Saturday, December 18, 2010

Art, Love, Life and Death

I was saddened to learn that the Georgia Prisoners ended their peaceful strike against the living and working conditions they faced in the Georgia State Correctional system. I was also proud of the prisoners ability to peacefully strike, and then end the strike with the goal of working on their legal stance. However, the strike itself brought up important questions that the artists and writers in my community have been dealing with for several weeks now.

What does the artist owe, if anything to her community? Is she obliged to use her wider influence and voice as an artist to address the politics of her community? Is she obligated to produce work that portrays a specific message?

In a Cultural Anthropology class I taught this semester, I made it clear to my students that artists traditionally are not independent. The were supported by the community; their work reinforced by the concerns, beliefs and opinions of those supporting them, whether it be a formal patron relationship, or the public space call and response, or create and critique methods that exist in the traditional Black church or the market place in west Africa.

Therefore, by virtue of their craft, artists have consistently used their voice to articulate the concerns of their communities, to resist oppression when necessary, and to manifest their visions.

Academics are often a mixture of pure intellectuals, activists who educate, and practicing teacher/artists. Indeed we have seen some of the most important examples in the African American communities with intellectual activists transitioning into academia and maintaining a commitment to oppressed peoples. Both Angela Davis and Elaine Brown come to mind when we think of artists/activists becoming educators. Both have consistently expressed work that supports oppressed people while articulating their struggles to a larger population. Davis has graced us with well reasoned accounts of her position on the Prison Industrial Complex with her work Are Prisons Obsolete?

While Brown explained on Democracy Now, the significance of the strike, and the prisoners motives. As an activist, educator and mentor, she serves as an expert witness on the system in which so many in our community find themselves.

This tradition and relationship between the artist and activist has not escaped us here at Love Jones Lifestyle, and we were pleased to discover the tradition of political artistry alive and well. The Death Penalty Anthology is a project that seeks artistic expression regarding the death penalty. It is an excellent example of art in action, as its proceeds will support the Texas State chapter of Amnesty International, an organization known for the support of human rights globally, and specifically for the fight against the Death Penalty as a form of punishment.

As our world becomes increasingly complex, and artists will become more and more integral in expressing the turmoil, rapid change, political successes, and challenges of every day people. Do today's artist feel or reflect a responsibility towards their communities? Do they owe anything to the communities in which they practice art? Have you found a way to integrate your artistry and activism? We'd love for you to tell us how.

*photo courtesy of

Monday, December 13, 2010

Love Meditations

"They say I'm crazy the way you got me open, baby!
They say I'm bugging the way I'm top sweating your loving.
They all sit and wonder why this feeling I cannot hide.
It ain't a question of pride.
-- Jill Scott

So, in living this Love Jones Lifestyle, one has to be willing to accept the fact that love will remain elusive and in dire need of rumination at every given moment. Love is like a prism, it changes color depending on the amount of light that penetrates it. Each color has its own interpretations and causes a separate course of action for resolution of an issue. So, the more illuminated you are in your meditations, the easier it will be to untangle the complexities of love when they are presented. It's troubling when someone accepts a generic standard of love that does not bear fruit for their affair, simply because they did not take the time to soul search it for themselves.

That's why it's critically important to determine what love means to you; embrace it, demonstrate it, and send it out so that the angels can tend to it when you're too dazed to recall your constitution because you're busy with playing the role of the martyr or the fool. This is a tried method of ensuring your sanity throughout the experience of loving your Loved One. So, while you are doing everything you can do to keep the affair going, you won't have to worry about losing or undermining what you know.

I know about this first hand.

Over the past weekend, I've been reviewing the decrees of love that I have issued to the universe and replaying a conversation over and over again to check for inconsistencies. I understood what was said--but my mind and heart are not in agreement, thus, both are still deliberating. Because I base love on the Scriptural Chapter 13 (I Corinthians 13:4-8), I'm standing here hoping all things, and believing all things -- ensuring also not to seek my own. At best, this is my course of action and certainly a challenge for me. A woman of my caliber wants to have it my way and I have a strategy to accomplish just that. But no, patience has to have its perfect work -- and that's good and understandable, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime? Don't answer that. I got it. In a word, I live. I have more than enough to keep me fulfilled while I await love's jury to present more evidence that I'm either guilty of holding on too long or not guilty of wanting to move on. While I wait, I draw one step closer to clarity because love is still teaching me.

So, let me encourage those of you out there who are still bold and brave enough to love, spend more time understanding its inner workings for you and the sake of your Loved One. Decide how love should frame your life and pursue that goal. As you love and tend to your affairs (whether simple or complicated), tap your fortitude to confront those potential cracks in the defense of love and seal them with righteousness. Never forget this constant truth: love does not acknowledge cowardice so be willing to fight. Be sure to stand on its side because it will always wear the crown of Champion. Love never fails.

Before I wrap this up, let me also do some beckoning. As the vibrations of this song and its lyrics fill the air, I command the angels to carry them to the heart of my Loved One so he will understand that when love calls, he'd better answer....because love may not ever come again, at least, not from me. So, as love prepares the verdict, I stand ready to act.

Peace to the Righteous.