Sardonic Sistah Says

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Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Battle of the Year Coming in September

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It’s not my intention to have a post with Chris Brown so soon after the last one.

But, I had to put this video up. And all those not on Team Breezy are happy to see him take a punch to the jaw, even if it’s fictional.

In the brief trailer it seems that dance instructors Derek (Josh Holloway) and Dante (Laz Alonzo) aren’t happy that Korea is whooping us in dancing.

Before anyone starts to get excited it’s not North Korea. I doubt they have enough energy to get a good two-step going. It’s South Korea, who have swept the floor with us lately in international Hip Hop dancing competitions. Reason why: those crews can move.

Don’t worry; I don’t expect this movie to take any swipes at South Korea since the director is Korean American Benson Lee. Lee’s previous film includes Planet B-boy which is a documentary about the international Hip Hop dance competition. If you are a fan of the dance style and haven’t seen it you should go get this movie. Actually, if you aren’t a fan of the Hip Hop dance you should watch this movie, you will change your mind after viewing the athleticism and creativity of the dancers.

So are you excited about the movie? What do you think?

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Written by rentec

10 May, 2013 at 11:47 am

The Best of Being Black

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“Be not deceived
The Struggle is far from over
The best of being Black is yet to be
So said the Ones who died to set Us free”

~Ossie Davis

Sometimes it’s discouraging.  It really is.  You get one email forward too many of an overweight woman in see through clothes or news account of a black brother murdering another black brother and you wonder if you are out of lockstep with your own people and culture or if it’s even your own culture anymore.  Youth culture is not synonymous with black culture.  Neither is hip hop.  But a lot of the youth don’t really understand that because too many people my age are too busy bobbing their heads to the radio to remember what to pass on to their kids. 

Black culture has become a parody of itself in the mainstream with shucking and jiving entertainers, pseudo intellectuals who are really pop culture surveyors and cult of personality babblers who run in front of any camera to get attention for themselves.  Then it becomes cyclical, with people portraying fake ideals of blackness for the media, insecure directionless people watching and imitating the behavior which just reinforces what was never true in the first place.

 “Is this what’s hot?  Is this what’s poppin in the streets?” 

My daughter asked me what did I like about black culture.  I take a few seconds to reflect,  then I’m stumped.  Not because I want to be anything other than black but wondering what can I point out to her of blackness that I like that hasn’t been adulterated in recent years.  What was it I wanted her to take pride in and pass on to the next generation to strengthen them?  What did I think was cool about blackness… still?

“Let me get back to you on that,” I begged off.

Sometimes one needs to just disconnect, regroup and reconnect to realize that what is merchandize as blackness is not necessarily blackness, even if it’s a black face/group that is trying to sell it to you.  True blackness can be mundane because the quotidian aspects of everyday life can be boring as paint drying.  Also ideas/notions/thoughts that are sagacious aren’t soundbite worthy as the things that are incendiary or vacuous.  So although they aren’t in the forefront it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t true representations of blackness.

Even in my city, as staid and complacent as the black folks are (more of that in another post) I can see glints of creativeness among my friends.  Like my friend Napoleon’s group IsWhat?! mixing rock, jazz and rap or my other friend Idrissa trying to create a mini black cultural shift, first with poetry slams, rock music, healthy living and now his new venture yoga in the hood.  There is a black life, contrary to what some blacks think all blacks are living.  And it’s not less black.  Or really different black.  It’s just as black, rich and creative as those who want to “keep it real”.

Which is why I’m excited about Rob Fields’ Festival of the New Black Imagination to be held on 15 October 2011 in Brooklyn (yeah, I know everything is always in NYC).  A kickoff and fundraising event will be held this Tuesday with journalist Farai Chideya  and Fields leading a panel discussion.  On his blog Fields writes about cultivating a “revolutionary aesthetic”.

What is more powerful than an aesthetic moment where art or music meet politics? Think of Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the national anthem, one which echoed the distortion and confusion around American identity; or the raised Black Power fist (from the Olympics to Elizabeth Catlett’s sculpture); or the gender/race analysis within the visual art or music of some of our forward-thinking artists.

Words are tricksters. “Revolutionary” here is meant more in the sense of a turn of history’s wheel, and a new understanding of our circumstances, than as an overthrow. Life — art, politics, fashion — is often cyclical, and we go through both radical and conservative phases as a society. Aesthetics are an engine that turn that wheel, and combine the visual, the political, and the social. We speak to three thought-leaders about what the next revolutionary aesthetic will be; who is creating it; and how blackness shapes and relates to it.

I would be so there, if I wasn’t so here scheduled to work.   Like I said every dang thing seems to take place in NYC:-(  But if you are in the area please go and bring 10 bucks with you (and an additional 10 bucks for me, too –I’ll get you back) so we can meet in October for a new type of black collabo.   

The “best of being black is yet to be”.  If you believe it, be there.

Written by rentec

9 July, 2011 at 12:02 pm

True Love Can Scale the Great Wall of China

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Jo Gans and husband Michael

People who are interested in BF/AM couplings in real life will want to read this article on the “Black Women Deserve Better Blog”.   My good friend Jo Gans was interviewed by my other good friend Lorraine. 

Jo uprooted and moved to China a few years ago where she met and married the man of her dreams earlier this month.The article talks about how she dealt with family dissension:

 When I made the decision to date Asian men, you can imagine the flack I got.  People told me things like I was crazy, ”they” only dated their own kind, you’re too fat, or too dark, or just too strong.  I laughed because the negativity did not affect me in the least.  I reasoned that Asian is what I want and that is what I went after — and got.

Living in China as an African American woman:

I find the Chinese people a little naive about real Americans because they only know what they see on television — and that is regulated by the government here.

As silly as it sounds, most assume that Americans are mainly white.

And her overall attitude about love:

If he is worthy of your love, then love him.  This is a recipe for a happy life

For more of this article go to Black Women Deserve Better.  To obtain relationship advice or to be coached on Blasian Love by Jo (her sideline business) click here.

Written by rentec

23 March, 2010 at 10:18 am

A Blasian in Chinese History

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I have a book that will be of interest to Black sinophiles, Chinese Blasians, and anyone else who wants to read about historical Black-Chinese interactions.

Return to the Middle Kingdom: One Family, Three Revolutionaries, and the Birth of Modern China by YuanTsung Chen follows the story of the Chen Family from China to the West Indies and back to China again, helping to shape the history of the country.

Eugene Chen, the son of Taiping Rebellion soldier, was born and educated in Trinidad.  After getting a law degree in England he headed back to China.  In China he started a newspaper which took on warlords, prime ministers, colonists and the emperor himself.  Twice he was jailed and escaped a firing squad.

While living in Trinidad, Chen met and married Agatha Ganteaume, the biracial daughter of  a rich white planter.  Together they had several children including Percy Chen and Jack Chen (Yuan-tsung’s husband).

Percy followed the footsteps of his father and moved to China and Russia, meeting the major players of Asia in the early 20th century which he writes about in his book “China Called Me”. 

Jack has also written books, including The Chinese of America and Inside the Cultural Revolution.

I meant to post this last fall when Ding Hui and Lou Jing were in the headlines about being Blasian in China, but better late than never right?  Although it seems like China needs to get used to the creeping expansion of global multiculturalism the truth is it’s as old as human travel. 

Siblings with friends in Russia (L-R) Percy, Yolanda, Sylvia, Jack

Pictures taken from the author’s website YuanTsungChen.com.  Please visit her site to learn more about this remarkable family or pick up the book at your local library or bookseller.

Written by rentec

21 March, 2010 at 2:48 am

Fred Ho Talks on the Black Arts Movement and AsAm Struggle

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So, y’all know I love me some Fred Ho.  If there was a father of the Blasian/AfroAsian movement he would be it for the work and art he’s created in the community.  Here is part of his speech that he gave at the Asian American/Asian Research Institute on October 16, 2009.  It’s about how the black arts movement influenced Asian Americans today.

To learn more about Fred Ho and to purchase his CDs/books go to his website.  To hear his speech in it’s entirety click here.

Written by rentec

19 December, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Prep Schooled

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“Hey, what class are you in this year?” I asked the tall young man standing before me as I handed him a computer pass.

“I’m a senior  this year,” he puffed up full of pride, his chest sticking out. 

A smirk came over my lips as I lowered my head and raised a brow.  “You’re a senior?” 

“Yep,” he took the pass and swaggered off. 

“You really think you’re going to graduate?”

“Yeah.”

“For real?”

“Watch me.”

“I’ll watch,” I said skeptically.  I suspect over the last year and half I’ve seen him more than his teachers have.  He constantly skips here and maybe once or twice he’s been caught in some truancy sweeps.   I wonder if he passed the Ohio Graduation Test?  I wonder if he has plans for life after high school?  I tried talking to him and his friend G before we banned G for two years because he was acting up.  I sent them to the college advisor we have here every Tuesday.  I told them I didn’t want to see them in here during school hours any more.  But they seem hell bent on living up to the low expectations society has set for black men. 

Although a lot of attention is put on underachieving African Americans who attend low performing innercity school there’s a growing number of blacks who attend private schools.  (No, not charter schools).  Often, the plight of black students from various economic backgrounds who attend private majority white schools gets overlooked.  But new research intends to shed light on them

The first comes from University of Cincinnati doctoral student Michelle Burstion-Young who recently presented a paper the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in San Francisco about high achieving black students in elite private schools.  (Full disclosure: Ms. Burstion-Young is a good friend of the family.)  In her study Burstion-Young writes:

“Little is known about how students negotiate the social world of school or how being labeled black (by others and/or self) may influence their social decisions, either by removing options (such as being purposefully excluded or not being included) or creating other options (such as a black social world)”

Science Blog, Aug 2009

The paper examines four aspects of a black prep student’s life: assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization. 

“One of the most important findings of this study,” writes Burstion-Young, “is that most students simultaneously use a variety of different coping strategies, but they do so in somewhat different combinations for somewhat different reasons. At the center of their negotiations, however, is an overall concern with identity; more specifically, their coping strategies are geared towards reconciling different, and sometimes contradictory, expectations on identity.”

The documentary film “The Prep School Negro” also examines the lives of African American students at private schools.  Under the Director’s Statement, Andre Robert Lee writes this:

While at GFS, I also thought of the family and the community I had left behind. We had been trained to live as second-class citizens, and I felt guilty about gaining access to this world of privilege and knowledge. I wanted to share this new world with those who were not able to walk with me. My former elementary classmates were not reading “The Iliad” or travelling the world on a choir tour. The idea for The Prep School Negro grew out of my first days at GFS. It has been with me every since. As I reflect back, I can see more clearly the internal struggles I faced as an adolescent and as a young adult. This documentary will tell my story and the story of other prep school Negroes like me.

The Obama girls are attending Sidwell Friends but they wont’ be they won’t be the only blacks there –although I’m sure there are probably only a few.  Expand your mind as we shift the paradigm.

Written by rentec

18 September, 2009 at 5:27 pm

All About the Hair

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Yesterday I went to a Korean owned black hair care store downtown during my lunch hour.  I don’t go in there often; the ones I prefer to patronize are a few miles away.  The one downtown is rather harried.   Everything seems to be piled up which creates neat, narrow aisles but is not conducive for browsing which I never want to do there anyway. 

Other black women who come in might  have the same feeling.  Maybe they are transferring buses or need to pick up hair to get to stylist appointment or maybe they just have errands to run on their lunch break but whichever way it is, they are always rushed and short on patience.  I can sympathize with them, it’s hard to feel loving and light if your hair ain’t right.  You don’t feel at your best, so the women might not always act their best. 

The couple that works there seems overworked and in a hurry as well.  I often think one reason for the layout is not just because the space is small but also to make sure nothing gets boosted.  From their raised position behind the cash register they can see everything.  the products that are most likely to get stolen (like 50 dollar wefts of hair) they keep behind them on the wall.  Some choice hair is also at the other end of the store but since the exit is next to the register they can stop you before you are out the double doors.

All I want is a blow dryer attachment and peppermint shampoo.  I find the shampoo right away but I don’t see the nozzle.  I ask the guy where it is and he points over she maze of shelves to a wall.  I follow his finger in that direction and then turn back to give him a look that says, “I don’t even feel like walking over there to not find what I’m looking for”.  He’s done it to me before, told me something was along the wall and I search for 10 minutes until his female counterpart comes to help me which was nowhere near where dude said it would be.  I don’t think he knows where anything is anyway.

He can’t leave the register, though, because two other women are standing beside the counter, waiting for the lady to come back to the front.  She is helping a different set of women select hair.  Realizing that if I want to get lunch as well as my hair products I have to try to search myself.  Luckily the woman is swinging my way with her two customers and he shouts out to her what I need.  She pulls one from out of nowhere and asks me if it’s what I need.

It has a round base and teeth.  “Yeah, I’ll take it.”

So now it’s back to the guy.  He never smiles although his demeanor is passably polite.  He rings me up and says to have a good day.  I say thank you and leave, happy to be out in the wide world.

As I walk to get my lunch I wonder why the interactions between Korean Americans and African Americans aren’t better.  Of the ten hair stores that I will go to they are all Korean owned and located in black neighborhoods.  One or two might have an African American worker but most of the people who work there are Asian and all of the customers are black.  They don’t live in the neighborhoods where their businesses are located, either, and I have often wondered where they lived.  Did they make that much money from selling black women hair that they could live way out in the suburbs? 

For lunch I go to a local Spanish restaurant.  The owner is always friendly, even when we pass each other on the street.  He doesn’t know my name, but he always remember my standing order.  He has told me that I come in too much to not pick up some Spanish and he tries to engage me with Buenos Dias, senorita.  I know a few words but always get self conscious speaking them to him since he is a native speaker.  But others come in and speak rudimentary Spanish with him with no problem. 

I wonder what would happen if people tried speaking Korean in the black hair shops.  The workers there all speak English, but what if there was a mutual cultural exchange along  with money and products.

I could say basic phrases like:

Annyeonghaseyo?                                                                 How are you?
ahn-nyawng-hah-seyo
Igeo eolmayeyo?                                                                     How much is this?
eerger erlmah-yeyo?     
Jeogeo (something over there)                                             That
jerger
Geugeo (something close to the listener)                        That
Gohger
Igeo                                                                                                   This
eerger
Gamsahamnida                                                                       Thank you
gahmsah-hahm-needah

I wonder that would have happened if I had said Gahmsahnida to the guy as I was taking my bag.  Would that have made him less wary of the next black customer to come into his store?  Or would he have thought that I was being a smart ass?  I couldn’t recall the word as I stood in front of him; just like in the Spanish restaurant I become self conscious around a native speaker.

Or maybe it’s just best to for things to stay as they are, with both sides warily observing each other and the language of money speaking for both of us.  Those things come in loud and clear.

Written by rentec

29 March, 2009 at 4:13 am