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A thought, an idea, a flash of inspiration. Potently Pickaninny but small enough to fit on a scrap of paper. Leave a comment. 


Entries by Nichole (6)


Why Is This Death Important?

Lawrence Brewer (March 13, 1967-September 21, 2011)Ernest J. Gaines’ Lesson Before Dying tells us that in the face of an unjust conviction, our strength lies in facing the punishment with dignity. Troy Davis, convicted of the 1989 murder of undercover officer Marc MacPhail in Savannah, GA, was sentenced to death. Davis explored every avenue of appeal, resulting in three stays of execution and an historic decision by the Supreme Court paving the way for a hearing to prove his innocence. While his final appeal was being considered by the Court, Davis remained strapped to the gurney in the death chamber. Before dying at 11:08 p.m., Davis asserted his innocence. Witnesses described him as “defiant” to the end.

Several states west and nearly five hours earlier, Lawrence Brewer was executed in Texas. Brewer was also defiant to the end. He made no final statement. There were no final appeals. Brewer was one of three men convicted of the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd in Jasper, TX. When arrested, Brewer and the others were found with Byrd’s blood on each of them.

The cases represent two sides of the debate about the death penalty. On the one hand we have the wrenching uncertainty of executing a potentially innocent man. On the other hand, we have evidence of a cold-hearted killer who may taste for more. A cogent argument for repealing the death penalty cannot be made or widely accepted until we can get behind clemency for someone like Brewer. On the day of John William King’s execution, how many will rally to spare his life? What is a fitting punishment for a just conviction?  


Gil Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949-May 27, 2011), A Remembrance

I am unabashedly a child of 1970s New York City, my life rooted in Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx. 70s chic (platforms, bells, headwraps) continues to inform my aesthetic today. 70s music (disco, funk, jazz) is like home to me. By the time I entered college in the late 80s, I had developed literary tastes for black revolutionary poets who wrote about beautiful black people struggling to be free.

While in college I hosted a weekly jazz show called the Blues Note on our alternative radio station. After a more senior dj once told me that a song he'd heard me play was not as alternative as it could be (I was pretty certain he was wrong), I took to playing Gil Scott-Heron's "Liberation Song (Red, Black, and Green)" as my sign off. Scott-Heron's gravelly, yet steady rocking voice, Brian Jackson's flute, and the Midnight Band's rhythm section scored for me, an alternative, groovy, revolutionary art practice, as resonate in the early 90s and now the 2010s, as it was in 1975. 



Plan to Board the Mothership in 2015


The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a Smithsonian museum slated to open in 2015 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has announced its acquisition of Parliament Funkadelic's iconic Mothership, which will become a part of the museum's permanent music collection and exhibition. Though the original was destroyed, the museum's reproduction toured for many years with Parliament. Considering that he and his staff are building from the ground up, Director Lonnie Bunch continues to make interesting choices for the museum's permanent collection. There are dozens of African American museums telling parts of the story of the African American past. NMAAHC has the thrilling opportunity to tell a grand narrative that explores all the stories that can be told. Making it funky is the cherry on top. 


Roseanne on Not Being Bitter but a Feminist

Roseanne Barr pens an engaging analysis of what “winning” in Hollywood means specifically and the problem with fame in general. “It’s hard to tell whether one is winning or, in fact, losing once one starts to think of oneself as a commodity, or a product, or a character, or a voice for the downtrodden. It’s called losing perspective. Fame’s a bitch.” Barr created a show that expressed working class feminism, a voice sorely missing in contemporary television and film. Cheers to Roseanne, for turning the writer's room inside out, making it possible for other women to be credited as creators and writers on network television.       


What Prison Rehabilitation Might Look Like

What I love about this story, evident in the short video above, is the purpose, confidence, and mission articulated by the two anchors. Prison does not have to be a place where lives fester; rather, it can provide an opportunity for inmates to grapple with the world they live in in constructive ways that benefit themselves individually, collectively, and socially. The men are organizing and participating in charity events, engaging with victims, and growing intellectually and emotionally.