Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm from Uptown..we all mixed up!

I should start by saying although I am a trained ethno-musicologist and singer, this blog is a place for me to real talk you and offer references and format for proper dialogue on the topics of Diaspora Music Connections. Im not here all the time on my perfect grammar ish, rather i choose to focus on perfect vernacular and retelling of history.

I am a firm believer in Diaspora exposure and community building. Black people are constantly segregating from other Black people (yeah I said it). Dominicans don't want to be affiliated with Puerto Ricans or Haitians, Black Americans and West Indians don't want to be related..mad stupid shit. I grew up in a diverse community of Diaspora members, Puerto Rican family members, extended Panamanian, Jamaica, Peruvian, Trinidadian, Malian, Ghanaian family friends, and obviously my share of South and North American Black and Latino. There was never a time when I was asked to deny my affliation with any of these people or their traditions. I was raised to see that all of these traditions belong to me and my people.

I've spent the last 4 years with students throughout Harlem teaching Diaspora Music History. I created a curricula on Black Music History that expanded to a full Diaspora Music History curriculum introducing Celia Cruz, Sam Cooke, work songs, ring shouts and Fela Kuti etc.. in a literacy and performance after school program. My students were mostly girls, 8-13 years old that didnt care about there grades or being noticed for being smart. However, they wanted to get on stage, and they wanted to prove to me, their teacher ("that is a real singer" as they would say) that they could do what they had to to get what they wanted. So they watched documentaries, listened to countless recordings and wrote listening reports and took semester exams. Several times throughout the year the girls presented full vocal productions and got their celebrity 15 on. All in all I watched them become very proud of themselves and each of them developed a beautiful sense of responsibility and capability. My little homies are already a big deal, you'll see.

So I do a lot of what I do for them. So they can understand the value in documenting our history and creating bridges in the present instead of depending on the values of the past. We unfortunately aren't living like those people always being torn apart, that had to put family first. Because of the loss of some of those old school traditions, we have also forgotten the importance of maintaining the stories of our life so that the world will learn from us as we have learned from our elders.

So basically this blog is just a place for me to tell the world the history of how my kin of vigorous griots and I changed time and revived magic in these days.

No comments:

Post a Comment