Coffee Rhetoric: Connecticut
Showing posts with label Connecticut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Connecticut. Show all posts

November 21, 2017

Believing Black Women and Unpacking White Female Rage

Briana Brochu (mughshot via W. Hartford PD); Chennel "Jazzy" Rowe via Facebook
Despite the strained smiles, relative civility, and occasional unlikely friendships (many of which come with a lot of emotional labor on Black women’s end and reluctant privilege unpacking on white women’s), the relationship between white women and Black women has long been a powder keg waiting to explode beyond the tension that has festered since the domestic slave trade; since the suffrage movement that found suffrage leaders like Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton maligning Black women suffragists and activists and let it be known their white interests were far more important than the civil and voting rights of Black people; since 1957 when Hazel Bryan Massery was photographed yelling epithets at Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine; since the 60s when many other angry white women were memorialized in photos cursing and hurling insults at Black students integrating schools in Montgomery; since the feminist movement during the 70s when white women, once again, expected Black women to labor on behalf of white women’s interests while erasing Black women’s lived experiences and needs from the conversation; since present-day when the story remains the same and #solidarityisforwhitewomen and they still refuse to grasp intersectional theory (as introduced and taught to the masses by scholar, Kimberlé Crenshaw) or ascertain that Black women deal with both racism and sexism and that the two aren’t mutually exclusive for us, and only seem to rally around causes when an issue hits too close to home or if they can control and center themselves in the conversation.

June 10, 2013

Defining African-American Cinema: Reelblack TV Talks to Filmmaker Geoffrey Fletcher

Reelblack TV caught up screenwriter and filmmaker, Geoffrey Fletcher at the Montclair Film Festival, and talked to him about defining black film. 

Fletcher, a Connecticut native who penned and won an Oscar for the "Precious" screenplay in 2010 -- and is reportedly the only black filmmaker to win an Academy Award for writing -- makes his feature directorial debut with the movie, "Violet & Daisy"; which stars Alexis Bledel, Saoirse Ronan, and James Gandolfini (of The Sopranos fame). 

Geoffrey Fletcher weighs-in on whether or not black film is a monolithic medium, what it was like writing the screenplay for “Precious” as well as the feedback he got from viewers, and whether he feels any sense of obligation to create narratives that are solely based on the black experience and themes.  

April 23, 2013

HartBeat Ensemble Raises Awareness with New Stage-play: “Riding the Turnpike”

Hartford-based professional theater company HartBeat Ensemble, is back with another compelling main-stage play called Riding the Turnpike. It follows the successful run of their original production Flipside, performed at downtown Hartford’s Hollander Building and at the 2012 New York Fringe Festival.

After the devastating and untimely loss of beloved co-Artistic Director/co-founder and Hartford arts community favorite, Gregory “Tate” Tate to lung cancer last year, the team honors his legacy by doing what they do best… which is to create original,  accessible, investigative and socially aware Hartford theater. This time, HartBeat Ensemble is kicking off the next phase of their creative journey, having signed a multi-year agreement in a new home at the Carriage House Theater in Hartford, a 76-seat venue that formerly housed the Hartford Children’s Theater.

November 04, 2012

These and Those: M.A.D.V.O.W. - Men Against Domestic Violence On Women

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend an event coordinated by an up-and-coming movement called M.A.D.V.OW. - Men Against Domestic Violence On Women - for its third annual social hosted in a lounge space donated by Barça restaurant and tapas bar in Hartford. There was spoken-word, music, food, and most compelling, stories of survival relayed by women and men- (including a personal testimonial by musical guest, Heshima Moja ) - who’ve been profoundly affected by domestic abuse.

One survivor relayed how she spent years shuttling back-and-forth between her relationship with a physically and emotionally abusive man and her family, who she stayed with whenever she’d leave him, before finally seeking refuge at a shelter for abused women. During her time there, she gleaned insight and encouragement from advocates and other survivors, who helped her feel empowered and strong enough to rebuild her life and move on and away from her abuser for good. Another survivor stressed the importance of patience from friends and family and pointed out how many survivors don’t willfully fall in love with men who’re abusive; but with men who’re initially charming and loving before setting out to isolate their victims and gradually subject them to abuse.

October 08, 2012

Election 2012: Stoplight Trolls

This election year seems to be bringing out the foolio in the everyday woman and man. Lately, my Facebook feed is cluttered with posts from people who have suddenly become low-rent political pundits (inaccurate propaganda and non-factual information be damned) or who yodel while beating themselves on the chest, because they've relegated themselves to  the fringe (their version of the 'cool kids table') and somehow think their threats not to vote somehow make them more shrewdly informed than everyone else who's opted to do so.
 Politics will make some people's inner-jerk come roaring forth, after having been dormant for a spell... just waiting for the right opportunity to present itself in all its condescending and ignominious glory.
Election year 2012 is exposing some downright ugly and nasty behavior from unlikely perpetrators, and shattering the civility shared between acquaintances, lovers, and friends across social media platforms.

September 16, 2012

Coffee Buzz: A.R.T. - Going Against Reality's Terms

Considering it's such a small state, Connecticut is brimming with a wide array of artists from the myriad of creative disciplines, which includes Hip-Hop and rap. While most folks scattered across the northeast may consider CT’s rap scene to be nothing more than a fleeting fantasy for inexperienced wannabes, I surmise, that charting a path from the Nutmeg state to universal stardom gives up-and-coming rappers and Hip-Hop artists quite the advantage. Being an underdog that’s often brushed off by its larger than life New York cousins induces a certain degree of famine . . . and that intense hunger has produced an impressive list of lyricists, spoke-word performers, and beat makers, looking to make their mark on the Hip-Hop scene.  Greg “A.R.T.” Moore is among them. 

February 09, 2012

Coffee Buzz: Ice Cream Man

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! That is unless you're lactose intolerant...

One ice cream man however, is providing goods that are capable of being digested; Hartford's own Stephon "Humble" Long. Connecticut is a small state brimming with talent that spans the arts and entertainment spectrum. Stephon, a well-known rapper, has managed to carve out a niche for himself and build a loyal fan base in the process, especially with the release of his single and accompanying video (which uses Hartford-area neighborhood(s) as its backdrop) "Ice Cream Man."

Stephon, who goes by the nickname "Humble" (a moniker he received from a close friend and brother from another mother, Kiandre "Fatal" Gillespie) - first realized his talent for writing lyrics at the age of 13. With the help of friend, Delontay Gordon, he honed his craft and used what he learned to form a rap duo with Gillespie called, Black Aces. “Am I humble? At times! And at other times my arrogance may show face” Humble Lol's, in reference to his nickname. Considering he's been diligent with mastering his craft and paying his dues since the age of fifteen (working fervently for about 9 of those years), perhaps a little self-applied pat on the back on occasion, is permissible.

"I've built up my fan base by performing for open Mics and by being a part of Hartford's own Paperboyz [a collective of Hartford rappers and producers] in the early 2000's," Humble explains. And while Ice Cream Man isn't his first single and video, it does seem to be his most lauded at 29,000 YouTube views and counting.

The video, which was directed by Alonzo Beckett of NE Video Entertainment opens as a nod to Ice Cube's popular urban flick, Friday, before exploding into a thumping version of the ice cream truck song we've all familiarized ourselves with as children. The song, produced by Luis "ChaseBeats" Boria, explains the duality of Humble's role as the purveyor of tasty frozen treats for children and street treats of ... ahem... a different nature.
Humble’s talent is undeniable; "Right now I'm currently working with local producers; but every local producer I'm working with is very goal oriented!" 

When prodded about his dream-list of producers to build with if presented with the opportunity, Humble answers enthusiastically, "Ooh, that's a good question!! I would love the opportunity to work with... I'm gonna have to keep it in the family and say Corron Cole[a Connecticut born, L.A. based songwriter/producer made-good and behind the musical stylings of acts like Justin Bieber, Jesse McCartney, and Jordin Sparks]- I admire his commitment to the music industry; and as for artists I’d love to work with... I'm gonna have to say Eminem and Jay-Z!" 

Perhaps one of the most admirable aspects of Humble's burgeoning rap career, is the passion he seems to have for Hartford... a city that's at times, unfairly judged for being the underdog and is juxtaposed next to New York and Boston. The bias prompts the dearth of talent and the city's offerings go unnoticed... and so it takes naysayers by surprise. 

As he reflects on his music, Humble makes it clear that it will always dictate the mood he's in at the time. "I write from the heart!" He says, "I don't live a fairytale life... It's real. I do it for the people! I do it for my supporters… I hate to use the word fans!"

Stephon "Humble" Long will be performing live at Foxwoods Casino, March 2 at Comix Comedy Club . Ice Cream Man and other singles are available for download on iTunes.

For booking and more information, visit PB Dolla Entertainment and Humble's Facebook page.

January 25, 2012

Yo Quiero Taco Bell: Translation; East Haven’s Mayor is An Insensitive Bigot

Racism and bigotry… This year, political hopefuls and elected officials seem to be wearing the ignorant tags like an expensive, well-tailored suit and my home state of Connecticut offers no exceptions.
After the FBI arrested four East Haven, CT police officers for gross instances of racial profiling and terrorization of Latinos navigating the town; assistant director-in-charge of the NY office of the FBI, Janice Fedarcyk, fittingly described them as a “cancerous cadre that routinely deprived East Haven residents of their civil rights.”  

Rather than co-sign the deserved sentiment and taking an opportunity to speak out against the racial profiling issues that've plagued his town for the past couple of years, East Haven Mayor, Joseph Maturo decided to skip on down to the edge of the plank and plunge head first, into a sea of hot, steaming caca… which splashed and hit the proverbial fan.
When prodded on camera by WPIX reporter Mario Diaz, about what he planned on doing for the Latino community to diffuse the situation, Maturo relaxed his shoulders and stupidly thoughtfully farted out this answer: “I might have tacos when I go home, I’m not quite sure… uhh, I’ve spent two years in Puerto Rico…” to which Diaz promptly snatched his wig and alerted him to the sheer stupidity of his comment. Not taking heed to the reporter’s warning, Maturo started to shift uncomfortably and tried to shake the poo he dove in, off. But alas, it was too late… he was covered in the stuff, but continued

"... uhh, I might have spaghetti tonight being of Italian descent. Uhhh… I’ve had ethnic food and when you asked me what I was doin’ for Latinos tonight I said I may have Latino food in the Latino community and there’s nothing wrong with that… so you can twist and turn it whichever the way the press decides to do!” he said defiantly, as he awkwardly continued to plod his way through the interview.

Joseph Maturo is a man at the helm of an entire town, yet he plunged the knife in deeper and continued to mar its reputation even further (the interview has made national headlines) - instead of acting like a responsible leader capable of formulating carefully constructed sentences about an already tense and delicate situation, not laden with racial stereotypes.  He was presented with the opportunity to reach out to the town’s Latino community while helping endorse a teachable moment, and he arrogantly opted to make things worse by perpetuating stupid racial tropes about a community of people, who've already been marginalized in his town.
Maturo not only trivialized the gravity of the situation, he became verbally combative with Mario Diaz when he should’ve taken the time to recover from his gaffe... even when he was flailing and fumbling to speak articulately about the situation.

Maturo’s foolery has taken the focus off of an important issue that needs addressing. He may want to consider more PR people…

The comment below following a story in the New Haven Register, pretty much sums it up:

“I was struck quite deeply by the Mayor’s words as they showed just that: racism. How can a man in such a position lead a community to healing, reconciliation and a better future when thru his words he reveals what is in his heart. Even the way he said it showed not only arrogance, but a kind of contempt. You’re right it kind of brought to my mind images of the old recordings you see from the 1960’s where the minorities are viewed as subhuman by the authorities.
The treatment of minorities in East Haven has been a badly kept secret in the Hispanic community for a long time… How can I spend my hard earned money in a community where its leaders show contempt for me?Last night I couldn’t sleep because I felt so angry. I kept thinking of how I show that hurt and anger in a positive way. Was thinking of sending Maturo tacos for lunch and encouraging others to do the same.”

**UPDATE:  Reform Immigration for America, a group focused on helping fight racial injustice, delivered 500 tacos to Mayor Joseph Maturo's office. Here're the details.

Additional Reading

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October 07, 2011

The Bluest Lie

Tony Morrison's controversial novel The Bluest Eye evokes many different feelings in its readers: particularly survivors of childhood abuse and those who grapple with the self-loathing precipitated by colorism and Eurocentric beauty standards. Despite the importance of Morrison’s book, there have been numerous attempts to ban The Bluest Eye due to its explicit subject matter—rape, child molestation, white imperialism, intra-racial discrimination, class, and racism. One thing is certain however; The Bluest Eye is one of the most important works in the American literary canon and should be incorporated on any student's reading list, and they should read having been taught the nuance and context of the source material, what prompted Morrison to write it, and why it’s considered controversial.

Written in the 1970's, The Bluest Eye is set in the racially mixed, working class neighborhood of Lorain, Ohio between 1939-1940 and tells the tragic, third person, omniscient account of the novel's protagonist, 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Following a series of calamitous events—which include sexual abuse by of her alcoholic father, Cholly and a distant and emotionally abusive mother named Pauline, who finds solace working as a domestic for a rich, White family—Pecola is taken in by the MacTeer family. Feeling unloved, unwanted, and constantly told how ugly she is because of her dark skin, Pecola begins to equate white skin and blue eyes with happiness; believing if she possessed those two physical traits her life would be easier to navigate. The novel’s narration is told from the perspective of Claudia MacTeer, one of the daughters of the MacTeer family. 

After its initial publishing, The Bluest Eye was met with moderate success at best. In a republication of the book, Toni Morrison wrote in an Afterword: With very few exceptions, the initial publication of 'The Bluest Eye' was like Pecola's life: dismissed, trivialized, misread. And it has taken twenty-five years to gain for her the respectful publication this edition is. 
So it was with disappointment and dismay that I read about Brookfield, CT's knee-jerk reaction to the book after its addition to Brookfield High School's curriculum. 

Apparently, a week after National Banned Book week, residents began pressuring the Board of Education to ban the book and remove it from the curriculum, after it was assigned to juniors enrolled in an honors level English course. In perhaps the most shameful part of the town outcry, many of the residents haven't even read the book in its entirety... basing the unwarranted criticism on a CliffNotes version of the novel and excerpt sheets highlighting the sexual abuse. One poorly misguided resident and Republican candidate for the Board of Education went on to say: "This is pornography, pure and simple. I don't know why this book is in the high school." 

When a book, by a highly regarded Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author, detailing the effects of sexual abuse, race, and class inequality is trivialized and regarded as porn, it basically illustrates why a certain segment of our society remains problematic, particularly when it attempts to push its conservative propaganda on the masses.

While it may seem par for the course for residents of an insular town like Brookfield to react negatively to such an honest and important piece of literature, it definitely shouldn’t let them off the hook for their ignorance and failure to understand The Bluest Eye in its proper context; particularly since most of the book's detractors haven't even read it and so can't possibly grasp or even fathom its message. And while students were offered the option of another book in the wake of the furor, to even attempt to begrudge them a look at perspectives and lives beyond their own, isn't exactly offering a well-rounded educational experience. Morrison's contribution to American (and black) literature presents stories from writing voices often ignored or drowned out, particularly when written by women of color.

Dealing with heavy literary material that involves child sexual abuse within the context of race and class disparities, can be overwhelming or even triggering for some, but to deny students the tools they need to be equipped with to help challenge a system that can often be exclusionary if you aren't wealthy, white, or the right shade of black is, well, counterproductive.

Rather than encourage young adults to remain obtuse and perpetuate antiquated and disproportionate ideals, the town of Brookfield and its school board should help cultivate critical thinking skills and healthy and open dialogue about The Bluest Eye. But they'd need to actually read  and work to understand the book first, though.