Tag Archives: Race

Woman of the Ghetto: marlena shaw dealing the cold truth

 

I just found a copy of “Woman of the Ghetto” by Marlena Shaw for 4 bucks! Killer Chicago recording from 1969.  The song has been sampled multiple times, among them:

St. Germain sampled from “Woman of the Ghetto” from Live at Montreux used in “Rose Rouge” on Tourist (2000)

9th Wonder and Buckshot also sampled “Woman of the Ghetto” in the track “Ghetto”, and Evil Dee (of Black Moon)’s remix of the same song.

Early integration of a Kalimba in popular western music. Richard Evans production. Jazzy Funk mastery. Lyrics below.  Nuff said. 

I was born, raised in a ghetto
I was born and raised in a ghetto
I’m a woman, of the ghetto
Won’t you listen, won’t you listen to me, legislator?

(ging, gi-gi-gi-gi-ging…)

How do you raise your kids in a ghetto?
How do you raise your kids in a ghetto?
Do you feed one child and starve another?
Won’t you tell me, legislator?

How do make your bread in the ghetto?

How do make your bread in the ghetto?

Baked from the souls in the ghetto

Tell me, tell me, Legislator?
Strong true,
my eyes ain’t blue
I am a woman
Of the ghetto

I’m proud, free,
Black, that is me
But I’m a woman of the ghetto

(ging, gi-gi-gi-gi-ging…)

How do we get rid of rats in the ghetto?

How do we get rid of rats in the ghetto?

Do we make one black and one white in the ghetto?

Is that your answer, legislator?

How do you legislate, brother?

How do you legislate, brother?

When you free one man and try to chain up another,

Tell me, Tell me legislator?
How does your heart feel late at night?
How does your heart feel late at night?
Does it beat with shame, or does it beat with pride?
Won’t you tell me, legislator?

(na-na-na-na-na-na-na, …)

My children learned just the same as yours
As long as nobody tries to close the door
They cry with pain when the knife cuts deep
They even close their eyes when they wanna sleep

We must all have identity

That’s the only way that we can be free

Now peace, you say
is all that you ask
But self-respect is a separate task

You may be sitting up there
in your ivory tower
60 stories tall

Now you may have seen at least one ghetto
But I wonder have you lived there at all?

Places like Watts,
ah, Detroit, tell me
Chicago, ah tell me,

Harlem, tell me,

Washington, tell me

See the women cry

See  the children die….

(ging, gi-gi-gi-gi-ging…)

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Tofu Chitlin Circuit presents: Black Thang

THE SYNOPSIS:

“Black Thang” by Ato Essandoh is the story of Sam, a black man, and Mattie, a white woman, and what happens when their relationship progresses from merely a one-night stand to something more…but not without some controversy.

Meanwhile, Keisha (Mattie’s best friend), struggles to hold onto her relationship with her long-time boyfriend Omar, and Jerome (Sam’s best friend), tries to “school” him on the ins-and-outs of interracial dating.

THE CREATIVE TEAM:

Come chat with the innovative and emerging director Sydney Chatman and The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit as they explore location specific productions with a twist: adding technology to enhance the theatrical experience and to create interactive theater.

This is a MUST-SEE two-day event that’s sure to have you wanting more!

THE SPECIFICS:

WHEN: FRIDAY & SATURDAY, JANUARY 29 & 3O, 2010

WHERE: IVAN/CARLSON STUDIOS 2224 W. FULTON Chicago, IL
60612

TIME: RECEPTION 7:00 p.m. CURTAIN 7:30 p.m.

DONATION: until JANUARY 28TH-$15; DAY OF SHOW-$20

about the Tofu Chitlin Circuit: The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit is a theater conservatory located in the Bronzeville district of Chicago that seeks to push the boundaries of staged productions through technology and the integration of a variety of media in their works.

UPDATE: This show has been postponed.  Stay tuned for forthcoming dates and times!


Tim & Tom: it wouldn’t be funny if it weren’t so true

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As part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, this Saturday meet Tim & Tom… a “Salt & Pepper” comedy team born in the hotbed of sixties Chicago…

Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen met for the first time in tumultuous 1968 Chicago. As the heady promise of the sixties sagged under the weight of widespread violence, rioting, and racial unrest, two young men – one black and one white – took to stages across the nation to help Americans confront their racial divide: by laughing
at it.

“While the country was wracked by the civil rights movement, a sexual revolution, and a controversial war, these friends took the stage as the first—and so far, only—black and white comedy team. Together they spent five years touring the country, facing unabashed racism, occasionally violent hecklers, and cheering crowds. Reid went on to star in the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati and create the influential Frank’s Place, and Dreesen spent 30 years in stand-up, including 15 years as Frank Sinatra’s opening act. The duo returns to the stage to tell their stories and reflect on a lifetime of unique experiences. Ron Rapoport moderates.”

–from Chicagohumanities.org

Where & When:

DuSable Museum of African American History
740 East 56th Place
Chicago, IL 60637
Saturday, October 17th 2pm-3:00pm

Tickets:

Adults: $5.00
Educators & Students: FREE
The book entitled Tim & Tom: An American Comedy
in Black & White
is published by University of Chicago Press.

Tapes Lost to Time: Chicago Stories

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I am bothered by tapes that disappear, the same tapes that record our collective story.  The sort that get erroneously misplaced, taped over, or buried (true stories, all).  It’s happened often in Chicago to bits of media that palpably documented Chicago Cultural History.  It seems to have happened too many times for my taste.  Here’s a few times that hit especially close to home.

Our People

“Our People” (1968-1972) was Jim Tilmon’s groundbreaking public affairs television series that aired on WTTW.  For, by, and about Black Chicagoans, the show was deemed completely lost for the ages until someone at WTTW unearthed one lonely “lost episode”.

According to WTTW.com, the episode:

“features guests Harold Washington, then a young State Representative who would later become Mayor of Chicago, author James Baldwin at his outspoken best, State Senator Richard Newhouse, and music by the great jazz vocalist Johnny Hartman.”

Our People premiered the week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was a time frame remembered in Chicago as the days when the West Side went up in riotous flames (and one Darkjive informant told me of more than a few young men “enlisting” the aid of rifles from the Sears on Kostner for protection).  It should also be noted that The Loop shut down, paralyzed with fear of such riotous activity spreading downtown (it didn’t).

Each week, Our People dealt with issues the Black Community grappled with… and offered a few solutions, as well.  What a remarkable loss.

Below, a clipping from The Hyde Park Herald, Volume 87, 12 February 1969, Page  13.

Dick Gregory, 1451 E. 551h, talks with program producer John Tweedle and host Jim Tilmon on WTTW-Channel 11, Our People, a weekly program focusing on the interests and talents of the black community.

our people 3

The Infamous Paul Serrano PS Studio Tapes

paul serranoSo, Paul Serrano (left) was a hard bop trumpeter here in Chicago that ultimately became a world-renowned Engineer with his own Studio (PS Recording Studios).  He recorded some of the greatest Soul, Gospel, Blues, and Jazz music ever laid down on wax, right here in Chicago.  Built in 1966, the independent studio was on-par with Chess Records’ Ter-Mar Studios and even RCA’s massive Midwest Recording Studios.

Artists including Jerry Butler, the Emotions, Natalie Cole, Ramsey Lewis, Peabo Bryson, the Independents, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Mary Wells, Chicago Gangsters, Oscar Brown, Jr., Deniece Williams, Von Freeman, Ghanaian Highlife Bandleader Dan Boadi, and Captain Sky recorded there.

The Studio (at one time located on East 23rd Street) shut down in the early nineties, but according to the folk at Numero Group, a bounty of master tapes (some never released) were BURIED at the sight of McCormick Place.  The world may never know.

Below, a slice of funk recorded in the Near South Side at PS Studios.

“Soul Train Local”

So, most of us Chicagoans know that Soul Train got its start here in Chicago (at Weigel Broadcasting’s WCIU-TV), where sponsors included Joe Louis Milk and Sears.  The train moved on to L.A. (Grrrrrrrrrr) in 1971, but time has nearly erased that the local version was aired in Chicago until 1979.  Unfortunately, those episodes starring the homegrown talent of Tyrone Davis, The Dells, Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, the Chi-Lites, and the Emotions were lost to time, many of them taped over by WCIU…repeatedly.  For more on this story, check out Jake Austen’s excellent Chicago Reader article here.

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B.B. King on Soul Train Local

I would much rather have any one of these in my personal collection than some of the inane box sets (“Webster”?? Really??) that are being offered up for posterity.  Sigh.


Operation Breadbasket, the seed of PUSH

Harry Belafonte at Operation Breadbasket, Chicago 1968

I have dedicated a number of posts here at Darkjive to the PUSH Expo, a 1970s exercise in Black Economic Empowerment (or Black Power as it was then known). The PUSH Expo phenomenon was borne from the seed of Operation Breadbasket (a department of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference), but the roots took twisted turns.

The term “Civil Rights Movement” often brings to mind images of the deep south, but Chicago was a key battleground in those days. Not just because of the influx of new Black citizens that the Great Migration delivered, but because of the ongoing struggles for housing equality and empowerment exacerbated by said influx.

Jesse Jackson, whose ties to Dr. King traced back to the Campaign at Selma in 1965, was selected by King to head Operation Breadbasket’s Chicago Branch.  True to its name, the organization distributed nourishment to the communtity, but it also played a more proactive role to fighting for social justice. 

Tactics such as boycotts were implemented, but according to Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), a seamier aspect including cronyism and strong-arming businesses to donate money to Operation Breadbasket were folded into the tactics, as well.

Eventually, leadership rifts came to a head, and in December 1971, Jackson fell out with Ralph Abernathy, King’s successor as head of the national SCLC. Jackson and his allies broke off and formed Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity).

Various sources tell me that this was a pivotal moment in Chicago History because a giant, organized black party (the largest in Chicago at the time) broke off into factions and never regained the traction it had built before that point.  Then crack hit the community like the atomic bomb (and the fallout is still being felt).  I argue that the hindsighted strength of the PUSH Expo-era was built on momentum created in the years that had preceded it, in conjunction with the genius of marketing with a major motion picture (!) and tons of press.   Documentation equals existence itself, and media has the power to romanticize just about anything.

In the end, please leave me the romance.  Let me believe that we were SO close to breaking free.  It gives me a fairy tale to build tomorrow upon.


Hey, White Girl! Susan Gregory’s Chicago Story

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The intersection of race and class. In Chicago. In the late 1960s.  That’s the backdrop of a memoir (rather cheekily) titled “Hey, White Girl!” written by Susan Gregory (Norton, 1970). 

In the book, teenage Susan transfers from well-heeled, suburban New Trier High School to attend infamous-even-then Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side for her senior year.

What’s notable about this book is that save certain specificities (slang, style of dress, et al), the story would probably play out identically today: that’s how little race and class lines have shifted since then in the Windy City.

There are many notable moments in the book: some poignant, some funny, some perfect slices of Sixties Chicago.

“What jam can I mash on you?” the disc jockey asked… The words, the phrases were endless.  But I learned them, and slowly they became my own…

…A “humbug” was a fight. A “box” was a record player.  “The hawk” referred to the wind… Marshall and WVON helped me build my vocabulary.   — from Hey, White Girl

Find a copy, if you dare.  Definitely worth the search.  It’s wild.


The Color of Water

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Near Philadelphia, kids of color were allegedly turned away from a private club’s swimming pool (even though they’d ponied up the nearly $2000 entry fee).  Upon arrival, the kids’ presence allegedly made the regular pool crowd uncomfortable.  Now the blogosphere is abuzz. 

Racism!”

“It’s 2009!!!” 

What does that even mean?  All I know is that racists are better at acting like they’re not racist.  In public.

In defense of the Huntingdon Valley Swim Club they have posted on their website that:

“[They] had originally agreed to invite the camps to use our facility, knowing full well that the children from the camps were from multi-ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, [they] quickly learned that we underestimated the capacity of [their] facilities and realized that [they] could not accommodate the number of children from these camps.”

My reading is that the club underestimated how their members would react.  Underlying feelings surfaced, perhaps.  One camper was quoted by NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate as saying:

 “I heard this lady, she was like, ‘Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?’ She’s like, ‘I’m scared they might do something to my child.'”  Ouch.

Ironically, 90 years ago this month, Chicago saw one of the bloodiest race riots in American History during the Red Summer of 1919.  The irony?  That riot started when a black boy allegedly floated into “white water” at what was then 26th Street Beach. Neighborhoods became battlefields.  Veterans, black and white, (newly home from World War One) made Trenches out of Boulevards. 

At the end of thirteen days of skirmishes, 38 Chicagoans were dead (23 blacks and 15 whites), 537 injured, and 1,000 black families were homeless. 

How far we’ve come. 


Another Beautiful Struggle

the-beautiful-struggle-198x300“We took comfort in the rebel music that was pumped into the city from up North. Hip-Hop was the rumble of our generation, unveiling all our wants, fears, and disaffections. But as the fabled year of ’88 came upon us, we saw something more in the music, a deeper thing that interrogated our random lives and made us self-aware. We needed 1988, like the mariners of old needed the North Star. I needed a text for understanding my present crack-addled world; Bill needed some conception of a future.”

— from The Beautiful Stuggle, Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ autobiographical ode to black manhood (and the struggle to reach it and to cultivate it) is the premise for The Beautiful Struggle (Random House, 2008), a title hip-hop heads might recognize from a 2004 Talib Kweli album.  The album popularized a phrase from a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, in which he stated:

“We must move past indecision to action. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.”

In the Beautiful Struggle, Coates’ father is larger than life, both Black Panther & Vietnam vet, publisher and cultural historian, trying to raise up seven children in an era when crack created a desert tooled for the destuction of a whole generation.  A book that is both a love note to hip hop, a battle cry, and a tale of rising up, A Beautiful Struggle is beautiful to be sure.


Into Africa: 50 must reads for “Every African”…

…courtesy of afripopmag.com… lots of good stuff for a book nut like me.

Anthem of the Decades, by Mazisi Kunene.
Biko, by Donald Woods
Roots, by Alex Haley
Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
Woman at Point Zero, by Nawal el Sadaawi
Purple Hibiscus + Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimimanda Adichi Ngozi
Our Sister Killjoy, by Ama Ata Aidoo
Head Above Water, by Buchi Emecheta
The Heart of Redness, by Zakes Mda
You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town/David’s Story/Playing in the Light, by Zoe Wicomb
Mother to Mother, by Sindiwe Magona
Unbowed, by Wangari Maathai
Decolonising the Mind, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Anthills of the Savannah, by Chinua Achebe
Hero of the Nation, by Henry Masauko Chipembere
Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
Distant View of a Minaret, by Alifa Rifaat
So Long a Letter, by Mariama Ba
A long way gone, by Ishmael Beah
Song for Night/Becoming Abigail, by Chris Abani
Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Desert Flower/Desert Dawn, by Waris Dirie
Born Under the Big Rain, by Fadumo Korn
When Rain Clouds Gather/Maru/A Question of Power, by Bessie Head
Women are Different, by Flora Nwapa
The Stone Virgins, by Yvonne Vera
Call me Woman, by Ellen Kuzwayo
And they didn’t Die, by Lauretta Ngcobo
Maru, b y   B e s s i e   H e a d
Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature, by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Petals of blood, Weep not child, Ngungi wa Thiongo
Black Sunlight, by Dambudzo Merachera
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, by Amos Tutola
Question of Power, by Bessie Head
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neal Hurston
Ready For Revolution, by Kwame Ture
Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Making of Black Revolutionaries, by James Forman
Destruction of Black Civilization, by Chancellor Williams
The African Origin of Civilization, by Cheikh Anta Diop
The Isis Papers, by Francess Cress Welsing
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama
Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, by Barack Obama
The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Du Bois simply bcoz this century is about identity
O’ Mandingo!: The Only Black at a Dinner Party, by Eric Miyeni
Gerard Sekoto: I Am An African, by Chabani Manganyi
The Good Women of China, by Xinran just coz Africa and Asia share so much in common
Capitalist Nigger, by Chika Onyeani
African love stories, (edited) by Ama Ata Aido
Black skin, White masks, by Franz Fanon
Scatter the Ashes and Go, Hyenas, by Mongane Wally Serote
Black God of the Sun, by Ekow Eshun
Mavericks, (edited) by Lauren Beukes
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
Indaba, My Children, by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa
Development as freedom, by Amartya Sen
The Spirit of Intimacy, by Sobonfu E. Some
God’s Bit of Wood, The Money Order with White Genesis, by Ousmane Sembene
Zenzele: A letter for my Daughter, by J. Nozipho Maraire
The Bible
The Land Is Ours: The Political Legacy of Mangaliso Sobukwe, by S.E.M. Pheko
Subukwe and Apartheid, by Benjamin Pogrund
I Write what I like, Steve Biko
Blues People, by Amiri Baraka
Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James
Democracy Matters, by Cornel West
Encyclopedia Africana, probably the greatest manuscript about the entire African Diaspora
Speak so You Can Speak Again: The life of Zora Neale Hurston, by Lucy Hurston


Adjust Your Color….and Believe in Radio

Check this clip from the PBS Documentary called “Adjust Your Color” chronicling the life and times of Petey Greene, a seventies DC-area shock-jock/activist (who was played by Don Cheadle in the film “Talk to Me”).  Makes me believe in radio (again).  And for good measure, below darkjive proudly presents: Life imitating art, Mr. Greene in the flesh.  Wild stuff.

Is it too much to believe that media can save the world?