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Showing posts from June, 2017

In Honor of Juneteenth¹, a Book Review of "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome"

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While in the midst of researching and editing my documentary film², I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Joy DeGruy present a lecture as part of Fisk University’s Spring Arts Festival in Nashville. She was promoting her then new book titled Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, and quoted several passages from the book during her presentation. The accompanying slide show contained several disturbing images, and fulfilled DeGruy’s intentions of making the gruesome violence of American slavery as real as possible.
At the time, I did not purchase the book. But a dear friend who is pursuing a master’s degree in psychology sent me a copy of the book just last month. I couldn’t put it down. It has turned out to be one of the most important books I’ve ever read.
DeGruy painstakingly quotes several of the “fathers” of the North American Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and states that the European Slave Trade began as early as 1440. Up to that point, “… most people who became slaves became so as the result of…

The Negro Ensemble Company’s Production of "Daughters of the Mock" at Theatre 80 St. Marks, NYC

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Judi Ann Mason’s riveting play Daughters of the Mock, directed by Denise Dowse, just finished a successful run at Theatre 80 St. Marks in Manhattan. Starring Edythe Jason (“Maumau”), Brenda Crawley (“Oralia”), Claudia McCoy (“Madena”), Kristin Dodson (“Amanita”), and Lynne Michelle (“Gail”), Daughters of the Mock tells the story of three generations of women in the swamplands of rural Louisiana. Maumau, the grandmother, has mastered the use of herbs, roots, and potions to exact revenge on interlopers, and to control and frighten the younger women of her family. Oralia, her daughter, is clearly terrified of her mother, and begs her own two daughters to obey their grandmother’s wishes. The great mystery is, as Amanita’s friend Gail asks, “Where are the men in this family?”

Edythe Jason gives a stellar performance as Maumau, and is a commanding presence as the matriarch of this family. Brenda Crawley evokes sympathy as the obedient daughter who tries to convince her own daughters that the…

Channeling the Ancestors: Rhiannon Giddens Shines a Spotlight on America’s Dark Past

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A few days ago I turned on Tavis Smiley to escape the nonsense I was hearing and seeing on CNN and MSNBC, and happened to catch a beautiful young sistah in the middle of a song. She was accompanying herself on an old banjo, singing her heart out. The lyrics I happened to hear were: "Julie, O Julie, won’t you lie If they find that trunk of gold by my side. Julie, O Julie, you tell them men That trunk of gold is yours, my friend.
Mistress, O Mistress, I won’t lie If they find that trunk of gold by your side. Mistress, O Mistress, that trunk of gold Is what you got when my children were sold.
Mistress, O Mistress, don’t you cry. The price of staying here is too high! Mistress, O Mistress, I wish you well. But in leavin’ here, I’m leavin’ Hell!"
My partner and I jumped up and looked at each other and exclaimed, “Who is that?!” Neither of us knew, so I set the TV to record the show for the broadcast the following day.
Turns out that beautiful young sistah is Rhiannon Giddens, formerly of the G…