my first mashup — are you that somebody (aaliyah) + like a boy (ciara)
my first mashup — are you that somebody (aaliyah) + like a boy (ciara)
Ohene, Ghana Fest Chicago ‘13.
About the event:
Ghana Fest has over the years become a great annual event that depicts not only Ghana’s traditional thanksgiving celebrations, and a cultural exposition of great significance that showcases the diverse and rich Ghanaian culture to the American public and the world at-large, but also as a day for reaffirming our national unity and brotherhood.
photos and text by Lawrence Agyei
Artist Jay Shells channeled his love of hip hop music and his uncanny sign-making skills towards a brand new project: “Rap Quotes.” For this ongoing project, Shells created official-looking street signs quoting famous rap lyrics that shout out specific street corners and locations.
—cuz it gives me black power feels..
Araminta Ross became a “slave for hire” at the age of 5. She did domestic work, field work, cared for children. She once said that one of her mistresses would savagely whip her almost every day, first thing in the AM. As a result, she would put on “all the thick clothes she could” to protect her body from the blows. When she was teenager, she stood before an overseer who was in pursuit of another slave. He took a lead weight & crashed it on her head. She was deeply wounded. She said that the blow “broke her skull.” She was carried back bleeding. She had no bed. They lay her on the floor. She was sent back to her parents who thought she would die. She survived. She went on to become Harriet Tubman. She freed slaves daringly & without fear. This is the person who [Russell Simmons] laughed at.
Respect Harriet’s legacy and the rebuke the attempts to make light of the sexual violence Black women experienced during slavery.
Hanging with my girl, Melinda :) :)
mhmmmm….hurried up and changed it…it was only up all day long.
Google put an image of a tiny Mexican-style wrestler standing beside a GHANAIAN flag, not a CAMEROONIAN flag. getttt it together, google.
We barked, “til tomorrow” at the sun, jumping against the moving horizon. Esmeralda swung the heavy-bodied whiskey bottle toward the clouds and disappeared it into the distance; the empty Jack Daniels vessel undoubtedly separating against a high, orange body of rock. We, then, collapsed into the sturdy tent, laughing, holding, and sobering from the liquor, the heat, and the fire-grilled lamb.
when sweet-talk was sweet: strangers with candy.
kisses on the dome,
and park-side handys.
violence so routine, it’s on route…
it’s after seven,
and the lights have gone out.
can’t breathe the toxic, but sex the sick.
blood, poison, semen, endangerment.
we’re all getting restless.
two fingers in for ten is the sole reason for wearing dresses.
tokens roll into buses.
cold wind in;
the driver cusses.
nobody can trust us.
i walk out of stores, dodging detectors.
we thrive on food that’s fast, and from the can;
our hands held out at train stations.
Lost from a painful home,
doing anything we can to survive on our own.
life is bitter; but money sweet,
and, this is how we play it in candyland.
Every night we prayed. We clapped our hands together, and sang toward the heavens and hollered hallelujah loud enough to stir the neighbors and stall the devil. We moved with the spirit, begging for miracles, weeping, and shouting in tongues. But, when mama died, I promised to never again go on my knees in prayer. Instead, I smoked cigarettes and ashed them on the edge of Daddy’s bible, and I spent evenings with the lights turned down while waiting for Marcus, the pastor’s youngest, to scale the side of my home; then, I’d let him right in.
“Why are you so sad looking all the time?” Marcus asked, propped up on one elbow, watching my mouth, which had just left his body. I reached past him and grabbed the bottle of whiskey that he’d borrowed from his father and drank at it like was milk in the morning. He placed his hand on the bottle, suggesting that I slow my intake, and I did. I allowed him to take the bottle from me and I lay back, eyes watering from the warm straight whiskey as it burned its way through my body.
“I’m not,” I returned, staring up toward the ceiling, which used to be covered with posters and a painting of Christ on the cross that Mama and I painted together one summer. Now my walls were white, prestine and without the character and the color that it once carried.
“Well, that ain’t true,” he said, leaning resting his head on my right breast. “Wanna talk about it?”
“Talk about what?” I asked without luster, wishing him silent so that I could enjoy the quiet, cool summer night.
“It’s up to you. We could talk about her,” he stated, nodding toward the small photo of Mama posted against the dresser. “Or, we could talk a about him.” Marcus gestured toward the big man upstairs with his pointer. I drew his finger toward my mouth and licked at it until he was in the mood. Ten minutes later, Marcus was asleep and his heavy arm slung across body, keeping me from moving. I inhaled all that he was and expelled it quickly, reminding myself that love was a silly game to play -after all no one knew the rules. Daddy sure didn’t.
Right the with us in the waiting room, waiting for Mama to die Daddy flirted with a nurse. He leaned close and touched her hip and whispered smiles into her ear. When he saw us looking, pulled away, and would later remark that she was a ‘good friend.’ A ‘good friend’ indeed, she was sleeping on Mama’s side of the bed three weeks later, stinking up our home with her cheap body sprays, lotions and candles. But, Mama smelled like the sun, and hardwork, and holy water, and almond oil.
In the morning, Marcus was still sleeping, but I hadn’t gotten much of that done. I rose, and walked downstairs in my robe, and listened for footsteps or breathing before entering the kitchen, not wanting to run-ins with my father, his whore, or my two younger sisters. My older brother had gone, left as soon as Mama died, and none of us heard from him in these last seven months. No one can blame him, well, I didn’t. Luke only came back to see that Mama got better, and well, when she didn’t…there wasn’t much reason for him to stay now was there?
I returned to the bedroom with two bowls of cereals soaked in watery milk that was made from the powdered sort. Mama had stocked up on some long ago, so in some ways she was still caring for us.
Marcus woke when I sat beside him. He placed his head in my lap and was quiet while I ate, eventually rising to do the same.
“You change your mind about Springfield?” Marcus asked, and had probably wanted to ask for some time. I shrugged my shoulders, exhausted by the thought of having to explain to him, yet again, that I didn’t want to go to college in Springfield anymore. I didn’t want to go to college anymore. “What does your daddy think about that?”
“I don’t much care what he thinks.” I sighed and filled my mouth with the chalky milk. Marcus gave me a sad expression and put down his bowl.
“Come to the service with me today,” Marcus said, hugging my shoulder. “Pop has this great message about perseverance that he’s going to deliver. And, there’s a guest speaker from Chicago, who’ll speak on temptation. The entire ministry misses you.”
“I…can’t be around Christians today, Marcus.” I moved away from him. Walked to my closet and pulled on shirts, and changed into a paisley t-shirt. “They ask too many questions and they don’t understand how to mind their own fucking business.”
“You’re a Christian, Sammy, remember that. And, people ask questions when they care. People do care about you even if you try to forget them… people do love you,” Marcus said, suddenly behind me. He pressed his nude body into the rear of mine; and my head, heart and stomach had a curt and clumsy conversation, stuttering. He hugged his arms around me waist, keeping me steady, and slipped his hands around my stomach. He rested his head against my back, his eyes closed and I knew that he was praying for me, and I let him. But, when he quietly uttered amen, I turned to him and quickly discarded the clothes that I’d just put on.
I walked Marcus home, which was only down the street, and then returned to my house to grab my mother’s old bike. I rode it along the dirt path behind the K-Mart, and then around the the rotunda until I was dizzy. At 8:30am on the Sunday, everything was still quiet and it the ideal time to browse the world. Mama and I used to bike around the world before church every Sunday morning: down past the quarry, up by the stream, around the old mall, the high school and near the new Starbucks that was shut down just a month after Mama’s passing.
For a few weeks after Mama died, she’d still take this bike ride with me. I could never keep up with her… but, in death, she was so fast. I’d would always push myself really hard to keep up, until one day, I was going too fast down the big hill and hit a rock. I flew off of the bike. Hours later, I was discovered by The Reynolds, who were always nice to me and mine when I was growing up. Anyway, since then, Mama hasn’t rode with me, or sat with me trying to convince me to worship. I once told this to Marcus, and he said that she’d left because she knew that he was here to care for me.
I was sweating by the time I came up on the stream. The brown rocks at the bottom of the water, only slightly lighter than my skin, gleamed under the moving liquid. I filled my pocket with the cool stones and then rode to the old mall, where I hurled the rocks at breaking glass until I heard the Officer Stanley or someone else on the force coming, and peddled faster than the day I lost Mama for the second time.
I returned home, and everyone was awake and moving about. I considered climbing the vines to my room, but Daddy spotted me as I stored my bike in the garage.
“Where’ve you been?” he asked, fixing his tie.
“Nowhere,” I stated, kicking the kickstand into place.
I moved around him, and came face-to-face with the whore, Janie.
“Don’t be disrespectful, Sammy,” Janie said with a voice so sweet it could’ve been spun like cotton candy. “Your father’s worried about you.”
I stepped back for a moment to take her in. 32-years-old; Creole; smart, probably, as a whip; pretty enough; and as good as god, himself. But, she’d earned my hate. Her early arrival to my mother’s bed; her tendency to wear her clothes, jewelry and lipstick; and her desperation for my acceptance made me sick to my soul. Even now, she wore the broch that Daddy bought Mama for Mother’s Day five years ago. She was unwelcome.
“It’s Samantha, Janie. And, wasn’t speaking to you,” I said, stepping around her. My younger sisters, who were at the end of the hall, had already accepted Janie as their mother. And, they started to swell like her, artificial strawberries and freesia.
“Hey, Sammy, are you going to the service with us?” Eight-year-old Zora asked, spinning her arms out while six-year-old Erika watched with a grin.
“Not today,” I said, moving Zora’s body so that I could go upstairs with ease. While heading up the stair, I felt my father behind me, and I quickly hopped up the stairs and moved into my room with a spriness that my age lent me. The door was locked when Daddy came shaking the knob.
“Unlock it,” he demanded. I dipped my hand into my nightstand for a cigarette and headphones, and used those devices together to fog me from the noise and pounding. Eventually he left, he always did. Besides, god was beckoning him toward church, he couldn’t dismiss the call. Daddy wanted me gone, and he wouldn’t have to wait long.
Marcus couldn’t know that I’d be leaving today. I wanted to give him one last night before I headed west in search of Luke, who wouldn’t be happy to see me but would welcome me in. My bag was already packed; had been for weeks.