he morning Ernesto died and a glittering cloud of debris and ash swallowed the neighborhood, Beth Gopin was on her way to see him. Beth had called Ernesto and asked him to meet her at Taj Tribeca. Although Beth and Ernesto enjoyed the atmosphere and well-stocked buffet, Taj Tribeca held greater significance—they could link major moments in their life together to its golden linens and paper dining mats.
Beth will one day tell me how she first met Ernesto at Taj Tribeca. She was on a blind date with someone else, a Junior Vice President at a fiduciary management company. When the conversation had begun to include words like portfolio management, estates, big account, and mutual funds, she excused herself from the table and said she needed to use the bathroom. As she snuck towards an exit to abandon her suitor, Ernesto approached her. Beth remembers accepting his card. He asked her to call him if things didn’t work out with the guy she had come with. He thanked her and then quickly sped out of the restaurant.
Beth will tell me she waited weeks before she called him. She’ll say she called because of curiosity, not attraction.
Read the rest of the post here: “Memorials” by Donald Quist
The Waynes and Johnsons: Albemarle County, Virginia, Circa 1862 and Beyond
In 1840, Claude Wayne exerted his God-given right to his property when he relieved himself inside a slave wench named Norma. The resulting child was his, hazel eyes glinting green in the sun, a mongrel if Wayne had ever seen one. Couldn’t stand to look at him. Sold the mutt to Johnson first chance he got. He sired an heir with his wife the very next night. Twenty-odd years later, those boys stood to shoot one another dead. One black, one white—each a rifle-musket aimed at the other, not knowing they share a daddy. Moist, mudded red clay ran burgundy around their feet, mixing one dead soldier’s blood with the next like that through the veins of brothers. Each man stared into the hazel eyes of the other as if looking inside their own.
It is that hazel shade that will confirm the relation of two women over a century later in 2016, a Wayne and a Johnson, stuffed like creamed French toast inside an IHOP booth. The distant cousins will avoid eye contact, not knowing what to say, if words could even be sufficient. Surprised at the way God’s sense of humor manifests, that theywere matched via DNA from an ancestry website—of all things—they agree to meet, for what reason, neither will know. Will this encounter change their lives? There will be no weddings, no funerals, no cookouts, no showers. No more family than any Wayne or Johnson in this part of the world. But, they will shake hands and sit, exchange stories of growing up in the country, even realize they went to the same high school, their churches only a mile apart. They will watch one another, disguise their curiosity, their mutual examination of shared features, under lowered eyelids and genteel sips of sweetened ice tea with lemon.
Read the rest of the story here: “The Waynes and Johnsons…” by Tyrese L. Coleman
From Black Speculative Arts Digital Archive
1. What was the inspiration for the creation of “MotherShip: MotherVerse”?
“MotherShip:MotherVerse” was conceived as part of a public Afrofuturism exhibit entitled “The MotherShip Connection.” Poet, Community Builder and Afrofuturist Olu Butterfly conceived this idea and asked me to be one of her collaborators. This was an opportunity for us to mount an exhibit at Artscape, which is the largest outdoor public art festival in the U.S. The Mothership Connection allowed us to connect the work of some of the amazing artists here in Baltimore with the community. The title of the show is obviously a reference to the famous Parliament tune as well as their now enshrined stage prop. Olu however had a different concept of what a Mothership could be – she was interested in portraying the Mothership as a more organic structure, something earthy yet capable of travel. This involved us building an actual ship. Inside the ship, we decided to have a screen that depicted travel, gave a brief primer of Afrofuturism and then told a story. So I took on those tasks. I cobbled together a primer, which was okeydoke at best, but then I really got hooked on creating a short that extended Olu’s original vision. Toni Morrison has a quote that says “Black Woman is both ship and safe harbor.”
Read the rest of the post here: Jason Harris in BSADArchive
This is a very special evening and a very special award for me, partly because, like all of you, I love libraries and I believe in them and the work that they do. In giving my thanks today, I’d like to talk about the roles libraries have played in my life. I was born in 1977 and I tell you this so you can understand the culture of my generation. I am from the Reading Is Fundamental, One to Grow On, Captain OG Read More, Reading Rainbow Generation. I am a product of the after-school special and of School House Rock. Conjunction Junction? I know your function. I’m a member of the last generation to be pushed toward the library for hands-on learning via the encyclopedia, the reference desk, and the card catalog rather than pushed toward the internet.
I am originally from New York, and I grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood known as Brownsville. I lived equidistant between two public libraries—one on Church Avenue and one on Mother Gaston Boulevard. Every Friday, my elementary school classmates and I walked together to the Church Avenue library to choose our weekend books for our book reports due Monday. I waited for every Friday to come so I could step into that space and roam and browse and lose myself and find myself once again. I waited for Friday so I could spin the racks that held the paperbacks, so I could find the books I wanted and bring back books for others. I was a short-order cook, taking requests, bringing back Agatha Christie mysteries for my great-aunt who could not make the long walk. Every Friday I always came back with more than I could carry. Just as it is for many of us, the library was my go-to place. It was the place where I was sent to “look it up.” The place I could hole up in on hot summer afternoons, using the cool space of the library to beat the summer heat. If I had a nickel for all of the libraries I’ve loved before, I’d be rich indeed.
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From the Lenny Letter
The year was 1989, and I was a jack-o’-lantern. Wearing the costume equivalent of footed pajamas and a hat with a stem and felt leaves, I gripped my dad’s hand as we walked down the carpeted hallways of our apartment building. I remember the weight of my plastic candy bucket as I held it outstretched toward Frankenstein’s monster, witches, and ghosts sporting penny loafers and house slippers. Later that night, I sorted through my sugary loot and decided that Halloween was my favorite day of the year.
The following year, I was a witch. I wore a cape and striped tights. I trick-or-treated with my dad, adjusting my pointy black hat and practicing my cackle before we knocked on each door. I sunk my teeth into spider-shaped cookies alongside my neighborhood friends while our parents chatted and the flicker of crudely carved jack-o’-lanterns cast shadows against the wall. I bobbed for apples with a princess and a Ghostbuster, unaware that this Halloween would be my last.
Something changed in the months that followed. My parents started going to church again. They rededicated their lives to Jesus and became followers of the Word of God. They weren’t merely “religious.” They became devout. We attended church every Sunday and spent Wednesday nights at prayer meetings. My Disney VHS tapes were replaced by The Greatest Adventure series. My dad started listening to gospel music instead of jazz, and my mom got rid of her Nefertiti necklace in order to adhere to the Second Commandment. They explained that all of this would bring us closer to God, that it would allow for us to guard our ears, our eyes, and our hearts from worldly distractions and sin. Their reignited passion for Jesus meant that I would attend Christian school. It also meant that Halloween was no longer a day of fun. It was unholy, pagan, a doorway to the occult.
Read the rest of the post here: Hallowed Hell House