Neil deGrasse Tyson On Transformation

In recognition of Black History Month, Transformation Publications will present poems, essays, and other artistic creations by Black artists, musicians, and writers.

   Neil deGrasse Tyson   (October 05, 1958 -)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (October 05, 1958 -)

Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us. 

 

Photo Credit: A Great Day In Harlem,  Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire magazine, took the picture around 10 a.m. on August 12 in the summer of 1958. The musicians had gathered at 17 East 126th Street, between  Fifth  and  Madison Avenues  in Harlem.*

Read the names of the famous musicians pictured in this photograph here.

*Source Information: Wikipedia 

Listen to the Harlem String Quartet  perform their version of Take The A Train here.

 

This is the last entry for Black History Month 2018. Thank you. 

Ntozake Shange On Magic

In recognition of Black History Month, Transformation Publications will present poems, essays, and other artistic creations by Black artists, musicians, and writers.

   Ntozake Shange   (October 18, 1948 -)
Ntozake Shange (October 18, 1948 -)

My Father Is A Retired Magacian by Ntozake Shange

my father is a retired magician
which accounts for my irregular behavior
everythin comes outta magic hats
or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets
are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits
or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958

my daddy retired from magic & took
up another trade cuz this friend of mine
from the 3rd grade asked to be made white
on the spot

what cd any self-respectin colored american magician
do wit such a outlandish request/ cept
put all them razzamatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah
thingamajigs away    cuz
colored chirren believin in magic
waz becomin politically dangerous for the race
& waznt nobody gonna be made white
on the spot just
from a clap of my daddy’s hands

& the reason i’m so peculiar’s
cuz i been studyin up on my daddy’s technique
& everythin i do is magic these days
& it’s very colored
very now you see it/ now you
dont mess wit me
i come from a family of retired
sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers
wit 41 million spirits critturs & celestial bodies
on our side
i’ll listen to yr problems
help wit yr career yr lover yr wanderin spouse
make yr grandma’s stay in heaven more gratifyin
ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son
how to clean his room

YES YES YES    3 wishes is all you get
scarlet ribbons for yr hair
benwa balls via hong kong
a miniature of machu picchu

all things are possible
but aint no colored magician in her right mind
gonna make you white
i mean
this is blk magic
you lookin at
& i’m fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/ 

 

Photo Credit: Cast photo from the movie “Colored Girls.” Each of the women portray one of the characters represented in the collection of twenty poems, revealing different issues that impact women in general and women of color in particular. Directed by Tyler Perry. Original play by Ntozake Shange. (Source IMDb)

Watch the trailer For Colored Girls here.

Note: Ntozake Shange and I were classmates at Trenton Central High School (1963 – 1966). In our senior year, I was her escort to the Debutant Ball.

 

Listen to Nina Simone sing Four Women here.  

🎂Happy Birthday Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) In Memoriam🌹

Booker T Washington On Success

In recognition of Black History Month, Transformation Publications will present poems, essays, and other artistic creations by Black artists, musicians, and writers.

   Booker T Washington   (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) 
Booker T Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) 

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.

 

 

Photo Credit: Hale Aspacio Woodruff (August 26, 1900 September 06, 1980).

 

Listen to Paul Robeson sing Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen here.

 

Note: During the late sixties the Black students of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ fought a loosing battle to have the new student center named after Paul Robeson from where he graduated. Because of his communist lable from Joseph McCarthy and because of the color of his skin, Rutgers University chose to have no connection with one of its most famous Black students.

 

On This Day, February 26, 1962, the US Supreme court disallows race separation on public transportation.

 

On This Day, February 26, 2012, Trayvon Benjamin Martrin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. 

Josephine Baker On Differences

In recognition of Black History Month, Transformation Publications will present poems, essays, and other artistic creations by Black artists, musicians, and writers.

   Josephine Baker   (June 03, 1906 – April 12, 1975)
Josephine Baker (June 03, 1906 – April 12, 1975)

Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one’s soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free.

 

 

Photo Credit: Black Betty Boop photographed by Tao Writer from the private collection of Melvin and Robin Jackson, ©️2017.

Learn more about the life of Josephine Baker here.

Listen to Richie P Havens sing Freedom here.

On This Day, January 25, 1870, Hiram Rhodes Revels become the first Black man elected to the United States Senate.

Barack Obama On Change

In recognition of Black History Month, Transformation Publications will present poems, essays, and other artistic creations by Black artists, musicians, and writers.

   Barack Obama   (August 04, 1961 -) 
Barack Obama (August 04, 1961 -) 

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek…I want you to know, you matter. There is nothing, not a single thing, that’s more important to the future of America than whether or not young people all across this country can achieve their dreams.

 

Photo Credit: Why Can’t We Just Sit Down And Talk It Over?, Mickalene Thomas.

 

Listen to Yes We Can here. Lyrics created from Obama campaign speeches by will i am et al. 

Audre Lorde On The Transformation of Silence

In recognition of Black History Month, Transformation Publications will present poems, essays, and other artistic creations by Black artists, musicians, and writers.

   Audre Lorde    (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)
Audre Lorde   (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)

The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action by Audre Lorde

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.  That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.

I was forced to look upon myself and my living with a harsh and urgent clarity that has left me still shaken but much stronger.  Some of what I experienced during that time has helped elucidate for me much of what I feel concerning the transformation of silence into language and action.

In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light, and what I most regretted were my silences.  Of what had I ever been afraid?  To question or to speak as I believed could have meant pain, or death.  But we all hurt in so many different ways, all the time, and pain will either change or end. Death, on the other hand, is the final silence.  And that might be coming quickly now, without regard for whether I had ever spoken what needed to be said, or had only betrayed myself into small silences, while I planned someday to speak, or waited for someone else’s words.

I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself.  My silences had not protected me.  Your silence will not protect you.

What are the words you do not yet have?  What do you need to say?  What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?  Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears.  Because I am a woman, because I am Black, because I am lesbian, because I am myself — a Black woman warrior poet doing my work — come to ask you, are you doing yours?

And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger.  But my daughter, when I told her of our topic and my difficulty with it, said, “Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.

In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear — fear of contempt, of censure, of some judgment, or recognition, of challenge, of annihilation.  But most of all, I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live.

And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.  Because the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway, whether or not we speak.  We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

Each of us is here now because in one way or another we share a commitment to language and to the power of language, and to the reclaiming of that language which has been made to work against us.  In the transformation of silence into language and action, it is vitally necessary for each one of us to establish or examine her function in that transformation and to recognize her role as vital within that transformation.

For those of us who write, it is necessary to scrutinize not only the truth of what we speak, but the truth of that language by which we speak it.  For others, it is to share and spread also those words that are meaningful to us.  But primarily for us all, it is necessary to teach by living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding. Because in this way alone can we survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.

And it is never without fear — of visibility, of the harsh light of scrutiny and perhaps judgment, of pain, of death.  But we have lived through all of those already, in silence, except death.  And I remind myself all the time now that if I were to have been born mute, or had maintained an oath of silence my whole life long for safety, I would still have suffered, and I would still die. It is very good for establishing perspective.

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.

The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence.  And there are so many silences to be broken.

 

 (Originally delivered at the Modern Language Association’s “Lesbian and Literature Panel,” Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977.  First published in Sinister Wisdom 6,  1978 and The Cancer Journals, Spinsters Ink, San Francisco, 1980.

Learn more about Audre Lorde in A Litany For Survival: the Life and Work of Audre Lorde here.

Photo Credit: Aldis Hodge and Harmonia Rosales

 

Listen to N.W.A. rap version of Express Yourself here

 

 

🎂Happy Birthday William Edward Burghardt WEB Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) In Memoriam🌹

Miles Davis On Taking Credit

In recognition of Black History Month, Transformation Publications will present poems, essays, and other artistic creations by Black artists, musicians, and writers.

   Miles Davis   (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991)
Miles Davis (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991)

I hate how white people always try to take credit for something after they discover it. Like it wasn’t happening before they found out about it — which most times is always late, and they didn’t have nothing to do with it happening…

It’s like, how did Columbus discover America when the Indians were already here? What kind of shit is that, but white people’s shit?

Photo Credit: “Cafe” by William H Johnson (March 18, 1901 – April 13, 1970).

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the Miles Davis Quartet play So What here.