While I work on Black history, I am also interested in the future of my Black brothers and sisters. So I was happily surprised to find that the Ontario Black Doulas Society exists. I happened on the website randomly.
Good to know.
I happened on a documentary about the hidden Black history in Priceville, Ontario. Surprise, surprise it featured archaeologist Karolyn Smardz Frost, who taught me archaeology in high school back in the day.
This documentary is timely given our current concerns with our Indigenous peoples being found now and how people (the Churches and the government) would rather we keep this history buried.
So Netflix has been hassling me for weeks now since I cancelled my subscription. Truth to be told I don’t need Netflix considering I have a Toronto Public Library card and internet access at home. With the former I have access to Kanopy.
But when I am not watching The Saint, I am watching documentaries. For a while I though I wanted to be front of camera. I never was interested in being behind the camera. The truth is, I want to be the one who comes up with the idea and builds the team for the production for documentaries and scripted shows (tv magazines like CBS’ Sunday Morning and Germany’s Deutsche Welle, and BBC of course)
I like good edutainment, shows that inform and entertain. Tools that teachers and families can use, especially in times like this.
Before we start, I don’t mean the Ballroom scene in the LGBTQ+ community that originated in Harlem.
I mean ballroom dancing: the waltz, the quickstep, the cha cha, the rumba.
[photo by James Barnor. Mr. Aryeetey and partner. G.C Amateur Ballroom Championship, 1949-1950, Accra]
But now it is time for something new. And something old for me as I started doing ballroom dance in the mid 1990s. Now I am interested in place black dancers (eg. Norton and Margot, Britt Stewart, Oti Mabuse, Johannes Radebe) have played in the discipline.
I know I should have gone out in the spring sunshine but I opted to do my taxes instead. CERB and miscalculations on my part I still am likely not to owe as much as I thought I did. Thank goodness.
One of the things I noted as I went through my receipts was how much I did in 2020 despite Covid. I did research for a play, an ad for Church & Wellesley’s BIA, and interviews for 2 projects. It is nice to know that I did not spend the entirety of 2020 curled up in my bed as I thought I had.
This afternoon I watched Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People directed by award-winning filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris.
I’m posting it here because it is a must see to my mind but also because features photographer and Material Life STYLE owner Carla Williams.
I never met Carla face to face – I interviewed her online for a ‘zine called Trade:Queer Things back in the days when payment was a free book, namely The Black Female Body (Carla was co-editor). The ‘zine cover featured a nude self-portait of Carla.
Years later, the editor of the ‘zine was at a ‘zine fair and that cover would cause controversy. Viewers could not believe that Carla would willing show her own Black Female Body under her own terms.
But in the end, that is what the documentary is all about – being able, as Black people, to determine how we are seen by others.
After watching an episode of Fake or Fortune (on Van Dyke) I found myself asking why am I spending time on dead white men when there are so many BIPOC artists that are more interesting.
Heck, I personally have crossed paths socially with several Black visual artists and photographers in particular doing great work: Deanna Bowen, Michelle Pearson Clark, Syrus Marcus Ware, Karen Miranda Augustine and Winsome Winsome amongst others. Bowen has been longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Photography Award which pleases me to no end.
I am glad to say that I was able to see some of their works in various Toronto galleries and museums just before the lockdown – it would seem that AGO and ROM are getting a clue at last. But when I am looking for the work of Black Artists I pop online to BAND Gallery in Toronto.
I, too, have dipped my toe into visual arts to as one of my photos is a part of the 2021 Workman Arts Being Scene exhibition. While is not my first exhibition (I was in the Witchfest Grimoire exhibition in 2018), I regard myself as an amateur artist at best. Still I am pleased to be one of the Black artists seen these days. When the plague lifts, I intend to do more work.