Doing my homework

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.

With the latter I have TVOntario, NFB, CBC Gem, and even fun stuff like ShoutFactoryTV (where I can watch episodes of The Saint).

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.

Black Ballroom Dancers

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]

I have long done research on Black people doing dances that are not seen as traditional to our community: ballet, burlesque, even irish dance (before there was Morgan Bullock, the was Keltic Dreams).

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.

Britt Stewart on being 1st Black female pro on “DWTS”

Taxing 2020

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.

Through a Lens Darkly

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.

Looking at Black artists

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.

Next Steps

I have made to decision to cease posting on my The Many Black Histories page on Facebook.

It is not that I am disinterested in Black History now. The issue is that I have reached a point in my life were I want to look at other areas such as Black people in culture and sport. I am tired of focusing on my people being oppressed – I wish to delight in our triumphs as well. Black Lives Matter but the lives of Black people matter too, if you get what I mean.

So I shan’t focus on Blacks in Burlesque or in the Middle Ages and Early modern period as I did back in the 1990s. I will leave that to the young folks who have taken 25+ years to finally catch up with me.

Instead I want to explore other areas. As I said, I will continue to follow Black performers, artists and athletes. But I like animation, fashion, and culture and would like to look at other peoples like the Indigenous communities of the world as well as African nations, and see what they are doing in those areas today and yesterday.

But note that I will be slowing down. Working a day job has made it such that I can’t pursue a media career I had hoped to. As the days are, I have to be realistic and take my health into account. So my social media will not stop but it will not be as it once was.

Rest assured I will still be posting on Facebook and occasionally on Instagram. I will copy my blog posts to FB and set up my blog so that you can sign up to get notices.

Cheers.

The Menu

One of the things that I really want to do is learn how to cook. I am tired of eating plastic processed food.

So I spent today looking at Black chefs. Here is an interview with Chef Kwame Onwuachi:

Martin

Profound words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and it makes me reflect on my own seeming silence. Not only on issues of race but on life in general.

I think the real question to ask is who are friends are and less about how silent they are. I must admit that the very term “friend” is overused today, in a casual Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ need-to-prevent-Trump-access way.

But why have I been quiet if not totally silent? Frankly, it is a case of cabin fever brought on by Covid-19 and fatigue brought on from years of speaking out and having people not listen.

Bottom line, I am tired the expectation that, because I am a Black woman, I must live the life of an oppressed person. I know who my friends are, white and BIPoC.

They have not been silent.

Nor will I be.

Masterclasses

Likely you have seen those Masterclass (TM) ads on YouTube. Well I have gone to YouTube and have started to use videos of great entertainers – Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Pearl Bailey – to create a Masterclass series for me to follow.

Here is a video of an interview of Eartha Kitt. I must admit that I had a feeling of “Been there, done that” when she talks about her Paris debut.