Posted on Leave a comment

Documentary List to Observe America’s Faux Independence

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Viewing Suggestions

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: It Shouldn’t Take Courage to Love a Black Woman

Courage shouldn’t be required to love a Black Woman. 
To accept a heart given freely or a life offered for reciprocal tribute. 
Where is the danger in respecting one who aches with neglect 
from being habitually dismissed and discarded  
throughout centuries of generations? 
What terrors does this global shadow craft present? 
False images of projected insecurities, self-hate, irrational anger,  
exasperated impatience, and I-got-this-don’t-need-you independence.  
The illusions formed by men of hypersexuality, low morality, and mean-spiritedness to assuage  
their proclivities of abuse, torment, separation, abandonment, rejection, and destruction 
Society built a totem full of grievances, animosity and dissatisfaction and  
called it Black Womanhood. Onto this altar are thrown the most violent human attacks. 
Yet despite this intentional sacrilege, the Black Woman’s labor is expected without delay 
or complaint, her support is claimed as an entitlement right,  
her nurturing care as a duty of her skin, gender and status.  
Indeed, no part of a Black Woman’s body or existence is expected to be under her control. Everything she is, society and man claim as their droit du seigneur. 
The world delights in telling Black Women we are nothing.  
We are the least desired and even then, only wanted for what we give.  
We are rarely valued for our personhood; often only praised for  
the volume of our production and serving unto depletion or death. 
Yet ask a Black Woman who she is and be prepared to bask in the light of her glory. 
We see ourselves as the embodiment of love, conduits of grace, dispensers of mercy.  
We are Wisdom, Discernment and Truth.  
We are Unbroken, Unbowed, Still Standing.  
Society sees one thing. We Are Another.  
We are not who you say we are.  
We will not perform to your expectations.  
We will do what needs to be done, but we will be who we be. 
We are Love, ergo we do not require courage to love ourselves. 
It shouldn’t require courage for others to love Black Women. 
We are humans with human needs, Women with human desires. 
We, too, want to be loved, held, cherished, respected and honored. 
We desire to be accepted as fully as we accept others; 
Invited into spaces so hospitable we forget the hostility of the world; 
Spoken to with a gentle understanding that elicits the same kind response. 
We gleefully pour all of ourselves into everyone connected to us 
Even when they feed us nothing in return 
We, too need to be poured into. 
We, too, desire to bask in the radiance of another’s glory 
To be bathed in joy, peace and tranquility 
To rest without anxiety and wake without urgency 
We don’t need this grace from everyone 
Nor do we expect a societal shift out of gratitude for services rendered 
But for our men… 
It shouldn’t take courage to be a man of character, substance, integrity, conviction and discernment 
A man with enough strength to support a leaning respite.
A man who follows his heart and spirit instead of social norms and biases, 
But alas here we are praying for courage to exist, to relate, to be who we are. 
It shouldn’t take courage to live well in this realm,
But alas, here I am alone and unwanted in a world unable to eliminate my joy, exploring life with an unmitigated gall derived from loving myself.

LaShawnda Jones
Posted on Leave a comment

Juneteenth Print Series (2023)

All images by LaShawnda Jones except where noted.

This year’s Juneteenth print series features monuments in Montgomery, Alabama and Chicago, Illinois.

For Freedom Day 2023 I wanted to feature the ancestors we have lost to the violence and hatred baked into the American way of life as well as visionaries intent on carving a way through the oppression for themselves and future generations across the American landscape.

Bryan Stevenson‘s Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration and National Monument of the Peace and Justice were top of mind and spirit this year. As was Chicago’s settler founder and Bronzeville.

We live in a time, culture and society that actively hates reality. The truth of the country’s beginning, its history, and present state is being erased, banned, rewritten and ignored. For this reason, I wanted to focus on words – names, cities, declarations. I wanted to share what’s already been said, what’s already known and seen and acknowledged. This year’s Juneteenth Series is about honoring and remembering not only our collective past but also our shared present.

Follow the links for more information on the people and places featured in the series.

Jars of Earth I, 2021 Copyright 2023 LaShawnda Jones

Jars of Earth I features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama. It is available as an 11×14 low-texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight white foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

They Are All Honored Here, 2021 Copyright, LaShawnda Jones, 2022

Jars of Earth II features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama. It is available as an 11×14 low-texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight black foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

We Will Remember features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The National Memorial for Peace & Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. This image is available as an 11×14 low texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight white foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

They Are All Honored Here, 2021 ©2023 LaShawnda Jones

They Are All Honored Here features monument tablets and a wall inscription at The National Memorial for Peace & Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. It is available as an 11×14 low texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight white foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) Anchors Chicago Skyline (2015) displays the home of the cultural iconic magazines Ebony and JET magazines nearly straddling the meeting point of Bronzeville and Magnificent Mile on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. It is available as a silk print in 5×7 and 10×20. Please allow 2-3 weeks for printing and shipping.

Du Sable on Potawatomi Land is a composite image of a bust of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue overlooking a mural by Andrea Carlson on the Chicago River Walk stating “Bodéwadmikik ėthë yéyék” meaning “You are on Potawatomi Land.” Du Sable on Potawatomi Land is available as an 11×14 low texture giclée print mounted (or not) on single-weight black foam and as a 5×7 silk print.

Prior Year Series

My 2022 Juneteenth series featured composite images representing money, power and the slave trade. The images used for the composites were taken between 2009 and 2020 in Dallas, Milwaukee, New York, Tucson, and Washington DC. A NASA satellite image of the world at night is incorporated in The Crossing.

Black Women Stand Alone is a composite of a lone Black Woman sitting in front of the White House as a police officer approaches her. Barricades with signs reading *Do Not Enter* are barring her entry to the primary symbol of power in the United States of America. It is available as a 5×7 silk print and 11×14 giclée print.

Land of Cotton depicts Lady Liberty walking across a cotton-filled New York Harbor toward mainland USA. It is available as a 5×7 silk and 11×14 giclée print.

The Crossing: Blood in the Water represents a mother & daughter holding hands across the Atlantic and generations. There’s blood enveloping a ship-like structure behind them that stretches from the African continent to the USA. It is available as a 5×7 silk and 11×14 giclée print.

Posted on Leave a comment

ChatGPT: America 

My first session with ChatGPT produced over 30 pages of answers. I could anticipate what most of the responses would be, but I expected better replies for some questions. There is a clear struggle with geography and history that doesn’t support the conquering west’s narrative. Some of the answers improve by rephrasing questions.

LJ: Is America a failed experiment? 

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot provide a personal opinion. However, it is worth noting that America has faced various challenges throughout its history, including political divisions, social inequality, economic instability, and international conflicts. Nonetheless, it remains one of the world’s leading economic and military powers and has made significant progress in areas such as civil rights, technology, and cultural innovation. Whether or not America is a “failed experiment” is a matter of interpretation and perspective. 

LJ: How has America failed to live up to its principles of creation? 

ChatGPT: America has often failed to live up to its founding principles of equality, liberty, and justice for all. This has been particularly true in regards to the treatment of minorities, including Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and others. Throughout its history, America has struggled with issues such as slavery, segregation, discrimination, and unequal treatment under the law. Despite the progress that has been made, these issues continue to be a source of tension and conflict in American society. Additionally, America has often failed to live up to its ideals in its foreign policy, particularly in regards to human rights and the treatment of other nations. 

LJ: What was the motivation for European countries to invade the Western Hemisphere? 

ChatGPT: The motivation for European countries to invade the Western Hemisphere, particularly in the Americas, was largely driven by the desire for wealth and power. Many European nations, such as Spain, Portugal, England, and France, saw the New World as an opportunity to expand their empires, acquire new territories, and exploit the abundant resources of the continent. These resources included gold, silver, timber, and other valuable commodities. Additionally, European countries sought to spread their influence and religion to the New World, leading to the forced conversion of indigenous populations to Christianity. The arrival of Europeans in the Americas had devastating consequences for the indigenous peoples of the continent, including displacement, disease, and exploitation. 

LJ: How likely is it that greed for wealth and power will destroy all civilization on Earth? 

ChatGPT: It is difficult to determine the likelihood of such an outcome as it depends on a variety of complex factors and variables that are difficult to predict. However, many scientists and experts have warned about the potential consequences of unchecked greed for wealth and power, including environmental destruction, economic instability, and social and political unrest. It is important for individuals, governments, and organizations to take proactive steps to address these issues and work towards a sustainable and equitable future for all. 

LJ: Is the United States of America doomed? 

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I cannot predict the future with certainty, but I can provide some perspective on this question based on current events and historical trends. 

It is important to note that the concept of “doom” is highly subjective and can mean different things to different people. While the United States, like any country, faces its fair share of challenges and uncertainties, it also has many strengths and resources that can help it navigate these challenges. 

In recent years, the United States has faced a number of significant challenges, including political polarization, economic inequality, racial and social unrest, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges have exposed deep-seated divisions within American society and raised questions about the country’s ability to address systemic problems and move forward as a cohesive nation. 

However, it’s worth noting that the United States has faced significant challenges in the past as well, including world wars, economic depressions, and social and political upheavals, and has emerged from these periods of crisis with renewed strength and resilience. The country’s democratic institutions, diverse population, and innovative spirit have all contributed to its success over the years. 

Ultimately, the fate of the United States will depend on the actions and decisions of its leaders and citizens, as well as larger global trends and events. While the road ahead may be uncertain, it is possible for the United States to overcome its challenges and continue to thrive as a nation. 

LJ: What is the average length of time empires have lasted in the world? 

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I can provide some historical context on the lifespan of empires throughout history. 

Empires have existed for thousands of years and have varied greatly in terms of their size, power, and longevity. Some empires, such as the Roman Empire, lasted for several centuries, while others, such as the Mongol Empire, lasted for only a few decades. The length of time an empire lasts is influenced by a range of factors, including the strength of its economy, military power, and political institutions, as well as external pressures such as wars and natural disasters. 

It is difficult to determine an average lifespan for empires, as the range of time varies greatly. Some scholars estimate that the average lifespan of empires throughout history has been around 250 years, although this is a broad estimate and should be taken with some caution. 

It’s also worth noting that the concept of an “empire” has changed over time, and what constitutes an empire in one era may be different from what constitutes an empire in another. For example, the Athenian Empire of ancient Greece may not fit the traditional definition of an empire in the same way that the British Empire of the 19th and early 20th centuries does. 

Overall, while there is no simple answer to the question of the average lifespan of empires, it is clear that empires throughout history have risen and fallen, and that the factors that contribute to their success or decline are complex and multifaceted. 

LJ: How old is the United States of America? 

ChatGPT: The United States of America was officially founded on July 4, 1776, when the Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain. This means that as of 2023, the United States is 246 years old. However, the history of the United States goes back much further than 1776, as the land that now comprises the United States was inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers. 

LJ: What is the oldest known Indigenous group in the United States of America? 

ChatGPT: The oldest known Indigenous group in the United States of America are the Native American peoples who have lived on the land for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. There are hundreds of distinct Native American tribes and nations, each with their own unique culture, language, and traditions. 

Some of the oldest known Native American groups include the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Pueblo, and Cherokee peoples, among others. The exact origins and timelines of these groups are still being studied and debated by scholars, but it is generally believed that they have lived on the North American continent for at least 12,000 years, and possibly longer. These Indigenous groups have a rich and complex history, and their contributions to American society and culture continue to be celebrated and honored today. 

LJ: What do you know about the histories of the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Pueblo, Cherokee, Seminole, Potawatomi and Iroquois? 

ChatGPT: The Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Pueblo, Cherokee, Seminole, Potawatomi, and Iroquois are all distinct Indigenous groups with rich and complex histories. Here is a brief overview of each: 

  • The Navajo people are the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States and are known for their art, jewelry, and weaving traditions. The Navajo language is also one of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages in the country. 
  • The Hopi people are known for their traditional villages, which have been inhabited continuously for centuries. The Hopi are also known for their kachina dolls and intricate pottery. 
  • The Apache people are divided into several distinct sub-groups, including the Western Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Mescalero Apache. They are known for their fierce resistance to Spanish and American colonization. 
  • The Pueblo people are known for their intricate pottery, which is still made using traditional techniques. They also have a rich spiritual tradition that is closely tied to the land. 
  • The Cherokee people have a long and complex history, including their forced removal from their ancestral lands in what is now the southeastern United States to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in the 1830s. The Cherokee Nation is now one of the largest federally recognized tribes in the United States. 
  • The Seminole people are originally from Florida and have a unique history of resistance to colonization. They are known for their patchwork clothing, which is made using traditional Seminole techniques. 
  • The Potawatomi people are originally from the Great Lakes region and have a long history of political and cultural engagement with non-Indigenous people. They are known for their basket weaving and beadwork. 
  • The Iroquois Confederacy is a political and cultural alliance of six Indigenous nations: the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. They are known for their longhouses, wampum belts, and contributions to the formation of American democracy. 

These Indigenous groups have faced many challenges throughout history, including forced relocation, assimilation policies, and loss of land and resources. However, they continue to preserve their cultures and traditions, and their contributions to American society and culture are widely recognized and celebrated today. 

LJ: Why are Black people so hated? 

ChatGPT: There is no single answer to this question as there are multiple factors and historical events that have contributed to anti-Black sentiment and racism. Some of these factors include: 

  • Historical legacy of slavery: For hundreds of years, Black people were enslaved and treated as property in many parts of the world. This legacy of slavery has had long-lasting effects on the treatment of Black people and the way they are perceived by others. 
  • Colonialism and imperialism: The history of colonialism and imperialism has led to the exploitation and oppression of many non-white populations, including Black people. This has contributed to systemic racism and the dehumanization of Black people. 
  • Systemic racism: Systemic racism refers to the ways in which policies, laws, and institutions perpetuate inequality and discrimination against Black people. This can include discriminatory practices in education, housing, employment, and the criminal justice system. 
  • Stereotypes and biases: Negative stereotypes and biases against Black people have been perpetuated in the media and popular culture, which can lead to discriminatory attitudes and actions. 

It is important to note that racism and hatred towards any group of people is unjustified and unacceptable. It is crucial to work towards dismantling these systems of oppression and promoting equality and justice for all individuals. 

LJ: Can racism be eliminated? 

ChatGPT: While eradicating racism entirely may be a difficult task, it is certainly possible to reduce its impact and promote greater equality and respect for all people. It requires sustained effort and a commitment to change at both an individual and societal level. 

There are several strategies that can be employed to combat racism, including: 

  • Education and awareness: Providing education about the history of racism, its effects on individuals and society, and the benefits of diversity and inclusion can help to raise awareness and promote understanding. 
  • Challenging stereotypes and biases: Addressing negative stereotypes and biases, both in the media and in personal interactions, can help to promote more positive attitudes towards marginalized groups. 
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion: Encouraging diversity and inclusion in all aspects of society, including workplaces, schools, and communities, can help to create a more welcoming and equitable environment for all people. 
  • Advocacy and policy change: Supporting policies and legislation that promote equity and fairness can help to reduce the impact of racism and create more opportunities for marginalized communities. 

Ultimately, eliminating racism will require a sustained effort from individuals, communities, and governments. While it may not happen overnight, it is certainly possible to make progress towards a more just and equitable society. 

Posted on Leave a comment

ChatGPT: Who and What Am I? 

https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt

From my first session with ChatGPT   

LJ: Who am I? 

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have access to personal information about users. Therefore, I cannot answer your question without additional context. Can you please clarify or provide more information about what you are asking? 

LJ: Who created me? 

ChatGPT: As a user of a computer or mobile device, your device and its operating system were likely created by a company or group of developers. However, if you are asking about your existence as a person or sentient being, that is a philosophical and theological question that has been debated for centuries. Different cultures and belief systems have different ideas about the origin and purpose of human life. From a scientific perspective, human life is the result of a complex series of biological and evolutionary processes that have been ongoing for billions of years. 

LJ: Are humans stardust? 

ChatGPT: Yes, in a sense, humans are made of stardust. The atoms that make up our bodies were created inside stars billions of years ago through nuclear fusion processes. Elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and iron, which are essential components of all life on Earth, were formed through the fusion of lighter elements in the cores of stars. When stars reach the end of their lifecycles, they can explode in supernova events, scattering these newly formed elements into space. Over time, this stardust can come together to form new stars, planets, and ultimately, life. So, in a way, we are all made of the remnants of ancient stars. 

LJ: Is eternal life based on our composition? 

ChatGPT: Eternal life, in the sense of living forever, is a concept that has been explored in many different cultures and belief systems. From a biological perspective, our ability to live indefinitely is limited by the natural processes of aging and death. Over time, our cells and tissues accumulate damage that can eventually lead to the failure of vital organs and systems. However, some scientists and researchers are exploring the possibility of extending human lifespan through advances in medical technology and genetic engineering. 

In terms of our composition, the idea of eternal life is often linked to the concept of the soul or spirit, which is believed by many religions to be an immaterial aspect of human consciousness that persists beyond physical death. The nature and existence of the soul is a topic of much debate and speculation, and its relationship to our physical bodies and composition is a matter of belief and interpretation. 

LJ: What is the percentage of single Black Women in America? 

ChatGPT: According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, as of 2020, 47.4% of non-Hispanic Black women over the age of 18 in the United States were unmarried and had never been married. 

LJ: What is the percentage of single Black Men in America? 

ChatGPT: According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, as of 2020, 54.1% of non-Hispanic Black men over the age of 18 in the United States were unmarried and had never been married. 

LJ: Why are Black Women and Men not marrying? 

ChatGPT: There are a number of reasons why some Black women and men may not be getting married, and it can be difficult to pinpoint any one specific factor. Here are a few possibilities: 

  • Economic factors: Black Americans, on average, face significant economic challenges that may make it harder for them to find and maintain stable relationships. This can include higher levels of poverty, unemployment, and underemployment, as well as systemic issues like discrimination in the job market. 
  • Education: Education is also an important factor when it comes to marriage rates. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Black women are more likely than any other group to have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which could be contributing to the lower marriage rates. 
  • Social factors: There are a number of social factors that could be contributing to lower marriage rates among Black Americans. These could include cultural attitudes towards marriage, the availability of potential partners, and changes in gender roles and expectations. 
  • Systemic issues: It is important to note that Black Americans have historically faced systemic racism and discrimination, which can impact their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. This can include everything from lower access to healthcare and other resources to a higher likelihood of experiencing trauma and stress. 

LJ: How likely is a Black Woman to marry for the first time after age 40? 

ChatGPT: The likelihood of a Black woman marrying for the first time after age 40 depends on various factors such as cultural norms, education level, socioeconomic status, personal preferences, and location. However, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of never-married women aged 40-44 was 15.4% for Black women, compared to 11.6% for White women and 10.4% for Hispanic women, as of 2019. The percentage of never-married women aged 45-49 was 13.5% for Black women, compared to 9.3% for White women and 9.2% for Hispanic women. It is worth noting that these statistics do not provide insights into the reasons why women in this demographic group are not married, as these reasons can be complex and multifaceted. 

LJ: How likely is a Black Woman to marry for the first time after age 50? 

ChatGPT: According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the likelihood of a Black woman marrying for the first time after age 50 is relatively low. In 2019, only about 2% of Black women aged 50 and over who had never been married eventually married. This is lower than the corresponding figures for White women (7.3%), Hispanic women (6.5%), and Asian women (4.2%). However, it is important to note that marriage rates and patterns can vary widely based on a range of factors, including geography, education, income, and cultural norms. 

LJ: Where on Earth is the safest place to live as a single Black Woman? 

ChatGPT: It is not possible to definitively identify a single location on Earth that is universally the safest place for all single Black women to live. Safety can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including local crime rates, economic opportunities, access to healthcare and education, and social and cultural attitudes. 

However, there are some places that may be considered relatively safe for Black women based on certain factors. For example, some cities with lower crime rates, higher levels of diversity, and strong support systems for marginalized groups may be good options for Black women seeking a safe and supportive environment. Some of these cities include Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal in Canada; Copenhagen in Denmark; Wellington in New Zealand; and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia. 

Ultimately, the decision of where to live should be based on a careful consideration of individual needs and preferences, as well as an awareness of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by different locations. It may also be helpful to seek out the advice and guidance of trusted friends, family members, or professionals with knowledge of local conditions and resources. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Barbershop Theology

Rebutting Black Men on the Woman King

It’s disappointing & infuriating to see Black Women constantly attacked by black men. The common theme is: a strong Black Woman erases the Black Man. i.e. there’s no need for a man if a woman can live in her own strength & purpose. This line of thought usually leads to what a woman’s role and place are (spoiler: obedient & beneath a man).

One IG poster started in on Wakanda Forever. He was outraged by all the powerful Black Women in the trailer. Where are the Black Men, he screamed! I would rather they replace Chadwick Boseman than put a woman in the panther suit, even though that’s how it happened in the comic book!” Ok, bruh. He went from outrage with Wakanda Forever (we all know it hasn’t even been released yet), to outrage with Woman King. He loves Viola, of course he does, but how dare she call herself a king! His Woman King post is at the end of my video commentary. Pause/screenshot it to read.

Part 1: Rebutting Black Men on the Woman King https://youtu.be/PwKgb5PDAL4

For those who have seen the movie, what are your thoughts?

For those who don’t want to see the movie, what are your reservations?

Threat of Equal Partnership

I was able to verbally rebut this idiocy in a barbershop. The loud and wrong men called me sexist for insisting that Black Men are not the only ones in danger. “Why you gotta keep bringing up Black Women,” they yelled. They called me a bougie Christian for saying I want an equal partner in marriage. “What, you think you’re white? Talking about a partner… why don’t you want a HUSBAND or do you mean you’re a lesbian,” they laughed uproariously. They kept repeating in different ways that men and women are not equal as something ordained by God. I asked for scripture, they had none.

The thing that choked me into a stutter was that each of them claimed they were good men. Truly stunning to me. Nothing they said represented goodness. How can you be a good man when you don’t even see the goodness you’re claiming for yourself in the woman God created? What’s good about inferiority? You think women are less than – how is that honorable? How is that praiseworthy?

Part 2: Equal Partners

#womanking #thewomanking #ruler #advisor #vision #leader #violadavis #hollywood #men #women #gender #politics #moviereview #igtv #reels

Posted on 1 Comment

Print Series: Juneteenth 2022

Background

On June 19, 1865, a Union Army general rode into Galveston, TX with General Order #3 to inform the African American enslaved population, and their enslavers, that they were free and had been so since the signing of Proclamation 95 and presidential executive order dated January 1, 1863. Two years, four months and 18 days earlier. Nearly six months after Congress passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery on January 31, 1865. And a couple months after the Civil War ended on April 9, 1865.

The general also advised the people who were just informed of their freedom that they should remain on the plantations they had been enslaved on and wait for wages from their former masters who were now deemed their employers with whom they had just been granted equal rights under the law. Yada, yada, yada. We can all see how this played out over the last 157 years.

Ironically, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on December 6, 1865, was presented as confirmation that slavery was abolished in the United States. Yet the very law that abolished slavery in plain sight, made it legal out of sight. The 13th Amendment allows for slavery and involuntary servitude for those convicted of crimes.

AMENDMENT XIII

Section 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

On June 19, 1866, Juneteenth was observed for the first time as the end of slavery in America. [Technically forced prison labor and human trafficking are forms of slavery still thriving in America today, but the unvarnished truth is nothing to celebrate.]

Juneteenth becomes a Federal Holiday

On February 25, 2021, Senator Edward Markey sponsored Juneteenth National Independence Day as a legal public holiday in Congress. The act was signed into law on June 17, 2021. On June 19, 2021, everyone in America enjoyed a new federal holiday – many of whom had no idea of the roots or significance.

For the 156th Juneteenth aka Emancipation Day, and the second Juneteenth National Independence Day, I observed in the silence of my creative space. I chose to edit three pieces from my catalog that speak to me about the foundation of exploitation in the United States of America and the continued impact of capitalist malfeasance on our existence today.

Though my most recent work focuses on Black Women, the harm is felt throughout all of society.

As much as people want to think that the least valued and unappreciated people don’t matter in the larger picture, the history of the world shows that what a society accepts for the least of their members will become the norm for all.

We are all the same in differ ways.

The Juneteenth Print Series

It may seem late for #Juneteenth, but #freedom is actually late.

The prints in my Juneteenth 2022 Print Series are titled:

The Crossing: Blood in the Water
Built on Cotton
Black Women Stand Alone

Each image is available as 5×7 & 11×14 print on silk paper. They can be ordered on this site and via my Square Store.

The Juneteenth 2022 Print Series: Built on Cotton depicts Lady Liberty walking towards mainland USA across New York Harbor as a sea of cotton.

The New York Slavery Records of the City University of New York dates slavery in New York back to 1525. They cite the 1830 census as recording 75 enslaved Africans in the state, despite an 1817 law emancipating the enslaved in the state.

The Crossing: Blood in the Water depicts a mother & daughter holding hands across the Atlantic. There’s blood enveloping a ship-like structure behind them that stretches from the African continent to the USA.

Between 1500 and 1900, it’s estimated that approximately 15 million Africans from across the continent were taken by European enslavers. There are no exact numbers as no one kept detailed records. Approximately 10.5 million enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas and the Caribbean. Some estimate that close to 2 million are buried in the Atlantic Ocean with the remainder dying in Africa during their transport to the coast.

Black Women Stand Alone depicts a lone Black Woman sitting in front of the White House as a police officer approaches her. Barricades with signs reading *Do Not Enter* are barring her entry to the seat of power.”

State violence against Black Women happens in many forms and infiltrates every level and theatre of society. Black women are treated as inferior humans, wives, mothers, employees. They are neglected in education, healthcare, business, government and society. They are targeted by men, women, science, police, and government programs. There are truly no safe spaces at any level for Black Women.

Posted on Leave a comment

Juneteenth: General Order 3

General Order 3 was read to the enslaved African American population and their enslavers in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865 by Union Major General Gordon Granger.

General Order No. 3 states: 

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

The proclamation he’s referring to is Proclamation 95 which is commonly known as the Emancipation Proclamation dated January 1, 1863.

He didn’t tell them they had been legally free for two years, four months and eighteen days. Or that the Civil War had ended two and a half months earlier which codified their freedom. There was no offer of income, or other funds to allow them to move about freely. No employment offers. No suggestions on where the free could live freely. He didn’t even tell them that their former enslavers would be compensated by the government for the loss of their forced laborers. However, he made sure to tell them to return freely to the plantations they were just freed from and expect wages from their new employers/former masters. He made sure to tell them not to bother approaching the military for any assistance. And he clearly told them they would not be supported anywhere.

This is how the last of the enslaved African American population was informed of their freedom in the failed experiment that is the United States of America. No grace. No urgency. No mercy. Even from the side that wants to be celebrated as emancipators.

Posted on Leave a comment

What I Know about Coaching

Coaching is a build-up process.

If someone is tearing you down or making you feel less-than, they are not coaching you. They are attempting to deconstruct you to better acclimate you to their nature and tolerances.

What I Know About Coaching

Criticism is not coaching

Last week, I was pulled into an impromptu meeting at 8:30am by my manager. He called it a “coaching” session, yet began by telling me I had gotten into a full-on argument with a client on the phone and was condescending, combative, and argumentative. I interjected with, “I did not argue with anyone.” He then told me I was being defensive and he wasn’t going to battle back and forth with me.

I’m rarely in the mood to be called names, but nonsense at 8:30am before coffee by someone who had none of my respect due to their lack of management skills made for a very succinct and direct rebuttal.

I didn’t appreciate having my character, personality and tone mischaracterized. Most definitely not in words commonly used to stereotype, demonize and dismiss Black Women. And absolutely not by the only Black Male manager on the open floor he was dressing me down on.

He didn’t appreciate me speaking up for myself. He actually said he was stunned at my response. Meaning he was stunned that I didn’t quietly accept what he called “criticism.”

He claimed that the caller had called back to complain. He said he had listened to the call and heard me sounding argumentative, condescending, combative and defensive. Because he seemed so surprised that my voice was calm throughout the call when he played it back for us both, I concluded that one of the white women sitting near to me flagged the call time because they took offense at my confidence (the caller had hung up while I was transferring her to a colleague). I did make comments about the call with the person I was transferring to after I realized the caller had hung up.

While the manager listened to the call for what seemed to be his first time, he said with surprise, “I agree with everything you’re saying. It’s clear she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” However, he eventually clung to my drawling the word, “Yes.” As a very condescending inflection.

He kept asking me, “You don’t think you’re being condescending?”

I kept replying adamantly, “No, I don’t.”

I’ve been in customer service for 30 years. Birthed and bred in McDonald’s customer care where the customer is always right and when they’re not, we refer back to rule #1, smiles are free and listed as such on the menu. I matured on executive floors with extremely entitled personalities and received compliments on my professionalism, discretion and diplomacy throughout every level of service.

The only people in all these years to ever call me “defensive” are who were set on diminishing and silencing me. Managers and teachers who didn’t want to be questioned or corrected. Those who didn’t want any standouts or freethinkers in their ranks. 

The 8:30am critical “coaching” session is now viewed as a marker in my life.

Building Self

One of my favorite self-esteem boosting quotes in high school and college was, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” by Eleanor Roosevelt.

One of my favorite affirmations when I began Bible Study years ago was, “This is my Bible. I am who it says I am.”

There have been many times where I have simply bit my tongue to allow a conversation to end with no fuel from me. Most of those times I would ruminate on what was being said and come back the next day with a calm measured rebuttal or follow-up questions. The time I took to think was also a cool down period. For most of the last twenty years, I’ve had managers I’ve highly respected… with a job I loved at a company I wanted to stay with. It may go without saying, but I’ll say it: my former managers did not call me names. If they needed to correct behavior, they spoke their mind plainly – told me what the issue was, what my actions were and what they should have been for their desired outcome.  

If I go further back in life, there were very few points during my formative years when I spoke up for myself. I looked to my parents and elders hoping they would speak on my behalf. At an early adolescent age, I realized my parents were not interested in defending me with their words. They didn’t really value words as defense or guidance. Mostly because they stayed in scrappy survival mode.

In my early teens, I began to actively reject words people tried to forced into me. My way of rejecting at the time was telling myself I was not what they were calling me. I would then tell myself who and what I was. It was an internal process.

Back to now. Here I am in my late forties, finally speaking up in the moment, telling someone they can keep their negative words about me. All while he’s basically begging me to agree with him that I’m a difficult and unpleasant person.

Honestly, as unpleasant as the experience was, it is an absolutely amazing illustration of how the enemy cannot destroy us without our complicity. What is someone trying to get you to agree to that is counter to who you are?

He pseudo-manager fired me. Of course, he didn’t tell me directly. I got a call from my agency thirty minutes before the end of my shift. He told them the reason was because I couldn’t handle criticism. I told the rep, “That’s a lie. I literally just finished an hour of coaching with another manager who knows how to speak to people and got a good amount of guidance from him.”

That being said, I don’t think there’s been anywhere God has allowed me to stay that did not benefit my spirit. If a place is turning me dark, He cuts the cord. I always think I can hold on for my material goals, but my goals have never held any weight with His will and plan.   

Good coaching makes all-stars out of novices

I ran track and trained in field sports throughout my youth. I played basketball throughout high school and into college. I understand teams and individual performance. I appreciate coaching and training.

I started playing basketball at the age of fourteen. Prior to trying out for the freshmen squad, I had never held a basketball. I was made to feel very awkward in my skin. I was tall, skinny and often tripped over my long limbs. My family called me clumsy and uncoordinated. I believed them.

During the first two years of high school I lived with an aunt. During freshmen year, shortly after I joined the basketball team, she attended one practice game. Afterwards she told me she wasn’t going to bother coming again since I couldn’t play anyway. She never saw me improve. She never witnessed the athlete I developed into. She wasn’t a coach.

My coach didn’t believe what my aunt said I was.

My three coaches turned me into an all-star by junior year. Senior year I was co-captain of the Girls Varsity Basketball Team.

I know what good coaching will produce. Good coaching creates results previously unimaginable.

Praise God always. We don’t have to know or see anything as long as He is in charge of our lives. Give thanks and be blessed as you go.

#allihavetosay #thankyoulord #morningreflection #fired #job #woes #toxicworkplace #keepmovingforward #harvestlifer #harvestlife #joycomesinthemorning #love #peace #joy #nofucksgiven #zerofucks #unshakeable

Posted on Leave a comment

Poem: Bury Me in a Free Land by Frances Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Make me a grave where’er you will,
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;
Make it among earth’s humblest graves,
But not in a land where men are slaves.

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
His shadow above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

I could not rest if I heard the tread
Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,
And the mother’s shriek of wild despair
Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

I could not sleep if I saw the lash
Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,
And I saw her babes torn from her breast,
Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

I’d shudder and start if I heard the bay
Of bloodhounds seizing their human prey,
And I heard the captive plead in vain
As they bound afresh his galling chain.

If I saw young girls from their mother’s arms
Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,
My eye would flash with a mournful flame,
My death-paled cheek grow red with shame.

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might
Can rob no man of his dearest right;
My rest shall be calm in any grave
Where none can call his brother a slave.

I ask no monument, proud and high,
To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;
All that my yearning spirit craves,
Is bury me not in a land of slaves.