Information is Moving to Fast

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I feel like everything just needs to slow down. Then there is a voice in my head taunting me saying “What, you can’t keep up?” It is frustrating. But there are times when I just want to get off the ride, to just slow down and chill out. Information travels so quickly now. That is why all of these deaths and murders at the hands of cops or the hands of our fellow man are so many. The information is just being disseminated quicker. I just want to sit on the side for a spell and watch paint dry and flowers grow. *shrug*

MSG got me f***** up

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I learn that MSG kills brain cells. I knew it was bad for you… but that is all that was said, I never knew the exact reason why. Not that I didn’t do my best to stay away from it before that knowledge. 

One thing that I also know is that the majority of students that I’ve worked with in the past have eaten from the Chinese carry out almost everyday multiple times a day. I tell the story of being in a carryout once and hearing a little girl say… “Ok… See you tomorrow Mamasan.” The diets of our young people are not healthy. Something I have known for quite some time. I can remember kids going to 7-Eleven getting a bag of doritoes and pouring nacho cheese over them not to mention whatever sugary drink they get to go with it. Cheese on top of a powered cheese substance that undoubtedly contains MSG or Monosodium glutemate as it is spelled out on the ingredients.

We know that many of our inner city youth reside in food deserts, we understand that our young people barely eat vegetables because they don’t even understand what it does for the body. Some of them may only know of one. I swear the most popular vegetable in the black community is broccoli. And then that may be covered in cheese.
But consider this, if a young girl is pregnant, she eats carry out everyday and MSG is known to be in carry out food not to mention her craving for sugar and hot cheetoes or anything else with MSG. She ingests this processed food and she has the baby.
If we know that MSG kills brain cells then we must also realize that not only is she killing her own brain cells but what does that baby end up with if their mothers nourishment is poison?

How is it humanly possible that a large majority of our children in predominately African American inner city schools have ADHD or some kind of disorder? How can we not associate the fact that there’s a food desert with the ailments of our children? Our kids cannot focus, they’re quick to anger, they can’t comprehend instructions, and they don’t associate things that are connected. (A noun is a person, place or thing… What is a person, place, or thing called? *crickets*)
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I am doing my best to impart my knowledge of photography on someone’s kids over the nex t 6 weeks or so. Every classroom I passed today, there was some teacher raising their voice to maintain order. There was some time of yelling most of the day that i was there. After a while I was yelling too. I had a colleague express to me that with the behaviors in the class “you feel like a failure.” The building is chaos and while I know these kids are amazing I also know that many of them are filled with just the right balance of meds to create the right balance in their system to calm them.

There was one incident where a young man was brought into the class and he began frantically asking for a teacher. He asked “Where is she…” someone explain where she was. Then he, at the same frantic level, asked where the other teacher was who happened to be behind him. Then he was off and running to grab a camera well after the lesson that he missed. I really thought something was wrong with him but apparently he was fine.

It is not their fault. They have so many chemicals reacting with the natural hormones and synapses in their bodies that they are just a ball of 1 second increments at any given time.

I think this video says it best… What is going into your system?

I Would Call Myself a Womanist before I would Ever call Myself a Feminist

The word feminism has been strewn about the media like a beach ball at an outdoor concert. I have never really taken the side of feminism because I suppose I am for what is fair and just regardless of labeling it. And while I believe that a woman has the right to do whatever her heart so desires, I personally am not interested in some things that are normally looked at as roles or responsibilities of males. (ie. I am cool on not taking out the trash or lifting heavy ‘ish. Nor am I interested in fighting any body’s war. They got that… for real. And war really? C’mon.) I recognize our physical attributes are different and I like it that way. There are some who are adamant about “Not needing a man.” I am not that chick. ‘Yes sir can you pick that up and carry it up those stairs for me? Thanks I appreciate you!’

But I digress into a trick bag of possible backlash.

I would call myself a womanist before I ever called myself a feminist. In knowing the historical context of feminism and realizing that African descendants and women of color were not involved nor included or even considered as feminist. Of course the first wave of feminism there were some “things” happening. I mean “slave vs. woman, human vs not”; I can see how that can kinda throw a monkey wrench into things. You see what I am sayin?

There were feminist that were associated with racist eugenics movements that targeted reproductive rights of African Americans. Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood would be a cleansing of the unpure. Killing of the unwanted or sterilizing the undesirables. There was someone else in history who what to do something similar… now what was his name?

Feminism has been placed on everyone from Rihanna to Amber Rose and Beyonce. All of whom are more focused on selling themselves and their respective brands vs necessarily changing the world and gaining equal pay for women. Everyone skews things to fit an agenda sadly.
But I suppose if you are journalist or pundit writing about Beyonce and calling her a feminist… well that is publicity for her regardless of whether SHE owns it or not. Because the mere mention of a song in association with that article will have people going to listen to it to see exactly what you are talking about. In fact, Beyonce should really give a cut to anyone who mentions her name. (Hey Bey… IJS)

But truly it is all semantics. Feminist, Womanist… My call would be to pay close attention to those associated with causes for whom you take up the mantle.

What Do Fetty Wap, My Mother, and I have in Common?

Besides the fact that we are all from New Jersey. The commonalities between my mama, Fetty Wap and myself are probably few.  But we do share one thing for sure… a serious generational divide. Being a member of Generation X and of a particular age, I have always felt like a bridge between Depression Era babies, (my grandparents),  Boomers and Millennials. Imagine a tether ball being hit from both sides and every angle – to me, that is Gen X.

In discussions with various generations spanning different circles and in different areas of the city there are a number of questions on the table that can only be answered across generations. I have always felt there has to be a solution to the turmoil our communities face. Whether it is the lack of successor-ship in government and organizational positions, the savvy yet non-political politics of the BLM movement or the seemingly apathetic approach to life we see in our youth, there is a solution… better still there are answers. I feel that this project is a stepping stone to closing the gaps within our community.

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Letters 2 a Generation (L2aG) is a project developed by moi (Kimberly C. Gaines) with the goal of igniting conversation through written language among multiple generations of African-Americans. The project will enlist participants through an open call and a curated selection process to create an inter-generational dialogue. Using the art of letter writing, each generation will craft a correspondence to a generation of their choice. Writers can pose additional questions or topics or attempt to respond to a selected letter.

Submitted letters will be posted on the L2aG website. Select letters will also be included in a 3-part series, where they will be read during a staged theatrical presentation followed by a moderated conversation with representatives of each generation.

The objective is to:

  • Engage in a cross generational dialogue, in pursuit of better understanding
  • Develop a mutual respect for differing perspectives and approaches
  • Develop an online space for continued conversation
  • Create a book documenting the process and keeping record of written accounts

Here is the link to more details!


 

 

 

My New Year Begins… NOW!

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My holidays were good…

How about yours?

This time of year is filled with so much, I just needed to veg out. I was pretty much a zombie going through the holiday motions trying to figure out how to pep myself up and be in good spirits. I just felt like another year was ending and what position am I in now? What things did I learn? Wait… did I learn anything this year? (or Last year as it were.) I was just working to maintain my sanity really. I think I masked it pretty well. The point is, things just aren’t the same and I can’t say I wish they were, but I really would like to know what they are shaping up to be.

Now by no means is this a sad or pity post. You should know that end of/beginning of the year posts are always reflective. This is no different.

One very interesting occurrence in this new year is the fact that it is THEE FIRST TIME EVER that I have written the year right from the start. Get this, every year prior to this one I have written the previous year. You know how you have to get use to it being a new year and all before you write the correct year? That did not happen to me for the first time in my life. I took that as a big deal. I actually think that it is major! (I am going with that.) I take it as being a blessing and foreshadowing of good things to come this year.

Life day by day is a blessing. I am the most observant person I know and I certainly didn’t think that I could be anymore so but God…

I am watching and learning and in the process feeling my way through.

Expect more. I do.

sondai.

Someone Should…

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Those words have come out of my mouth many times over. Someone should create a shop that does this… Someone should start a website that does that… I have so many ideas I figure I can’t do them all. You ever feel like that? That you need a partner to execute plans or to lend ideas to someone for them to do. Sometimes you may not be the best conduit for the actual creation but the idea is pure brilliance. Fyah… if you will.

But then there is this line of what you need to do and what you want to do and you have to figure out, really what gets cut. Because it is not about what is the priority. You know priorities are needs… those things that have to get done against all odds. Essentially, what that means is you have to “adult”. Pay bills, buy groceries, take the kids to school and pay for piano lessons for little Malik. Your idea to start that expresso bar is on that shelf in the closet that you never even open.

One thing that I feel like the Millennials have cornered the market on is going for delf or the come-hell-or-high-water syndrome. They have an idea, execute it, sell it to the highest bidder. Then it is on to the next. Not all but more that a few. Responsibilities be damned… procreation… meh.

I have been phased out. Phased out of the background where it is comfortable. I tried to retreat back into the comfort of the shadows. Actually, I am still trying to be background to no avail. But once a calling is recognized, retreating is no longer a box available. I have always enjoyed teaming up, collaboration to create. But the older I get with the ideas I have had has made me relinquish the enjoyment. From the early days at Howard, I was being trained on loathing group projects. While there have certainly been a few that have been a breeze, some have been moments of torture. I have definitely had some great collabos (DeanwoodxDesign, The Front Porch Sound Series…) so I can not say that I haven’t been blessed in that area.

In my book of projects dust is collecting and things aren’t getting done. So… change is eminent.

That is all… for now.

The Cover Up

We learn certain behaviors from our families that we may not recognize as detrimental because it is so common place. To be honest this post will probably include some of that good ole cover magic that I am discussing here. Why do we do it? Are the secrets learned? Do we just do it to protect our ego?

These are questions I ask myself when I feel depressed or completely out of sorts. The mask we put on is preserving what exactly? Pain, embarrassment,  possible  ridicule. More than likely all of those things. America is famous for wearing the mask. If you take a look at all of the issues around the United States alone you will realize that mask is so withered and crack that the truth is shining through.

I ask, is this mask healthy or are we simply use to the fit? I can remember being a loud kid in the house. I would just be having fun. I can not remember specifics of what I would say but I do remember my grandmother saying “Shh, Kimmie the neighbors will hear you.” I didn’t care. I mean weren’t we in our own house? We lived in an old home and I doubt back then the walls were so thin that they could hear us. I never heard them other than the band rehearsals in the basement. Even then we would actually sing along. We were tight with our neighbors.

But the privacy of families is more complicated than it has to be. Family secrets, concealing ailments,  all kinds of stuff that could be helpful in human connection. Not everyone needs to know our business.  That is the rule of thumb. No one ever wants to appear lesser in the eyes of their neighbors. Or be pitied because they are down on their luck. It happens to everyone. One turn of events can have us high on the totem pole and another can have us scraping the bottom of the barrel. But no one would ever know.

I have always joked that Black folks can step out of the house dressed to the nines even if at home they ain’t got no lights or a kernel of corn to eat. Pride is a constant in the Black community especially in looking the part. If we look good everyone will believe we are good. That is definitely multi-leveled.

What happens if we are vulnerable and share our hardships? Ultimately,  I believe  that there will be folks that are in your corner and others you will realize who are not. I have been blessed to experience it and still do not have the words. I know there are not always those who want to see you shine. I can’t stand the term haters but… Well let’s just say they are not happy with themselves so how could they even stand to be in the shadow of your light. The sad thing is that there is enough light to go around and if we all shine there would be no shadows.

The rumor mill may run off at the mouth. That is the nature of some but more often than not they will find themselves in need at some point. Karma is real. I do know this though we can not expect to experience a blessing if we don’t open our mouths to ask for what we need or un-clinch our fists to receive.


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Watch Sondai on #Periscope

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I have slowly… NO… I take that back, quickly become addicted to the world of #Periscope. One of my new scoper gurus said “It is the best place for free professional development and entertainment.” Thanks Chalene Johnson.

YES! Depending on who you follow you can “get your life” on Periscope. From messages for the spirit, live coaching, tips on building and maintaining your brand, the platform is an excellent tool and can be a great way to expand your career.

I will be posting my first #Periscope soon and I am looking to provide topics that are of value! The nuggets of knowledge that I have seen on this app have been invaluable. From @JessFozard in Australia, to @trendysocialite in North Carolina and @NapturalNicole in Baltimore, Periscope has great information and community building. Truth be told there is huge value to it.

So check download the app, and check for the “Sondai Sessions” Live on Periscope coming soon! I will be talking S.A.S – Spirit, Art & Style.

Gosh… putting it here makes it real. Whoa! I have that nervous out of my comfort zone excitement.

Check out my finds in the sondai souq

Night Club Art Exhibitions Don’t Pay Artists

The combination is actually illogical. Night clubs are multi-purposed venues but, art seller is not one of them. While I appreciate the out of the box sentiment that promoters and night club owners have, this forcing of culture is not progressing artist’s careers. In fact, it may very well be pigeon-holing or exploiting the artist by using them as atmosphere or a gimmick making the establishment seem like the “it” place to be.

It is a level of respect for the artist. Show them in the best possible light. You wouldn’t put this Ruud van Empel Dawn #1 piece in a night club.

There are strong drinks and uncontrolled patrons, the arts connoisseur is not there to squint at labels or at paintings for that matter, they are there to shake what the good lord gave them. At this point it has been done. Admittedly, I have seen it done well in some cases. I can not deny that the artist was truly thought about in these situations. I have also seen it done horribly with an artist live painting stuck up in a corner and disrespected by drunken night club goers. Do not be mistaken, I am talking full blown night club here, not gallery parties or buildings converted into gallery spaces. Even though, sometimes the party gets a little too “crunk” in this spaces as well.

YES! Art most of the time equates to a jovial atmosphere. It is a celebration of talent, accomplishment and life on a wall, canvas, pallet, glass or anything else an artist can create upon. These night club exhibitions don’t really allow the work to be seen. Indeed, accolades are awesome, having people surrounding you and smiling, and instagramming pictures with “the artist”, that is cool too. But at the end of the day art for an artist is business. The business is the sale of art. They can’t live off of fun times at the night club.

The point is, the artist must be mindful of their audience and how to reach them. Of course, millionaires are not relegated to galleries. This day an age they walk among us. However, for the artists, please think about perception and presentation. If your art fits in the night club atmosphere and the owner is willing to purchase your pieces to adorn their walls, by all means DO IT. Otherwise please stop with this gallery quality work being installed in spots with rum and coke stained floors and (potentially) art.

Check out my finds in the sondai souq

So This Work is Called Arts Management, huh?

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Skai, Jati Lindsey, Kokayi, N’digo Rose and Fred Joiner

In the late 90’s I was but a babe on U Street. Roaming the northwest quadrant of DC thinking that I was a part of a Renaissance of arts and culture. To a certain degree I was, however, the proven renaissance was not what I originally expected. U Street underwent change for sure, so much so that it changed myself and my peers right out of the neighborhood.

But oh how nice it was then? We worked in unison. Every night of the week was a different spot. From Mango’s (now Jin) to Kafa House (now some Italian market)… Bar Nun (now Pure) and the meeting place State of the Union (not sure what is coming next). There was the weekend flea market that took over the parking lot next to Republic Gardens night club (now The Ellington Condos) and movers and shakers, shops and craftsmen that sold everything from shoes to semi-precious stones and metals.

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In the beginning, I was an observer. A fly on the wall documenting the “scene” through the photographic lens as it unfolded before my eyes. Independently published works from W. Ellington Felton and Raquel Brown (which I still have), poetry sets, Groove Gumbo, Sam the Man Burns, websites like Divine Cipher and our northern neighbors OkayPlayer. Folks bearing their expression on their sleeve and a mixture of art and culture that was attractive to many far and wide.

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Aniekan

It was around 1999 when I met a painter who was prolific from the start. Work covered the spaces that he occupied and then some. So many pieces! He gave me his card. One day after meeting him I saw one of the pieces on a tee-shirt. I was like that’s whats up. He is really hustling. So I hit him.

“Yo, I just saw your tee-shirt!” I say ecstatically on the line.

“Kim, what are you talking about?” he replied. (or something to that effect. It was a long time ago.)

He then told me how that night we met the dudes who were helping him with transporting his stuff, marketing, shows, etc. pretty much held his work hostage and were now making money off of his work by creating these tee-shirts. I was outraged for him and me both. It compelled me to helping artists on the business side of things while they maintained their art. I put my best foot forward…

‘You needed a flyer? I got you!’

‘You needed a bio? Word, I got you!’

‘You need a press release… hang on, how is that done? Ok I got you!’

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Source Magazine article with cast of Kamilah Forbes’ Rhyme Deferred cast

But I realize, I have always been doing that work. I pride myself on being a trustworthy supporter of the arts and of artists by putting that sweat equity in so artists don’t wind up with the short end of the stick. It didn’t have a name to me then nor did it lend itself to a livelihood. But over the years, I have been a worker bee in servitude to what I think are just causes in the arts.

There have been some misfires and certainly some disappointing ventures but consistency, for me, remains. Dear artist, “I got you”, on the business end. Publications, brochures, marketing, social media, press releases, PACKAGING… I know that all an artist really wants to do is create. That drive exists within me too. Worrying about positioning, branding and audience is not at the forefront of their mind. For me I get excited to see an artist get the recognition that I think is highly deserved.

Matt 25:14-30 talks about the Parable of the Talents. I know and live to use those gifts that God has given me for the purpose of “my community”. That is my art. While I have been blessed with many talents I know that “to whom much is given, much is required.” I use my talent to create within and culturally preserve my community and further highlight the arts. Thanks to that Masters degree from SCAD I have something to call it now.

Typically, we continue on a path that really doesn’t allow us to stop and think about the threads we have woven, we just continue to weave. But when you take some time to think things over… You see the work you have done, the patterns, the shifts, the near disasters and the overall good that has come from the work.

As for the ’90s and my old stomping grounds, I blame it on youth. The saying is “youth is wasted on the young” right? I get it. The point is “if I knew then…” I would have done some things differently. U Street would have been a very different place then and now.


Check out my finds in the sondai souq