October 31, 2015

In (Qualified) Defense of Raven Symoné

Image: The Grio
I watch very little TV. When I do watch, daytime magazine shows like 'The View' are not among my selections. Nah, I go hard for the luscious rachetness of 'Scandal' and other shows like 'Empire,' but I digress.

Some time ago I wrote a blog post in defense of Raven
Symoné. My point was that I understood how she does not see herself as African. Personally, I don't consider myself African. I *AM* of African descent just as I am of Honduran descent. But, I *am neither* African nor Honduran, I am American. By the way, no one ever challenges me on having an identity crisis because I do not claim to be Honduran. Also, by the way, most Africans do not consider black Americans Africans! ::Imma just set that right there::

Last by the way, long-time members of the African diaspora who emigrated from Africa find themselves out of water when they return to their home countries! Sometimes, they are referred to by their fellow Africans as "no longer African."

My position, which I present as a way of understanding not as a sale anyone should buy, is that more than genes makes one anything. I believe that cultural knowledge AND experience, language, customs peculiar to a given society and community, belief systems, as well as heritage makes a person one thing or another. This was my defense of
Symoné at that time on this particular issue.

I do not follow
Symoné's public statements. I did, however, hear what she said about the South Carolina teenage student incident. Plainly, her comments were idiotic.

Yet, I believe that each person has the right to voice their opinions. I can choose to endorse them, ignore them, or rebuke them, but they have a right to them.

I recall reading, years ago, how involved
Symoné 's parents where in directing her career and protecting her from so many of the pitfalls that child stars are prey to. I give her parents credit for being there and being engaged.

It seems, perhaps, that they may have sheltered her to the point where she is incapable of relating to challenges faced by so many, even people of her own race.

Tragic, really.

For this reason, my feelings toward her involve pity and sorrow.

Symoné 's voice has far less affect on the lives of black people than culturally insensitive idiots who make laws at the local, state,and federal levels. Those are the "voices" that should be banned, those voices do more than express opinions, those voices regulate lives.

August 25, 2015

Appendix A

'The Shrews are Drunk in Love'
“Drunk in Love"
 Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z

[Intro: Beyoncé]
1. I've been drinking, I've been drinking
2. I get filthy when that liquor get into me
3. I've been thinking, I've been thinking
4. Why can't I keep my fingers off it, baby?
6. I want you, na na
7. Why can't I keep my fingers off it, baby?
8. I want you, na na

[Verse 1: Beyoncé]
9. Cigars on ice, cigars on ice
10. Feeling like an animal with these cameras all in my grill
11. Flashing lights, flashing lights
12. You got me faded, faded, faded
13. Baby, I want you, na na
14. Can't keep your eyes off my fatty
15. Daddy, I want you, na na
16. Drunk in love, I want you

[Hook: Beyoncé]
17. We woke up in the kitchen saying,
18. "How the hell did this shit happen?"
19. Oh baby, drunk in love we be all night
20. Last thing I remember is our beautiful bodies grinding up in the club
21. Drunk in love

[Bridge: Beyoncé]
22. We be all night, love, love
23. We be all night, love, love

[Verse 2: Beyoncé]
24. We be all night,
25. And everything alright
26. No complaints from my body, so fluorescent under these lights
27. Boy, I'm drinking,
28. Park it in my lot 7-11
29. I'm rubbing on it, rub-rubbing, if you scared, call that reverend
30. Boy, I'm drinking, get my brain right
31. Armand de brignac, gangster wife
32. Louie sheets, he sweat it out like wash rags he wear it out
33. [Studio version:] Boy, I'm drinking, I'm singing on the mic to my boy toys
34. [Video/Live version:] Boy, I'm drinking, I'm singing on the mic til my voice hoarse
35. Then I fill the tub up halfway then ride it with my surfboard, surfboard, surfboard
36. Graining on that wood, graining, graining on that wood
37. I'm swerving on that, swerving, swerving on that big body
38. Been serving all this, swerve, surfing all in this good, good



[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
39. (I'm nice right now)
40. Hold up
41. That D'USSÉ is the shit if I do say so myself
42. If I do say so myself, if I do say so myself
43. Hold up,
44. Stumbled all in the house time to back up all of that mouth
45. That you had all in the car, talking 'bout you the baddest bitch thus far
46. Talking 'bout you be repping that third, I wanna see all the shit that I heard
47. Know I sling Clint Eastwood, hope you can handle this curve
48. Foreplay in the foyer, fucked up my Warhol
49. Slip the panties right to the side
50. Ain't got the time to take draws off, on site
51. Catch a charge I might, beat the box up like Mike
52. In '97 I bite, I'm Ike, Turner, turn up
53. Baby no I don't play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae
54. Said, "Eat the cake, Anna Mae!"
55. I'm nice, for y'all to reach these heights you gonna need G3
56. 4, 5, 6 flights, sleep tight
57. We sex again in the morning, your breastases is my breakfast
58. We going in, we be all night


[Verse 4: Beyoncé]
59. Never tired, never tired
60. I been sipping, that's the only thing that's keeping me on fire, me on fire
61. Didn't mean to spill that liquor all on my attire
62. I've been drinking watermelon
63. I want your body right here, daddy I want you, right now
64. Can't keep your eyes off my fatty
65. Daddy I want you


Drunk in Love (video)

Song writers: Shawn C. Carter, Rasool Ricardo Diaz, Noel C. Fisher, Jerome Harmon, Beyonce Gisselle Knowles, Timothy Z. Mosley, Andre Eric Proctor, Brian Soko

Publisher: Sony

April 15, 2015

Power Full

Power Full
Z. Hall

Power Full [Title]

I can love you
beyond your faults
your weaknesses
are but footnotes
on whistling wind,
your secrete insecurities
silenced for eternity

your imperfections
are fine art
your mistakes
memories faded
in gesso

this is honest & real
my friend

truer than indigo
stronger than graphene
solid as oak
hewn in blood
sweat and
fear not
the crevices of culture
tradition, time or space

transcendence is at our
beck and call

say the word
just say the word

I fear not death, I am
director of its procession
conductor of all preceding it
I refuse to die
of internal bleeding

love me,  in return
fully, in complete knowledge
of me

that what is
common in me
with the morning dew

the scorching heat
of your absence
is the sole burden
I cannot bear
© Z. Hall, 2015

Cassandra Wilson, 'Solomon Sang,' Jazz

April 12, 2015

Billie Holiday: A Centennial Tribute

April 7, 2015, marked the centennial of Billie Holiday's birth. Her artistry has inspired the work of so many. For example, Cassandra Wilson's new project, 'Coming Forth By Day,' covers a number of Lady Day's songs. And Vincent Valdez's recent series of paintings draws on Holiday's work.

April is also National Poetry Month. For some time, I have been working on a found poem based on 'Strange Fruit' written by Abel Meeropol and performed by Billie Holiday. This is a good time to release the poem that also works with the song. It extends the idea of strange fruit rotting beneath the poplar trees to seeds of that fruit carrying on the struggle for liberty. I give you:

'Strange Seeds' [Title]

Hatred breeds such a strange fruit
Blood streams to the ground, ne’er will be mute
Black pods burst and puts forth seeds
Strong fruit grows round the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
Painful cries for lives snuffed out
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then human rights and laws don’t mesh

Seeds take root, crows refuse to pluck
For the rain to gather, no reliance on luck
For the sun to nourish what the tree did drop
Seeds of that strange and bitter crop
© Z. Hall, 2015

Vincent Valdez's series of eight large-scale oil paintings, 'The Strangest Fruit,' investigates the lesser discussed but widespread lynching of Mexicanos in Texas between 1848 and 1928. The images of men's contorted bodies wearing modern day clothing and seemingly suspended in space connects historical mistreatment of Latinos to present day injustices.

© Vincent Valdez

In an interview with Ed Fuentes, Valdez said, "It is important to depict these portraits through contemporary faces and bodies which suggest that the presence and threat of the noose itself has been reshaped, repackaged, and is as present as ever in modern America ... which represents an "obscure part of American history."

Cassandra Wilson's 'Coming Forth By Day,' with the exception for one original song, covers many of Holiday's most famous songs. Wilson performed the song book set to fresh arrangements at the Kennedy Center for Jazz Night in America on March 31, 2015.

April 11, 2015


  Image by © Moyo Okediji, ‘Construction Work Lady,’ Akure, Nigeria, 2012.

Woman [Title]

after love is made
buried & forgotten
deep in the cushion
cradling life

she wakes

sedimentary minerals
float, suspended
safely, in the
amniotic bubble

she daydreams

prehistoric memories
lain down
by the tickle
of first words
through the
chamber wall

she closes her eyes

the foliation
is set, clear
parallel planes

she weeps

rare formed,
she resists forced
temperature & pressure
to crystallize

she toils

speaks to her
character & commitment
her crag is famous
admired & loved

she persists

fertility & survival
is the wage
flesh, bone, & blood
the cost of labor

she provides

silky nourishment
gushes through her
mountain ridges
to pools promising
health & strength,
measured only by

she knows

idleness is vanity
pride is folly, &
continual change
& chance
proceed death

she rests

a diamond in the rough

© Z. Hall, 2015

Dedicated to all women around the world who toil in the worst conditions: societal, employment, romantic, personal, familial, and all human relationships in between.

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