Visionaries Series: Claudia Rankine in Conversation with Judith Butler – Thursday 10/29/20 7PM

The New Museum will feature Claudia Rankine in conversation with Judith Butler for the 2020 Visionaries program. The Stuart Regen Visionaries Series is an annual program honoring individuals who have made major contributions to art and culture and who are actively imagining a better future.

New Museum will present this live conversation via Zoom. Register here for this conversation. Registration closes at 5 PM EST on October 29.

While Traveling

She discovered that she and Ben Green shared a birthday—September 5th—which was also, supposedly, Jack Daniel’s. “There was no escaping the birthday thing,” Weaver recalls, implying a cosmic angle to the story’s magnetism.

Throughout 2019 I have been a regular passenger on Amtrak, and while most of the times I work as I travel, occasionally I distract myself by reading Amtrak’s The National Onboard Magazine. This article is among my 2019 highlights, How Fawn Weaver Rewrote the History of America’s Biggest Whiskey Brand.

“[Fawn] Weaver, an African-American author and real estate investor from Los Angeles, was moved by the notion of a hidden history at the root of America’s most valuable spirits brand. At home, she bought a biography of Jack Daniel, written in 1967 by a journalist named Ben A. Green (no relation to Nearest), and in it found Nearest and his descendants mentioned some 50 times. Weaver became deeply curious about how, and why, they had since vanished from history. She discovered that she and Ben Green shared a birthday—September 5th—which was also, supposedly, Jack Daniel’s. “There was no escaping the birthday thing,” Weaver recalls, implying a cosmic angle to the story’s magnetism. Who was Nearest Green? And what, exactly, was his role in establishing one of America’s most iconic brands? She felt herself called to unravel the thread.” To read the full article Click Here.

Day 15, 2019

The Hallmark Channel and Movies

Author: Melissa Barber

Happy Fifteenth Day of Thanks Everyone!

Today I give thanks for the Hallmark Channel and the season-themed movies it provides. I blame my friend Wanda for getting me hooked on the Hallmark channel.   Several years ago, as she was working in Harlem and writing her PhD dissertation in Organizational Management, she came to stay with me and Lilah for several months.  During her moments of rest and relaxation, she would always have the television turned to this particular station.  As Wanda and I talked through dissertation ideas and edits, I’d notice that the television was still on that channel and that each two hour movie was always based on a complex, developing love story that had always fit within the frame of a theme (in this case June weddings) and was quite predictable in that the last 5 minutes of the movie always had a signature kiss between the protagonist and her new found love interest. 

Since I wasn’t much of a TV person or into these fantasized love stories that seemed to never relate to my life (I was not taking a vacation somewhere in a quaint town to get away from my real life), Wanda got my fair share of “girl, why in the world are you watching this?” She would explain in her passionate way just how much she loved the Hallmark channels and its movies.  And each day, unconsciously, I was getting sucked into the web of it all.  First, I watched a movie here and there with Wanda. By the time Wanda went back home to Oklahoma, I was ready for the next season of Fall Harvest movies, which would later lead into Winter Wonderland and the Christmas Countdown. (How did that even happen?)

And now, just as I am a devout member of my other sisterhoods, I am a fully-fledged member of the club. Like the millions of middle-aged women around the world, I too watch and am hooked on the Hallmark Movie channel. Interestingly enough, the Hallmark channel and its movies have been a blessing in disguise.  Not only has it provided good wholesome television (I don’t have to watch soft or explicit porn, foul expletives and bloody massacres), it has sparked my imagination and has given me so many ideas for creative crafting projects to do with Delilah.  It’s honed my skills on being a good story teller as I write. (On last year’s thirty days of thanks—you have to get the book when it’s done!—I was blessed with so many comments about my ability to write and tell a good story.) This year’s crafting projects includes making ugly Christmas sweaters (Mine is a charm!) and one is a spinoff of what I saw in one of the Hallmark movies.  I also decided that Lilah and I will also put together our first gingerbread house this year. (I’m currently researching some good keto gingerbread recipes. If I can’t find any, I’ll move on to researching which gingerbread house kit I should buy.) 

I absolutely love Christmas—the decorations, the baking, the hot cocoa, the gingerbread houses, and, most importantly, the representation that a Christ (My Savior) was born to this world.  Each year, Hallmark’s series of movies shows the Christmas spirit and the idea of a Christmas miracle. The movies have all the bells and whistles of decorations on a Douglas fir tree or a Balsam Hill one (my dream is to have one of those trees) and a totally white, winter wonderland Christmas (not the dirty, slushy, grey snow we have here in NYC!).  It absolutely beautiful!   I love being single (for all the reasons Carol mentioned.) But, as I’ve gotten older, I realize I’m starting to entertain the idea of companionship more and trying to be intentional about being open to love and a relationship.  I’m almost sure that the Hallmark movies are weighing in, subconsciously, on this “new” idea of mine as well. If one watches enough love stories on a regular basis, it’s almost inevitable that one will start desiring a love story for one’s self. (I’m totally not expecting the dramaticized versions I see on the Hallmark channel but my own love story would be nice!)  

I also credit the Hallmark channel and its movies for keeping me company and being a great disconnect and a rest from my weary reality. Recently, Lilah had a really bad menstrual cycle and virus at the same time. The first day of her menstrual cycle, she had a seizure in the wee hours in the morning and a few hours later started bleeding heavy.  Although she woke up the next morning totally fine, she got to school and had explosive diarrhea in school. That diarrhea and insomnia lasted into the next morning.  (I had my share of crappy clothes and linen to hand wash as well as rehydrating Lilah to do.) As I kept my eyes on Lilah, praying and simultaneously stroking her head and back while she laid in a fetal position from severe cramps, the Hallmark channel was in the background helping me to stay awake. She finally got to sleep at 7:45 in the morning. By that time, I was exhausted but thanking God that it was Saturday and I could easily cancel all of the day’s activities without any severe repercussions. I did my morning devotion and quickly drifted into LaLa land.  When I woke up, I ran to Aldi’s to do much needed food shopping and the Dollar Tree, while my cousin kept an eye on Lilah.  Upon my return home, I put on my background noise (the Hallmark Channel) to clean the deep freezer and the kitchen.  I begin to prepare and cook all of the meals for the following week. I made all of lilah’s keto food, homemade chicken noodle soup, homemade sancocho, barbecued chicken, ground turkey meat for spaghetti, baked fish.  Since I had a craving for stuffing (and left my helpings in Orlando, Fl), I made my famous homemade stuffing as well. I planned to have a good time eating it for one of my lunch and dinner sides the next day.  It was too late to get to dessert but tomorrow was definitely another day and I knew I’d get to finish baking then.

Today as I give thanks for Hallmark movies and the Hallmark channel and its blessing to me.  I want you to think about that “unconventional” blessing in disguise that allows you to rest from your weary reality, sparks your creative juices and allows you to imagine a future with a great hope. Give real thanks for it! I want to highlight the Theatre Development Fund (TDF; which provides opportunities for high school aged students and families who have loved ones on the Autism Spectrum to have exposure to the arts at reduced cost. Please help this organization to continue with their amazing programming.Lova Ya,
Have A Great Day of Thanks!

Dancing life

The story of the (still unfolding) life of an African-American woman living in the predominantly white worlds of ballet, modern dance, and Broadway, while facing challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs as she attempts to shatter the stereotypically classical mold and celebrate her evolution into an unapologetic body, (Francesca Harper).



Death and Dance

Death: A demanding dance partner, easy to ferocious jealousy and vengefulness when ignored. Death deserves the honor and reverence of its central place in the life cycle of the living.  Cultures around the world have historically understood that studied attention to death is essential for the forging of communities in which members can productively negotiate livable lives and well-being.  Ceremonies around death require that song, dance, laughter, drink,  and verbal roasting of the life that has transitioned to that ultimate Other, death.  With death a family, a community,  enters into a full-bodied dance of paradoxical reality and imaginings of the dead’s past, present, and future relationship with, to and in the community.   In between the one-two rock, the moans that sings and screams, whimpers, the wailings and chest beating, hand wringing and twisting,   the dialogue between the death and life is marked by bodies, on bodies, between, in-between and beyond bodies in full embodiment.  Death will dance time and again with the living, and the living will, however reluctantly, dance.

The two writers, Toni Morrison and Paule Marshall, served as beacons in my life. They helped me understand that there was language, and that language can be molded and manipulated, to articulate my experience as an African Diaspora girl/woman moving through multiple spaces of un-belonging. And, my two aunts, separated by a decade in age, kept me in deep belonging, never allowing me to mis-remember family history and my place in it. As this summer 2019 comes to a close, I dance in recognition and honor of the lives of these four amazing women.

Sharing this: Dance: (From Sept. 19, 2018) DTH Founder Arthur Mitchell Dies at 84 — BDBB: The Black Dance and Broadway Blog

(This post was originally posted on my Facebook page to mark the death of DTH Founder Arthur Mitchell on Sept. 19, ,2018) Somewhere back in Chicago at my mom’s house, there is a photo of me in all my little 10-year-old impishness, standing in front of the Dance Theatre of Harlem next to Arthur Mitchell. […]

via Dance: (From Sept. 19, 2018) DTH Founder Arthur Mitchell Dies at 84 — BDBB: The Black Dance and Broadway Blog