ART: Kerry James Marshall’s Masterful “Mastry” Exhibit Opens Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Works from Kerry James Marshall’s “Mastry” exhibition (collage by Maeve Richardson)

by Callie Teitelbaum

The “Mastry” Gallery, created by African-American artist Kerry James Marshall, walks you through Marshall’s journey of making it as a fine artist – a field dominated by whites for centuries.  Marshall was born in Alabama in 1955, and as a child was a part of the last wave of The Great Migration to the west, a region still full of promise and opportunity. Marshall’s family settled in South Central Los Angeles and while growing up in Watts, Marshall pursued art and was an active participant in the movement that encouraged an increase of black artists in the art community.  All of Marshall’s work contributed to his mission to prove that art by blacks was just as challenging and beautiful as the white art which was typically celebrated.

The exhibit shows Marshall’s earlier works such as “The Invisible Man,” which is a collection of small scale portraits of people using the darkest shades of black, emphasizing Marshall’s idea that black people in society blend into the background.  The exhibition displays how Marshall’s work developed, and include many of his large scale paintings.

Marshall changed the style of his work because he realized that a big statement called for a grander canvas.  A large three-piece work called “Heirlooms and Accessories,” appears to be a necklace with a woman’s face in it at first glance.  However, once one’s eyes adjust to the painting, fine lines start to become more distinct, and it is clear that there is a lynching occurring in the background.  The faces in the painting are witnesses at the lynching, and the expressions of indifference are utterly shocking. While “Heirlooms and Accessories” seem to be referring to the necklaces, accessories serves as a double meaning because it also refers to those who were accessories to murder.  This is a prime example of the depth and meaning behind each of Marshall’s work.

“Harriet Tubman” by Kerry James Marshall

All of the paintings reflect Marshall’s commentary on black identity in the U.S. and in traditional western art.  In his piece “Harriet Tubman,” Marshall paints an image of Harriet Tubman on her wedding day, with hands with white gloves essentially hanging this piece of art in a museum.  Marshall’s feeling that museums are responsible for the lack of black art is portrayed in this piece.  Museums typically hold the standard of what is beautiful and worthy, and Marshall makes the direct statement of what should be celebrated in this work.

The exhibition is especially engaging because of the varying emotions each work provokes.  While pieces such as “Slow Dance,” which illustrates two people peacefully dancing, provokes calmness and peace, other pieces express injustice and anger.  Marshall’s versatility and innate talent for art is clear as his work consists of completely different mediums and subjects.  The exhibition allows you to fully observe all of Marshall’s different forms of art and varying ideas, and is not limited to a specific time period or brand of art.

Marshall’s range of mediums and subjects include large to small scale, canvas paintings to comics, common people to historical figures, and glittery mediums to the blackest of paint.  This ability to effectively utilize different forms of art makes Marshall a unique artist, and a unique person who has learned to effectively communicate in a way people of all race, gender, and social class can understand.  Marshall’s works are visually stunning to say the least, and his success in spreading the meaning of his art and pursuing his career despite the circumstances of racial discrimination, is truly inspiring.

The Mastry exhibit opens on March 12 at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and runs through July 3.

30 of the Most Important Articles by People Of Color in 2016 | The Huffington Post

(photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Zeba Blay via huffingtonpost.com

Between the deaths of greats like Prince and Mohammed Ali, the destruction in Aleppo and the circus that was the U.S. presidential election, 2016 was the year of one awful thing after another.

But despite the awfulness, stellar writing by people of color provided clarity, comfort and insight in even the darkest moments this year.

For the second year in a row, we’ve curated a list of essays and articles that defined conversations about race, pop culture, politics and identity in 2016. They cover a wide array of topics, from reactions to the election of Donald Trump, to the huge role young black people play in internet culture, to the genius of James Baldwin. The criteria is simple: all pieces on this list were written by a person of color and published within the last year online.

As a look back, this year-end list is by no means fully comprehensive of all the stellar work written by writers of color in 2016. Feel there’s a glaring omission? Nominate your favorite pieces in the comments. In the meantime, check out these powerful, thought-provoking and entertaining reads from this year:

How Journalists Of Color Plan To Survive Trump’s America
Wilfred Chan, Fusion 
What will it mean to be a journalist in the age of Trump? How will journalists of color get through the next four years? Wilfred Chan writes about the “psychological tax” many journalists of color are forced to pay in order to do the work, and the ways in which continuing to write is not only a form of self-care but also a form of survival.

Black Life And Death In A Familiar America
Eve L. Ewing, Fader
Published in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, Ewing explores the deep racial divides in America by way of Chicago. Using the shooting death of Joshua Beal as a connective thread, Ewing deftly explores the correlations between black death in America and the so-called “rise” of hate.

I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again
Damon Young, Very Smart Brothas
For many black people in America, the election of Donald Trump felt like a rude awakening, a harsh reminder that the racist wounds of this country go far deeper than any of us wanted to admit to ourselves. The ever-brilliant Damon Young perfectly captured that feeling in this essay for Very Smart Brothas, where he bluntly explains how white supremacy works on a systemic level.

Mourning For Whiteness
Toni Morrison, The New Yorker
Toni Morrison breaks it all the way down in this post-election essay where she quite matter-of-factly calls out the reason that Donald Trump won the presidential election: the fear of losing white privilege. “So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength,”Morrison writes. “These people are not so much angry as terrified.”

What I Said When My White Friend Asked For My Black Opinion On White Privilege
Lori Lakin Hutcherson, The Huffington Post
The concept of “white privilege” is constantly debated, challenged, and questioned, particularly by white people. What is it? Is it even real? And what about “black privilege?” HuffPost contributor Lori Lakin Hutcherson shares her own candid views on the topic of white privilege, and the realities of being black in America today.

Interview With A Woman Who Recently Had An Abortion At 32 Weeks
Jia Tolentino, Jezebel
This brilliant conversation conducted by Jia Tolentino delivers a powerful glimpse into the mind and motivations of one woman after a recent late-term abortion. Thanks to mostly Republican legislators who use rhetoric that implies women who get late-term abortions are just flippantly changing their mind about pregnancy, late-term abortion continues to be widely misunderstood. In a year when there were a myriad of threats against reproductive rights in America, hearing one woman’s very personal story about a complicated pregnancy provides the kind of context we desperately need more of.

My Father’s House
Reggie Ugwu, Buzzfeed
After the death of his brother and the deteriorating health of his father, writer Reggie Ugwu made an important journey of discovery and self-reflection, returning to his ancestral home in Nigeria and helping to take care of his ailing father. Ugwu delves into the Igbo-American identity and experience, capturing the visceral feelings of obligation and grief. On his brother’s death he writes, powerfully: “In the weeks and months after Chidi died, still engulfed in darkness, I felt ready to die, too; by which I mean that losing the person I loved most in the world seemed equivalent to losing the world itself.”

What I Pledge Allegiance To 
Kiese Laymon, The Fader
In the year that Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, and Donald Trump threatened jail-time to flag burners, Kiese Laymon wrote about the concept of pledging allegiance to a country that he doesn’t feel is allegiant to him. One of the most powerful sentences: “I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean.”

Now Is The Time To Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The New Yorker
Celebrated as much for her work as a novelist as she is for her work as an outspoken feminist and activist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie unsurprisingly had one of the best post-election responses this year. Her reaction: in the wake of Trump’s election, we must become even more determined to fight bigotry, rather than to bend in order to accommodate and coddle racist ideology. “Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism,” Adichie writes. “It allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility.”

To see complete list, go to: 30 Of The Most Important Articles By People Of Color In 2016 | The Huffington Post

White Christians Who Voted for Donald Trump: Fix This. Now. | John Pavlovitz

(photo via johnpavlovitz.com)

We Christians like to talk about Hell a lot, so let’s talk about Hell a little. Yesterday, in the very first few daylight hours after Donald Trump’s election victory it began:

Near San Francisco, a home in Noe Valley flew a nazi flag where kids walk by to get to school.

A white middle school student brought a Trump sign to school and told a black classmate it was time for him to get “back in place”.

A gay New York City man getting on a bus was told that he should “Enjoy the concentration camps, faggot!”

The NYU Muslim Students Association found the word “Trump!”scrawled on the door of their prayer room.

A female seminary student was stopped at a coffee shop with the words, “Smile sweetheart, we beat the cunt.”

Parents of children of color spent the day picking up their children early from elementary, middle, and high schools across the country because they were inundated with slurs and harassment and unable to study.

A group of Hispanic kids in Raleigh were taunted by white children, telling them they were “going back to Mexico.”

This is the personal Hell we’ve unleashed upon our people this week. 

And if you’re a white Christian and you voted for Donald Trump: You need to fix this. Now.

To continue reading full article, go to: White Christians Who Voted for Donald Trump: Fix This. Now. | john pavlovitz

EDITORIAL: Donald Trump Will Be the Next U.S. President; Where Do We Go From Here?

The Hutcherson family at the polls on Election Night 2016 (photo via Lori Lakin Hutcherson)

The Hutcherson family at our polling place on Election Night 2016 (photo via Lori Lakin Hutcherson)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief

For personal and political reasons, I was really hoping this morning would never come: a morning where I’d see Donald J. Trump elected to lead this nation as its 45th president. It has come, however, and as I posited in my most recent editorial, What I Want to Be Able to Tell My Children About Their Next President, I was at an initial loss for what to say.

But before I said good-bye to my children this morning, I let them know who won the Presidency.  My seven year-old daughter Phoebe asked, “So it’s all boys?” I responded, “Yes. That’s how the results came in. But that doesn’t mean we stop fighting for what we believe in and what we think will be helpful for most people.  And in four more years, we can go back to our polling place and use our vote to make a change.”  My daughter nodded, satisfied.  My nine year-old son Xavier took it in, much harder to read, but his silence was more stoic than sad.  And then their father took them to school.

Like so many others, I then checked in on social media and witnessed a tide of anger, disbelief, sadness and deeply stirring, galvanized spirit pouring out of family, friends, acquaintances and strangers.  Soon after, I turned on the television and watched Hillary Clinton give perhaps the greatest, most moving speech of her life.  She was gracious, offering openness and healing while remaining indefatigably determined about her democratic agenda and beliefs:

Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things –- the rule of law, the principle that we’re all equal in rights and dignity, and the freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these things too — and we must defend them.

…Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear: making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top; protecting our country and protecting our planet; and breaking down all the barriers that hold anyone back from achieving their dreams.

We’ve spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American Dream is big enough for everyone — for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities.  Our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.

And then, for me, came two of her most stirring sentences:

Please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it.

And:

Scripture tells us: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

So as of today, I am determined not only to continue to curate and write positive stories about people of color via Good Black News, but also to step it up and be a source for even more.  To help provide information, ideas and maybe even forums on ways to be pro-active for justice, fairness and inclusivity on local, state and national levels.  It may be loose, unpolished and grass roots-style; it may come in the form of tweets, Facebook live posts, IG snaps and super brief posts here, as our GBN squad is as small and volunteer-based as ever – but we vow to offer what we can, when we can, in whatever way we can.

It is my renewed and expanded mission to keep heart, love, be kind, be outspoken, work with whomever has good intentions, and to use any anger and rage as fuel for positive change.  And most of all, to work day-by-day, moment-by-moment, step-by-step to deliver on promises for a better,  more decent and humane future for our children, ourselves and our country.

EDITORIAL: What I Want To Be Able to Tell My Children About Their Next President

Xavier and Lori Hutcherson (screenshot via youtube.com)

Xavier Hutcherson and Lori Lakin Hutcherson (PrioritiesUSA ad screenshot via youtube.com)

by GBN Founder and Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson

by GBN Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson

I know everyone wants this election to be over already – you’ve seen every debate, every news clip, every “shocking revelation”; been inundated in your social media feeds for what seems like an eternity with everyone’s thoughts, opinions, screeds, salvos and takes on who is or isn’t a worthy presidential candidate and why.  So here, in these last days, I’ll weigh in with what my choice ultimately boiled down to for me: When the final results are in, what do I want to be able to say to my 9 year-old and my 7 year-old about who their next president is?

In 2008, this moment was revelatory: I was bathing my then almost 2 year-old son Xavier (who since birth has been negotiating the challenges of cerebral palsy and epilepsy) when Barack Obama was officially proclaimed the future 44th President of the United States.  I looked at Xavier… he smiled.  I teared up, my heart swelled and I told him it was just proven without a doubt that the impossible IS possible, that his own potential was limitless and he could be whatever he wanted to be when he grew up.

In 2012, more of the same – but now I got to say it to my then 3 year-old daughter Phoebe too, who in her lifetime has never known a president OTHER than Barack Obama. Wow.  And now in 2016 she has the potential to see a woman rise to the top post of our nation for the first time in U.S. history – which will also be a truly awesome milestone of possibility to celebrate.

But even more than that, I want to be able to tell my children whether or not I or their father agree with the politics of our next president, that our next president is worthy of our respect and support.  That our president at her or his core is a decent human being who is doing her or his best to make our country stronger and create more opportunity for the majority of Americans.  That our president values and respects women, the LBGTQ community, people with disabilities, people of color and people with varied religious beliefs.

For me, it is glaringly obvious that there is only one candidate in true contention for the Presidency who fits that description: Hillary Clinton.  Which is why my sister and our Lifestyle Editor Lesa Lakin produced the ad below and why I agreed to have me and my children take part in the political ad below (we are at the :12 mark).  I wanted Xavier and Phoebe to know who I supported, and why it was worth putting ourselves out there to do so.

As difficult and divisive as our current times can be, as I do here on Good Black News, in everyday life I work hard to stay focussed on the positive (and some days, as we all know, that is REALLY REALLY hard).  I always want my children to live in a welcoming atmosphere of possibility, encouragement and hope.  Of civility and decency.  Of responsibility, fairness, and a willingness to admit one’s mistakes and do better.  I want the same values they are learning to live by at home and school – to listen, be polite, not name call, take turns, share – to be values I can say our nation’s leader lives by as well.  Come Wednesday morning, if Hillary Clinton has won, I can say that to them.

But if she doesn’t win… frankly, I don’t know what I’m going to say.

OPINION: Why Colin Kaepernick’s Sit Down May Be the Most Patriotic Stand of All

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (photo via mmqb.si.com)

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (photo via mmqb.si.com)

by Julie Bibb Davis (@julieadelle)

by Julie Bibb Davis (@julieadelle)

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, chose not to stand for the National Anthem at a recent pre-season football game.  Players are not required to stand under NFL rules, and Kaepernick was clear about his reasons to remain seated, stating ”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”  Subsequently, he has given interviews about his decision, and the well-thought out reasons behind it.

While Kaepernick has seen some support, he has also faced enormous backlash for his decision – from pundits, from current and former NFL players, from the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association, and predictably, he has been skewered mercilessly on Twitter and in the online commentary sections of various websites.

Some of the online criticism has been of the typically jingoistic “my country – love it or leave it” or “my country – right or wrong” variety that tends to become prevalent when legitimate protest involves the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem.  And these types of criticism are particularly troubling, because they are designed to tell people “you can’t be a good American if you don’t honor this symbol in a particular way.”

I have spent the majority of my career working for the federal government.  I am proud to work in a building where the American flag flies, and where pictures of the President and Vice-President are in the lobby.  I understand the power and meaning of symbols.  And it precisely the power and meaning of symbols that makes protests involving them so resonant – and necessary.   I don’t know much about football, but I do know something about the First Amendment.  Kaepernick’s actions are fully-protected free speech, and the type of peaceful public protest that has been central to social justice movements.

And for those whose response to Kaepernick is “my country — right or wrong,” it’s time to look at the response to that quote by US Senator Carl Schurz in 1899.  Schurz decried the statement as “a deceptive cry of mock patriotism”, and went on to state that the “welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country — when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’”

Kaepernick saw something he thought was wrong in his country.  Like generations of Americans before him, he engaged in a peaceful public protest to bring attention to that wrong, and to make a statement as to how it needed to be put right.  And for that he should not be vilified, but applauded.

OPINION: Simone Biles Takes Olympic Gold in Women’s All-Around Gymnastics Final; Still Deserves Better Major Media Coverage

Olympic All-Around Gold Medalist Simone Biles (photo via latimes.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

You’ve surely heard about it by now, and likely seen it too – U.S. gymnast phenomenon Simone Biles easily captured individual all-around gold at the Rio Olympics Thursday by out-performing the best of the world’s best and fulfilling what many felt was her long-awaited destiny.  Teammate Aly Raisman won the silver and Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina took the bronze, repeating her finish in London four years ago.  It was the second time the U.S. women went 1-2 in the all-around, having also done so in 2008.

But what I find to be challenging about the major media coverage of Biles beyond the footage of her feats (which I could watch all day every day) is how much it focuses primarily on three things: 1)her “humble beginnings” family story  2)how “girly” she is and 3) how she is preternaturally genetically gifted for the sport she so clearly dominates.  If you need to see examples of any or all of this, simply turn on NBC to catch whatever package is running on her as they show the gymnastics competitions (I’ve personally seen the footage of her at the nail salon three separate times), go to nbcolympics.com, read pretty much any major newspaper’s feature on her (many with some tagline about what a “giant” the 4′ 8″ teen is), or heck, just click through the internet.

In addition to hearing about her once-in-a-generation, God-given talent or her twitter crush on Zac Efron, can’t we please hear, see, read and learn more about how Biles’ team crafts her routines to capitalize on her strengths?  Or how exactly did she and/or her coaches come up with her signature move for the floor routine – the Biles?  (Okay, I just found that one – it’s on inc.com – a business site!).

If I Google and scour a bit, I do find what I want – coverage of Biles’ discipline, work ethic and what kind of discrimination, if any, she faces as a black gymnast in a predominately white sport – like this very strong piece published in deadspin.com. I do believe, however, this should be the standard of mainstream media coverage on a sports superstar of Biles’ caliber, particularly from the official network covering the Olympics she is currently crushing. (Yes, it’s cute to see her dance to “Uptown Funk” with Hoda and reveal her and her teammates’ Kellogg’s cereal box on “The Today Show”, but c’mon Peacock – there is so much more to this athlete!)

Hopefully this weekend during the broadcast of the individual skills events, NBC will step it up – way up – because Biles surely will, and she deserves nothing but the best as she gives us all her best.