Category Archives: Cultural
It’s often said that we’re inspired to action by what we feel. Not coincidentally, the combination of events, circumstances, hopes, dreams, loves and losses in life, provide a potent poignancy to our association of, feelings and music.
Who among us doesn’t link special people, times in our lives, with particular music or music genres? It is not unusual that the poetry and prose of music enhances our experiences, or that certain experiences are profound because of how music reflects their meaning.
So here we are in the midst of Valentine’s Day, celebrating the enduring spirit of love and it’s possibilities. If we’re fortunate, we have fond memories of loves won, lost or desired, that are inextricably linked with certain music or songs. Certainly such confluences are not limited to pleasure. Valentine’s Day also happens within the framework of another enduring commemoration, Black History Month.
Music and struggle for social change, are viscerally and importantly linked in ways that speak to the souls of the affected. Often, such music can also penetrate the defenses of the uninterested. Anyone who walks through Central Park’s Strawberry Field’s, will undeniably find that John Lennon’s “Imagine” or “Give Peace a Chance” are quintessential anti-war songs, that influenced the politics of millions. Black History Month had its beginnings in 1926 in the United States, when noted historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson created the holiday with the hope that it eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history. Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday. Wikipedia, (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_History_Month)
When compared to the depth and breadth of the unprecedented atrocities of the African-American Holocaust and their ongoing effects, a mere month seems wholly inadequate and diminutive. Certainly music has been and is, a necessary expressive inspirational outlet. Depending on how old one is, particular artists or songs may resonate with a particular generation in the struggle. Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”, John Coltrane’s “Alabama”, or Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” may be favorites.
But how do these two enduring frameworks, Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, intersect in terms of musical expression?
In my view, that process must be founded with the legacy of struggle, while infusing it with a contemporary passion for freedom and creativity. A background in classic Jazz and Blues, blended with an application of hip-hop and pop, and a tasteful sensibility of how to reach diverse cultural audiences, would be a start. Add to the mix, a touch of genius virtuosity and you have pianist, Robert Glasper.
I recently saw The Robert Glasper Experiment perform at The Harlem Stage. His approach to expression is superbly attuned to address the complexity of struggle while embracing a visionary diversity that is aptly described as, emancipatory love.
Mr. Glasper is a winner of the 2012 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, “Black Radio”.
Submitted for your consideration is “Enoch’s (Inaugural) Meditation”
That “A House is not just a Home” resonates for more reasons that the wonderful Luther Vandros song. The house we live in, is often far more than a location to which mail is delivered. It creates memories that will ultimately last a lifetime along with family, friends and the communities surrounding the places we call home.
Of course, a significant back story typically begins long before one can idealize about the benefits of owning one’s own home or renting. Issues like kids having their own rooms, wanting room to entertain or having relatives or friends staying over, being financially stable, finding the right house in an affordable neighborhood are factors. Being able to secure financing and a mortgage is key. Honest and sustained financial sacrifice is where it starts.
These are the circumstances, often known as the “rights of passage” along the path to having a share of “The American Dream”. Once a share of The Dream is secured, it often becomes a matter of managing the accrued resources of home ownership to make The Dream manifest.
Home ownership can be a commitment to strengthening families and good citizenship, because it provides people with more responsibility and control over their living environment. The individual and local incentives to maintaining property and public spaces become clear with the qualitative and financial benefits of attending better schools and having higher aspirations, amongst people who share the same goals.
Home value appreciation, mortgage interest deduction, property tax deductions, low interest equity loans, capital gain exclusions and preferential tax treatment add up to far more than a current year financial gain.
These are the essential starting points to passing on wealth from one generation to the next. The current financial stress we all face does not make this an easy task. However, our parents didn’t have a “walk in the park” and they still managed to overcome, in order to help our generation achieve some of our goals. Despite the ongoing housing mess, the current low interest rates makes ownership a compelling opportunity to create wealth for the next generation. Accordingly, I think the legacy our parents left us informs our responsibility to make similar or greater efforts, on behalf of our kids and their kids.
Ultimately, the decision to rent or own are individual choices that have their own consequences. Nonetheless, the following is a bit of a historical primer that applied yesterday, as much as it does today, on how some helped create opportunities for those to come. For those who have wondered about this issue, this is a worthwhile look: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW764dXEI_8&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Given the rampant record of corporate crimes and sins committed against humanity across the world…why doesn’t the Church speak out on behalf of its flock? Chris Hedges article is a worthwhile look…
I’ve read, heard and seen some of the latest Donald Trump bufoonery, but have also been amazed at the media coverage of his self-promoting talk concerning President Obama.
No doubt that were well past the notion that we’re living in a post-racial world because of the election of President Obama. Certainly much of the rhetoric that is heard about “taking our country back” is understood to be racist coding, despite attempts to frame it within ideas of economic prosperity or good old American values.
However, it is amusing and sad to see the media treat the Trump musings as either serious news or a spectacle sideshow. For the most part there has been no attempt to question his clear racist implications. Frankly, our country needs to have substantive ongoing policies in place to address historical, institutional and contemporary racism. For instance, despite the symbolism of President Obama, has any major news media reported on the pattern of racial demographic exclusion in college and graduate schools over the past 30 years? At least this article, confronts in a small way what major media is deathly afraid of….
We’re all familiar with the power of suggestion and the insidious nature of subtle and overt advertising on television. Sadly, were also painfully aware of the bloviating that masquerades as fair and balanced news reporting on cable networks.
However, its recently come to light that unchecked mind control has now crossed over into the workplace. Imagine being made to act and speak in ways that violate your sense of right and wrong because it’s required to keep the lights on, or your grocery bill paid.
In this era where having less is the new normal, a persistent question that comes to mind is what will be the price of compassion? In this case, someone apparently did the wrong thing for a greater good. What are your thoughts on this story….