Black is Beautiful
Even before I knew of her own photography achievements, I knew that her work in this project was special and something that I had to own. I tracked down a hard copy at a fabulous black owned bookstore in Harlem called Sisters Uptown Bookstore and began my journey into a comprehensive history of black photography. I stumbled upon a Vice article about her and it quietly relit the flame under my own journey as a black woman carving out a space for herself in this white male dominated industry. As a 30+ year old digital photography student, it comes as no shock that most of the studied “greats” of this field look nothing like me and do not capture work that reflects my existence. Representation matters and Deborah Willis’ continued effort to share stories of our existence inspires storytellers like myself to soldier on and continue sharing our perspective. Check out the Vice article featuring Deborah Willis here and Reflections in Black can be purchased here.
I’m not exactly sure how to describe Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, but I can say that I can’t put the book down. I’m a few pages away from finishing it (devoured it in 3 days) and it resonated deeply with my being as a black woman. Her combination of poetry, essays and what I would call think pieces weave together to form an intricate and important collection of timely work in a society undoubtedly fueled by race.
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Word to @dee1music
That’s right. Sallie Mae aka Navient, EDU Financial, all them hoes. DONE. With all of the madness happening, this definitely brings some much needed balance and happiness in my life 🙂
I recently took a late summer vacation and was able to fully digest the beautifully designed scripted 10 part audio drama “Bronzeville”. The cast is stellar: Laurence Fishburne, Larenz Tate, Tika Sumpter, Tracee Ellis Ross, Omari Hardwick, Wood Harris, Lahmard Tate, Cory Hardrick and more make up the characters that come to life in the series. “Bronzeville” brings to life 1940’s Chicago and the “policy” or numbers games that allowed this African American community to flourish. At the center of the drama we are introduced to members of the notorious Copeland family, including sister Lisa Copeland played by Tika sumpter, Jimmy Tillman played by Larnez Tate and Curtis Randolph played by Laurence Fishourne. Not only was I impressed with the sound design of the overall series, I couldn’t believe how quickly I was transformed to 1940’s Chicago via these auditory performances. It’s easy for me to binge a great tv series or fly through a good book but I’ve never been so engaged in a scripted audio series. I think a major reason why I was so invested and am supportive of the project is because it is not entirely a fictional project and a little know piece of American history. Bronzeville was an actual African American community in Chicago in the 1940’s whose money generated from the policy operation allowed the community to be self sufficient and produce schools, stores, banks and nightclubs. You can read a bit about its history and the policy operation here.
You can listen to all 10 episodes of season 1 here. Hopefully the cast is hard at work and gearing up for season 2!
A friend of mine put me onto “There Goes The Neighborhood” as they covered gentrification in East New York Brooklyn. Being from Brooklyn and witnessing its gentrification first hand, I was all in. The series talked to both local residents directly effected by new city plans and the infiltrating house flippers. I devoured every episode and eagerly awaited a new season to be posted. I had hoped the series would tackle another section of Brooklyn but they are instead taking the series to the West coast to discuss gentrification in Los Angeles. If the upcoming L.A. version is as good as the B.K. version, we’re all in for an eye opening treat.
I’m taking it back, way back! 10 years or so ago I created The B Side Show Podcast. The idea began with my frustration while a student at CSB (great school) with traditional FM radio and its limitations. The same songs being played every hour, the same dry talk breaks, interviews with artists who weren’t saying much with their music or in their interviews and hosts who didn’t ask the thought provoking questions that I thought should have been asked OR discussing topics that I felt were important enough for some air time. Back then, no one knew what a podcast was. People were still beginning to understand and accept the concept of satellite radio and paying for exclusive radio content so the idea of an online radio show kept many scratching their heads. Now, everyone and they mama has a podcast. I noticed the change in tide and began seeing the over saturation of the podcast platform early on, right around the time that I began expanding my brand and began falling in love with photography and video productions. By the time my last show aired, there were new podcasts by big named celebrities and public figures popping up weekly and the concept of playing music from artists not heard on traditional radio was something that had made its way into the mainstream. In short, everyone was doing it. I decided to cease production of the show (better to end on top) and rebrand the idea of the show to focus on my photography and visual arts. Thus thebsideshow.com became shavonmeyers.com and my popular podcast episodes remained idle on various external drives.
(Me at CSB as a student working on The B Side Show)
I recently started thinking about The B Side Show and how FIYAH it was (fire emoji). I will pat myself all the way on the back because I was a one woman band. I filled the role of creator, host, producer, engineer, editor, talent relations etc. I was the show! I contacted and interviewed every artist on the show, created every playlist, recorded every interview with the artists, held down the website and posted every edition of the show myself. I did all of that and promoted the show without any type of machine behind me. I managed to gain listeners across the country AND globe. People as far as Africa, Alaska and Asia have heard my voice via The B Side Show and for that I am forever grateful. Again, I have to stress, this was 10 years ago when it wasn’t as easy as it is now. There was a lot to learn but I managed to do it and put together some amazing radio content. Content so dope that the shows have a fantastic shelf life, which brings me to now: I’m posting old episodes of my show for those who have never heard it AND for the overnight “radio hosts” that pop up daily…because, levels. I also had a full time radio job at Sirius XM which kept me on my toes and my skills sharp because I worked on live radio broadcasts everyday. I don’t know who in the terrestrial FM radio world besides talk radio shows actually do FULL LIVE radio broadcasts everyday but being in that environment made me the radio beast that I became. So here we are. Me with tons of content a decade later and a platform to share it. I’m unlocking the vault and rereleasing some of my old shows for the next few months or until I get tired of hearing myself again. The first oldie but goodie comes at a perfect time. The year is 2007 and I decided to tackle the gay marriage conversation on my 8th show. MY 8TH SHOW EVER, lol. I went straight for the jugular clearly and despite the freedom of shows today, back then no one was really talking about these topics while playing “B Side” songs and songs from newer artists. The topic of gay marriage was quite controversial then, even our beloved President Obama at the time did not fully support it so my views were probably considered a little on the radical side since most people were not willing to say out loud on a public platform that they supported gay marriages. Other than the somewhat dated material, the show still sounds amazing technically, playlist is still fresh and I think I did a damn good job for it being my 8th completed show. Listen below and you be the judge!
Just in time for Pride month I present: The B Side Show #8 “Gay Marriages” Air Date: Winter 2007.
I’m a little tardy to the party on this one but better late than never. NAO hails from East London and might not be a new name to many but she is to me and her debut album For All We Know which dropped back in 2016 has been in heavy rotation in my household. I was first introduced to the artist, who for some reason I assumed was a band and not a solo artist, via a playlist on Tidal. NAO’s song “Girlfriend” was on the playlist and I instantly fell in love with her high pitched melodic tone. I really thought (and still do think) her voice was the product of a producer or engineer going a little too heavy on the effects, but it worked and I loved it. Whether it’s all her or a creative enhancement on her vocals, that unique sound that she seems to be well on her way to mastering is what works throughout For All We Know. Other standouts for me include Bad Blood, In The Morning, Blue Wine and (Feels Like) Perfume. As always, you be the judge and check out NAO for yourself.
Let me be honest, I did not like the film Moonlight. I KNOW, very unpopular opinion here but I didn’t. Not to take away from any of the actors or the production crew but I felt like it was a very skeletal piece. The film didn’t feel fully fleshed out and seemed very incomplete, but that’s just my opinion. This dance piece by the Alvin Ailey dancers set to the main score of the film however is a beautiful piece that almost, ALMOST makes me want to give the film a THIRD try (yes I watched it twice hoping I was missing what everyone else appears to get about this film…nope).