Saturday, April 23, 2005

Barbra Streisand

Barbra is an activist,artist,diva, intellectual.... I will write about her later.
Meanwhile, check out her trtuh alerts and her articles of interests.

I love,adore, and absolutely just worship Barbra Streisand (was that strong enough?.) She has been MY icon ever since I was perhaps ten years old-and I have always wanted to be her , emulate her--god, me and Barbra Streisand. I don't remember which I saw first, Funny Girl or The Way We Were--but I do know that by the time The Back to Broadway Album came out in 1992 I was already a seasoned Streisand devotee.

Born April 24th, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York on Pulaski Avenue (and I am not looking up any of this any of this information), Barbra attended Erasmus Hall High School where she was a classmate of Neil Diamond (Mae West was a graduate as well) and graduate from High School at the age of 16. Her first Broadway effort was I Can Get It For You Wholesale in which she played Ms. Marmelstein. She was 19 when she had her first Broadway show. This woman is an incredible and amazing talent. She is the only person to have won all five major awards in the entertainment industry (the Oscar, the Emmy, the Grammy, the Tony, and the Golden Globe), she is the first woman ever to write, direct, star in, and produce her own film "Yentl," as well she held the record for the longest time for the youngest recipient of the Grammy(which she first won in 1963 for The Barbra Streisand Album, her first album) and the youngest winner for the Best Actress Academy Award (which she won in 1968 for her first film, Funny Girl). She was the second-highest box-office female of the 1960s (behind Liz Taylor) and the top box office champ as well as the top female singer of the 1970s. ALas, Barbra still remains the most successful female singer in history--having more Gold albums than any other artist male or female and more Platinum and MultiPlatinum albums than any other female artist. She is ranked number six on the best selling artists of all time list (and ALL of you Mariah Carey people better back off--its there to She is also the only artist to have a number one hit album in all of four decades- (the 60s,70s,80s,and 90s).

Barbra is magnificent. I don't have any favorites of Barbra--I love it all. I love Funny Girl--and I think what I love most about Barbra Streisand is her passion, her integrity, her intellectual curiosity, and her bold and incredible presence -"Don't tell me not to live, just sit and putter. Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter." She is by far the most incredible force to reckoned with in Hollywood (that said, she is also the third wealthiest woman in the entertainment industry).AND she has never compromised on her principles--or her nose. She is a Jewish woman playing a white man's game--and she wins at it. All hail Barbra!

Nina Simone

1933-2003. God Bless Her Memory. The link in this title is a Review I wrote of her autobiography, I Put A Spell On You. I thought it was a fitting profile.

Some of my favorite songs by Nina include " Mississippi Goddamn" "Go To Hell" "Why? (Is The King of Love Dead)" --Oh, I just love Nina.

Elaine Brown

  • Elaine Brown

  • I love Elaine Brown, and have loved Elaine Brown ever since my most wonderful and dear, half-black, half-vietnamese Black panther radical friend, Wanda let me borrow a copy of her book, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story. Elaine exudes a raw strength and integrity, and displays a certain kittenish sexuality that I liken to that of Gloria Steinem's. Born in Philadelphia, Elaine attended the prestigious Thaddeus Stevens School of Practice and Philadelphia High School for Girls, and then briefly attended Temple University majoring in journalism before making her way out to the west coast where she got her start working as a PlayBoy Bunny in one of the PlayBoy lounges.There she became the mistress of well-known writer,ex-FBI agent, and Kennedy cousin, Jay Kennedy--whom she credits with her education and budding political awareness as a woman of color.

    In L.A., Brown became involved with the well-respected leftist newspaper and publication, Harambee. It is through her work with this paper that she became acquainted with and intimately involved with Huey P. Newton, one of the founders and the chairperson of the Black Panther Party. Elaine became a member of the Black Panther Party and quickly found herself in several key positions--inlcuding Chief Editor of the Black Panther Party newspaper, " The Black Panther-" which was the second best selling newspaper in the country during its heydey.

    In 1974, after Huey P. Newston fled to Cuba, Elaine Brown became the chairperson of the Black Panther Party. In her book, she gives light to the affect that the Black Panther party had on state, national, and international levels-as it had chapters in at least thirty countries around the globe. She points to the social welfare programs started by the Party which were coopted by the federal government (such as the Free Lunch, Free Breakfast, and Headstart programs), all of the free clinics started and funded by the party-- and the fact that she--at the helm of the Black Panther Party--played a very big role in getting Jerry Brown elected governor of California and Lionel Wilson as mayor of Oakland, California. Elaine Brown left the Black Panther Party in 1977, relocating to France.

    Elaine Brown is a beautiful, multi-talented spirit. Along with all of these activities, Brown is also a composer who composed several songs affiliated with the Black Power Movement. She is now a Phd, affliated with Morehouse College in Atlanta.
  • I should take the next few posts and detail some of the people that I admire, and provide a profile for them.

    THe King's English

    Excerpted from August Wilson's essay "The Ground on Which I Stand"-1998 the Webster's Third New Internation Dictionary

    BLACK....outrageously wicked, dishonorable, connected with the devil, menacing, sullen,hostile,unqualified, illicit,illegal violators of public regulations, affected by some undesirable condition, etc. from blemish, moral stain or impurity, outstandlingly righteous, innocent, not marked by malignant influence, notable auspicious, fortunate, decent, a sterling man.

    Such is the linguistic environment that informs the distance that separates blacks and whites in American and which the cultural imperialists, who cannot imagine a life existing and even flourising outside their benevolent control, embrace.
    I am halfway through August Wilson's "The Ground On Which I Stand," and what I have to say at this point is that I love August Wilson. I just saw someone being arrested. It was a white woman, I looked out of the window to see if it was someone of color--their is enough racism in this town. This police state and the White Male authority figure that it upholds....It made me think of Angela Davis-- I have thought about her experience of being captured by the FBI after that most glorious period of "Free Angela" being shouted across the world- and her position as a Black woman/of color--inside the police state. There have been many to suffer as such.... We hail her as a demi-god now--she is a most celebrated figure, but as Bettina Aptheker points out in her book--the threat against Angela was very real--if she had been convicted (by the all white, all male jury she faced in 1972)she could have faced the death penalty. It is the agony and the extasy that we admire...
    Today is my nephew's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALBIE!;-)


    I was in Donna Joe Whitley's class....and I cried when we were reading about how white policemen killed a bunch of Slavic workers during coal miner's strike-- and and the people in the class tried to tell me that they were targeted not because they were Slavic, but because they were a "marginzalized group." I don't know if that is laughable or not.

    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Ok, I just spent the last twenty five minutes trying to figure out how to put links into my link section-- I must say I gave up in frustration.. However, I do want to say as well that I think it is a very interesting and useful tool---this coding...however, I think one needs to be ware of the computer culture.....It is technical, and not very humane...It should be a tool, not a way of life.
    I am thinking now of the many faces that I can wear.....especially on I am a writer--I make up characters all of the time. Alas, Just thinking of this in terms of Consciousness and Concsciousnesses---Susan once told me that I suffer from a triple consciousness which, I perhaps equate with what Cornel West calls a "the triple crisis of self-recognition." Alas, I even further see myself--and the expression of my identity--very much fully within the context of what Barbra stated on the Actor's Studio-- in terms of having a sensibility-- a sensitiveness which allows you to absorb different things from the world,to be aware of that which others don't pick up on.....This is what makes an artist for sure. Sally Field discusses the process that she goes through in preparing for a film as taking razor blades and scraping away at herself, leaving little bloody marks--through which she can absorb the character that she needs to inhabit. I think this is an interesting discussion of the idea of consciousness, the nature of Consciousness, and how people choose to identify themselves.... Identity politics...and the nature of the political......
    The Crazy Black Nigger is something that scares white people to death. God, Malcolm X is our beloved.... I will continue that train of thought later. But alas, that which does not fit into what is "white normal" scares the people in the power structure shitless....
    I wanted to write about retirement teas. I have been to quite a few in my time. When I was little, they were an elegant fare-- semi-formal with old ladies that smelled of Estee Lauder and other perfumes. They were great. I also remember a tea that my Aunt Bea gave once. Aunt Bea was Aun't Carolyn's sister, who was Uncle Arhcie's wife. It was the most elegant fare I had witnessed-- and still leaves quite an impression on me. She held it at her house--which was an elegant old house with wooden paneling, soft drapery, and plenty of sunlight. The food was excellent, and the china, crystal, and silver which we used were incredibly ornate. I remember she w as a wonderful and gracious hostess... A beautiful memory....

    Link to my profile

    There are several things I need to learn--patience is one of them. I have a strong endurance, and when I was a child I think I was somewhat patient--but I am at my string's end. This system has got to end... Alas, I haven't blogged and I want to, need to, about Adrian. Adrian is a beautiful girl-- light-skinned, real down home Black girl-from Detroit. When she walked into the library and we bonded, it was a beautiful thing. Her story of her experiences as a graduate student here at this school is one that reminisces with not only me, but every other Black graduate student that I know at this university. The psychic stress of being of color in a predominantly white AND Racist environment (which, I won't hesitate to say is inherently tied to its conservativism)is something that is harrowing and can kill you if you let it. And one needs to talk about it and share stories and experiences. bell hooks talks talks more explicitly about it than any other Black academic/intellectual that I have encountered thus far--and she speaks to the many, many men and women of color who have given up or altogether avoided institutions of higher education because of their racism.... THIS MUST STOP! I dont care what it takes and I dont care what it entails, but this white male power structure has got to go! Not one more generation of "Othered" peoples should have to experience this.... and they ask why people of color don't go into higher education at the same rates as others? and I am sure the same is for Latinos and asians. I look at my own family-- most of my aunts and uncles have advanced degrees--my grandmother worked on her masters, but had a nervous breakdown the year before my mother was born. I refuse to let it happen to me.....
    One given-- I am not here to make you comfortable.
    God-- The Yelp I Gave! I am over run with palpitations! Elaine Brown is COMING to CAMPUS AHHH GOOD !!!!!!!! I can die a little bit happy now.

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    My family tree-not complete

    I want to write, before I forget, and in case i am in need of something other than my memory. The children of my great grandfather, John Archie, and his wife Sadie Mae are Earnestine, Bertie,Thelma(my grandmother),Johnnie, Sadie, Gladys (Betty), Lawrence, and Archie. DeRamus and Goodson combined, John Archie Bradson DeRamus and Sadie Mae Goodson.I was telling Clara this morning about my Uncle Fess, my Aunt Bertie's husband, who was principle of Autaugaville High School for approximately fifty years. In my grandmother's and my Uncle Lawrence's time, when they were in school-e the number of Doctors and Lawyers, and people with advanced degrees came out of their classes---this is all due to Fess. The name of "Fess" Sterling James McDavid, is one that is revered in Autauga County....That said, I had two Fess's. Fess McDavid and then my great grandmother's brother, Fess Goodson--Macaulay Ware. McDavid's first wife was named Mary Foster McDavid, and like he was to my aunt, she was several years his senior.My grandmother loves to mock her. She says that when she would introduce herself in public she would state "My name is Mrs. Mary Foster McDavid, the first Negro woman president of the National PTA, the State Supervisor ofthe JEAN Teacher's Association, and the first Negro womam from the state of Alabama to sing with Wings Over Jordan through the National Hookup."A four line introduction.-)They had a school named for her in Montgomery, but it was torn down in the late 80s or early 90s. For those, my relatives perhaps, that are interested... I found her online....
    The link is also in the title... Ehh, computers.

    Peace Be to All
    It's a beautiful morning out. I have felt the need for the past few days to describe and write about my uncle's house. My favorite part of this house was the single room up the backstairs, off of the kitchen--wooden stairs and room with a bright, sunny view on every side--onto the street and the backyard. It also has it's own private bathroom. I often imagined that it was a former slave quarters--and the little secret passageway that connected it to the other set of stairs in the main part of the house was a place where slaves hid, their own private escape. My sister scared the shit out of me once with this passageway. She was always the one to discover the hidden things.... I don't even remember going through the passageway-- I did go into the closet. This beautiful, antebellum-esque structure, even though I believe it wasn't built until the 1920s sparked my imagination and was definitely a place where I could rest,relax, find peace, and ease into my own selfhood and mind. There is nothing better than sitting out in my unc;es garden, in his wooden gazebo surrounded by tall trees that covered the sun, and flowers growing from every limb and out of the ground...It is beautiful and I want to be back there right now. To lie in the middle of his gazebo and feel the air hitting my face and feel my skin get flushed and tingle with the blowing of the wind, with flowers in my hands and books strewn about.....

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Read my opinions on epinions....
    Tonight, I want to talk about Deconstruction (how sweet it is). And how Deconstruction is a tool that can help us lead ourselves towards self-discovery and liberation. ( I am glad that I have gotten to the point where I can start a sentence with and). I want to educate tonight--not teach a lesson-but educate, inform, and inspire. Let's look at the word "civilized." What does it mean? And what are we inferring when we call something "civilized"? What is a civilized nation? The "rules of civilization." Often people think of Western Civilization, and ideas of advancement and culture. The word civil means peace.....hence, Civilization... If you think of this society that we live in--the United States--in that context--what is civil-ized about it? And when we uphold it as a beakon of civilization--or when we adhere to the standards and codes of civilization, what are we upholding? What is it that we have invested or that we are trying to protect when defend or adhere to the way in which this society operates?

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    After viewing a threat on about racism, I decided to blog one of my own experiences with race at Purdue. One of my very first experiences-not with racism, but with the unprogressiveness that is inherently characteristic of Purdue. Alas, it speaks quite a bit more as well to where we have to go as Afr0-Americans in order to develop our integrity to its fullest extent.

    In my first class here at Purdue, American Studies 601, we, unfortunately, partook of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn which I have no interests in and, in my estimation, is wholly given too much attention as a piece of literature. I have no interests in reading about some little boy floating down a river on a raft.

    With this in mind, I went into this (what turned out to be) three week discussion concerning the book prepared for the longhaul of boredom. However, what it turned into was a three week discussion of the word Nigger.

    Now, at first, I didn't say much at all--as I have nothing to say really about Huckleberry Finn and the words that Twain uses in the book matter very little to me because of that. However, the situation developed on perhaps the third of fourth class session spent on this book that other Blacks in the class were becoming sensitive to the discussion-mind you at this point in time the word nigger had been uttered at least three times out of most of the mouths in that room.
    What happened next was an attempt at censorship--which wasn't so much a "Please, could we refrain from using that word," but a verbal beating of the people in the class (white) who were using the term.

    Kurt, I don't think he will mind me using his name-- was telling about the way in which he addressed the usage of the word when he previously had taught the book--having taught High School English for about twenty years perhaps. At this point, one of my fellow black classmates lit into him and verbally chastised him for using the word--in a very authoritative and abusive manner. Alas, after this discussion continued for a little while--a couple of my classmates--one white girl (Stacy) and one jewish girl broke into tears-- I suppose feeling something towards white guilt. Mhm. Well, ok, whatever. But alas, I didn't think it was wholly progressive to censor anything-- and as the situation became such that people were afraid to utter the word in the class-- I dared to utter it. And not only utter it-- but I began to ask my fellow black classmates--why would you attempt to censor this word? I pointed them in the direction of the lines of Sonia Sanchez's poem "Nigger you say? That word ain't shit to me man.... I will even spell it for you-- N-I-G-G-E-R. You are way behind the set....."

    And alas, not only that--but being a writer I know the power of words--but I wanted to point to them that it was not good or productive to spend one's time trying to ask white people to not call you a nigger. I think it is absolutely awful, amazing, and ridiculous that the rhetoric coming out of the Black community in terms of this power structure and the ways in which they are caught in it is "You can shoot me in the streets, you can disenfranchise me, you can determine where I can and cannot work and can and cannot live, but please oh please don't call me a Nigger." My repsonse is that as long as you continue to allow these people to walk over you---you are the Nigger. When Black people as a whole--not even thinking about this country---come into their Integrity and their Self-Respect and start to take control of their own lives and start demanding that the power structure deal with them on their own terms....then that will be a great day.

    As an afterthought, they say that the man that ran the cotton used to say of my great great grandfather , when he would take his cotton to the market to sell- "You hurry up and you get Morgan Goodson out of here, and you make sure his accounts is right, because he is a crazy nigger and you dont know just what he might do." I think that was quite a good thing.
    I want to write about my connection to the feminist spirit. Beyond my feminine soul (which bears little marking of the male body which it is in), I am deeply rooted within a strong, woman-centered background. Alongside my matrileneal lineage(hence the fact that I identify myself with my mother's mother's family- I made my father mad once when I told him that I wanted to change my name to DeRamus) I have a direct line of human connection to the great spirits of Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich (whom I wish to meet- I will get to Chicago AND spend the night with Peter) through Mab Segrest, who is alumna at my Alma Mater and who is the protege of these two spirits. Mab paid me one of the greatest compliments I have ever recieved..... Also, my very real and personal bond with Cella, Dr. Gray, and Greg (also a feminine spirit) form the core of my awareness and consciousness in a wholly political context. They are the lights through which I see.
    When I was little, as I rode the bus to school every morning, I used to imagine I saw my ancestors standing outside of the windows waving at me and welcoming me along the way to school each morning. Especially when I went to Autaugaville. Their smiling faces greeted me each morning. Like Alice, I communicate with my ancestors.
    This poem is my Mantra. I remember when I first read this poem. I was a sophomore in college and I was sitting in Greg's class (the god of all gods), which was our Justice seminar, and he asked if I would read it. I did--having not read it before, and I loved it. I immediately took it back to my room and called my friend Rebecca who came down and we read it together--and cried and howled over it. It has been one of the most inspiring and defining pieces that I have ever encountered.

    June Jordan: Poem About My Rights

    Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
    my head about this poem about why I can't
    go out without changing my clothes my shoes
    my body posture my gender identity my age
    my status as a woman alone in the evening/
    alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
    the point being that I can't do what I want
    to do with my own body because I am the wrong
    sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
    suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
    or far into the woods and I wanted to go
    there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
    about children or thinking about the world/all of it
    disclosed by the stars and the silence;
    I could not go and I could not think and i could not
    stay there
    as I need to be
    alone because I can't do what I want to do with my
    and who in the hell set things up
    like this
    and in France they say if a guy penetrates
    but does not ejaculate the he did not rape me
    and if after stabbing him and if after screams if
    after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
    a hammer to his head if even after that
    he and his buddies fuck me after that
    then I consented and there was
    no rape because finally you understand finally
    they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
    wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
    to be who I amwhich is exactly like South Africa
    penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
    Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
    Pretoria ejaculates
    what will the evidence look like the proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
    and if after Namibia and if after angola and if after Zimbabwe
    and if after all my kinsmen and women resist even to
    self-immolation of the villages and if after thatwe lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
    claim my consent:Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people ofthe wrong skin on the wrong continent and what in the hell is everybody being so reasonable about
    and according to the Times this week
    back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
    and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so theykilled him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
    and before that it was my father on the campus
    of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
    to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
    was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin and wrong
    gender identity and he was paying my tuition andbefore that
    it was my father saying I was wrong say that
    I should have been a boy because he wanted one/aboy and that I should have been lighter skinned andthat I should have had straighter hair and that
    I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
    just be one/a boy and before that
    it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
    my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
    to let the books loose to let them loose in otherwords
    I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
    and the problems of South Africa and the problems
    of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
    America in general and the problems of the teachers
    and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the socialworkers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very familiar with the problems because the problems
    turn out to be
    meI am the history of rape
    I am the history of the rejection of
    who I am
    I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
    my self
    I am the history of battery assault and limitless
    armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
    and my body and my soul and whether it's about walking out at night
    or whether it's about the love I feel or
    whether it's about the sanctity of my vagina or
    the sanctity of my national boundariesor the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
    of each and every desire
    that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
    and indisputably single and singular heartI have been raped
    be-cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the wrong need the wrong dream
    the wrong geographic
    the wrong satorial
    I have been the meaning of rape
    I have been the problem everyone seeks to
    eliminate by forced penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/but let this be unmistakable this poem
    is not consent I do not consent to my mother to my father to the teachers to
    the F.B.I to South africa to Bedford-Stuy
    to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
    I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
    My name is my own my own my own
    and I can't tell you who in the hell set things up like this
    but I can tell you that from now on my resistence
    my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
    may very well cost you your life

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Yesterday I went to Sophia's birthday party (Zoiya's little girl) and I sat there at the table and was awed and intrigued by some of the things that I saw. Mexicans have long, rich, and beautiful hair. I knew this before, but I will say now that I have a renewed appreciation for it after I observed it yesterday. It is an Indian trait. It put me in mind of my grandmother and her sisters. All of them had long and beautiful hair. My Aunt Earnestine's hair flowed all the way down her back, almost to her thighs, even at eighty years old. When they were younger, the DeRamus girls were something to see. To be a Deramus, one of "them thar things" as they say, was to be something. The Deramuses are a beautiful people. Beautiful, educated, and always presumed to have money. This is not the case. I will continue that thought....
    Josh told me that I was beyond the pale.... Ha!.... I certainly am. Anyway, my thesis is going well...I have to do some revisions (not that major, but still work). I am going to focus my energies into getting this done while I let my class work on their project. I am so glad I have two weeks.....