Monday, December 13, 2010

Political work of art

My public work of art was located on the front an elementary school in my neighborhood of Springfield Gardens.  The name of the school is “Thurgood Marshall P.S. 80 Talented And Gifted Magnet School.”  This school is located on 137 Street, between Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard.   On this very same street there is a public library directly next to the school called, Queens Library.  There is also gas station not to far away.  A little further up the street there is a shopping center called Rochdale village Mall.  Rochdale village has everything you can think of for your convenience.  There is a supermarket, dry cleaners, pharmacy, bank and etc.
On this very same school building there is even a message written on a plastic poster that reads; our school community extends beyond these walls.  It takes the “entire community” to unwrap and nurture the treasures of our children.   They are all gifted and very talented.  These are just simply beautiful words of encouragement that many black children within the inner cities never get to hear.  The message is also reiterating the fact that the sole responsible of one’s success falls on everyone involved in your life.  Parents should not only expect teachers to instill the knowledge that their children so badly need.  Teachers should always take on this particular profession with the goal in mind of leaving everlasting knowledge with their students.
This particular work of art I believe is trying to convey to the children of the community and what they can aspire to be in life.   One part of the painting depicts a fashion show.  It’s just away of giving children the encouragement to become the next, Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan or Barack Obama if they really put their minds to it.  Under Barack’s picture it reads “change we can believe in”.  That picture and message can mean so much to a young child.  For so many, Barack Obama does symbolize the change and how far we have come as not only African-Americans but as nation.  Now children now have proof that one day they to can be the next Black president. Black children growing up during the Civil Rights movement most likely did not entertain the idea of the possibility of themselves becoming a president, let alone living to see it happen right before their eyes one day.
One of the other paintings was of course of, Thurgood Marshall.  I’m sure the school was named after him because he also represented a first within the black community.  Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American to serve on the United States Supreme courts. Thurgood Marshall gives young black children the hope and ability to challenge themselves to not only becoming a great lawyer one day, but an honorable judge as well.  People like Thurgood Marshall have challenged the community to not limit themselves to being the next professional athlete, entertainer or comedian.    
Political works of art can come in many art forms, but what makes them unique and special is the message that they can and will portray to the people that encounter them.  My particular piece meant so much to me because as a mother I truly believe in the message that they are trying to convey to the community in which we are raising our children.   

In search of our mothers gardens

This particular piece of writing definitely made me think a little bit more deeply about what really defined art work.  Is art just music, painting and or drawing?  What comes to mind when you think about art?  Alice Walker gives you a different approach to looking at the everyday people in your life that create beautiful works of art often times, unknowingly.
             The poet Jean Toomer considers the black women of the post-reconstruction south who were so emotionally, mentally and even physically beaten down by life in general.  These woman who ended up being prostitutes as a result of having to suppress their work of arts that they so badly wanted to share with the world, but had no clue that they even embodied such great talent.  They could have been great poet, sculptures and musicians.  Sadly enough black women of the south were robbed of the ability to discover their raw talents.  It just makes you sad to think of the fact that we have been robbed as a people of knowing and seeing the work of such great artist (Walker pg. 2).
            Alice makes note of a slave named Phyllis Wheatley who was definitely a poet in her own right.  Some may have considered Phyllis ignorant in how she describes her owner as a “Goddess”.  When you think a little more deeply about Phyllis situation at that time you can really appreciate the art as she see’s it.  Phyllis Wheatley didn’t know any other way of life, so she quite naturally accepted things for what it was at that time.  What is even more impressive to me is here ability to write and express so eloquently what she saw as beauty.  I don’t know of many slaves or female slave for that matter who knew how to write in the 1700’s (Walker pg. 3).    
            Alice Walker also recognizes the art that her mom shared with her and others throughout her entire life.  Her mom would plant many types of flowers and arrange them in such a way that all you could do is stare in admiration of how well it all came together.  No one had ever let her mom know what she was creating was beautiful art.  Alice Walker came to realize that her mom embodied this great talent all along (Walker pg. 4).
            This essay came to make me realize how artistic my mom and other women in my family really are.  Thankfully my mom got to express her art form through Batik and Tie-dye.  One of her sisters eventually published a book after many years of writing.  Now I can truly say that I appreciate the work of art that they and so many others have shared with me.

Fannie Lou Hamer

During the civil rights movement, many groups of people contributed to the change for the better of African-Americans throughout the country.  These included students, political leaders, as well as everyday men and women.  The one group that has peeked my interest the most are african-american women of the movement. I would particularly like to look at the contributions of the infamous Fannie Lou Hamer (Black Heroes pg 284.).

Fannie Lou Hamer was born on October 6th, 1917, in Montgomery county Mississippi.  Mrs. Hamer unfortunately did not get the privilege to continue her education beyond six years of schooling.  This was primarily due to the fact that her parents had many children and were extremely poor as well (Black Heroes pg. 284).  In an interview, Hamer describes how hard her mother worked to keep her and her siblings presentable at all times, even when she was forced to wear rags.  Due to a work related injury, Hamers mother lost sight in both eyes, which caused her to be incapable of caring for herself.  With all that in mind, Hamer was determined to do something different (Miller pg. 2).

When Hamer got married in 1942, she and her husband would face the same hardship of poverty that she knew all too well from childhood.  Although they both worked, they both worked for very low wages.  Since Hamer worked hard at everything that she did, she would eventually be promoted to timekeeper on the plantation (Black Heroes pg. 284).
Mary tucker had been a long time friend and mother figure to fannie lou hammer.  Mary tucker first encountered the freedom ryders in 1962 and began to embrace the message that they sought to bring to the african-american community. THe freedom ryders were young college students that went around town on a bus trying to get african-americans to register to vote.  Mary tucker soon realized that this was something that she wanted to be apart of and as a result invited fannie lou hamer to a meeting that was going to be held at a local church.  At first Fannie Lou Hamer was reluctant, but she eventually decided to attend as well.
At this meeting Fannie Lou Hamer would meet two members of  prominent organizations, of the civil rights movement.  These men were  Reverand James Bevel of the Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC) and James Forman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  There messages of getting your right to vote was deeply embraced by Fannie Lou Hamer.
That day marked the beginning of Fannie Lou Hamers struggle and determination to become a citizen of the United States of America (Mills pg. 24).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Women's involvement in the Civil Rights movement

During the civil rights movement, many groups of people contributed to the change for the better of African-Americans throughout the country.  These included students, political leaders, as well as everyday men and women.  The one group that has peeked my interest the most are african-american women of the movement. I would particularly like to look at the contributions of women in the movement. 
Most people know of the civil rights movement that started in the 1960's.  According to Reed, most if not many women aren't gven enough acknowledgement for their pivital roles during that time period (Reed pg. 4).  Instead most of the recognition are given to men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Reed pg. 2).  With that in mind, I couldn't help but to think about what I did in fact know about the women of the movement.  Women like Ella Baker, Septima Clark and Fanny Lou Hamer.
I quickly realized that not only did I never hear about these women but  I had no idea how or what they contributed to the civil rights movement.  This made me only want tot research and learn as much as possible about these strong women of color.
Through Reeds book, I gained knowledge of Ella Baker.  Ella Baker not only helped founded two key organizations of the movement but helped to run them as well (Reed pg. 4).  These organizations happened to be the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was founded in 1961 (Reed pg. 5).
Many women contributed to the movement through the power of music.  During the civil rights movement freedom songs were created and sung continuously to get the message across to all people of different walks of life.
 The Civil rights movement would have never been accomplished without collective participation of different groups of people.  As a women myself, I cannot help but to find deep interest in the women that struggled so hard to create a better society in which we live today.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Civil Rights myths

According to T.V. Reed, there where a number of misconceptions concerning the Civil Rights movement.  In the next few paragraphs I will identify two of these myths in relaiton to what I was taught to believe about the Civil rights movement.
One of the myths Reed believes many people have come to accept was that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not only started the civil rights movement, but he led it all by himself (Reed pg.2).  Reed explains that although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a significant figure int he movement, he was only one of many who were not given credit at all in their efforts.
After reading Reed's reasons for calling King's role in the movement a myth, I couldn't help but to remember what and who I alwasys automatically thought of when the movement was brought up.  To my surprise King always did stant out.  Had I not read that par tof Reeds book, I would not have realized how many women and organizations had contributed to the civil rights movement.  Women like Ella Baker, Septima Clark and Fannie Lou Hammer were just a few key leaders in the movement.  There where great organizations that were founded during these times.  The NAACP, SCLC and SNCC were just a few among the many.  Thes organizations contribute heavily without national leaders like King (Reed pg. 3).
Reed brings a number of myths to mind, but his so called myth about the role of whites in the movement being exaggerated, didn't resignate with me.  Reed believes that this focus on white peoples role in the movement is part of an underlying scheme to cover up the continuing racism in the U.S. society (Reed pg. 4).
I would definitely have to challentge that myth based on what I was taught growing up.  Just like I was unaware of the many female leaders and organizations that contributed to the movement, I was also unaware of the signigicance of many caucasians during the movement.  I believe that we do need to learn about everyone that contributed to this cause despite gender, race and age.
Reading Reed's myth about the civil rights movement really did help me to sit back and reflect on my own knowledge about this prominent time in history.  I realized that I actually knew much less than I thought.

Internalized racism

From the beginning of slavery to present day, many african-americans have struggled with internalized racism.  This internalized racism stems from the ideology of white supremacy.  In the following paragraphs I will discuss how internalzied racism affected the late Malcolm X as well as my very own family.
Malcolm X came from a family that endured a lot of discrimination .  This was primarily due to his fathers affiliation with Marcus Garvey.  Malcolm X father, Reverand Earl Little, was one of the organizer for Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.) (Malcolm X pg. 1).  The main idea behind Reverand littes Speech was that black people should move ba ck to africa.  That idea did not sit very well with a lot of whtie people as well as other african-americans.  As a result of this the family moved to various states.
As much as Malcolm X father taught and believed in black empowerment, he himself had seemed to be subconsciously  brainwashed by the idea of white supremacy (Malcolm X pg. 4).  Malcolm X came to beleieve this about his father based on his recollection of the way he treated compared to his other siblings.  Reverand Littele showed favoritism to Malcolm X because he was of a lighter complexion.  Malcolm describes his dad as beligerent towards his siblings (Malcolm X pg.4).
Based on Malcolm X childhood with his dad, it is of no surprise that Malcolm X himself would later grow up to find a sense of pride in his lighter complexion.  Malcolm X explains how he among other african-americans at that time considered their lighter skin to be some kind of status symbol (Malcolm X pg. 3).
Malcolm X soon came to realize that this belief of status came directly from the undeniable better treatment from black parents towards their lighter skinned children (Malcolm X pg.4).  This is and was the issue in many black homes throughout the world.
My Grandmother was one of five children.  My grandmother was also a fraternal twin.  May grandma and her twin happened to look completely different from one another.  My Grand mother also happened to be the darkiest of the children.  Even though her mother was very dark skinned as well, she instinctively treated my grandmother poorly as compared to her siblings.  Interestingly enough, when my grandmother got married and had her kids, her mom came to favor those grandkids over the others.  This was due to the fact that many of my grandmas kids were lighter complexion than the other grandchildren.
From my own experience it is quite clear that internalized racism remains to be an issue in todays society.  Hopefully with more classes about rich african heritage, more people can learn to accept themselves for who they are.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Malcolm X speech

In 1964, Malcolm X gave a speech in Harlem concerning the issues facing many African-Americans in Mississippi during that time.  Malcolm gave this speech because he felt that it not only affected the black people in Mississippi, but African-Americans throughout the nation.
This speech was made during a time in America, where many African-Americans citizens where being denied many of their civil rights.  One of the most important rights that were being denied was the right to vote.  African-Americans were threatened and sometimes even killed as a result of trying to practice their rights to vote.  When that was not done, they were made impossible to vote.
When Malcolm X delivered this speech, it was clearly directed towards African-Americans across the nation, weither they lived in Northern or Southern states. Malcolm was is trying to make people see his point of view, on this issues that they as black people are being faced with.  Malcolm X whole argument was that maybe the peaceful way isn't necessarily the most effective way to get through to racist white people.  In other words "you need to fight fire with fire", so to speak.  Malcolm states that "We will never communicate taling one language and he's talking another language.  He's talking the language of violence... let's learn his language.  If his language is with a shotgun, get a shotgun (Malcolm X  Speech. paragraph 4).
The emotions that are being conveyed in this speech is one of anger, hurt and compassion.  Anger because Malcolm X see's how many African-Americans are being treated during this time, even though they protest in peace.  Malcolm X is angry because he feels as though black men are not standing up for their black women and children. Hurt over the fact that there where so many women and children being brutalized by so many white people at that time.Compassion, because Malcolm X realizes that the issues that the People in Mississippi, aren't just an southern or one particular states problem, but an issue that black people should take personal everywhere.  Even though he lives in Harlem he understands that if he turns the other way that he is not only failing those black people in the south, but himself as well. 
I believe that this speech most likely had an profound effect on the African-american community at that time.  One can only imagine the emotions running through the crowd at that point.  The attitudes that, they just were not gonna take it anymore and sit back and watch as there fellow brothers and sisters in the south were being treated with such disrespect.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Ethics of living Jim crow

During the period that Jim Crow laws were being enforced upon African-Americans it was pretty apparent that Caucasians were the ones with the power.  It did not matter what your status was in society, if you were white you always had the upper hand over black people at that time.
Caucasians maintained this power by instilling fear and humiliating people of the black community.  This was done by public lynchings, verbal, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of white people.  Richard Wright talks about many situations where he was subject to physical abuse based on the fact that he neglected to address a white man properly by saying "yes", and not "yes sir" (wright pg.10).  There was another incident where he witnessed a black women being dragged and beat up by his employers, while the police just looked the other way, he could do absolutely nothing about it because he had no power as a black man (Wright pg. 8).
People without the power during this time, just lived their lives trying to do every and anything to keep out of harms way.  This means adhering to the jim crow laws and most importantly, always giving white people the upmost respect, even if they were not.
People without the power eventually started to resist these injustices by forms of nonviolent acts, such as sit-ins, boycotts and freedom rides.