the second monday of october

I was gonna let this whole Columbus Day thing slide, but listening to the holiday hype on news radio this morning irritated me into this.  Apparently my willingness to ignore it was based on my assumption that everyone else would do the same.  In all fairness, I do not know one person who celebrates or observes Columbus Day.  But hearing reports from the parade in Manhattan and seeing a few posts in various places with glowing reverence for the explorer was jarring.  It feels like irrefutable truth to me that people were living on this continent before Columbus arrived, so this whole notion of discovery is beyond absurd- it is simply incredible.  There is no credibility in that hypothesis. Zero. And yet, it’s the story that gets told as fact.  This is very bold, seeing as the lies are exposed in the most basic telling of the story.

What I find when I investigate my agitated response to a silly parade is that it speaks to a larger issue.  That even when the truth is right before our eyes, it’s easy to be lulled by the institutional illusion that has been handed down as historical fact.  It’s easy to just accept what we’re told even when it contradicts what we know and/or feel to be true.  Maybe that’s the price of the American Dream.  You have to adhere and become blind to so much bullshit while chasing it, that once you get there (if you get there) you’re likely to have lost touch with your inner compass along the way.  In Tiffany-speak “inner compass” = your authentic self, your divinity, your soul.

However, although, and all at the same time… What happened, happened.  We are where we are.  And there is a perfection in that.  There is beauty in it somewhere. There is probably beauty in it everywhere. The great Amy Grant wrote “In the year of 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue had he landed on India’s shore you might never have come to knock on my door.”  So, like, everything has been leading up to this perfect(ly imperfect) moment. I see now that the true source of my upset is not about what actually happened, but is connected to the deceptions that led to the delusions that keep us from genuinely knowing ourselves and each other.  Of course there is a racial component to this topic.  The things that happened then are still happening now in varying degrees. Patterns are repeated.  History is repeated.  We each have a responsibility to wake up out of those cycles.  To un-become who the world has taught us to be, so we can be who we really are.  This requires being able to discern the difference between what the world has taught us and what is true.

From The Oatmeal:

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Click here for the rest of the comic which inspired Seattle to rename Columbus Day Indigenous People’s Day.  Yes, Seattle!  Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, and South Dakota so not observe Columbus Day. Xo to them!

 

From Instagram:

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And from that time when I wasn’t blogging, but was saving all of these articles about things I would blog about when I started blogging again:

 

Finally, a Perfect Term for When White People “Discover” Things

By Aisha Harris

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At some point in their adolescence, most people will come to learn that the oft-taught grade school tidbit that Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas is, at best, a significant stretching of the truth. They’ll also soon realize that Columbus’ claim to fame is only one example in a long historical pattern of white people taking credit for uncovering “new” things that actually existed long before they were aware of them.

And so it’s only logical that someone would put two and two together and finally coin the perfect term for this infuriating habit: “Columbusing.” The folks at College Humor have created a great video to help you understand the exact way to employ it—so the next time someone credits Miley Cyrus for twerking, you’ll be ready.

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darktown

I’ll never be able to sing “Sleigh Ride” again!  Ever!  Not even with Amy Grant.  Currier & Ives!?  Puh-lease!  I’ll take Norman Rockwell any day.  ANY day.

In 1857, Nathaniel Currier, a Massachusetts lithographer, and James Merritt Ives, a self-trained artist and bookkeeper for the business of N. Currier, formed a partnership. The result was the firm of Currier & Ives, which produced three to four prints every week for fifty years – a total of over 7,500 titles. The lithographs produced by the company were published by Currier & Ives, none were actually drawn or lithographed by them. Upon their deaths in 1888 and 1895 respectively, their sons, Edward West Currier and Chauncy Ives, directed the firm until its close in 1907 (American Historical Print Collectors Society).

Previous to the Emancipation Proclamation, Currier & Ives generally depicted blacks as individuals content with their lives and position in society; they were often pictured in the background of idyllic plantation images. Initially after the Proclamation was issued, the firm continued to depict blacks in a positive light, focusing more on individuals, publishing portraits of John Brown, Frederick Douglas, and black Union soldiers fighting for their freedom (222). As time went on, however, and the freedmen began to move north into the cities, it became more apparent that not all Northerners were unanimous in their support of emancipation and the status of the freedman. The political images published by Currier & Ives during this time were vicious attacks against the character and intelligence of blacks, depicting them as unsupportive and disobliging of the political figures who sought to free them, such as Abraham Lincoln, Horace Greeley, and Senator Charles Sumner (226).

During and after Reconstruction, Currier & Ives, and America it seems, continued to appreciate these negative images of African Americans. Out of this, between the mid-1870s to the early 1890s, the Darktown Comics arose, mostly illustrated by Thomas Worth (1834-1917) and James Cameron (1828-1963). The company described the Comics as “pleasant and humorous designs, free from coarseness or vulgarity, being good natured hits at the popular amusements and excitements of the times”. It has been suggested that Darktown may have “served as satires on polite white behavior as well”, as could be supported by previously positive images of African Americans. Regardless of intent, the prints only reinforced negative racial stereotypes throughout the country.


The caricatures presented by the Darktown Comics consisted of “African Americans performing actions that were more or less normal for ‘ordinary’ folk, meaning whites…the implication being that the African Americans could not execute even the simplest tasks of everyday life without making themselves appear ridiculous”. The most common images depicted by Currier & Ives’ artists were of African Americans attempting to have horse, skull, and sulky races; ride in carriages and yachts; hunt; host lawn parties; play tennis; and fight fires–always with disastrous results. And the depiction of  African American lawyers, doctors and the clergymen as bumbling and dishonest were quite malicious. African American children were also featured in a poor light – as mischievous, out of control, disrespectful hoodlums. This is evident in prints by Thomas Worth such as “A Put Up Job” and “A Fall from Grace” (1883) and “Breaking In: A Black Imposition” and “Breaking Out: A Lively Scrimmage” (1881).


African American stereotypes that still exist today were begun here – the connection of African Americans to music, in Darktown specifically of banjo playing, and of their supposed eating habits, most notable in the Comics, that of eating watermelon. This can be seen in the prints that make up the set of the Darktown Banjo Class and in single prints like “O Dat Watermillion!”. As one can see, African American speech was attacked as well, through phonetic renderings steeped in the distortion of stereotypes and caricature.


The Darktown Comics did not develop or exist in a vacuum, however. In addition to theDarktown prints that came out of this time, Harper’s Weekly featured the Blackville prints; examples of which can be seen at HarpWeek’s exhibition, “Toward Racial Equality:Harper’s Weekly Reports on Black America, 1857-1874 or the Philadelphia Print Shop’sBlackville Prints.” These were similar in content to Darktownspoofs of African American attempts at high fashion, sports, etc. The most prevalent artists of this series were Sol Eytinge, Jr., William Ludwell Sheppard, S.C. McCutcheon and “Sphinx” (Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.). Other publications, such as Life, Puck and Judge, as well as Pulitzer’s New York World and Hearst’s New York Journal produced similar images but these were in the context of satire (Hays). Whether or not these images were taken as satire or at face value by the American populous is up for debate, however. Other news and editorial magazines, such as The Outlook and The Independent, also promoted these types of images through their illustrations and advertising—exemplifying the prevalence and acceptance of these racist stereotypes across the country (Hays).


The “high art” of this time, specifically that of southern artists, furthered these stereotypes as well, dehumanizing the African American through their depictions of coal black skin, thick red lips, oversized teeth, and patchwork clothing. It wasn’t until the impact of the Ashcan Society and the period of realism came into play that classical forms of art began to celebrate the figure of the African American as he really appeared. The art of Robert Henry, George Luks, and George Wesley Bellows are forefathers of this new view – a celebration of the African American.

SOURCE

happy birthday, amy

Today is Amy Grant’s birthday.  I won’t be baking her a cake today as I did in my youth, but I thought I’d post this Amy anecdote that I came across while surfing the internets.  The excerpt is a retelling of a bit from a recent Lewis Black stand-up routine found here. Happy Birthday, Amy!

Last night, Black told a story that lasts about 10 minutes. By the 10th minute, the audience response was a tidal wave of laughter.

The bit centered on Black following country music superstar Vince Gill to the stage during a USO show in Afghanistan. There were 8,000 troops in attendance, and, as Black said, “They were all just crazy about Vince Gill, who is a country western legend. Let me tell you something about country western music: A lot of it is, well, s—! Even people who are country western music fans have to admit that a lot of it is, well, s—! Some of it’s good. The rest of it is based on old episodes of ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’ ”

Gill opened his 30-minute set with a song.

“Thirty seconds into this song, I had a feeling come over me that is the same feeling I get when I am taking a bath and the water temperature is just right,” Black said. “The song was that (effing) beautiful.”

Gill then told a story.

“The story was funny! So, he’s funny, too. And he was clean,” Black said. “The son of a bitch can sing, he’s funny, and he’s clean. I’m offstage, going over my material, taking out all the profanity. I’m left with 4 ½ minutes of stage time!

Gill then brought out his wife.

“If you don’t know who Vince Gill is married to, then you should be,” Black glowered. “His wife is Amy Grant, the most beautiful Christian singer in all of Christiandom. She sings like an angel, she is beautiful, and she is filled with cream! With these two onstage, being angelic and basking in their angelic Christian love, I was willing to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, just to get the crowd behind me!

Gill then sang a song inspired by his father.

“Vince Gill wrote this song in tribute to his dead father,” Black called out. “Now, who isn’t going to like this song about his dead father? Nobody! I thought, ‘I’m screwed. I don’t have time to go out and kill mine!’ The title of this song is ‘It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.’ Face it,that’s (an effing) funny title! And we have a profanity we can use: ass! Oh, hee-hee! Vince Gill has established the one profanity I can use. Great!”

With the troops roaring, Gill and Grant finally left the stage.

“So now it’s, ‘Let’s hear what the aging Jewish guy has to say!’ ” Black shouted. “I only wanted one thing: for the person who decided I should be following Vince Gill to appear onstage, too, so this person canshare this experience with me!

speaking of amy grant

For me, this is long overdue.  I’m not sure why I’ve been keeping my love for Amy Grant a secret on this blog.  Maybe I thought it unnecessary what with the mulatto diaries vlog #72 thanking God for Amy Grant through tears and laughter.  It just doesn’t seem right though. The obsession has faded, the nostalgia and admiration remain.  The blog seems incomplete without some sort of acknowledgement.  So here it is.

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Finding one’s way, learning to value the truth as a nonnegotiable plumb line, experiencing the consequences of violating the laws of nature or the laws of the Spirit, exercising free will, and realizing one’s own impact on and in the world- these are all included in the sometimes painful lessons of life, and most of these must be learned firsthand.- Amy Grant

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This is trust:  doing what you believe you are called to do and trusting that God will provide.  But here’s where it gets personal:  God provides through people.  Am I willing to be connected to the people in my world, the people at work, the people in my house, the people I encounter in everyday patterns of living?  Am I open to the possibility of my life, my gifts, touching another life?  My life touching another, the domino effect of God’s goodness rippling through so many other lives, is a powerful, far-reaching concept.

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You can still cut loose and have a great time, but part of you has to say, “I will take life with open eyes and a thinking mind, and not as self-centered as I was as a child”. When you start looking at life that way you realize that issues on every level on every continent do have an effect on your life.

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If you went to your closet today, would you pull out the same outfit you wore 10 or 15 years ago? You wear feelings and faith differently as well.

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But my experience is that people who have been through painful, difficult times are filled with compassion.

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You do your best, you do all this stuff, but the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

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I think that if my kids are completely convinced of God`s unfailing love for them, whether they fail or not, they`ll have confidence to persevere in life.

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To me, the human experience does involve a great deal of anguish.  It’s joyful, but it’s bittersweet.  I just think that’s life.

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Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there`s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You`ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that`s real.

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There’s a beauty to wisdom and experience that cannot be faked. It`s impossible to be mature without having lived.
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Ok, so I spent a LOT of time looking at pictures of Amy Grant on the internet for this.  Unfortunately most of my old favs were taken before the days of digital photography, so most of them could not be found.  Those that I did find were scanned or photos of photos.  I just have to put a few up anyway because most of my wardrobe in the early 90’s was purchased in an attempt to be just like Amy Grant.  Looking at these pics answered a few personal “what was I thinking!”‘s.
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I remember the day this People magazine came out!  I nearly burned a hole in this picture which hung in my locker(s) for the next 2 years.  And yes, I managed to find myself a sweater like that.  If only I’d known I had curly hair…

diversity in dialogue

I was first intrigued by this article because I once had dreams of going to Amy Grant’s alma mater,  Vanderbilt University.  Then I got to the “biracial factor” at the end and I knew I had to post it.  I’m encouraged that this program has garnered such interested and seems to truly be seeking open and HONEST dialogue.  “Mandatory honesty.”  I like that.  I don’t know an institution can mandate honesty, but it’s a great idea!  And I think it’s also important to remember that once talking about race was considered racist.  I’ve totally been accused.

Race, not immigration is hot topic at Scarritt-Bennett’s Diversity in Dialogue program

By Janell Ross • THE TENNESSEAN • September 28, 2009

Prevailing social wisdom says race, politics and religion don’t make for civil conversation.

But this year, for the first time, the Scarritt-Bennett Center had a waiting list of people who want to participate in its multi-week group dialogues on race in America.

The program, dubbed Diversity in Dialogue, is one of two small local groups that meet over a six-week period to foster discussion and understanding of various hot-button topics.

The conversations are led by group facilitators trained by Scarritt-Bennett. They lay out a series of ground rules that include only one person speaking at a time, mandatory honesty, and what’s said in the circle stays in the circle unless specific permission to share is granted.

“Participation tends to go up and go down,” said Diana Holland, the program’s coordinator. But when race is being discussed “in the media or is part of the general national affairs or even seems to be a big local issue, we do see more interest.”

The 2008 election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, has led to many conversations behind closed doors about race, its meaning and its impact, said Tony Brown, a Vanderbilt University sociologist who specializes in social psychology, as well as racial and ethnic relations.

“There was in some circles so much regret that (Obama) was elected and fear about what sort of change this moment represents. Then, there is so much joy,” Brown said.

“I think the fact that both of these emotions were happening in large circles simultaneously just flooded the social system. That conversation couldn’t be held back to private spaces anymore.”

But having honest conversations about race isn’t easy or simple in a country where terms like “post-racial” are being thrown around after a long period in which talking about race was itself considered racist, Brown said.

Jessica Swader is a person who longs for a world where labels — particularly those attached to race — don’t matter. Swader, a biracial 22-year-old Vanderbilt University graduate student with a biracial husband and two children, said she too often finds herself on the receiving end of commentary about how her behavior and choices are “white.”

“I feel really strongly about racism,” she said. “You know my culture, my skin, they don’t define who I am or what I like. I define that.”

Swader says she is hoping to emerge from the six-week, two-hour sessions with a better understanding of the way that people think about biracial individuals — why there is a persistent demand for biracial individuals to identify as one race or another.

Swader says she arrived at the group’s first session last week with the assumption that the group of people who voluntarily came together to discuss race would be almost completely black. Instead she found what she described as a good mix of people younger and older, black and white.

The latest circle formed includes six black participants and eight white.

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