Welcome to September! August was
another active, interesting month. It also seemed to kind of last forever, but
maybe that was just me. Let’s jump into the goings on, shall we?
I’ve had some things going on with
my throat for a little over a week now, so I went to the doctor. Your Friendly
Neighborhood Christian has himself an abscess in there. Swallowing, breathing,
etc. has been a bit of a chore, but I’m making it.
Tomorrow night, I have the distinct
honor and privilege of performing at JJ’s Bohemia
with Ryan Oyer. Ryan is one of the most prolific artists I know, and we’ve been
friends for over five years now. He did the layout for my record, and I
produced a song on his debut album. I’m extremely happy to be sharing the stage
with him, and you should come out if you’re in or around Chattanooga.
The show is only $5, so if you like the tunes we kick out, you should have some
extra scratch to buy our merch… and help keep us off the streets!
On the 26th of this
month, I’ll be sharing the stage Minton Sparks. If you’re unfamiliar with her
or her works, she’s a Grammy-nominated artist who’s performed with several
highly-acclaimed acts. I’m really looking forward to that night. You should
come out to Charles & Myrtle’s and catch us. I guarantee satisfaction.
Lastly, I’ve got some BRAND NEW
MERCH coming! You’ll be able to buy new shirts AND hoodies from me soon.
They’re stylish, a little bit sexy, and have my personal stamp of approval as
well as my government name on them. They’ll be available for purchase on the 12th
of this month.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now.
Be good, stay in touch, do good things, and I’ll post again in the near future.
So, I began this post last
week, but so much has happened (and continues to) that has given me a great
deal more to say. I’ve been following and posting on the ever-developing
situation in Ferguson for
over a week now. Each day, I witness and document what’s taking place for a
number of reasons. I know it’s clichéd, but I legitimately believe that
information is power. I also firmly believe that in America in
2014, a situation like this should not be happening, especially if we’re still
claiming to be The Land of the Free.
Period (for the record, I believe these kinds of abuses shouldn’t occur
anywhere). I think this is the first
time we’ve witnessed anything this intricate and volatile over the course of
the past thirty or more years, and I can elaborate why.
So many things have been
fascinating to witness over the course of the past week. The misinformation
provided by some members of the Associated Press, as well as the police, for
starters. Also, the restrictions placed on the basic rights of the residents of
journalists (Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery from The
Washington Post were arrested while in a McDonalds. Apparently, they were taken
in for not leaving soon enough… because they were told to do so by the police
without a reason being given.).
The core of the situation is
about Mike Brown’s death. It is at the heart of everything, and it’s important
to keep that fact in mind. However, the situation has also grown beyond that.
The chaos that has ensued, that, with each passing day, casts the local police
in a darker and darker light (and it would appear that they’ve been fine with
that for the most part, because there really hasn’t been much of an attempt to rectify
anything that’s transpired up to this point until the past few days). We’re
witnessing the trampling of rights, the detainment of Americans, etc. It is
both shocking and terrifying.
I also find it interesting how
some people have responded to the reports, videos, pictures, etc. that have
appeared. A girl on Twitter last week asked a question regarding rioting and
looting. I posted an account from Wesley Lowery that stated that there had, at
the time, only been ONE night of such activity. She responded by telling me to
“shut up” and asked if I was actually in Ferguson. We
went back and forth for a bit (she’s very anti-violence, but already made it up
in her mind that the protestors were the responsible, violent parties), and it
became apparent to me that she wasn’t interested in really finding out what was
happening. I gave her a number of credible sources to follow if she was so
inclined, but I knew that that wouldn’t be the case.
At the end of the conversation,
she asked me to shut up again and go away. Then, she reiterated the she was on
the side of Mike Brown, but was against violence, rioting, and looting. I’ve
seen several other correspondences shake out pretty much the same way. I think
it’s extremely jarring that people, also, are crafting their own narrative to
the events, where good, credible, boots on the ground reporting is taking place
and extremely easy to find. I’m not sure if it’s an issue of not believing
what’s transpiring (which I can understand. A great deal of this seems like
something out of a movie), or people just hearing bits and pieces and feeling
like they know it all, when we’re really just at the tip of this ordeal.
I’ve had the chance to dialogue
with a good number of people over the course of the past week, and it’s been
fascinating in a lot of ways. I went back and forth with a guy who said that
the residents had lost his sympathy because of looting, and that, while he
agrees that the police have acted in a heavy-handed fashion, he faulted the
citizens of Ferguson for
giving them reason to do so. I told him that I don’t think that the people
there are concerned with his, or necessarily, anyone else’s sympathy. They want
justice and answers, which, I believe, the vast majority of us would desire if
we were in a similar situation.Also, I
said that I didn’t feel that there’s ever good reason for those in authority to
act in a way that abuses the powers we, as a society, give them. Police
officers take an oath to serve and protect everyone regardless of creed, age,
Another person I talked with
stated that violence is never the answer.
I told him that it’s extremely elitist to have that perspective. It’s partially
due to violence that we’re all here in America. Wars
and battles have been fought for freedom, so saying that violence isn’t ever the
answer just seems like that isn’t taken into account. Plus, it’s easy to
dictate what should and shouldn’t happen in Ferguson (or
anywhere else for that matter) when you’re not dealing with what the people who
are there are experiencing. I can’t, as a Black man in Tennessee, tell
anyone in Gaza that
violence isn’t the answer, because I don’t encounter what the people there do
on a daily basis. Make sense? How entitled would I have to be to assign those
particular standards on the rest of the world, especially when my slab of it is
Switching gears, I feel like
this situation is showing us an honest glimpse of who we are as a country when
it comes of matters of race, place, justice, etc. If what I’ve witnessed with
people outside of the situation is any indication, a lot of us are miles apart
on how we view things. I won’t say all, but I feel like most of us carry a
certain degree of prejudice, from how some of us view hipsters to how others
clutch purses when people darker than them are around. I don’t think prejudice by
itself necessarily equates to anything extremely pronounced, but if those
prejudices are allowed to go unchecked, they have all the makings to turn into
something deep-seated with a broader reach. Over the past week, I’ve seen quite
an amazing display of prejudice, and it’s kind of astonishing to me to witness just
how open people are about expressing it. Granted, I think, in the long run,
it’s better because you know where some people stand, but it’s still personally
surprising how comfortable people are in their view of the world and the rest
of the people in it.
I don’t want to ramble on too
long, and I know that I’ll have more to say on the matter as things continue to
develop. However, my charge for you who are reading this is (if you’re so
inclined) to go back to August 9th, and truly follow what’s been
transpiring. Don’t just rely on one source, because the story is far too
layered for you to follow one outlet and think that you’re sufficiently
informed. Also, put yourself in the shoes of those who are there and seriously
question how you’d be responding. It could be an eye-opening exercise, because (in
my humble opinion, of course) what ties us together is more abundant than that
which stands between us.
Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to perform as a part of Christ Unity’s church service, and it was a really amazing experience. It was a first for me. Over the years, I’ve performed in and organized fundraisers and other activities for churches, but never before have I presented my own works as a part of an actual service.
Also, yesterday marked my first time attending a service in many moons. I don’t think I’ve been to one since 2009, actually.
God has appeared in my work in a number of interesting ways over the years. I’ve only come to realize that recently. It definitely gave me a nice range with which to work and choose from. I didn’t want to eat up too much time, so I decided on a mini-set of four poems that featured something from Between Beauty & Bedlam, a piece from my chapbook Ghosts & Echoes, and two pieces that aren’t on either project (Weight and Mama Said).
The response that I received was so warm and affirming. I was genuinely touched. I feel really honored to have had the opportunity to use my gift in that manner. Several people spoke to me afterwards to tell me how much they enjoyed my work, and that means the world to me. If you’ve known me for any significant amount of time or have even taken a gander of this blog, you know that my goal is to connect with whatever audience I’m in front of, and whenever I’m successful, I truly feel happy. I would love to perform for another service again sometime soon. I’m easy to get a hold of, so if you’re interested in bring me to your place of worship, let me know, and we can hammer out something.
Completely switching gears, I’ve been closely following the Mike Brown situation and everything that has transpired since. I’m always drawn to these stories, and for a number of reasons. I’m moved whenever young people are struck down, because they will never have the opportunity to develop their lives and strive to achieve their goals. They die with unfulfilled promise. Also, I was accused of trying to steal my own vehicle by a police officer when I was eighteen, and the night I graduated from college, an officer drew his gun on me in YborCity after claiming that I ran a stop sign. If things had gone slightly differently in either encounter, I could’ve easily been Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, JordanDavis, etc. and that is never lost on me.
What’s fascinating about this particular situation though is the information that’s emerging. If you follow the stories that are coming out from the Associated Press, you’re getting a TREMENDOUSLY different count of what’s happened and continues to happen than if you were to follow Michael Skolnik or any of the reports from people who are currently there, living in the neighborhoods, attended the protest, etc. Talib Kweli once said that you can have your own set of opinions, but not your own facts, and whenever there are discrepancies in factual information, a number of red flags should pop up. Where is the consistency? Why is the information so scattered? What agendas are at play to make that happen?
The past few months have painted a really brutal picture of the police. While every officer is not violent or corrupt, situations like the one in California where the woman was punched repeatedly on the side of the road, or the killing of Eric Garner (and the arrests of the man who filmed the episode and his wife), etc. are extremely hard to take. These incidents are scary for many reasons, but, perhaps, most importantly, because the institution involved in all of these situations operates with a mission statement to serve and protect. Period. All people.When that doesn’t prove to be the case, I think it’s natural to feel very adrift and alone, and that in an instant, you could find yourself in a position where you could have to fight for your very life.
I don’t have any answers for this most recent story. My heart and prayers are with Mike, his family, his community, etc. If you’re remotely invested in what’s happening, I strongly encourage you to get on Twitter and follow people like Antonio French and Michael Skolnik, who have been reporting the wishes of Mike’s family and really been working to document what’s really taking place (with evidence).
That’s all I have right now, brothers & sisters. What are your thoughts? What are your hopes? Let me know.
What’s new and exciting? For the first time in two months (maybe more than that now, actually), I experienced a full week without being on a stage of some sort, and it felt kind of weird. I’ve been spoiled in being fortunate to be so active over the course of the past few months.
As things stand right now, I have bookings lined up through the end of September. Of course, I’m ALWAYS taking more. If you’d like to talk about working something out with yours truly, please e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to performing, I can also facilitate workshops for a number of ages and demographics, so keep that in mind and feel free to share that info with anybody that might want to utilize my services.
Switching gears, here are some places where you can find me over the next month:
August 10th @11AM – ChristUnityChurch
September 26th @ Charles & Myrtle’s w/ Minton Sparks
Both of these performances will be in Chattanooga, which just so happens to be my neck of the woods. I’m really excited about both, too.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to perform with my old poetry group. It was a good reminder of what we’ve been through over the years, and it did kind of feel like a family gathering. I got hit on by an older woman, sold some merch, and rocked out on the stage.
I have some things in the works that I’m very excited about, but I can’t speak on them at the moment. Just know that cool things are taking shape, and, hopefully, in the very near future I’ll be able to talk about them at length. Fingers crossed, boys and girls.
In other news, I really feel like the past few months have served to be a huge affirmation, both creatively and personally. I challenged myself to step up more in a professional capacity and allow my gifts to carry me and, hopefully, show me what needs to happen next. It’s been an incredibly awing and pleasing experience, and it continues to be so. I’m ready to change my life and commit to being a full-time artist, and I’m hoping that some of what I’ve alluded to above (granted, in a very vague manner) will afford me the chance to make that dream come to fruition. We shall see. In the interim, I’m trying to remain patient, which is difficult. I feel like Al Pacino at the end of “The Devil’s Advocate” when he says, “I’m ready to work, Kevin!” I want to work! I want to be out there sweating in front of a crowd.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you now. Stay in touch, be good, and check out my debut EP at the links below. You can also purchase it from hose links or from me directly. I know that a lo of people don’t spend any money on music these days, but my job from day one has been to leave the audience with something they could appreciate for years. I put everything I possibly could into bringing this record to fruition, and if you feel moved by the material enough to buy it, know that I genuinely appreciate it and that you are who I do these things for. That’s God’s honest straight from ours truly.