Friday, August 18, 2017

Plainfield Hosts Candlelight Vigil to Honor Victims of Charlottesville

As I noted on my city council blog the other day ("Charlottesville...and the #KlanPresident"), this past week's events have highlighted the continuing moral failures of many in our nation--exemplified in the words of the disgraceful Donald Trump--who has decided that it is "okay" to equate the counter-protests of the Black Lives Matter activists and other anti-racist groups with the KKK, neo-Nazis, and the other white supremacist individuals and groups who injured and murdered American citizens in the name of white supremacy and anti-Semitism. We, as a community, need to come together and, in one voice, denounce such hatred. To that end, please join family, friends, elected officials, and clergy on Monday, August 21, 2017, at a candlelight vigil in Plainfield to honor the victims of the racist violence that occurred in Charlottesville, VA last week. The city's event will take place at 7:30 pm on the steps of Plainfield City Hall. It is important that we as a city stand together against those who want to normalize and fan the flames of racial hatred. Donald Trump is dedicated to creating a moral equivalency between those fighting anti-racism and those who revel in its gory violence. We must say ‘NO’ to such evil. 
Rev. Hodari Hamilton, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Plainfield, will be the keynote speaker. Before moving to New Jersey to lead Shiloh, Reverend Hamilton was the pastor of the First Baptist Church, the oldest African American church in Charlottesville, where a major focus was (and remains) social justice. Rev. Ann Marie Alderman from the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, Freedom Ministries' Pastor Antione Hart, Rev. Dámaris E. Ortega of United Church of Christ Congregational, and Pastor Carl Brewer of Metropolitan Seventh-Day Adventist Church will offer prayers. Councilman Barry Goode, who is also an ordained minister, will deliver the invocation and other community leaders will offer remarks. The entire Plainfield community is invited to stand in solidarity in remembrance of the victims and in commitment to unity. Parking is available in the lot behind the city hall building. Let us come together.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thursdays in the City: This week: COCOMAMA - World Latin Music

This week's "Thursdays in the City Summer Concert Series" will feature World Latin music from COCOMAMA, the Latin all-women music ensemble! The show starts this Thursday, August 17, starting at 7:00 pm at City Hall Plaza, 515 Watchung Avenue! The band is described on its website as "...A virtual United Nations of women, the members of Cocomama hail from five countries on four continents. Playing their own kind of World Latin music, powerfully virtuosic yet elegantly musical, Cocomama 'brings it' creating a sound that is all at once fierce and beautiful!" The concerts will continue on August 24 with "Rhythm Revue Dance Party" with DJs playing a variety of music--classic house, old school, r & b, and hip hop! We will close out on August 31 with an encore performance by FLAVUH, described as "NY/NJ's preemininent neo-soul band!"


FLAVUH - August 31

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Concert Series: "Thursdays in the City" Starts August 3

Plainfield's Annual "Thursdays in the City Summer Concerts" series is scheduled to begin this coming Thursday, August 3rd, at Plainfield's City Hall Plaza, 515 Watchung Avenue, starting at 7:00 pm. The concert series will kick off with Flavuh, described on its website as a "neo-soul and r & b cover band who blend diverse musical influences into a tight groove, feel and sound...." 

The following Thursday, August 10, the series will feature the amazing Brick City Soul Collective, led by James Gibbs III on trumpet and flugelhorn, Cliff Kee on bass, Mike Parker on keyboards, Stan Luke on drums, and Sabriya Williams on vocals. 

On Thursday, August 17, Cocomama will be in the house. This group of women is described on the band's website as "...a virtual United Nations of women, the members of Cocomama hail from five countries on four continents." 

The final concert, scheduled for Thursday, August 24, will feature a Rhythm Revue as the Plainfield Plaza transforms into a dance floor with DJs spinning! Bring a lawn chair and a friend to hear some fabulous and eclectic music! 

Click on the image below to print out the entire series!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer of Darkinboddy: The Project Continues!

Wherefore, Darkinboddy? 

It is July...and every July brings me to the commemoration of the NYC Draft Riots, the worst riots in American history. The aspect that I write about has to do with the children of the Colored Orphan Asylum, which was burned on July 13, 1863. Several readers have asked me why I haven’t posted in The Darkinboddy Chronicles, my multimedia/varied arts (including baking!) weblog project which ran from 2013-2015—and which is still in development. Well, I have been working on a number of related projects—which will come to fruition soon—and which I hope will please the Darkinboddy fans out there.

I have not had a great deal of time to write—I am working on that aspect of my life—shifting my priorities to reflect self-care, completion of personal projects, and fulfillment of external obligations. I keep a daily journal (I have done so for the past 20 years), through which I work out my ideas in writing fragments, poem lines, drawings, etc., and sometimes I read back a month or two of entries to see what I viewed as important then. What has been coming to the forefront consistently is writing about the completion of two short story drafts—they are near completion, but I just keep procrastinating. A theory of procrastination is that it is based in fear—I will see about that.

One thing that I should say, though, is that between full-time employment as an English professor at Essex County College, my work as a councilwoman in the City of Plainfield—which usually comprises about another 20-25 hours a week, and other volunteer projects/obligations/responsibilities, there is a lot to juggle. I guess I must become an expert juggler! 

Anyway, thanks for all the support you have given me—I am doing my best to bring a couple of pieces to fruition before the fall semester beginsand also to figure out how to successfully work on projects even in the midst of other workthat is the key!

All best,

Monday, July 3, 2017

Land on the Shore - Sustenance for the Weary Soul

For a while now, I have been going to the Toshi Reagon and BIG Lovely Annual Birthday Celebration in January at Joe's Pub in New York. Toshi Reagon is an artist whose music cannot be easily categorized, because she flows through so many genres--I will just say that her music follows a Black tradition of social protest in music. The song I have uploaded, "(I'm Gonna) Land on the Shore," is one that she originally recorded in 1997, on her album titled Kindness. She sometimes sings it at the annual celebration--it is one of my favorites. Her mother, the legendary Bernice Johnson Reagon, also recorded this song back in 1971 (reissued in 1986) on River of Life: Harmony One. One of our greatest civil rights heroes, the late Fannie Lou Hamer, also recorded the song, which is on the album Songs My Mother Taught Me, originally recorded in 1963 and re-released by Smithsonian Folkways African American Legacy Series. I think that you will be moved by all three renditions.

Bernice Reagon Johnson

Fannie Lou Hamer

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Necessities of Life Redux

This year, Plainfield will be observing LGBT Pride Month with a flag raising ceremony at 7:00 pm tomorrow--Thursday, June 15 at City Hall Plaza. It is fitting that we do so, as we also observe and reflect on the one year anniversary of the horrific act of homophobic violence that resulted in the deaths of 49 LGBT folks at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. I posted about this last year, but feel the need to revisit it. As I also noted last year, I was especially struck by the faces of Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22, originally from New Jersey, and of 18 year-old Akyra Murray, a young black lesbian, who were among the youngest of the victims. I cannot right now articulate why they stand out so clearly for me...perhaps because they remind me of my students...may they rest...but still haunt our collective conscience as we fight to end gun violence. The words of the late Marlon Riggs resonate even today: 

"It is necessary to constantly remind ourselves that we are not an abomination." --Marlon Riggs 

At right are the images of the 49 mostly Latinx and black victims. For those of you who snicker, call names, make homophobic comments (and/or stand by while others make them), who minimize the nature of this specific attack on our LGBT sisters and brothers of color with attempts to deflect or deny that this was a hate crime, who don't believe that people like me (black, gay, out, proud) deserve the same rights as you, who misuse religion to spread hatred while saying that you are a Christian...for those of you who deny the children, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, friends, mothers, fathers, and church friends in your own lives whom you KNOW are LGBT family...think about the seeds of destruction that you have sown through your own acts and thoughts, and how that contributes to horrific acts of violence.