How My Picture Got into a Yoko Ono Exhibit!

I really, really love Yoko Ono-her spirit, her art and her boldness. While in London I was able to visit the Serpentine Gallery located in the beautiful Kensington Gardens. The purpose for my visit to was to view the Yoko Ono exhibit To The Light which featured the Smiles Film.The purpose of this film according to Yoko is to fulfill her ultimate goal in film-making by making a film that includes a smiling face snap of every single human being in the world.  At the end of the exhibit gallery visitors are invited to add their picture to the film which I did with my new friend Ariana a fellow traveler from New Zealand. See the picture below:

Smile!

Even if you can’t make it to the Serpentine Gallery you can still add your pearly whites to the film via Twitter, Facebook,Instagram, Pinterest and many other social media sites, just visit: www.smilesfilm.com. To learn more about the Smiles Film from the lady herself see the video below:

30th Birthday Reflection: 3 Decades of Lessons

Toddler Love probably thinking about some baby justice issue like the correlation between Barbie and self-esteem, LOL.

Today I turn 30 in Sass-Fee Switzerland of all places! Though I enjoy the beauty and fresh air I do miss family and friends. Last night right before 12AM I set intentions for this year because I feel like birthdays are similar New Years Day and in the Black southern tradition the way you start the  New Year is the way you will spend it and I want to spend this year in God’s purpose for me. I also reflected on the lessons God has taught me during these three decades of my life:

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Bijoux Uniques

I love purchasing street or handcrafted jewelry and living in New York City I always have the opportunity to do so (probably more opportunities than I need).  Whether I am on 125th Street in Harlem or hanging out in Union Square downtown I am always tempted to by one more pair of earrings or another funky ring, see some of my finds below:

Various pieces that were gifted or brought from vendors on 125th Street in Harlem. The cuff is from Venus Visuals.

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Why the Church is the Best Place for A “Pussy Riot”

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Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova makes herself heard before a hearing in Moscow on August 8. Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GettyImages

On August 17th the punk band Pussy Riot will receive their verdict for the case against them. The members of this band have been in jail since March for protestfying against Russian political conditions in a Moscow’s largest Orthodox Church. According to Slate:

“The trial for three members of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk band that got in a lot of trouble for a prank/protest event where they crashed the altar of Moscow’s largest Orthodox Church to play a single anti-Putin song, concluded this week. The members gave closing statements, which they used to reassert their objections to the authoritarian state and the way that religious faith is being hijacked to garner support for government oppression. Business Insider ran a video and a translation of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s closing statement, where she clearly laid out the case for breaking the back of all oppressive institutions and linked her ordeal with that of many historical figures who have faced similar censorship efforts from social and governmental authorities.”
-Pussy Riot’s Closing Statement

As a faith based community organizer I spend a great majority of my time trying to get political issues into the church so that the gospel can be relevant to the reality of those on and off the pews. I believe the best place for a “pussy riot” is the church and though this may seem sacrilegious here’s why I feel this way:

1. When the church ignores social and political issues it silently blesses injustice; see slavery, the holocaust, lynching and child sexual abuse. Testimony Time is a set time in many Black Churches in which congregants can speak of their pains and triumphs and how God brought them through. Testimony time is democratic and a time of raw honesty. I call what Pussy Riot did Protestifying because they protested by testifying about the political conditions of their country.

2. Though Jesus came to earth via a pussy the divine feminine has been dishonored and dismissed in the church. Ironically women make up the majority of the church and without pussy the church could not survive.

3. When we read the Biblical Psalms (which were mostly songs) we read of sadness, joy, justice, injustice, fear, courage and a host of other conditions and emotions. In Church we don’t only need songs of joy and devotion but honest songs where we tell God our frustrations and express our anger. Sadly, in many of today’s churches we are only allowed to sing polite hymns or sugary sweet “power point songs” (a term I coined for Evangelical Praise & Worship Songs), many a Sunday I feel like I am lying to God when I am asked to sing these false platitudes and I don’t think God is pleased with our “false sacrifices of praise”. Everything is not ok in our world and yet the church does not want us to bring our pain into the church. I believe God longs to have a transparent relationship with us in which we are honest about the full spectrum of our emotions.

4. Lastly according to Mary’s Song, Isaiah 61 and countless other Biblical scriptures God cares about the oppressed, so why wouldn’t the church be the place to speak about social issues? I do not believe in the separation of spirit from body or in compartmentalizing our lives. our politics, spiritually and physical realities all matter to God and should be brought to the altar of our churches.
Ironically when Mary Mother of Jesus sang her song (also known as the Magnificat) of Justice she had to do so with another woman outside of the temple.Mary’s Song was a pussy riot of her own because she sang these revolutionary words:

He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

This song is not from a secret lost book of the Bible but can be found in the Gospel of Luke and gives support for being honest with God about our social conditions. I will be praying for the members of Pussy Riot but more importantly for the awakening of the global Church so that we will open our doors and invite reality and justice in.

Take Action and Sign the petition Free Pussy Riot!

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Russia is one of the many countries where the Black Madonna is honored.

Saas-Fee Photos Part 2

One week in I have been able to get some great photos. I visited a local church, spent sometime in the sauna and have been indulging in too much chocolate! See the photos below and enjoy!

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Black Contemporary Artist Continuing our Creative Tradition

For thousands of years people of African descent have created wonderful pieces of visual art, most of which was stolen by “archaeologist” and is held  in museums throughout the Western world. In spite of the classism and racism that is prevalent in the art world there are many Black artist who are continuing our creative tradition and pushing artistic boundaries. Though many of us know that we dominate music, dancing and singing it should also be noted that from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Kara Walker Black artist  have and are currently making valuable contributions to the art world. Most often Black art is not just “art for art’s sake” but a visual call to justice. View these wonderful pieces of of art below:

By Kara Walker

The piece above  is a powerful reflection on the destruction of the Black family that occurred during slavery, though uncomplicated it shows the terror of slavery. Instead of featuring the male slave master this piece shows the role white women played in slavery thus challenging the traditional slave narrative.

“Apparitional Visitations” by Suzanne Jackson, 1973

This piece by Suzanne Jackson is a beautiful reflection on the inner spirit of the Black woman.

“Sleep” by Kehinde Wiley Photo by AP Photo/Corcoran Gallery of Art

This piece is a powerful and beautiful representation of the Black man. “Sleep” was featured in the 30 Americans’ exhibit at  Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art. 30 Americans’ was an exhibition of Black male contemporary artist that focused on sexuality, racism and historical identity.

“No Time for Jivin” by John Outterbridge, 1969

Rugged with a splash of red this piece gets straight to the point.

Black Contemporary Art on the web:

Black Contemporary Art

The Studio Museum of Harlem

‘30 Americans’ Brings Work of Contemporary Black Artists Together in D.C. by Jorge Rivas

Proud Black Mary

The Black Madonna can be found thoughout the world especially in Europe, but also in India, America and of course Africa. The Black Madonna represents motherhood, Mother Earth, Life, Death and Lady Wisdom(referred to in the Biblical book of Proverbs). The Black Madonna’s lap represents nurturing which is why many of her depictions show Jesus on her lap. Furthermore, she is a mother to the oppressed, marginalized and the poor which is best shown in the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Sadly many of these Black Momas were buried, hidden in the basements of churches and cathedrals or even “whitened”- ironically when they were whitened many European Christians would demand that she be painted black again. Some say Black Madonnas were blackened by candles burning nearby but some religious scholars attribute this theory to racism. There is proof that many Black Madonnas were created to be Black, but as the transatlantic slave trade picked up the Black Madonna was made in a white image so that European Christians could enslave, rape and dehumanize the Black woman without guilt. Today an interest in the Black Madonna has reemerged and my hope is that this will inspire Black women to look to the Black Madonna as a divine mirror reflecting the dignity, natural beauty, wisdom, love and power that we should display as Black women.

For more information on the Black Madonna read:

Return of the Black Madonna by Rev. Matthew Fox, Ph. D

Interfaith Marian Pilgrimages- The Black Madonna

The Magnificat or Song of Mary Luke 1: 46-55

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