August 21, 2011

Red Cockatoo Feathers

Charlotte Hill O’Neal, also affectionately known as Mamma C., is a visual artist, activist, public speaker, filmmaker, and published poet. She is the program director of the United African Alliance Community Center which she and her husband, Pete, founded 20 years ago.

The center provides personal and community development programs to the youth of Arusha, Tanzania. Originally from Kansas City, Charlotte and Pete have resided in Africa for more than 40 years.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Hill O'Neil

Red Cockatoo Feathers
(tasteful, mature content)
Charlotte Hill O'Neal

Red Cockatoo Feathers© Charollet Hill O'Neal

August 20, 2011

Prison of the Mind

Z. Hall is an educator, researcher, blogger, photographer, and poet. A large part of her work focuses on social justice. Her research interests include the history of art controversies, the communication surrounding art conflicts, and how this communication functions within society. She earned a doctorate in communication studies in 2009.

As the author of this blog, Z. writes about topics that, through conversation with members and readers, further understanding of the human condition. Her belief is that public deliberation is beneficial for consciousness raising, building tolerance acceptance, and problem solving.

Prison of the Mind
Z. Hall

Image by Annemarie Hoogwoud

I’m breaking free!

Congratulations! How?

Eyes focused anew,
perspectives multiplied,
challenging assumptions
that be
the rock
limited pos-si-bi-li-ty.

At midnight’s approach
clubbing the night guard,
taking the keys,
opening the cells,
triggering the sprinklers.


It’s not mayhem.

It is dawn.

Inmates of the mind
have set

the land of tranquility, 
abundance, and light.


You have my interest.
if achieved.
Go on.

The experience
is in
An epic quest,
invitations to all.

Tell me
of your pilgrimage
Godspeed, trusted, fellow inmate!

Image from:

Thanks for sharing
this leg of the journey.
movement on the cellblock,
asking, "how?"

This much we have achieved.


We must gather the others.

© Z. Hall, 2011

August 17, 2011

Immigration Law vs. Christian Principle

Image by Sabastian Panwitz
The toughest immigration law in the United States goes into effect on September 1, 2011 in Alabama. The legislation reaches as far as prohibiting giving a ride to an illegal immigrant. But individuals are taking a stand against the system.

One hundred and fifty church leaders argue that the stringent immigration law contradicts the biblical command to be hospitable to strangers. This is significant since clergy have considerable influence in their communities. It sends a compelling message: We are not powerless.

Bravo to the church leaders in Alabama. The very act of taking a stand against a law which would make it impossible to be kind to strangers is in harmony with the Christian principle of being a Good Samaritan. You are setting a fine example for persons of all religious and spiritual backgrounds.

A co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Holtzclaw, and Rev. Lacey of Woodlawn Methodist Church in Birmingham were interviewed on “The Takeaway.”

August 16, 2011

Which Americans? Whose Prosperity?

Jim Crow is alive, well, and heavily funding in American society. This film reveals how and why the Koch brothers are trying to end public education in the Wake County, North Carolina community. Should the goal of having children attend “neighborhood schools” be of concern to the broader society?

Historically, Jim Crow negatively affected the quality of life for Blacks across the United States. The 21st Century Jim Crow multiplies the ramifications of re-segregation which threatens the prosperity of each individual who doesn’t fit into the homogenous, separate and unequal, well-funded schools of the elite. Yes, modern-day Jim Crow has expanded his love-to-hate embrace to include immigrants, blacks and browns, and all but the super-wealthy.

It’s not difficult to envision the international ramifications of re-segregation when viewed through the lenses of nationality, race, and class. This film is well-done and informative.

August 5, 2011

Nicki Minaj and Daytime Television

I don't watch nearly as much TV as days gone by but today I caught a portion of Good Morning America and they were broadcasting a segment of their summer concert series, this one featuring Nicki Minaj.  

I can't say that I was shocked to see Minaj gyrating at 8 o'clock in the morning on a major network but I have to admit I was thrown off center. Something in me asked, "What's wrong with this picture?" I mean, she displayed cleavage on the precarious edge of full exposure. In fact, her loose-fitting halter top lead to a wardrobe malfunction which briefly exposed her nipple--for which ABC News apologizes, of course.

Image from: AP on
In fairness, it just could have been the full light of early morning that made Minaj's 2-inch eyelashes look like caterpillars and her blonde "Harajuku Barbie wig" look like a morning-after need for salvation. After all, I've never been troubled by Minaj's displays on late-night awards shows. So, I recognize that there was something reaching deeper--to my core.

What was shocking was the large number of grade-school and junior-high school girls in the audience of the Central Park venue. I thought to myself, "when did the audience of this Lil Kim inspired artist become adolescent girls?!"  It's clear that targeting this audience is a strategy, Minaj: being referred to as a living "Barbie," calling her young fans "Barbies" and "Ken-Barbies." Is it possible that Mattel is a behind-the-scenes sponsor struggling to keep Barbie relevant through a hip-hop personification of the 52-year old toy? Burger King's public endorsement (one of Minaj's props was an oversized, child-like, inflatable thrown) signals that it's okay for adolescent boys to be members of team-Minaj.

Image from:
Simply put, I felt let down by early-morning TV generally and Good Morning America specifically.  'The morning gatekeepers supporting outrageous attire and precocious dance moves to young girls as a model to follow—disappointing.

August 3, 2011

Why is a circle 360 degrees rather than 100?

It’s thought that the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia (Sumerians, Akkadians, and Babylonians) invented the 360-degree circle to describe their observations of the five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) along with the sun and moon. They noticed that the sun’s annual trek across the sky took 360 days.

Image from:,
modified by the author
Their calendar was divided into 12 months of 30 days each. This base-60 system was utilized further to divide the hour into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 seconds. Base-10 societies, like the U.S., have adapted to this 4,400 year-old creation.

If we place issues that we examine at the center of the circle we have the opportunity to examine the issue from many different perspectives--increasing our ability to fully understand what we are seeing or experiencing. Greater understanding empowers us to improve our lives and the world that we live in.

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