Full Frontal Thursday: Nukes, Nunes, & a Black History Spotlight

In this installment of “Full Frontal Thursday,” Ms. Bee talks about the nuclear arsenal and the Nunes memo. She also translates the coded language behind the racist “Black Identity Extremists” label, which is the standard shit stirred up by Drumpf-supporting FauxNews viewers and those who swallow the septic sludge offered up by Breitbart, Stormfront, and other sites of that nature.

Finally, she gives a nod to Black History Month by showing how many things in this country alone have some pretty racist origins. She also shines the spotlight on John Robinson, one of the many little-known Black, historical figures rarely given credit due to the whitewashing of history in this country and worldwide.

Contrary to the ignorant beliefs of uneducated inbreds, I don’t see racism everywhere. I just happen to be educated about the history of this country and others, so I see it where it exists.

It’s that simple.

😎

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Thoughts on ‘Black History Month’ – Part I

Part I: A Celebration Of…?

February is drawing to a close, which means the end of awareness promotions for the so-called ‘Black History Month,’ also known as ‘African-American History Month.’ If Black history in this country was being showcased, it was certainly difficult to see!

Black History Month was officially recognized in 1976, but was originally proposed by leaders of the Black Student Union at Kent State University in February 1969. The precursor to Black History Month was ‘Negro History Week,’ announced by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, historian and author of The Mis-Education of the Negro. The second week of February was chosen because of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (12 February) and Frederick Douglass (14 February), two people who were celebrated by Black Americans since the 19th century. Black History Month is supposedly also recognized in Canada (1995) and the United Kingdom (1987). It is not recognized or celebrated in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, or South America – other countries that were involved in, and benefit from, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

I suppose it made some sense to expand from one week to the whole month, but history doesn’t have a starting and stopping point – it goes on and on. At any rate, the dedication of one short month to Black history in the Western hemisphere is one excuse whites cite as evidence that racism is over: “You people have a whole month dedicated to your history – isn’t that enough?!?” There are many reasons why it isn’t enough, and I wanted to talk about some of them. On a side note, whites also use the strawmen of Ebony magazine, BET Networks, Oprah Winfrey, and President Obama to derail discussions about how racism is still prevalent and insidious in our society.

‘Black history’ doesn’t begin or end with slavery. We existed before the continents were named and lines on maps were invented, just like everyone else. We had our explorers and documentations of events, just like all cultures have done. Sadly, circumstances created by people have caused great imbalances as some groups have attempted to annihilate others – and succeeded in many instances. Such a waste…

Digressing – this post is about ‘African-American History.’  This country was founded in 1776 after the decimation of the First Nations peoples by invading Europeans, who declared ‘divine right’ and ‘manifest destiny’ as valid reasons for slaughter. These Europeans then enslaved peoples from many countries of the African continent by means of deception and brutality, and brought them to ‘the New World’ to re-create the separatist ideals and suppression they claimed to be escaping in their mother countries. Slavery was eventually recognized as a repugnant travesty (although some believe that it wasn’t, and desire a return to those foul times) and supposedly abolished, but freed slaves and their descendants weren’t granted the same freedoms handed down in the Declaration of Independence – because slaves weren’t considered ‘people’ or ‘human.’ That inequality resulted in many injustices against the descendants of slaves, which still continue in this day and age, the year 2014, 151 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Yes, it is 2014. We are well into the 21st century. I look around and see that this nation has come a long way since those horrific times – but in many ways, nothing has really changed. ‘Black History Month’ is a prime example of this. For instance, cable television channels have certain target audiences – this relates to marketing and advertising revenues and other boring shit. Channels such as BET, Centric, and UPN are geared towards the ‘urban’ audience. ‘Urban’ is code for ‘Blacks’ – people such as myself are referred to as such by RethugliKKKans, DemoKKKraps, Teabaggers, talking heads on FauxNews, and pretty much any and every media outlet in this nation. Anyway, brief mention is given on these channels about historical African-Americans, and not just the ones that are briefly mentioned in high-school classes when they give 5-minutes due to that little bump in the road known as slavery. Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. DuBois, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, George Washington Carver, Crispus Attucks, and Mary McLeod Bethune are the ones that immediately spring to mind – the Google doodle on February 1st, for example, was a tribute to Harriet Tubman. She is one of very few Black people to be honored with a Google doodle, from what I’ve seen – Ella Fitzgerald was, and so was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There are many notable Black men and women who deserve recognition, but they have been overlooked by many.

The movie Roots was shown in class during my sophomore year – that was the teacher’s way of talking about slavery without saying a word. This is why I cringe when I see Roots marathons on BET and Centric…that movie was forced down my throat, but the true atrocities of slavery were never discussed: the movie was pretty much used as a diversion. Slavery is the main reason that the Civil War was fought, but revisionists would have one believe that it was a silly little battle over tariffs! We’re also taught that the Underground Railroad was the sole means of helping people escape slavery, but no mention is ever given of the Black people who went West in wagon trains – there were Black cowboys and frontierswomen, but you wouldn’t know it.

Yes, the history of the U.S. is intrinsically tied with slavery, no doubt about it. However, there is far more to our history in this country – and the world – than slavery. Sadly, the shameful, whitewashed rewriting of ALL history has marginalized us and minimized our contributions, while exalting those who raped, murdered, pillaged and plundered. For instance, February happens to be the month containing the birthdays of two U.S. presidents – George Washington, the first president, and Abraham Lincoln, the ‘Great Emancipator.’ Their birthdays used to be separate paid holidays, but at some point an arbitrary Monday in-between those dates was chosen as ‘President’s Day,’ and that is advertised more than ‘Black History Month’ pretty much everywhere you look. The Hitler History Channel devoted some time to all of the white presidents, while elementary schools go on and on about Washington crossing the Delaware River. Slave-owning presidents such as Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, or racists like Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and both G.H.W. and G.W. Bush are praised and lauded while their faults are swept under the carpet.

No, one month out of the year is not adequate. It’s an insult – a veritable, collective slap in the face. There are many layers to our rich history; why are we satisfied with a thin, dried-out crust?

Up next, I’ll examine how Black people are defined and categorized by others. When, how, and why did we give up control of our images? Or, better yet – why do whites feel that they still own us?

Random February Ramblings…February 2014

It’s a nice, relaxing day – I was doing some work around the house and took a break, so I figured I’d jot down some random thoughts and upcoming topics. It is high noon and “beer-thirty,” so wander with me a while, won’t you?

First off, it is February, which has been designated as “African-American History Month” or just “Black History Month.” I am working on a long post about that, which will be published by the end of the month since I’m still doing some research – but it will be worth the wait!

February means that spring is just around the corner…well, actually, that depends on your location! Here in the Pacific Northwestern corner of the USA, it’s been positively balmy and mild. Sure, we’ve had a little bit of blustery weather and a couple of decent snowfalls (snow on the coastal beaches is beautiful, by the way), but nothing compared to the deep freeze back east and in the deep south, or the storms hammering the UK and other parts of Europe! We have some clouds moving in at the moment, due to a system coming in off of the Pacific Ocean, but the sun was shining beautifully this morning and flowers are starting to bloom on some of the bushes. I love it when the wind kicks up and I can hear the ocean roaring when I open the windows or doors! It will be a wet spring and a beautiful summer, from what I can see. If the wind and rain keep kicking up, I have a feeling that March will roar in like a lion!

Injustice, again, in the state of Florida – isn’t it sad to not be surprised by bullshit like that? A panel of stupid people deadlocked on whether or not Michael Dunn of Jacksonville, Florida, acted in self-defense when he murdered 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Remember, Mr. Dunn was the instigator when he walked up to that Dodge Durango in that parking area and demanded that the teenagers inside turn down their music. Mr. Dunn lied when he said that the youths had a gun. He fired 10 rounds in all, 9 directly into the vehicle – the 10th shot was fired AFTER HE STEPPED OUT OF HIS OWN CAR AS THE SUV WAS IN MOTION. There should have been no question that he was guilty on all five counts, but morons in this country believe that when a Black person is murdered, that person must have brought it on themselves – regardless of the situation. Just like Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant III, Renisha McBride, Marshall Coulter…the list goes on. It is virtually impossible for Black people to get true justice in this country. We are constantly and consistently vilified, dehumanized, minimized, and marginalized – it’s disgusting. This idiotic comment from this Al-Jazeera article says it all:

“Clay Hickman
NEW
5 days ago
 
Michael Dunn is another idiot that has abused the right to self-defense. I will use deadly force when my family is threatened but I KNOW what a real threat is. A bunch of wanna be teenage thugs with their ground pounding thug music is NOT a threat. I’m white and listen to rap and hip-hop but I don’t turn it up loud enough to piss off everybody in the area. Teach young black men to respect everybody, white, black, men, women, and themselves.”

…note how the commenter states that only “young black men” need to “respect everybody” but no other group is given the same directive – also, the telling usage of the term ‘thug’ illustrates the hateful stereotypes the ‘concern troll’ has chosen to use to demonstrate how ‘inclusive’ and ‘progressive’ they are…FUCK that racist nonsense!

More needs to be done about addressing that issue, not spouting off ridiculous, phony statistics about crime rates and so-called “Black-on-white crimes.” In fact, there is some new online movement of whites who claim that there is an upsurge in ‘retaliatory crimes’ where Black people are randomly attacking whites anywhere and everywhere. There is some WordPress site called ‘Violence Against Whites – the fallen’, which I have no intention of linking here whatsoever, but it is easy to find! Talk about recycled bullshit – there is plenty there.

No, I see the reality so I see otherwise – I mean, the white guy who got shot in the movie theatre in Florida was murdered by another white guy, who happened to be a retired police captain, over a fucking TEXT MESSAGE and THROWN POPCORN. I’m shaking my fucking head over that one…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On a side note, I’ve been working on a post about guns and concealed weapons permits, since I recently obtained my CPLs. Stay tuned for that one to be published!

I’ll be glad when Putin’s Bazaar of Bigotry the Olympics is over – the Winter Olympics might as well be called the “All-White Games” or “Nazis on Ice,” no? Oh, sure, there is a smattering of darker-hued individuals this time around, including the ever-present Jamaican bobsled team that inspired the crappy movie “Cool Runnings.” Remember the sister from France who was a dynamite figure skater? Reports on her always had a negative tone to them – she would be described as “arrogant” or “cold” on a regular basis, while her talent was minimized. The women’s U.S. bobsled team has some Black female participants, and one of the male U.S. speed-skaters is Black. Funny how people find a reason to dismiss Black athletes who participate in cold-weather sports! Speaking of the Olympics, everyone knows that these games were bought and paid for by Putin. Russian corruption is notorious, so why are people acting surprised over the shoddy conditions of hotels and other facilities? Newsflash, people: just because a country is all-white, doesn’t mean that it’s superior, progressive, or ‘safe’ – Eastern Europe and a majority of the former S.S.R.s are some of the most backwards, crime-ridden, dangerous places on earth. I mean, all you have to do is take a look at what’s going on in Kiev, Ukraine right now to see what those people are like!

Winged Twilight in Morrowind

Subject switch: My husband and I purchased The Elder Scrolls: Anthology; it contains all of the Elder Scrolls games, including Skyrim, and all expansions of all of them. I love the maps that came with the set! They’re always nicely detailed, making it easy to follow the roads between the towns. I always like taking the scenic route so I can get my skills up by fighting monsters or assisting NPCs, and oftentimes, you can find interesting things along the way. Anyway, trying to play the first two installments was tedious at best – they are Arena and Daggerfall, respectively. After fumbling around with them and getting killed by rats, we have been pleasantly surprised by Morrowind, which is Elder Scrolls III. Even though the graphics are dated (similar to Half-Life), the game has enough challenges and puzzles to keep us as entertained as Skyrim has – it will be interesting to see what Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is like! I’d forgotten how intensively and extensively detailed certain things were, particularly in the spellcasting department – needing to have certain reagents and equipment on your person for alchemical needs, for example. Gamewise, the graphics made a quantum leap between Daggerfall and Morrowind, so seeing the shift between Oblivion and Skyrim will be the final comparison. On a final note, I’m pleased to see that the Redguard character has been dark-skinned from the beginning of the series…it is definitely the first game I’ve played that has the option of being a darker-skinned person, with realistic skin-tones. It would be nice to have more variety of hairstyles, though – especially longer dreadlocks or Afros for the women!

Trophy Room screenshot from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Hearthfire

I’m looking forward to seeing Neil deGrasse Tyson hosting the new Cosmos – I used to watch it back when Carl Sagan hosted it on PBS; I hope that it doesn’t get bastardized by FOX, but I’m certain that Mr. Tyson will do an excellent job…he’s brilliant!

Last but not least, I was saddened to hear of the death of yet another DEVO member, Mr. Bob Casale. He joins fellow bandmate Alan Meyers, who passed away in June of 2013. Rest in peace, good sir…the music you made kept me moderately sane during my ‘teens-ages.’ The link about Mr. Meyers has my five favourite DEVO songs in it, so enjoy them while you research the band and their contributions to the socio-political music scene.

Bob Casale: 14 July 1952 – 17 February 2014

Weekend Musings: 24th February 2013

There’s a full moon tomorrow and my creativity has been peaking! It ebbs and flows with the tides, it seems…so, here are some random ramblings and myriad musings, as befit the title of my blog! Join me on my wanderings, won’t you?

First off, a fantastic songstress has passed away at the age of 78: Cleotha Staples of The Staple Singers. The chart-topping group had eight U.S. Top 40 singles in the 80s, including I’ll Take You There and Let’s Do It Again. I absolutely LOVE “I’ll Take You There” and will link to it at the end of this post in my requisite song list! Cleotha and her sisters Mavis, Yvonne, and Cynthia, have dynamite voices which you will hear in the song. From the BBC:

“Cleotha Staples, a member of the chart-topping gospel group The Staple Singers, has died at the age of 78.

The family group had eight US top 40 singles in the 1970s, including the number ones I’ll Take You There and Let’s Do It Again.

They enjoyed success on the Stax label and Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label.

Friend and publicist Bill Carpenter said Cleotha suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Her sister Mavis paid tribute to Cleotha’s “soothing” voice.

“A lot of singers would try to sing like her,” Mavis said in a statement. “Her voice would just ring in your ear. It wasn’t harsh or hitting you hard, it was soothing. She gave us that country sound.”

The group, which also featured father Pops, sister Yvonne and brother Pervis, began singing in church in Chicago in 1948.

They were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and received a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2005.”

She was the eldest sibling of (number) and the founding member of The Staple Singers. From the Huffington Post:

In a family of vocalists, it was Cleotha Staples’ smooth and velvety voice that helped set apart the sound of the influential and best-selling gospel group The Staple Singers.

Staples, the eldest sister and member of the group her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples started in the 1940s, died Thursday at age 78. She was at her Chicago home and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past decade, said family friend and music publicist Bill Carpenter.

The group included sisters Pervis, Yvonne, Mavis and Cynthia, but Cleotha was the backbone, defining herself by being the “strong, silent type,” said Carpenter, author of “Uncloudy Day: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia.”

Rest in peace, sweet lady – you join the talented masses who will serenade us until the end of time.

Next, a belated tribute to one of the greatest songstresses and piano players of all time: Nina Simone.

This beautiful, talented sister was born on 21 February 1933, and left this world on 21 April 2003 – a sensitive, soulful Piscean! From Wikipedia:

Eunice Kathleen Waymon, better known by her stage name Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

Born the sixth child of a preacher’s family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist.[1] Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black.[2] When she began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her continuing musical education and become a classical pianist she was required to sing as well. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendering of “I Loves You Porgy” was a hit in the United States in 1958.[1] Over the length of her career Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958—when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue—and 1974.

Her musical style arose from a fusion of gospel and pop songs with classical music, in particular with influences from her first inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach,[3] and accompanied with her expressive jazz-like singing in her characteristic contralto. She injected as much of her classical background into her music as possible to give it more depth and quality, as she felt that pop music was inferior to classical.[4] Her intuitive grasp on the audience–performer relationship was gained from a unique background of playing piano accompaniment for church revivals and sermons regularly from the early age of six years old.[5]

In the early 60s, she became involved in the civil rights movement and the direction of her life shifted once again.[6] Simone’s music was highly influential in the fight for equal rights in the US.[7] In later years, she lived abroad, finally settling in France in 1992.”

I’m ashamed to have forgetten her, because she was the direct inspiration for my desire to play the piano. My captors parental figures, especially ‘Medea’, crushed my love of playing any instrument by forcing unreasonably long practice sessions. For example, when I got home from school and completed my homework, I immediately had to practice the piano for an hour, followed by an hour of practice on the clarinet. I switched from band to choir after that, because I enjoyed singing and could do that anytime, anywhere! Being in school plays and sports allowed time away from home as well…

I digress – Nina Simone influenced me in many ways, and I list her as a ‘Notable Black Woman’ who deserves many acknowledgements for her lifetime accomplishments. Again, she is one who is pushed aside in favor of no-talent hacks like Beyonce, Britney and Nicki. Her name should be synonymous with musical appreciation and talent that transcends all barriers! More from Wikipedia:

“Civil rights era (1964–1974)

In 1964, she changed record distributors, from the American Colpix to the Dutch Philips, which also meant a change in the contents of her recordings. Simone had always included songs in her repertoire that drew upon her African-American origins (such as “Brown Baby” and “Zungo” on Nina at the Village Gate in 1962). On her debut album for Philips, Nina Simone In Concert (live recording, 1964), however, Simone for the first time openly addressed the racial inequality that was prevalent in the United States with the song “Mississippi Goddam“, her response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four black children. The song was released as a single, and it was boycotted in certain southern states.[18][19] “Old Jim Crow”, on the same album, addressed the Jim Crow Laws.

From then on, a civil rights message was standard in Simone’s recording repertoire, becoming a part of her live performances. Simone performed and spoke at many civil rights meetings, such as at the Selma to Montgomery marches.[20] Simone advocated violent revolution during the civil rights period, rather than Martin Luther King‘s non-violent approach,[21] and she hoped that African Americans could, by armed combat, form a separate state. Nevertheless, she wrote in her autobiography that she and her family regarded all races as equal.[22]

She covered Billie Holiday‘s “Strange Fruit“, a song about the lynching of black men in the South, on Pastel Blues (1965). She also sang the W. Cuney poem “Images” on Let It All Out (1966), about the absence of pride she saw among African-American women. Simone wrote “Four Women“, a song about four different stereotypes of African-American women,[18] and included the recording on her 1966 album Wild Is the Wind.

Simone moved from Philips to RCA Victor during 1967. She sang “Backlash Blues”, written by her friend Langston Hughes on her first RCA album, Nina Simone Sings The Blues (1967). On Silk & Soul (1967), she recorded Billy Taylor‘s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” and “Turning Point”. The album Nuff Said (1968) contains live recordings from the Westbury Music Fair, April 7, 1968, three days after the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. She dedicated the whole performance to him and sang “Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead)”, a song written by her bass player, Gene Taylor, directly after the news of King’s death had reached them.[23] In the summer of 1969 she performed at the Harlem Cultural Festival in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park.

Together with Weldon Irvine, Simone turned the late Lorraine Hansberry‘s unfinished play To Be Young, Gifted, and Black into a civil rights song. Hansberry had been a personal friend whom Simone credited with cultivating her social and political consciousness. She performed the song live on the album Black Gold (1970). A studio recording was released as a single, and renditions of the song have been recorded by Aretha Franklin (on her 1972 album Young, Gifted and Black) and by Donny Hathaway.”

How insulting, and unsurprising, that a white actress by the name of Zoe Saldana was tapped to play this iconic woman in a movie. I can’t understand why actress Jill Scott defended this choice, but since she is lighter-skinned and straight-haired herself (and gets plenty of work because of it), it comes as no shock. ABC World News reported on 26 October 2012:

“From the image of Saldana, 34, wearing an Afro wig and what appears to be a prosthetic nose and skin-darkening makeup, it’s apparent that the film’s director, Cynthia Mort, is aiming for Saldana to look as much as possible like Simone…Everyone from singer-actress Jill Scott, who some suggested could play Simone, to her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, has chimed in.

Reps for Saldana and Mort did not respond to ABCNews.com’s request for comment.

Kelly, an actress and singer, told The New York Times last month, “My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark.”

“Appearance-wise, this is not the best choice,” she added, referring to the casting of Saldana.

This beautiful woman deserves to be recognized for who she was – a beautiful, DARK-SKINNED SISTER with NATURAL HAIR, FEATURES, and BEAUTY! “White-washing” her is insulting and should be denounced.

I’ve been doing posts about notable Black women, but I will also do posts about notable Black men – and I will continue doing this even when ‘Black History Month’ ends! I want to spread positive, uplifting knowledge and information about all Black people, and not just during the shortest month of the year…it should be done year-round. It may seem small to some people, but having positive, historical Black people being elevated as the role models, heroes and heroines, inventors, pioneers, and icons for all Black children to see and emulate is a good beginning, IMHO.

With that – on with the music!

First, one of the best songs by the Staple Singers, in a tribute to Cleotha Staples.

The Staple Singers: “I’ll Take You There

Next, my four favourite songs by the legendary Nina Simone. I’d say that I’m 80% ‘Peaches’ and 20% ‘Aunt Sara’…you can figure that out for yourselves, if you’re so inclined…

Nina Simone: “Mississippi Goddam

Nina Simone: “Brown Baby

Nina Simone: “Feeling Good

Nina Simone: “Four Women

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The Blues is Gone…

I’ve mentioned many times that I love music from all genres. My first love is rock-n-roll, unapologetically – and the influence of Black people cannot be denied or sidelined! Many people will try to minimize the impact that Black people, worldwide, have had on musical expression. I’m certainly not one of them! At any rate, I love the blues. Every Sunday I ‘turn’ the radio dial over to B. B. King’s Bluesville and float away on the soulful sounds: John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Bessie Smith, Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Robert Johnson are among some of my favorites. When I listen to R & B, funk, disco, and jazz, the influence that the blues has had on those genres is evident. I love it! From Wikipedia:

“Blues musical styles, forms (12-bar blues), melodies, and the blues scale have influenced many other genres of music, such as rock and roll, jazz, and popular music.[126] Prominent jazz, folk or rock performers, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Bob Dylan have performed significant blues recordings. The blues scale is often used in popular songs like Harold Arlen‘s “Blues in the Night”, blues ballads like “Since I Fell for You” and “Please Send Me Someone to Love”, and even in orchestral works such as George Gershwin‘s “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Concerto in F”. Gershwin’s second “Prelude” for solo piano is an interesting example of a classical blues, maintaining the form with academic strictness. The blues scale is ubiquitous in modern popular music and informs many modal frames, especially the ladder of thirds used in rock music (for example, in “A Hard Day’s Night“). Blues forms are used in the theme to the televised Batman, teen idol Fabian’s hit, “Turn Me Loose”, country music star Jimmie Rodgers‘ music, and guitarist/vocalist Tracy Chapman‘s hit “Give Me One Reason”.

R&B music can be traced back to spirituals and blues. Musically, spirituals were a descendant of New England choral traditions, and in particular of Isaac Watts‘s hymns, mixed with African rhythms and call-and-response forms. Spirituals or religious chants in the African-American community are much better documented than the “low-down” blues. Spiritual singing developed because African-American communities could gather for mass or worship gatherings, which were called camp meetings.

Early country bluesmen such as Skip James, Charley Patton, Georgia Tom Dorsey played country and urban blues and had influences from spiritual singing. Dorsey helped to popularize Gospel music.[127] Gospel music developed in the 1930s, with the Golden Gate Quartet. In the 1950s, soul music by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown used gospel and blues music elements. In the 1960s and 1970s, gospel and blues were these merged in soul blues music. Funk music of the 1970s was influenced by soul; funk can be seen as an antecedent of hip-hop and contemporary R&B.

Duke Ellington straddled the big band and bebop genres. Ellington extensively used the blues form.[128]

Before World War II, the boundaries between blues and jazz were less clear. Usually jazz had harmonic structures stemming from brass bands, whereas blues had blues forms such as the 12-bar blues. However, the jump blues of the 1940s mixed both styles. After WWII, blues had a substantial influence on jazz. Bebop classics, such as Charlie Parker‘s “Now’s the Time”, used the blues form with the pentatonic scale and blue notes.

Bebop marked a major shift in the role of jazz, from a popular style of music for dancing, to a “high-art,” less-accessible, cerebral “musician’s music”. The audience for both blues and jazz split, and the border between blues and jazz became more defined.”

Anyway, one thing I note is that this is the only station that I’ve found which plays the old blues, along with the new. It’s frustrating to me that people like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and Rory Gallagher are always listed as tops in the blues world, yet those artists always get play on the ‘white’ channels – while the people who musically influenced them get shoved to the sidelines and are given limited airplay. Bonnie Raitt, a country musician, gets awards for her ‘blues’ album, while I’m certain that there are young, Black musicians who would welcome the chance to work with B. B. King – yet, they are denied in favor of promoting some white woman who is already well-known.

I wanted to post some great blues songs here, but the ones I wanted to find are nowhere in sight. Specifically, Chick Willis‘s songs “The Blues is Gone” and “Keep Singin’ the Blues” are great. Joe Louis Walker has an excellent song called “Black Girls”. Another awesome artist is Sharon Jones, backed up by her band the Dap-Kings. I love her voice and her style, and her song “She Ain’t a Child No More” is fantastic! I wish I could find the studio versions of the songs to post so they can be done proper justice, but I’m a perfectionist and a purist…if I can’t find the perfect version of a song I like, then I won’t post it!

In Memoriam: Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks: February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005

I had hoped to post this on February 4th, the day marking Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday. This courageous woman is best-known for ‘standing her ground’ and refusing to move from her bus seat for a white man on December 1st, 1955. This led up to the famed Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, organized by the NAACP, the Women’s Political Council, and various Black churches in the area. From Wikipedia:

“On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation. Others had taken similar steps in the twentieth century, including Irene Morgan in 1946, Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, and the members of the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit (Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith) arrested months before Parks. NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws though eventually her case became bogged down in the state courts.”

Her childhood experiences with racism and discrimination were notable, spurring her towards activism in her early adult life. Her parents separated when she was young and her mother moved in with her own parents on a farm in Pine Level, Alabama. More from Wikipedia:

“Parks recalled going to elementary school in Pine Level, where school buses took white students to their new school and black students had to walk to theirs:

“I’d see the bus pass every day… But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world.”[7]

Although Parks’ autobiography recounts early memories of the kindness of white strangers, she could not ignore the racism of her society. When the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of their house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun.[8] The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonists. Its faculty was ostracized by the white community.”

When her grandfather was prepared to defend their home from the KKK, Ms. Parks stated: “Whatever happened, I wanted to see it … I wanted to see him shoot that gun. I wasn’t going to be caught asleep.” This spirit of defense and defiance, she said later, “had been passed down almost in our genes’ that a proud African-American can not accept “bad treatment from anybody.”

Less-known is the fact that she was nearly raped by a white man in Alabama in 1931, while she worked as a domestic for a white family. It was late evening when “Mr. Charlie” pushed his way into the house and tried to have sex with her.  Having grown up in the segregated South, she knew all too well the special vulnerabilities black women faced. She recalled, for example, how her great-grandmother, a slave, had been “mistreated and abused” by her white master.

Despite her fear, she refused to let the same thing happen to her. “I knew that no matter what happened,” she wrote, “I would never yield to this white man’s bestiality.” “I was ready to die,” she said, “but give my consent, never.  Never, never.” Parks was absolutely defiant: “If he wanted to kill me and rape a dead body,” she said, “he was welcome, but he would have to kill me first.”

Her strength, determination, courage, and tireless efforts moved mountains. The NAACP stood behind her at a time when being a member of that organization meant something. Solidarity in, and support from, the Black community seems to be selectively offered. The Portland, Oregon branch of the NAACP doesn’t seem to have live people staffing the office. The Seattle branch was non-existent when I lived there. A commenter on another blog said it best – I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote him here:

“Massive Black Solidarity!!
Black Power…
Where did it go?
Did it die with MLK Jr and Malcolm X?
Seems so.”

I’ve had a similar thought for quite some time…

Rest in peace, Ms. Parks – you are a legend.

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R.I.P., Essie Mae

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the hidden daughter of racist senator Strom Thurmond and his family’s Black maid, has passed away at the age of 87. She kept the truth of her parentage secret for over 70 years in order to avoid damaging his political career. A cause of death was not given. The Huffington Post reports:

“There had been rumors for decades in political circles and the black community that Thurmond had fathered a daughter by a black woman. But Washington-Williams did not come forward and identify Thurmond as her father until after his death at age 100 in 2003.

Washington-Williams spent decades as a school teacher in Los Angeles. Thurmond was South Carolina’s governor and for a time was the nation’s longest-serving U.S. senator.”

Strom Thurmond refused to publicly acknowledge Essie Mae during his entire adult life, although they apparently met face-to-face later on. Her mother was only 16 at the time of her birth, and Essie Mae wasn’t told who her father was until she herself turned 16. WLTX, News 19 from Columbia, SC reports:

“It wasn’t to my advantage to talk about anything that [Thurmond] had done,” Williams told News19 in 2003. “It certainly wasn’t to the advantage of either one of us. He of course, didn’t want it to be known. Neither did I. We didn’t have any agreement about not talking about it, we just didn’t talk about it.”

For over 60 years, the two engaged in a clandestine relationship that included financial support, birthday cards, and occasional face to face meetings–but no deep emotions. At one point, Thurmond used one of his nephews as a financial go-between, but that man was never told exactly who he was helping.

“I think he cared about me, otherwise I don’t think he would have done the things that he did if he didn’t care about me,” she said. “I liked him very much. I was not around him, remember. I only saw him about once a year, so I didn’t feel that close relationship that you normally would with a parent.”

What a strong, courageous lady. To hold her head high in the face of racist rejection from the man who helped give her life, and honor the wishes of that same dishonorable man, speaks volumes about her dignity and character. Her legacy should be remembered more than his. May she rest in peace.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams: October 12, 1925 – February 4, 2013

This little tribute to her is my opening for Black History Month. I will do my best to pay homage to the strong, beautiful, talented Black women who are usually overlooked by everyone – including the Black community.

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