Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Street Fest '09

This past weekend i participated in Raleigh's groundspark Street Painting Festival and had a blast! The always find ways to make it better each year, and the weather on Saturday was absolutely awesome! The competition started on Friday afternoon, but I had a prior engagement to do spoken word so I could not start until that Saturday morning. I started chalking around 8:30 and actually finished up a little bit before lunch time :)

while i was working on the fist (black power fist) sketch in my square, this light skinned dude (lighter than Barack to give an idea) comes up to me and convo as follows: **let's call him LSD for short** (cuz he was def on somethin....)

LSD: oooh black power fist, huh?
Me: Yes
LSD: how old are you?
Me: 20
LSD: school?
Me: Meredith College
Me: Yes? Is there a problem?
LSD: why are YOU doing a black power fist?
Me: Oh, so if i went to an HBC there would be no problem?
LSD: if you're not going to a HBC you're not supporting the black community
Me: (i basically read him the riot act)
LSD: *silence* *walks away*

PLEASE comment and tell me what ya think.......

anywho, back to the street painting fest:

I actually won the grand prize for the college category of best in show! It was amazing and very ironic! As it goes, I was not even supposed to do the street fest this year, in fact I had never planned on it. In August I said nah I'm not doing it this year. (lol) However, the prez of a club at Meredith I'm in called Artist Alliance approached me and asked me to fill in for these freshmen who (for all intent purposes) bailed on her. So I said sure I can, and she scratched their names out and put mine in on Friday. I had no idea what I was going to do alllll weeek long. I asked my sister the Friday night before what I should do. She first suggested civil rights then and now but I don't like faces (I was going to attempt Angela Davis and Barack Obama.) I told her since I was a half-day shorter on time, I did not want to have to grid my square and worry about proportions. Then she suggested the black power fist. I did a mini-sketch in my sketchbook but had to think of colors, so I googled pan african colors, which are: green, yellow and red. And bada-boom bada-bang I had a design that most everyone liked. Apparently there were some trash talkers but they weren't near my ears and I don't care, cuz who is gettin that check and certificate in the mail???? why me of course! :) hate on haters lol hate on, and thanks to all my friends who supported me by coming or in spirit!!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reflection Paper 2 for my African American Literature Class

On Monday, August 24, 2009 a little after midnight on TNT A Time to Kill came on the television. I had seen previews for it, being that TNT’s slogan is “we know drama,” but I never really purposefully tried to catch it, to sit down, and watch it. I had just gotten back to campus driving from my parents’ house because I left my car there before my father and I embarked on our trip the previous weekend. I had missed a little bit of the beginning but I started watching the movie in time to see a great chunk of it. A Time to Kill was directed by Joel Schumacher and released on July 24, 1996. The costars are Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sandra Bullock. To summarize, the story takes place in Canton, Mississippi and centers around Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), an African American man, taking the law into his own hands by killing Pete and Billy Ray, the two white men who brutally beat and raped his 10-year-old daughter Tonya. Hailey remembered that two years prior in the nearby town of Delta, four white men got acquitted for raping an African American girl. The NAACP wanted Hailey to take one of their high class lawyers, but instead he chose his friend, Jake Tyler Brigance (Matthew McConaughey), to represent him. Ellen Roark (Sandra Bullock), a law student who had experience with death penalty cases assists Brigance in making his case. Billy Ray’s brother elicits the help of the KKK in order to seek his revenge against Hailey, so throughout the movie, as different parts of the trial go on, the KKK terrorizes both blacks in the town of Canton as well as whites helping on the defense side of the case. I found myself identifying and responding emotionally to this movie on three different levels: as an African American, as a victim, and as a woman.

I initially related to A Time to Kill as an African American just because of the prevalence of the KKK throughout the movie. I believe it was a matter of coping with the fact that certain human beings hate me just because of the color of my skin. Although today the KKK cannot carry out its own agenda and get away with it from the law, but the racist mindset still exists within individuals. By showing the characters Pete and Billy Ray brag about what they did to Hailey’s daughter in the beginning of the movie established that during that time period in that part of Mississippi, white men were getting away with raping black girls and women. This immediately made me begin to think of how in the beginning of the summer, the Free Republic website attacked Malia Obama with less of the obscene comments being “a typical street whore…wonder when she will get her first abortion.” Honestly when I think of the Republican Party, to me it contains the connotation of rich white males, and this resonated with me because it was another example of white men attacking an innocent black child and getting away with it. Had it been a group of black men bashing Bush’s oldest daughter while he was in office, it would have been a whole other story, which shows the power difference between white and black in this country.

Additionally, I felt that I identified with the movie on the level of victimization from the crime that the basis of the whole plot was about, the rape of Tonya Hailey. Having innocence ripped away at such a young age without a choice is a very heartwrenching experience. Furthermore, there was a specific scene in this movie involving Sandra Bullock that made me respond emotionally just from identifying as a woman in America. Bullock was pulled over by a cop who was a part of the KKK and they ended up kidnapping her. She was able to be kidnapped so successfully just because men are physiologically stronger than women. Had she been a man, a man would have had at least a fighting chance, but she was taken advantage of just by brute strength, kidnapped, beaten, and left tied nearly naked to a tree. I believe that it is instances like that in which a man would never, ever understand what it is like to be a woman, to be both helpless and hopeless just because you are naturally physically weaker and at the incredulity that human beings are capable of being so cruel as to take advantage of this fact.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reflection Paper 1 for my African American Literature Class

On Saturday, August 22, 2009, I attended the union of my first cousin Jillian and her then-fiancĂ© Jason. My cousin is half African American and half Italian American and her husband is Italian American. My cousin’s father is my father’s oldest brother. I chose to reflect about this event based on the sub-cultural differences between African Americans and Italian Americans. The wedding took place outside on a small part of the field next to a pond at Wayside Inn, one of the oldest operating Inns in the country, in Sudbury, MA.

Being that the wedding was outdoors, I heard a few remarks from my Italian American family about getting tans. I personally do not think I will ever understand the need that some Caucasian Americans feel they have for getting and maintaining a tan, especially since tanning has been linked to skin cancer. However, this statement is not to say that I am passing judgment on them, I am just simply saying I do not understand this phenomenon in their subculture. Throughout western history, if a European had a tan, it was a sign of being “common” or of poverty, yet now pop culture is sending the message that everyone rich has this “perfect” tan. Hearing women at the wedding mention their tan made me think of all the times young women here at Meredith complain about how “pale” they are, and I never see how being “whiter” makes them look any less better, yet I never feel comfortable entering into those conversations of Caucasian skin complexion because I do not want to come off as judging. Although it had been raining all day, the sun did come out in time for the wedding, and I suppose everyone got tanned a little.

Next, the reception of the wedding followed immediately after the thankfully short ceremony under a tent nearby. Another cultural difference occurred through the choice in music of the traditional groom/mother and bride/father dances. Jason and his mother danced to a country song that I had never heard before—not that I listen to country music—while afterward my cousin and my uncle, William (who we call Butch) danced to an African song. Uncle Butch always was and is really big about getting in touch with his “roots.” He and my father did one of those blood/DNA trace test things and somehow figured that through their mother’s side their ancestors—my ancestors—can be traced back to the Sierra Leone area on the continent of Africa. The final difference I noticed between the African American side and the Italian American side of my family happened on the dance floor after dinner was finished. I started the electric slide to Before I Let Go by Frankie Beverly and Maze. Eventually most everyone joined in, but my African American side of the family already knew how to do the electric slide; the ones on my Italian American side had to be taught. I almost feel as if it is unwritten rule that if you are black in America and get together with your family for some sort of festivity, you cannot part without having someone initiate the electric slide.

Finally, hearing some of the Italian Americans perpetuate a particular stereotype stood out to me. I remember certain women saying with laughter, “come on, show us how to dance, you know white people can’t dance.” In general, people constantly complain about stereotypes, but here they were perpetuating their own, which made me think that they assume that all black people can dance, and also made me go as far as to think that they assume all black people are good for is dancing just because that is a stereotype of African Americans in this country. I wonder if they even realized what they were doing when they made those statements because it makes me think that to them white people who can dance or black people who cannot are “exceptions” to the rule, when really dancing is a matter of talent. Some have that gift, and some do not, and it is not based on race.