Harlem

Inspiration: Deborah Willis

I own a copy of photographer Deborah WillisReflections in Black that chronicles black photographers and photography of black life from 1840 to the present. 

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.  

 

The Schomburg Center presents Black Power 50 Films: “¡Palante, Siempre Palante!”

 As part of their Black Power 50 programming, a retrospective of the past 50 years of black power around America, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is featuring a film documenting the Young Lords movement, ¡Palante, Siempre Palante!.  The screening takes place on 11/10/16 and tickets are free but an RSVP is required and can be done so via their website here.  

Via the Schomburg website:

In the midst of the Black Power Movement, liberation was sought by communities across the globe. In the U.S., Puerto Rican and Latino/a communities fought for economic, racial and social justice. The Young Lords emerged as a powerful voice for the independence of Puerto Rico, empowerment and improved living conditions in America. ¡Palante, Siempre Palante!, directed by Iris Morales, a grassroots activist who was the first woman to join the East Harlem branch of the Young Lords, features interviews with activists. After the screening, Morales will join three former Young Lords–Martha Arguello, Carlos Aponte, and Carlos Rovira –for a talkback with Johanna Fernandez, PhD, professor of History, Department of Black and Latino Studies at Baruch College (CUNY).

What I’m listening to: Dave East, Solange and Christian Scott

2016 has been a great year musically.  Over the summer I caved in and got a Tidal subscription with my wonderful student discount (yay school) and it actually has allowed me to discover music from artists that I never even knew existed.  

deMost recently, I discovered Harlem rapper Dave East.  I appreciate his mixtape Kairi Chanel because it’s that good ole’ New York rappity rap RAP that I’ve been missing.  Never mind the almost comical fact that this is his 10th mixtape and I didn’t have a clue about this guy until a few weeks ago (I stopped keeping up with the rap Joneses a LONG time ago) or the fact that this mixtape plays like a solid debut album, but he’s gotten the attention of Mr. Illmatic himself, Nas, and is signed to his label Mass Appeal Records.  That should be a solid enough co-sign to give this mixtape a listen.  

 

 

 

 

 

s-a-seat

 Solange’s A Seat At The Table is FOR US!  Seriously, just listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cs

I love when clients put me on to new music!  If you don’t know by now, I have a love affair with New Orleans.  Everything from the people to the culture to the history to the music…I love it all!  A client suggested that I listen to New Orleans native Christian Scott’s Christian aTunde Adjuah after a recent photo shoot and I was not disappointed.  This isn’t his latest jazz project, this album was released in 2012 and is labeled as a 2 disc album so I am still digesting it (over 20 songs) but feel free to get lost in his many other bodies of work, you won’t be sorry.  

 

Diddy launches Capital Prep Harlem Charter School

DO THAT PUFF DADDY SHIT SON!

Can’t stop, won’t stop.  Puffy is launching a charter school in Harlem and if you have offspring, you should totally try and get them signed up because classes start this Fall.  Via the school’s website:

“Capital Prep Harlem is a free, public charter school located in the Harlem neighborhood in New York City providing grades 6–12 with a year-round, college preparatory education that develops lifelong learners, leaders, and agents of social change. Capital Prep Harlem will open for the 2016–17 school year with 160 students enrolled in the 6th and 7th grades.”

Also, they are currently looking for teachers (they are referring to them as “Illuminators” on their site), social workers etc.  I don’t have to tell you that if you are looking for a position in the educational field or if you would like to get involved with what will likely be a historic business educational venture that you should apply, right?

Let’s get it.

My best show, ever.

When I hosted The B Side Show a few years ago I put my all into it.  It was a podcast that sounded like it could be on anyone’s radio station.  Professionalism was on 1000!  I wanted everything from the production to the content to represent quality and excellence.  As I look back during my made up holiday, AUDIO WEEK,  I think the most powerful and important show that I did was the one in which I interviewed Rachel Lloyd of GEMS.  It was a great interview on the very important topic of the sexual exploitation of young girls right here in NYC.  Take a trip down memory lane and listen to my interview segment below.  While you’re here, don’t forget to take advantage of the special AUDIO WEEK discount happening this week only!

Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination @ The Schomburg Center

Via The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture:

Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination is sure to satisfy the sci-fi/fantasy nerd in all of us. Curated by artist John Jennings and Reynaldo Anderson, this exhibition includes artifacts from the Schomburg collections that are connected to Afrofuturism, black speculative imagination and Diasporan cultural production. Offering a fresh perspective on the power of speculative imagination and the struggle for various freedoms of expression in popular culture, Unveiling Visions showcases illustrations and other graphics that highlight those popularly found in science fiction, magical realism and fantasy. Items on display include film posters, comics, t-shirts, magazines, CD covers, playbills, religious literature, and more.

The exhibition galleries are open Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., unless there is a previously scheduled program or event at the same time and preventing access to the space. 

Open now. Ends January 16th, 2016.

For full details and video features go herehttp://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/unveiling-visions

Alicia Keys “28 Thousand Days”

Now this is the AK47 that I remember.

If you know me, you know that I am a retired Alicia Keys aka AK47 stan.  I’ve been to several concerts, attended her MTV Unplugged concert at BAM some years back (snuck into the afterparty too) met her two or three times, all that jazz.  She’s still currently holding the number 1 spot of women that I’d wife if given the chance and I actually liked women but I have to admit, after the As I Am album, I fell off.  Or maybe she did, either way she didn’t capture me the way she once did.  Nothing bad, it just happens.  Artists change and develop and so do their audiences but when I heard her latest single 28 Thousand Days I couldn’t help but fall in like and be reminded of what this woman can do.  So far it’s getting mixed reviews.  Some love it and others HATE it but I am in strong LIKE with it.  The title references the idea that the average American lives an average of 28,000 days.  That’s a lot of fricking days, how are you living them?

Call me “Young DeCarava”.

I’ve been on the hunt for a first edition copy (really any edition but the 1st would be SWEET) of Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes’ book The Sweet Flypaper of Life for some time now.  Yes, I can spend over $100 buying a copy online that I haven’t seen from someone that I don’t really know exists but I refuse.  I’ll find it, the same way that I found my first edition copy of Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton after an almost 10 year hunt, on a random street corner in Brooklyn, on the table of a book vendor, wrapped in two ziploc plastic bags…this I am sure of.  Besides me lusting after this book I’ve been ferociously attracted to the work of Roy DeCarava and it wasn’t until I attended a lecture about his life and photography at The Schomburg Center in Harlem (who by the way puts on FASCINATING lectures and events, most of them free, all year round) that I realized how closely some of my work resembles his.  There’s something about his creative style that I seem to relate to and it’s as if we had the same eye for certain shots.  As his wife, Sherry DeCarava, shared images with the over 400 attendees I easily spotted images that looked similar to mine.
roy decarava hallwayRoy DeCarava Hallway

Shavon MeyersStairway-w

Roy DeCarava untitledroy-decarava-untitled-(head-of-a-man)

  Shavon Meyersyoung-boy-bw-w

Roy DeCarava Woman descending stairsroy-decarava10-30-09-1

Shavon Meyersgma-down-stairs-w

Comparing them further I do believe that Roy DeCarava is my current “spirit photographer”.  As I’m learning more about his professional and personal life, I’m connecting the dots on his views about art, life and how it relates to society.

Roy DeCaravaRoy-de-Carava-Couple-walking-Park-Avenue-New-york-1960

Shavon Meyerslove-in-the-city-bw-w

He made ‘ordinary” people extraordinary through his photographs.  Yes, he was a Harlem based photographer but he was an artist and activist simply by not being afraid to show the world his world, creatively.  Much of his world just so happened to be Black residents in Harlem, but as his wife put it, he was a humanist.  While sharing stories of the city, men, women and families he helped preserve a history that today’s generation will never learn about in their history books but from his photographs.

This act in itself is revolutionary.

Roy DeCaravadecarava-woman and children

Shavon MeyersStreetcars

102 year old Harlem Renaissance dancer sees video of herself dancing for the 1st time.

THIS made my day.  I emphasize to people that films and photography tell stories that can surpass memory and last a lifetime (if preserved properly) and this is a great example.  Although Mrs. Alice Barker is as sharp as a tack for 102 years old, these videos will live on well after her memory or life expires and can inspire generations to come.  I aspire to capture images that someone can one day present somewhere that they have never been shown, to tell a story of a time that may or may not have been forgotten…or at least make someone smile.

Read the full article here.