Oceans Away

Oceans Away

Oceans away my body swam

Chains carried my blood back to my home land.

Oceans away my love knew

Thoughts of freedom the wind carried my body like strange fruit

Oceans away my soul told

My mom and dad on the block to be sold

Oceans away I come from a thousand dances

Many knew white folks with sheets burned crosses in nightly prances

Oceans away from my real tongue

My broken English continues to be in broken song

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What is Social Justice?

Just what is social justice? Maybe we should start as my professor in my “Social Justice and Transformation” class does by defining “Just what is an injustice.” Whether you start with your definition of social justice or your definition of injustice there has to be a merger of theory and practice. To this end, my cooperative this semester with professors and graduate students has started teaching a class on “Drama, Poetry, and Social Justice” in a High School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Today we started our day off by speaking to a group of thirty five black youth about the program which starts next week. Because developing black identity tied to being and becoming conscious democratic citizens who know their rights is a pillar of our program, we started with that! To get the crowded room of black youth comfortable with us, we introduced who we were, where we were from, and our interest in education. Both myself and the African American graduate student who is in Theatre produced our narratives to evoke a sense of kinship with the student body. 

Next, we simply asked the question “what is social justice?” While this may seem to be a simple answer for scholars and activist, we wanted the students to define what social justice may look like to them. At first, there were some crickets, then one student spoke up “Y’all talking bout the stuff that is happening in Ferguson?” Both the other graduate student and I both responded yes then asked “Exactly what is happening in Ferguson?” From that point we were able to engage the students in a conversation about what the details to Ferguson were. Departing into an intense conversation about #Ferguson allowed for us and the students to think about examples of “social injustice,” specifically what it looks for america to be dealing with racial profiling, institutionalized racism, and activism. 

Our first day at the high school in Cincinnati allowed us to recruit talented black youth who will be engaged in conversation about social justice issues, but it also allowed us a chance to interact with students whose talents we will be using during this semester. 

 

open culture – a great web site

This website will be of use in the future….

orgtheory.net

Open Culture is a great web site that archives all manner of free and out of copy right film, books, and television. The film section is itself a treasure of classic and modern film. For example, you can see every Tarkovsky film online. Netflix is cheap but Open Culture is free – and good for you!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

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World Cup Qatar

Ever wondered how in the world Qatar is preparing for such an event as the World Cup? This short special documentary by ESPN gives you one perspective of how there is an immigration story to one of the world’s biggest spectacles. Even more, this documentary critiques and lays out how the right to work in another country has turned into a human rights issue.

18 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Shy And Introverted

Man I only wish I could articulate this in a better way. I AM AN INTROVERT with EXTROVERT tendencies.

#LoveThyIntroverts

Thought Catalog

This… this is my soul song, people. This is my Vietnam.

1. You’re not anti-social, you’re selectively social.

2. At any given point, you have one (maybe two) best friends who are your entire life. You’re not a “group of friends” person. You can’t keep up with all that.

3. Social gatherings that are supposed to be “rites of passage” like prom and dances and other such typical nonsense is just… not for you. You don’t understand it. You want nothing to do with it.

4. When you do choose to grace a party with your presence, you are the life of it. You’re dancing on the table and doing body shots until 3 a.m.

5. … You then retreat into three days of complete solitude to recover.

6. You go out of your way to avoid people, but when you inevitably have to interact with them, you make it…

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Independence Day Curriculum

The picture above has my brother Ryan to the left, my cousin Ricky at the bottom left, my cousin James (Ricky’s brother) at the back middle, and my cousin Steve (G Smooth) at the right. In the center, I am there cracking a grin. Most likely, one of my aunt’s, either Mildred, Denise, or Mary is telling us to cheese. But look at Ricky and Steve they are drawn to another persons camera. Their eyes, posture, and mannerisms tells the reader of this picture they are very much ready to take the picture.

Many folks tell us pictures tell a thousand words. On this Independence Day, the picture above, of my brothers and cousins tell a million words. The picture tells a story of the plight of America for its own independence from the tyrant policies of Great Britain. Even more, this picture tells the story of freedom, liberty, justice, democracy, and love. My own personal infatuation with freedom, liberty, justice, democracy, and love started in this place. Maybe it’s not a place, as much as it is a location. Possibly, it may not be a location as much as it is a space in time to lock away memories of what America was built on.

The radical promise of a free nation, one which prides itself on allowing women and men to work towards a radical dream of democracy. I had that. I have that. My picture exemplifies the curriculum of independence, one we can turn back to for memories and also turn to the future for to craft dreams. But I am also realistic about the American Dream in this picture being sacred, being genius, and being problematic. Simply, the love story our great nation has had with the Black American body is one that must be told and retold.

On this Independence Day, I am reminded of the Black American love story, and the American love story. Blessed many times by the grace of God, our nation resembling a salad bowl with its precious elements of goodness has a promise to the world to fulfill. Let us celebrate this day with love, liberty, justice, and democracy for all!

~Johnnie