“The Book of Negroes”

Unfortunately, BET’s miniseries “The Book of Negroes” did not get as much fanfare as say the “Love and Hip Hop”, “Real Housewives”, or “Bad Girls Club” franchises. I have to admit the only reason I heard about it was because I watch “Being Mary Jane” and “The Game”.

For those of you who have never heard of it, “The Book of Negroes” is a 3 part miniseries based on the true life of Aminata Diallo, an African woman who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery.  What is unique about Aminata is that she wrote The Book of Negroes, a ledger of free Blacks that lived in New York, most of which sailed to Nova Scotia to escape the injustices of America.  Aminata was an educated woman who was not afraid to back down from anyone.  In a time when slaves were to “know their place”, she demanded respect.

This miniseries is one of the best things I have seen on television.  It was well written, included amazing acting, and was well produced.  For me, it made me think about the Black community as a whole and how we are looked at by other cultures.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the separation of the Black family.  Chikura, a young African boy that Aminata met right before she was kidnapped, found Aminata once they were adults on plantations in South Carolina.  They ended becoming husband and wife, only to be torn apart NUMEROUS times.  And both times Aminata gave birth to their children, they were not together.  The great thing is that Chikura ALWAYS found her, which to me shows that even though their family was not always together and was broken many times, Chikura never gave up on her.  Not to mention Aminata never had eyes for any other man.  Something else I noticed were the enslaved Blacks.  It’s no secret, if you know the history of the US, that whites commonly referred to slaves and Blacks as “animals”.  Watching slaves in chains, practically dying from thirst and starvation, I couldn’t help but think that there was something animalistic about them.  When given water and/or food, with no utensils but their fingers…how else is one to act?  I wonder how non-Blacks would think if they saw (or knew) that their ancestors were placed in chains, having to use the bathroom on themselves, using their fingers to eat.  It’s a super disheartening and disturbing sight.

There are some of you, a friend of mine and Southern Dad included, who believe that “I’m tired of slave movies” or “I don’t want to see anything like that”, and you have no interest to watch “The Book of Negroes”.  The thing that I will say to you (and the same thing I said to them) is that this miniseries is SO much more than a slave movie.  It’s an opportunity to learn about our history and heritage and a story that is not widely known and that was not shared in any history class you had in school.  So, if you’re snowed in (like I am today), you should definitely start watching it. Or look up the actual book.  You will learn so much.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Advertisements

A Story

I changed the title of this post about 3 times; I may change it again before I hit “publish”.  (I did.) This weekend I had an AMAZING time with my girls!  We laughed, we joked, we danced, we met up with old friends, we met some new friends, we hung out with my family, and my linesister and I almost got lost in the street game (that’s a post for another day).  All in all, I am so glad I went away on this mini-vacay!  I almost didn’t want to come back…almost.

Before I left DC, I heard a voice speak something into my existence-something I hadn’t thought about in awhile.  But, as we are proned to do at times, I didn’t pay it any attention.  When we were in NC this weekend, the same voice spoke this same thing into my existence again.  Not necessarily louder, but definitely with more force.  And with so much force that I started paying attention.  When we are on the right track and start doing the right thing, God will come to us.  And we must listen and pray and talk to Him to ensure first that we are doing the right thing AND doing it the right way.

Yes, I know, short post, but I had to get this off my chest-when God speaks to us, it would behoove us to listen.  Sometimes we may have to leave our comfort zone in order to receive our blessings.  And when He speaks to us, we cannot ignore him.  That’s when His voice gets a little louder, His hints not so subtle.  But why would we want to shoot ourselves in the foot and not receive blessings that were made specifically for us?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

P.S.  Yes, I know I’m a slacker.  It’s the 19th day of Black History Month, and I have yet to highlight an entrepreneur.  The highlights are coming-just pray for me. 🙂  Also, scratch what I said in an earlier post about doing things (i.e. volunteering and joining organizations) to potentially have my mate meet me. (This comes from putting the right thing in your spirit and opening yourself up to hear the right things.) Like Ruth, if I’m focusing on bettering myself and living my life, all of that other stuff will come.

Today’s Black History Month Fact: Edward Sawyer Cooper, M.D. was elected as the first Black president of the American Heart Association in 1992.

Is Black History Month Still Relevant?

In a word, yes.  Today’s generation of children, tweens, and teenagers are so far removed from the ills that were suffered at the hands of segregation and racism.  I’m only one generation removed from attending segregated schools.  I have been called the “N” word and not by my homeboy/girl while we playing around or playing rap music.

Just because we’re grown or some people think racism doesn’t excist anymore doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t be made aware of the contributions made by Africans and African-Americans.  We’re inventors-we’re educators-we’re leaders-we’re politicians-we’re royalty.  I think people, especially our young people, forget that.  How many of us have heard of Garrett A. Morgan, Queen Nefertiti, Ethel Waters, Langston Hughes, Tutankhaten (better known as King Tut), or Shirley Chisolm?  We may have heard of them, but do we know the significant roles they played in this world?

When I was in the fifth grade, Southern mom ordered a series of books for me that related to notable Blacks.  (It’s my desire to pass them down to Southern children whenever I have them.)  There were about 10 books in the set, and each one discussed famous inventors, musicians, politicians, doctors, etc.  In middle school, we had do a report on a famous person.  As I figured most of my black classmates would choose Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X, the only 2 Black people that everyone seemed to mention when discussing Black History.  I chose Duke Ellington.  I dared to be different and to educate my teacher on someone she may not have known about (at least that’s what I thought in my 13 year old, egotistical mind :)).  I did get an A on that project.  I even did a paper on the Black Panther Party.  I believe I received an A on that assignment as well.

I took it upon myself, and still take it upon myself, to learn all I could about Black history.  I will never know everything, so why would I force myself to stop learning?  Black History is still being made.  We have Women’s History Month, Asian Heritage Month, and even Native American Heritage Month.  These months are not becoming obsolete, and neither is Black History Month.

Even as a child, I took it upon myself to educate those around me.  And I think I did a pretty good job.  I still continue to do the same thing today.  (Sometimes I think I really should have gone into the family “business” and become an educator!)  In an unofficial way, I am educating people-my readers, my followers, my friends.  But just because it’s 2013 doesn’t mean we stop learning about Black people; it also doesn’t mean that we stop striving to reach new heights and do great and awesome things to make some history ourselves.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month Fact: The Stono Rebellion commenced on September 9, 1739 in South Carolina and was the largest slave revolt in the British mainland colonies before the American Revolution.  In response to the rebellion, the South Carolina legislature passed the Negro Act of 1740, which prohibited the education, assembly, and movement of slaves.

Weekend Recap

So many things have happened since Friday that I have to put it all in one post, lest I drag everything out.  This post may be a little lengthy and reminiscent of when I first started this blog.  You’ve been warned…

First, a HUGE congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens!!!  They are my #2 team, after the Jaguars, of course.  I’m kinda mad that I didn’t take any pictures last night in my Ray Lewis shirt… And no matter WHERE I go, it’s always the old men that end of talking to me…but I digress.  It was an awesome game!  I almost thought that Baltimore was gonna mess around and let San Francisco come back like they did during the NFC Championship against Atlanta.  But Ray, Joe, and them held them off (barely) to win Super Bowl XLVII!  All in all, it was a great game to watch, and I stayed at the party until the end, even though my girls left me high and dry!

Next, can we talk about Beyonce?!?!  Now, I’m a HUGE Queen Bey fan, but treating her like an idol (Beysus) is NOT hot!  I’m about to start quoting scripture, but you guys know what the Bible says about “…not having any other gods before me…”  I was excited to see Kelly and Michelle on stage with her as well.   Of course, I’m making plans to see her when she comes to DC on July 29.  I’ve already got my crew together, and I’m SUPER excited!  I’ll be playing the Beyonce Station all day on Pandora! (I just hope I don’t start singing out loud at my desk…)  I also cannot forget Alicia Keys singing the National Anthem and Jennifer Hudson performing during the Pre-game Show.  I felt so inspired seeing these talented Black women perform on a large, international stage.  (And yes, I know we are not a fan of some of the personal choices that Ms. Keys has made, but this is a time of positivity.  Plus, who am I to judge???)  And speaking of feeling inspired…

I was in AWE on Friday evening watching the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards.  I made a conscience effort (and decision) to sit down and watch this awards show.  And I’m glad I did.  Kerry Washington (my girl) racked up, Harry Belafonte is untouchable, AND Diahann Carroll is still amazing at 77!  As a senior in high school, I made a decision and stated that I would not become a member of the NAACP due to their tourism boycott of the state of South Carolina. Even though the boycott is still in effect, I stated this weekend that I would consider joining the NAACP.  Watching the awards ceremony made me so proud and excited to be a Black American.  To see the accomplishments of my people from the past and the present brought joy to my heart.  Tears were brought to my eyes as I heard Diahann Carroll speak about Kerry Washington as the younger actress was presented with the President’s Award.  I was ecstatic to see Vice Admiral Michelle Howard win the Chairman’s Award; watching her story made me think of two of my favorite Black, female sailors-my “auntie” Madeline and my other play aunt/mother/friend and soror “Queen Tutt”. 🙂  And hearing about the things that Mr. Belafonte has done and continues to do in this country, specifically for young Black boys, made me realize that WE all could stand to do a little more to better our communities.  And hearing him speak about the ills still affecting our people showed a passion and truth that not too many of us are willing to face.

So, all in all, this weekend was great.  And busy…  But I won’t complain.  What were some of your favorite moments from the weekend?  Did you catch any of the big shows?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Fact:  In 1899, African-American golf fan Dr. George Franklin Grant received a patent for the world’s first golf tee. Grant, however, never marketed his invention, instead giving the tees away to friends and fellow golfers. (Shout out to Southern Dad and Southern Uncles for being avid golfers BEFORE there was a Tiger Woods. :))

My Thoughts on the Oscars

Happy Monday!  I initially wasn’t going to watch the Oscars, but my neighbor invited me to a little party she was having, so I thought I should go.  Besides the young lady who had to remind us every five seconds that she was from LA and knew somebody connected to whatever actor/actress was on the screen/reminding us that people in LA are shallow/or whatever other anecdote she wanted to share about her hometown, I had a great time! 

I think James Franco and Anne Hathaway did a great job; I actually didn’t even know they were hosting until I started watching the pre-show.  (TV hasn’t been big on my things to do lately.)  Franco is definitely a 21st century James Dean.  Hathaway grew up to be a lovely young woman, who is actually kind of funny.  I was happy for Natalie Portman (you all know how I feel about “Black Swan”), and I knew “The King’s Speech” would win Best Picture.  I’m glad “Inception” got some awards, because it was definitely a great movie.  Watching the Oscars made me want to watch “Blue Valentine”, “Winter’s Bone” and “The Fighter”.  I’m also kind of tempted to watch “Rabbit Hole” (even though I’m no Nicole Kidman fan) and “The King’s Speech”. 

Can we talk about something that was missing from the Oscars?  Black people.  Yes, Oprah was on hand to present the award for Best Documentary, they recognized Lena Horne, and Halle Berry said some nice words about the famed actress, but not one African-American was nominated.  Now, I can’t honestly think of any African-American movies or roles that came out this season worthy of having a nomination…except “For Colored Girls”.  Maybe the story was too much for the board, but there should have been at least one nomination from that movie-Thandie Newton.  She was AMAZING in that movie!   Besides “For Colored Girls”, were there any films by, for, starring African-Americans?  If so, why weren’t they nominated?  And why is it so hard for us to cross-over into mainstream America?  I would like to say I’m so very proud of “Essence” magazine for having their “Blacks in Hollywood” event.  It seems apparent that if we don’t recognize ourselves, no one will. 

What did you guys think of the Oscars?  Love it?  Hate it?  Happy with the winners?  Feel like some people were snubbed and should have been nominated?  The floor is yours.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Today’s Black History Month Fact:

Harriet Ida Pickens and Francis Wills were the first African-American female Navy officers.  In November of 1944, these women graduated as WAVES Officers from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (Women’s Reserve) at Northampton, Massachusetts.

Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 6

Today’s featured entrepreneur grabbed life by the horns and kicked it in the gut.  She didn’t allow a setback, something that would devastate most people, defeat her.  She has taken the art of being a woman, being confidant, and being a go-getter work for her…and for others.

Shanel Cooper-Sykes has been a lifelong entrepreneur.  Her first business that truly prospered was SCS Media Publishing, which was started in 2009 and still exists today.  Her highly acclaimed book, Stilettos in the Kitchen, was first published as an e-book in May of 2009.  (Might I add she began getting orders for the book before it was even finished.)  The first edition printing was done in August of that same year and is almost sold out.  Shanel’s book, which is a mix of recipes, financial advice, make-up tips, and so much more, was inspired by her mentor Les Brown.  After moving to New York, she became depressed.  She would cook and stay in the kitchen, but she stopped speaking to people and became a hermit.  After reconnecting with her mentor, he told her that in order for her to help herself, she was going to have to help others.  That is how her book was born. 

Her book has now grown to Stiletto University, which will open for enrollment during the Summer of 2011.  This school will consist of extraordinary women who will be taught by Shanel in a weekly on-line course.  This will allow women from all over to experience the knowledge of Shanel first-hand.  There will be activities and homework that the ladies will need to complete as well as participating in community service.  With Stiletto University, Shanel hopes to create a sorority of women who are educated, independent, and empowered women who will be recognizable to all just by the way they carry themselves. 

I appreciate Shanel for allowing me the opportunity to interview her.  It was a pleasure to speak with her.  If you want to know more about Shanel, you must go to her site here.   Everyone can learn a thing or two from this extraordinary and amazing woman.  I might cook in some stilettos this weekend! 😉  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today’s Black History Month fact is about Harriet E. Wilson.  Wilson is credited as being the first female African-American novelist.  Her novel “Our Nig” was first published in the United States in 1859 and was rediscovered in 1982 by professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Young Entrepreneur Series- Take 5

Photographer Extraordanaire Jerome Pearson

The gentleman I’m highlighting today is multi-talented and is quickly rising to the top of his game.  With just a camera and a dream, this guy has turned a love for art into something great. 

Jerome Pearson of J Pearson Photography is a photographer and media journalist.  Based in Atlanta, GA, Jerome started his business in June of 2010.  In less than 8 months time, Jerome has been an official photographer for the 2010 BET Awards, 2010 Soul Train Awards, 2010 Sean John Fashion Show, the Trey Songz and Monica Tour, Usher Raymond’s annual “New Start” Award ceremony, Keri Hilson’s album release event, and the 2011 Trumpet Awards.   At the tender age of 5, Jerome began drawing and painting.  This hobby followed him into his collegiate years, where he advanced to drawing and painting on clothes.  His artistic ability was apparent to everyone, including his big brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., who gave him the nickname “Krayola”.  After Jerome established himself, he decided “to purchase a camera and create beautiful portraits with a lens.” 

Fellow photographers that Jerome looks up to are Colin Plush Myers of Orangeburg, SC,  Dominic McKelvey of Charleston, SC, and Keith Cephus, who is the main person that is responsible for Jerome becoming a photographer.  (You can check out Keith’s work at http://www.keithcephus.com/.)  Jerome has stated “he (Keith) pretty much shared info with me such as what type of equipment to purchase and software to use.”  Jerome’s dream shoot would be a destination wedding on “an exotic beach somewhere in Costa Rica, the Caribbean, or Mexico, or just a beach setting where the water is actually blue and the sand is white.”   When asked who some of his models have been, Jerome shared the following- “Mainly my beautiful wife Jennifer-she was my very first model. I have also had sessions with Miss Korea, Keri Hilson, Roscoe Dash, Pastor Troy, B.O.B., and Verse Simmonds.”  Jerome would love to do a session with Lisa Wu Hartwell “just for the simple fact that I admire her hustle, ambition, and drive; she’s also a beautiful model inside and out. My wife and I are currently working on getting her on the cover of “Mood” magazine, which is my wife’s fashion magazine that focuses on fashion and entertainment in Atlanta, GA.”  While there are currently no plans for Jerome to do photography full-time, he’s content doing this on a part-time basis, until maybe he retires from his full-time job with the Federal government. 

Jerome states he likes Lisa Hartwell’s ambition and hustle, but I can’t help but to admire his as well.  This man is on the move and continues to make things happen for himself and his business.  If you’re interested in booking Jerome for a session, you can find him on Twitter at @Photo_J or on the web at http://www.jpearsonphotography.com/.  I want to thank Jerome for agreeing to be interviewed.  And I need to get on the good foot and schedule my photo shoot!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today’s Black History Month fact:

Moneta Sleet, Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1969.  He was the first African American man to win a Pulitzer and the first African American to win the prize for Journalism.  The photo that afforded him this honor is well-known to us all; it’s the touching photo of Coretta Scott King holding her youngest daughter, Bernice, at the funeral of her husband Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.