The narratives are a collection of over 2,300 personal accounts of rural, southern African-Americans, the last of a dying generation of Africans born into the horrors of North American enslavement.  Though their adult lives were spent in “freedom,” they knew firsthand the limitations of Reconstruction.  Many lived under the harsh conditions of segregation and the debt of the vicious system of sharecropping. Though they had been emancipated from the peculiar and brutal system of chattel slavery, they could still only hope and work tirelessly for equality.

It is their sacrifice, resolve, and relentless commitment to resist any system or ideology that saw them as less than a human being that etched the blueprint for generations to follow. This blueprint is their greatest gift. It would serve as the foundation upon which a future they had faith in would come and would be built. 

BRINGING THE GIFTS

In 1978 Maya Angelou penned the now famous poem, “Still I Rise.” The poem was initially popularized by its use in a campaign by the United Negro College Fund and the name Maya Angelou itself became ubiquitous for Black Empowerment Poetry after she delivered the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993.

The poem “Still I Rise” ends with the refrain: “Bringing the gifts that the ancestors gave… I am the hope and the dream of a slave.”  “BRINGING THE GIFTS,” a series of portraits that pairs historic photographs from the Federal Writers’ Project with the photography of contemporary Atlanta artist Carlton Mackey, is a creative re-imagination of that refrain.

Tiffany Young preserves the history of Butler Island and created the annual homecoming for Butler descendants.

At the invitation of Ms. Tiffany Young, descendant of Africans enslaved on Butler Island and creator of the annual Butler Island Plantation Homecoming,Mackey agreed to conduct an Open Photo Shoot of BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™, a movement created by Mackey to celebrate and affirm the beauty found in every human being. The Butler Island Plantation Homecoming is an annual event comprised of Butler Island descendants, friends,and supporters who wish to celebrate and remember the ancestors that lived and toiled upon the former rice plantation of Pierce Mease Butler near Darien, Georgia. At its peak more than 500 enslaved Africans worked the plantation.  Fanny Kemble, an abolitionist and wife of Pierce Butler, wrote of the life and harsh treatment of those enslaved on the island in “Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839”. Her harsh opposition of Butler’s practices ultimately lead to their divorce.  The publication of her journal became an effective tool of the anti-slavery movement and is considered one of the “best primary sources from the point of view of the slave owner of slave life on an early 19th Century plantation” (www.gacivilwar.org/story/butler-island-plantation).

 

Just days before the event was to take place, Mackey began searching the Internet with the hopes of potentially finding images of Africans who were enslaved in the area of the Homecoming events. Instead, he found several images from the Federal Writers’ Project archive.  In the archive he stumbled upon the image of Mr. Henry Brooks.  At that verymoment, Mackey claims to have been spoken directly to by the ancestor in the photograph and given instructions for executing a new photo series in lieu of the traditional BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ Open Photo Shoot. Overcome with emotion,Mackey followed instructions and searched for a digital photo of himself taken earlier in the year by Atlanta photographer Bryan Meltz.  When he placed his photo next to the photograph of Mr. Brooks, the resemblance was uncanny -both in their physical features and the posing of the two in their respective portraits.  The revelation was ultimately clear and the concept for this new series was born.


To create this exhibit, Mackey collected and printed as many photographs taken of Africans formerly enslaved in the state of Georgia as he could from the Federal Writers’ Project and the U.S. Farm Security Administration archives. While at the Butler Island Plantation Homecoming, participants were invited to spend moments in quiet mediation while looking through these photographs.

Each participant was to choose (or be chosen by) one person in the photograph to honor. At various locations on Butler Island itself and throughout the town of Darien, Mackey photographed the participants and invited them to offer written reflections about the process and why they were drawn to a particular image.

The pairing was meant to invoke and awaken the essence of the living participant by creating a direct connection to the ancestor in the photograph.  It was meant to foster a heartfelt acknowledgement that through their living, they were the physical embodiment of someone’s “hopes and dreams.”

This series and the process of creating it are also as much about honoring one’s ancestors as it is about reflecting on the nature and meaning of hope. It challenges us to remember the gifts we’ve been given and dares us to ask: 

  • What are the gifts that we bring to the world?

  • It challenges us to critically reflect on our own hopes for the future and the source of the deep personal longings that reside at the epicenter of these hopes. 

  • What are the responsibilities that we have to make these hopes manifest? 

  • How might our living be a fitting memorial to those who came before us?

BRINGING THE GIFTS was on display at APEX Museum April 25, 2015 

Carlton Mackey was the Healthcare Ethics Consortium artist in residence for the 2015 HEC Annual Conference.  As part of his residency Mackey presented the inaugural display of BRINGING THE GIFTS at the Emory Conference Center Hotel March 19 & 20.

CONTACT US to inquire about displaying this series

 

Posted on June 18, 2015 and filed under africa, art, education, history, religion and culture.

Black Beauty: Miss Universe Japan Winner Faces Challenges

  Ariana Miyamoto by&nbsp;  KO SASAKI FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Ariana Miyamoto by KO SASAKI FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Excerpt from NYT article By MARTIN FACKLER

In school, she said, other children and even parents called her “kurombo,” the Japanese equivalent of the N-word. Classmates did not want to hold her hand for fear her color would rub off on them.

“I used to come home angry at my mother,” Ms. Miyamoto recalled. “I’d ask her, ‘Why did you make me so different?’ ”

She said everything changed at age 13 when she decided to reach out to her father, who invited her to his home in Jacksonville, Ark. She said she will never forget the moment she first saw her father and his relatives.

“They had the same skin and the same face as me,” she said. “For the first time, I felt normal.”

She said that in the United States, she came to speak of herself as black. But here in Japan, she still calls herself hafu. As Miss Universe Japan, she has played down her African-American roots, presenting herself instead as a representative of ethnically mixed Japanese from all backgrounds.

NEW YORK TIMES Complete Article

 


Video and text from Bloomberg

The importance of racial purity held by some Japanese is codified in a genre of writing called nihonjinron, or theories of Japaneseness. 

“If there hadn’t been this kind of criticism, there would be no point in me competing,” she said, with no trace of bitterness. “I don’t want to ignore it. I want to change those people’s attitudes.”

Posted on May 31, 2015 and filed under Identity, personal stories, race, religion and culture, skin tone.

Instead of Praying the Gay Away, Can We Just Celebrate Being Gay?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, all week long you've probably been seeing a million and one video responses to Andrew Caldwell, the young black man from last week's the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) convocation who announced on camera that he is "DELIVERT" from his homosexuality and that he will "love a womens." And while the video has understandably garnered a lot of hilarious laughs, jokes and video spoofs, including one hilarious R&B remix - Seriously, I can't even count how many times I've pressed repeat on that one - there is a deeper social matter to be discussed about the topic.

It's safe to say that most people have heard the phrase "pray the gay away," a phrase as old as time that promotes the idea that men and women of the gay and bisexual communities somehow chose to stray from the norm of heterosexuality and choose a deviant "other" sexuality.

And watching the original COGIC video with Caldwell, we see many in the congregation, including the pastor, praising Caldwell for "delivering" himself, sans the "t," from his sinful past of loving men. 

But seriously, in these modern times where we have countless personal accounts from the LGBT community, scientific support of diverse natural sexualities and growing public support for the LGBT community, why is it still hard to believe that homosexuality and bisexuality are natural yet so easy to believe that one can simply choose to be gay/bi and then the next day choose/pray it away. I's as though people see being gay or bi as if it's some easy tough greasy stain that's easy to catch but tough to get rid of without church shouts, some prayer, and maybe even exorcism.

More than a stain, it feels like homosexuality and bisexuality are treated as demonic.

So what does that do to person in the church when they're seen as the embodiment of hell's evil roaming the Earth? What kind of emotional demons are birthed inside of the person wanting to be accepted in their church and receive God's love but feel they are undeserving because they have a demon inside? What does it do to a community of people to feel that internal struggle inside to choose between loving themselves and living naturally or (attempting) to change themselves to be loved by others?

As the grandson of a pastor of my family's church, I was lucky enough not to be subjected to fire and brimstone sermons about the evils of homosexuality - or perhaps I missed it while I lay asleep on my mom's shoulder - but I remember the personal conversations held on those hallowed grounds in which homosexuality was mocked.

More than that, I remember the time when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old and I asked my mom about homosexuality and hell. I remember my mom had just picked me up from school and driven us to the store up the hill, and as we sat together in her car, unbuckling our seatbelts to leave, I stopped my mom and asked her "Why do people say that gay people are going to hell?" Even at that age, I knew I was one of those gay people and I wanted her to reassure me that she didn't think anyone like me would go to such a horrible place. Sadly, without batting an eye, my mother simply responded "because they are."

For me, that one single response changed the nature of our relationship for the next 20 years, leaving me with the mentality that my own mother was my enemy. And it also led me to believe that anyone who was religious in my life would be left with a choice to either choose to love me or their religion. And in my mind, I figured they would always choose their religion. 

Because of that, I grew a strong sense of disbelief and disinterest in Christianity, as well as a strong sense of self-hate because I thought I was unworthy of being loved by my own loved ones. I never tried to be straight, but for years I never felt proud or comfortable about the idea of telling people the truth of my sexuality because I "knew" that, to them, who I was was something less than hum and not at all lovable.

It took me two decades to reconcile those feelings and come to my own conclusion that love, for me, must be unconditional and all accepting. Otherwise, I just don't want it, whether it be from friends, family or a god. 

But I understand that that's not everybody's thought or life experience, and I can't preach that my way of working things out would work for everyone. But what I will say is that there are clearly countless numbers of gay and bisexual people in religious communities who feel that same sense of self-hate, hurt and anger that I felt. 

I can only imagine what kind of identity struggles and crises that Caldwell must have gone through over the years trying reconcile his belief in Christianity and its doctrines with his need to love himself. And, though I may not like it and, like most people I don't believe him, I understand why Caldwell would want to claim straight and stop feeling the ridicule, the shame, and the pain of not being accepted by his own community.

I understand the feeling of just wanting to be loved, even if it's all a lie.

But with all that THAT experience encompasses, I wonder why people still think it's okay to promote the idea of praying the gay away? Why do people think it's okay to ridicule someone for being gay? Who do people think it's okay to tell someone that who they truly and naturally are is a problem and a sin?

If at the end of the day all straight people want to do is be loved by those around them and their gods, why is it so wrong for gay and bisexual people to want the same thing? Why must WE change ourselves to be happy and prosperous?

Why should we endure so much struggle and pain just for being born, or created by a god?

Can we gay and bisexual people just BE who we are and be loved and celebrated in our truth? Because it takes a lot to be us and it sure as hell seems to me that loving yourself and others is the most powerful and godly thing you can do.

 

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 November 16, 2014 and filed under religion and culture, race, sexuality, personal stories, LGBT, Identity, Homophobia.

50 Shades of Black Invites You to Join Descendants of Enslaved Africans on Butler Island to Create Transforming Portrait Series

Mr. Henry Brooks, ex-slave. Parks Ferry Road, Greene County, Georgia | Photo by Jack Delano;

Mr. Carlton Mackey | Photo by Bryan Meltz

In one week the creator of 50 Shades of Black, Carlton Mackey, will host a transforming photographic encounter as part of the Third Annual Butler Island Plantation Homecoming, --the much anticipated celebration and reunion of the Gullah/Geechee communities of Butler Island.  

This conceptual portrait series titled "BRINGING THE GIFTS THAT THE ANCESTORS GAVE..." was inspired by the conclusion of the late Maya Angelou's poem.

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave. - Maya Angelou

Through a process that is as much about honoring the ancestors and spiritual transformation as it is about photography, Mackey will invite participants to spend some moments in quiet meditation while looking through the photographs of former enslaved Africans from various parts of Georgia.  Mackey was doing just this when the idea first "awakened in his spirit".

Mackey states that he saw a photo online that essentially instructed him exactly what to do.  He paired this image with one of himself and was overcome with emotion.

"I knew something powerful was about to take place because I was experiencing anxiety all morning.  I knew I needed to make a post about the fact that we had been invited to host an Open Shoot as part of the Homecoming, but I kept putting it off.  I was experiencing fear about the whole event.  This let me know that something of great magnitude was about to happen.  Virtually every endeavor that I'm about to embark upon of significance is shrouded in fear and doubt.  This is my sign that it must be something that I have to do.  I'm learning to push through it until I have the clarity of knowing what is possible is greater than the fear.  What I didn't know was that my entire plan for hosting a traditional Open Photo Shoot was about to be exchanged for a plan that literally came from "the voice" of an ancestor in a photograph." -carlton mackey

Title: "Grandma" Lawrence, ex-slave on the Mercer Reynolds place in Greene County, Georgia | Delano, Jack photographer | Date Created/Published: 1941 May.

Participants will choose a photo (or be chosen by one) to honor.  At various locations on Butler Island, Mackey will photograph participants in a similar fashion.  This pairing is meant to invoke the essence of the living participant being the embodiment of the "dream and hope of the slave".  The pool of photos will mostly be from the Library of Congress (U.S. Farm Security Administration) and have no restrictions upon use and images from the Emory University's Robert Langmuir African American Photograph Collection.  Mackey hopes to secure funds to create an exhibit of diptychs coupling the historic and the contemporary photos.

Free and Open to the Public

This photo shoot will be part of a much larger Butler Plantation Homecoming.  The Butler Plantation Homecoming pays tribute to those enslaved Africans that lived out their lives as the property of Pierce Mease Butler on Butler Island Plantation, and those that were sold in the nation's largest sale of slaves that took place in 1859.

Please join us as we celebrate the culture and heritage of the enslaved people originating from Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, Angola, Whydah and Igboland areas of Africa.

***Breaking News*** The Butler Island Plantation Slave Cemetery has been discovered! The cemetery is potentially one of the oldest documented in the state. This year's celebration will include a commemoration ceremony in honor of approximately 919 enslaved people buried in the cemetery.

The festival features a presentation by Dr. Teresa Singleton - Archaeology Professor of Syracuse University and expert in Butler Island Plantation slave artifacts; Ancestor Cemetery Commemoration; "50 Shades of Black" Open Photo Shoot; "A Taste of Geechee" food and culture; guided tours; a parade of flags; performances; music; vendors; children's activities; family fun and much more.

REGISTRATION & INFO

http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/47501-third-annual-butler-island-plantation-homecoming-festival

Pan African Film Festival Atlanta | Afro-Native Ancestry and Healing Touch Interview

 Photo by Carlton Mackey

Photo by Carlton Mackey

50 Shades of Black hosts the Opening Day screenings of the 2014 Pan African Film Festival in Atlanta, GA.  After a screening of "From Above", we sat down with Yvonne Rosegarden to discuss her African American and American Indian ancestry and how the film relates to her work of transforming lives through the healing power of positive touch.  

"From Above" is an award-winning Shakespearean love story between African American and American Indian main characters so in love with one another that they are entangled beyond life itself starring Danny Glover.

50 Shades of Black Hosts Opening Day of Pan African Film Festival - Atlanta

It gives us great pleasure to announce that we will be hosting the Opening Day screenings of the Pan African Film Festival on August 7, 2014 at the Historic Plaza Theater in Atlanta, GA.

As hosts, 50 Shades of Black will introduce each of the day’s screenings, lead engaging Q&A discussions after each film, and will be present with other sponsors and actor Danny Glover at the red carpet screening of “Supremacy”.  Throughout the weekend, 50 Shades of Black will also be conducting exclusive interviews with some of the festival’s biggest stars.

Beginning with the very first film “From Above”, a Shakespearean tragic love story between African and Native American main characters,  to the final film of the day Elza, [a visually beautiful tale that confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair] each of the Opening Day hosted films connect directly with the mission of 50 Shades of Black and highlight the work we are doing with some of our key partners across the country such as I Love Ancestry, National Congress of Black American Indians, Jazz WCLK, and Locs Revolution.

Screening 12:15pm - William Ward (Danny Glover) dives under the gloomy waters of his memory to recall the love story of his life with Venus, a girl belonging to the Lighting Clan, a peculiar Native American family living in Arkansas with a strange communion with electricity.

  Thanks to the introduction from our partners at&nbsp;  I Love Ancestry  , Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining&nbsp;  50 Shades of BLACK  &nbsp;tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the&nbsp;  Pan African Film &amp; Arts Festival &nbsp; (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:1  5pm]  "I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden

Thanks to the introduction from our partners at I Love Ancestry, Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining 50 Shades of BLACK tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:15pm]

"I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden


It is PAFF’s goal to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

Directly in line with the festival’s mission, 50 Shades of Black is the multimedia platform for exploring the complex relationship between race, skin tone, sexuality, and the role each play in the formation of identity. 50 Shades of Black, its creator Carlton Mackey, and its team has collaborated with visual artists, scholars, and the general public to also cultivate a deeper understanding of what diversity truly means with particular focus on the spectrum of manifestations of and understandings of "blackness".


Screening at 2:50pm - A documentary that examines with candor and humor Black women's issues regarding hair and self-esteem, and advocates for the acceptance of all hairstyle choices.  


Screening at 4:50pm - Titus is the story of a virtuoso African-American jazz musician whose damaged soul has brought him to the status of a nobody. Living in London, far from home, he’s wasting away, estranged from his one true love, his vintage alto sax. All hope looks lost until a visitor arrives, Jessica, the daughter he abandoned as a baby. Over the course of a day and night together, old demons are laid to rest and new ones are stirred, and for one last time the future is back in Titus’ hands. The poetic and soulful story of one man’s final shot at redemption – when all he’s ever known is hell.

  Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz. &nbsp;Rivablue can be heard on&nbsp;  www.wclk.com  &nbsp;mon-fri 7pm-10pm.&nbsp;

Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz.  Rivablue can be heard on www.wclk.com mon-fri 7pm-10pm. 


A young Parisian woman of Caribbean descent returns to her native island of Guadeloupe looking for the father she has never known. This visually beautiful tale confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair. 

Screening 10:10pm

JOIN US OPENING DAY!  PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE HERE

or at the Box Office Window - Plaza Theater 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave N // Atlanta, GA 30306 // 404.873.1939

 

50 Shades of Black is a signature project of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ Campaign.

 

Posted on August 2, 2014 and filed under africa, art, film, press, race, religion and culture, sexuality, skin tone.

Radmilla Cody: Dine' (Navajo) & Nahilii (African American) Woman

  Bridging the Gap with Radmilla Cody of Navajo and African heritage, and her Grandma Dorothy, Navajo (RIP)

Bridging the Gap with Radmilla Cody of Navajo and African heritage, and her Grandma Dorothy, Navajo (RIP)

...To reaffirm the statement on the choosing of my identity, I come from two beautiful cultures which I have embraced, bridged, balanced, and identify with. I am proud to be who I am as a Dine’ (Navajo) and Nahilii (African American) woman.
Hozho’, , & blessings...
— Radmilla Cody

Inspiring Radmilla is the award winner of the Record of the Year for her song "Shi Keyah Songs for the People".

:: RADMILLA CODY ::
With an angelic voice of bluebirds singing, Radmilla Cody, traditional Navajo recording artist, Indie Award Winner and two-time Native American Award Nominee continues to maintain Navajo culture by recording music that the Diné elders can be proud of and that children sing with pride.

She is of the Tla'a'schi'i' (Red-Orche-on-Cheek) clan and is born for the African-Americans. Radmilla is the 46th Miss Navajo Nation from 1997-98. Born and raised in the beautiful and picturesque plateaus of the Navajo Nation, Radmilla Cody's childhood consisted of herding sheep on foot and horseback, carding and spinning wool, and searching late into the night with her grandmother for lost sheep and their lambs. 

The highlight of her sheep herding days was standing in the sheep corral singing at the top of her lungs with the sheep and goats as her audience. "All that mattered at that time was the moment of living a dream," says Radmilla about her early life, which today has become a reality for the young musician. A survivor of domestic violence, Radmilla uses her personal experiences to advocate strongly against the epidemic of violence. 

It is an issue she has become very passionate about. As a biracial person she attempts to communicate positive messages about her dual identity to biracial or multiracial children who still bear the brunt of prejudice. 

Radmilla Cody is of the Tlaaschii (Red Bottom People) born for Nahillii (African American) and has traveled internationally to Kenya, South America, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, and Italy. 

She has earned a BS in Public Relations from Northern Arizona University and is pursuing a MA in Sociology. She was the 46th Miss Navajo and is the subject of “Hearing Radmilla”, a documentary produced and directed by Angela Webb. 

Radmilla is a domestic violence advocate and founder of “Strong Spirit…Life is Beautiful not Abusive” campaign which addresses teen dating violence. Her previous recordings for Canyon Records include Seed of Life, Spirit of a Woman and Precious Friends.

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BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future 

This is the 15th of a weekly series called BRIDGING THE GAP curated by I Love Ancestry on 50 Shades of BLACK featuring stories of inspiring people and ancestors who contributed to the struggle for freedom.

50 Shades of Black will also be curating a weekly series of stories on I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world. We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing.

Each week we will feature a story of a historical figure & one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand and celebrate your OWN identity.

Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

 

Posted on June 27, 2014 and filed under africa, family, Identity, personal stories, music, race, religion and culture, skin tone.

SHINNECOCK INDIANS OF EASTERN LONG ISLAND - Bridge between American Indians and Black Americans

  RUBEN VALDEZ &amp; CORTLAND CUFFEE with Tuwesu. Shinnecock &amp; African heritage. &nbsp; (c) Photo courtesy of Toba Tucker.

RUBEN VALDEZ & CORTLAND CUFFEE with Tuwesu. Shinnecock & African heritage.  (c) Photo courtesy of Toba Tucker.

BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

The Shinnecock Nation is one of the living proof of the historical alliances between American Indians and Black Americans.

SHINNECOCK INDIANS OF EASTERN LONG ISLAND.
The Shinnecock Nation is a federally recognized American Indian Nation, located on the East End of Long Island adjacent to the Town of Southampton. Federal recognition was achieved October 1, 2010, after thousands of years of documented history on Long Island, and 32 years of struggle with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. As the 565th federal tribe, its banner has taken its place among other tribal flags at the U.S. Department of the Interior, BIA, Hall of Flags, Washington, D.C.
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This is the 12th of a weekly series called BRIDGING THE GAP curated by I Love Ancestry on 50 Shades of BLACK featuring stories of inspiring people and ancestors who contributed to the struggle for freedom.

50 Shades of Black will also be curating a weekly series of stories on I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world. We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing.

Each week we will feature a story of a historical figure & one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand and celebrate your OWN identity.

Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

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

50 Shades of Black Music & The Anthem: Academic Mixtapes for the Mind and Soul

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50 Shades of Black Music - The Mixtape

  This compilation was researched and compiled by Kwame Phillips, a doctoral candidate in anthropology and films studies at Emory University. Each digital release is accompanied by artwork created by Atlanta based artist C. Flux Sing exclusively for 50 Shades of Black.

This compilation was researched and compiled by Kwame Phillips, a doctoral candidate in anthropology and films studies at Emory University. Each digital release is accompanied by artwork created by Atlanta based artist C. Flux Sing exclusively for 50 Shades of Black.

Six Months ago 50 Shades of Black released our signature Mixtape: 50 Shades of Black Music curated and compiled by Kwame Phillips and our first Exclusive Signature art piece by C. Flux Sing to accompany it.  (10 Limited Edition Giclee Prints Available)

Showcasing the history and rich diversity of 'Black Music' in America and throughout the diaspora this Mixtape highlights the forms and styles that have stemmed from global black experiences. In the tradition of the medium, this volume serves to be a gift, from older generations to new, between friends, from parents to children. We aim to represent an intersection between hip hop tradition and scholarship by offering an Academic Mixtape -one where one could both nod their head and feed their mind.

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Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora 

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Following the success of the 50 Shades of Black Music Mixtape, Phillips teamed up with Dr. Shana L. Redmond, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California to create another Academic mixtape titled ANTHEM.  The mixtape accompanies Dr. Redmond's book of the same title (2013 NYU Press, 356 Pages).  Also available on Amazon.

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For people of African descent, music constitutes a unique domain of expression. From traditional West African drumming to South African kwaito, from spirituals to hip-hop, Black life and history has been dynamically displayed and contested through sound. Shana Redmond excavates the sonic histories of these communities through a genre emblematic of Black solidarity and citizenship: anthems. An interdisciplinary cultural history, Anthem reveals how this “sound franchise” contributed to the growth and mobilization of the modern, Black citizen. Providing new political frames and aesthetic articulations for protest organizations and activist-musicians, Redmond reveals the anthem as a crucial musical form following World War I.

Beginning with the premise that an analysis of the composition, performance, and uses of Black anthems allows for a more complex reading of racial and political formations within the twentieth century, Redmond expands our understanding of how and why diaspora was a formative conceptual and political framework of modern Black identity. By tracing key compositions and performances around the world—from James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” that mobilized the NAACP to Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted & Black” which became the Black National Anthem of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)—Anthem develops a robust recording of Black social movements in the twentieth century that will forever alter the way you hear race and nation.

 Kwame Phillips rocking 50 Shades of Black Signature BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Shirt and Dr. Shana Redmond in California for the release of The ANTHEM Mixtape

Kwame Phillips rocking 50 Shades of Black Signature BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Shirt and Dr. Shana Redmond in California for the release of The ANTHEM Mixtape

Both Academic Mixtapes Available Above

LISTEN. SHARE. CRITIQUE. LEARN. GROW.

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Race, Sex, and MLK: 50 Shades of Black Creator to Moderate Conversation at Emory University

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Join Volunteer Emory for a social justice dialogue on overcoming inequality in the 21st century.

Moderated by Carlton Mackey from the Emory Center for Ethics, creator of 50 Shades of Black http://www.50shadesofblack.com/

and
**FEATURING**
Zai Air - Emory's own Davion Ziere
https://soundcloud.com/zai_air

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Let Jesus Walk (Part 2)

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*I put a very challenging image into the universe two days ago to start a conversation not to shut down one.

Images are important to us...to all of us.  This is part of the reason I believe in the power of art to change the world.  The fact is it already has.

The fact that the most reproduced image in history is a piece of art created in 1940 is testimony of that. Therefore, that piece of art not only has to bear accountability but also comes with a huge responsibility.  I believe that now that responsibility is ours: those of us who spread it, those of us who believe in it, and those of us who consume it...and there are consequences for us all.

The images we consume in media and art where the Lone Ranger, Tarzan, Superman, John Wayne, Mel Gibson, or Sandra Bullock comes in to save the day are infinite.  This troubles the identity forming process for all: for those who always look like the savior and those who look like the ones who always need saving or defending against.  It impacts all of our religious, charitable, philanthropic, personal lives, and relationships.  It plays a role in shaping the way we see ourselves and the way we see others.  That is in essence what art does and why it is so powerful.

It is super hard for all of us to grapple with the fact that this is the reality...particularly if we are well meaning and good hearted.  But we must if we wish to change it.  The fight to rebel against this narrative belongs to all of us and it starts with acknowledging not only its existence but its deadly consequences.

If for those who believe that the First Century Palestinian Jew named Jesus is the Savior of the world...who was born to be a liberator, a healer, a revolutionary, and the one who is to reconcile relationships between all of humanity and God, then the way the teachings, message, and images of him are understood, spread, and interpreted...and the consequences of all of the above have to be taken seriously.

If Jesus is the savior of the world and IF human beings must see images of Jesus to truly worship him and IF who he was/is does not have to match a fixed point on a historical timeline AND therefore we are allowed to create images in a way that help us relate to him...to make him personal for us...to make him the embodiment of our hopes and dreams...to make him one's personal savior, then Sallman's Head of Christ may, in all fairness, may be one of those images.

But IF all of the above exist, then it can't be the only one.  The fact is that Sallman's rendition is an imaginative, historically inaccurate, personally suiting, reflection of Jesus from the perspective of the artist. Since this is true, then there can (and always have been) others...and the others should not be seen as any less valid.  The problem is that in a context of Western dominated, classist, patriarchal world, this is a tough sell...and they are hard to seen as anything but "alternatives".  Although they were all created by artists just like Sallman, they are often hard to be taken (by people who they are created in the image of or by others) as legitimate options.  (Selah)

But nevertheless they do exist.  Folks who understand Christ as the "suffering servant" of varying ethnic and gender groups have created images of Christ in (maybe/maybe not) the same way Sallman did.

Just like those of us -all of us who are committed to justice have reached across the aisle to break down segregation and have done everything in our power to erase hate and love our neighbor as ourselves we can continue to do so.  Let us challenge ourselves to do just that.

None of these images are sacred simply because they were created.  The only thing sacred about any of them is what or who they point us to.  What is your image of Jesus?  What/Who is it pointing you to?  

Yourself?  
Your ideal?   

A transcendent, resurrected savior?  
God?  

The suffering in the world? 
The people you most need to be reconciled to?
Does it call you to action...or does it make you complacent?

When you look at it, does it make you want to love more?  Does it make you want to fight against injustice? Does it make you forgive?

Whatever it is, let it be a choice...a conscious choice...a well thought out conscious choice...even if you decide that it is better to not have one at all.

...and may it lead to all of our collective liberation.

(READ PART 1)

Carlton Mackey

Creator of 50 Shades of Black
Exploring Sexuality & Skin Tone in the Formation of Identity
http://www.50shadesofblack.com