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.
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.
On June 22nd, Brooklyn Central is hosting its first annual summer print sale featuring photography by yours truly! Select prints of mine will be available for purchase directly from BKC on Thursday June 22nd at the BKC headquarters at 33 Washington Street Brooklyn, NY. Stop by, check out some great photography and purchase a print or two!
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.
Busy this Friday?
If not, come out and support:
BKC’s #RESIST Photo Show + Print Sale Friday 3/17/17!
The show will feature some of my photography in addition to other fellow photographers and BKC members. ALL proceeds will be donated to The Reproductive Health Access Project and The Ali Forney Center. That’s right, buy one of my or any other photographer’s prints and the proceeds will go directly to these two organizations. Come out and support a great cause!
I love this piece. Black and brown youth are often forced to grow up fast due to many circumstances but this summer in particular, I felt there were a lot of children forced to witness a ton of injustice, bigotry and hate. I also saw a lot of children being children. Actually playing…OUTSIDE! They were being kids. Carefree, joyful and full of life. What a beautiful sight! I love that this piece came to me while I was at the beach. I also love that the children filmed are silhouetted by the sun so that you can’t see their faces. I’m always cautious about photographing or videotaping kids so the sun worked in my favor on that hot August day. I wrote this piece with the youth of today in mind but also for the young at heart. As we wrap up another summer season, I hope you were able to at least for a moment capture the essence of the season, be youthful in spirit and #findyoursunmer. Here’s to a great end of the summer and a prosperous Fall season!
August (For the youth…)
I hope the sun’s rays were good to you and allowed you to be a kid again.
Abundant in play and without worry.
I hope the ocean’s waves crashed at your feet and washed away any doubt that you could be anything.
if you so choose.
I hope the August heat melted uncertainty and birthed promise.
Find joy in the light.
Let the sweat trickle down your brow and illuminate your aura.
Taste the sweet bitterness of the ocean and become drunk off of its life.
I hope you found freedom in the ocean’s waves and will never let it go.
I recently got a Tidal subscription (I know, I know…) but my reason for doing so has nothing to do with Jay Z, thinking I will actually listen to all of the music that they claim they have (they definitely do not have EVERYTHING) or any other reason that most people seem to get a music streaming subscription. I actually think it’s insane to pay a subscription to “rent” music that you can pay a one time fee and actually own but that’s my flaw, get your money music streaming sites. I feel like I was forced to get this subscription due to my recent iPhone debacle. In short, I upgraded, got a new iPhone and for the first time in my Apple history received a lemon. The phone randomly deleted all…ALL of my music collection three separate times. I’ve done some research and can’t find an answer that makes sense. The only thing that I can come up with in my conspiracy theory laced brain is that all of the newer Apple iPhones are flawed when it comes to Itunes and their algorithm because they want us all to eventually move to an Apple music subscription. Apple has already made it clear that they are moving forward with cloud subscription based programs and the introduction of Apple music’s new platform was the beginning of the end for owning music via mp3’s or downloads in my opinion. So after being frustrated with having to re-download thousands of songs and getting a replacement phone, I decided to take advantage of these student discounts that some of the music streaming services offer and skip the drama of losing my music again. However, I REFUSE to give in and get an Apple music subscription so I decided to give Tidal a shot and I must admit, it’s not bad at all…for a music streaming service.
So after a few weeks of getting used to not having any real music that I own on my phone, I decided to create and share a 90’s hip hop playlist, mainly because I couldn’t find a really good one. These are songs that I grew up listening to, songs that I’ve missed and songs that in my opinion go harder than ANY OF THIS NEW SHIT PLAYING RIGHT NOW. If you have also
been forced into getting purchased a Tidal subscription, do check out my playlist below. If you haven’t jumped ship yet, I’ve provided the song playlist below so that you can check out the songs on your own. I don’t think you can listen to more than a few seconds of a preview without a Tidal subscription but you can always purchase the tracks or vibe out on youtube.
These are songs that were on my original playlist but the mighty Tidal did not have them in its library, FAIL:
I’m not sure why these songs aren’t in the massive Tidal library. I kind of understand why the soundtrack songs would be more of a challenge to get on a music streaming site (New Jersey Drive for The Queen and Crooklyn and Clockers for the Crooklyn Dogers) but the rest are regular singles that I thought would be there. I found Nine’s “Whatchu Want” for crying out loud, WHY is there NO Lil Vicious on Tidal (that one random song doesn’t count)? Anyway, take a trip back in time and check out the playlist on Tidal here or you can view the selected tracks below. Enjoy!