Regular reporting and commentary on the interplay of race, class and power in the civic, business and cultural spaces of NEO from the inner rings of Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Primary interests: Cleveland/NEOhio regional public affairs; African American politics, commerce, culture and society; public education; national and international affairs; Cavaliers∫Browns.
A close friend of mine surprised
herself recently when she pulled off a feat at work on deadline with great
I wasn’t surprised. Not only did I
know she is incredibly talented; her situation evoked the maxim that “necessity
is the mother of invention”.
I see evidence of this truism all
around, and increasingly so when it comes to African Americans and the economy.
Black people have always had to be resourceful and inventive in order to
survive and prosper in a land that was both contemptuous and confiscatory of
their labor and yet hostile towards efforts at self-sufficiency.
Back when America still found
public education a useful means of instilling common core values in youthful
minds, public school curricula were structured to encourage foundational faith
in patriotism, Manifest Destiny, and American exceptionalism. Some stories,
especially of the American Revolution, were told so often that the mere mention
of certain terms or places — King George, Bunker Hill, the Midnight Ride —
evokes a common narrative. For example, just writing these words calls to mind Johnny Tremain, a
novel I read in elementary school. Was it taught as history or as literature?
Either way the effect was the same.
Much of this cultural
indoctrination was reinforced by shared religious experience and imagery. I
don’t remember whether I learned the Battle
Hymn of the Republic in church or in school. In some ways there was little
difference between the two. Through the magic of Hollywood, the accepted
narrative has been reinforced with incredible special effects, in such films as
Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind,
Johnny Tremain [Walt Disney, of course], and virtually every Western up
through mid-20th century.
While this indoctrination
continues today at many mega churches, which in some instances seem
indistinguishable from Broadway, popular culture is no longer so unilateral in
its messaging. Creative artists — musicians, writers, poets, painters et al., —
have always found ways to express counter cultural views. Today, abetted and
accelerated by the proliferation of technology — iPods, smartphones, iPads, Xboxes,
digital readers, hundreds of television channels, a world wide web that
facilitates all sorts of individuated information streams — we are each our own
disc jockeys, movie distributors, television networks and schedulers, and
All this is happening as Americans
go to church less often, read or watch the same news sources less, and are
increasingly victims of or escapees from an increasingly fragmented, pulverized,
discredited and disintegrating public school system.
All of this came to mind when a friend told me
earlier this week that Nigeria is the world’s third largest producer of feature
films. That probably comes as a surprise to most Real Deal readers,
sophisticated though ye be. I mean, tell the truth, in free word association,
“Nigeria” is more apt to evoke fraudulent email schemes, rampant bribery, and
military government than most anything positive.
Why doesn’t that free word
association evoke “one of the world’s largest populations” and “one of the
world’s largest oil producers”, Nollywood, and home to some of the world’s
brightest and most energetic minds
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is the best novel I’ve read in a very long time.]
Short answer to the previous
question: the history of the Wild West will be different when Native Americans
tell it instead of the cowboys.
The curious can get a taste of the
vibrant cultural mix that is Nigeria with a visit to Akron tomorrow, Saturday, October 19, where NIMAS [Nigerians in
Metropolitan Akron and Surroundings] has organized a Nigerian Independence Day celebration.
The former British colony achieved independence October 1, 1960.
The featured guest will be Kene
Mkparu, founder and CEO of The Filmhouse.
Pre-event activity will kick off
at 4:30 PM with a free screening of one of his films.
The main event kicks off at 5:30PM
and will run to near midnight. Music, dancing and Nigerian cuisine will be
featured as part of the evening’s “cultural bonanza”, according to NIMAS
president Gertrude Mkparu [no relation to Kene Mkparu].
The celebration venue is Tadmor
Temple, 3000 Krebs Drive, Akron.For
more information: 330.265.5712 or 440.263.5584.
You can sample a recent Nollywood
movie here. You can
sample a Nigerian dance here.
Discipline, psychiatric exam recommended by Supreme Court counsel
Cleveland television station WOIO
is reporting “the Disciplinary Counsel of the Ohio Supreme Court has recommended that Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes
be disciplined for what it calls abusive treatment of nearly everyone that
comes into her courtroom. “
Judge Angela Stokes
from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel obtained by the station claims that
Stokes continues cases 300% more often than any other judge, that she has had
21 bailiffs since 1995, and that court personnel rotate through her courtroom
more often than others because of "burnout" and the abusive treatment
The ODC report, finding that she "may be suffering from a
mental illness that substantially impairs her ability to perform her duties as
a judicial officer," recommends that Judge Stokes be given a psychiatric
we don’t know what we don’t now. This is especially true of children. It seems
that for so many of them — and once upon a time, us — their presumption is
that their lives are normal, no matter how golden, bleak, weird, blessed or
hexed their surroundings or conditions actually are.
grew up at a time when cancer was the great unmentionable. No one used the word
in polite company, it was taboo in popular magazines, and it did not exist on
television. Some people looked upon “The Big C” as disapprovingly as if it were
a venereal disease.
certainly intruded into my home, though it went unacknowledged by my parents
whenever I was underfoot. It was discussed in euphemisms delivered in the hushed
tones that people still reserve when referencing skeletons in the attic.
course such odd silence was at direct counterpoint to what my young eyes saw:
trips to the doctor, daily struggles with a shoulder to palm rubber glove that my
mother wrestled with daily to control the swelling that resulted from
lymph node removal following her double mastectomy when I was a rug crawler. I
couldn’t make sense out of what I saw from that low vantage. I just
rationalized it as normal.
thoughts stirred when I learned that The Gathering Place, a true community
resource, is hosting a discussion next week on “Cancer in the African American
Family”. The ninety-minute guided discussion is designed to help families learn
ways to improve how to communicate about our feelings, hopes, fears, and needs
while on the cancer journey.
gathering will take place at TGP’s wonderful eastside facility, located at
23300 Commerce Park in Beachwood, next Thursday, October 24, from 6:30-8PM.
There is no charge but advance registration is required for planning purposes.
To attend, call 216.595.9546.
TGP’s mission is to support, educate and empower individuals and families
touched by cancer through programs and services provided free of charge. When
you need them, they are there.
mother lived until I was 21. I think that might have been one of her goals,
since I was the family caboose. She was extremely able, articulate, determined,
faithful, generous, and hard working. Today she would be known as a survivor.
Had she had the time and energy, she probably would have wanted to be a volunteer
at The Gathering Place.
The Greatest will be at The Cleveland Museum of
Art this weekend
course that’s what CMA enthusiasts insist is true every day at the Cleveland
Treasure House, aka The Cleveland Museum of Art. Saying it has
this weekend, when the new documentary, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, will be
shown. Times are Friday at 7PM and Sunday at 1:30PM. Admission is $9 [$7 for
seniors, students, and CMA members].
chronicles the pivotal years during which the “The Greatest!” converted to
Islam, changed his name from Cassius Marcellus Clay, and refused to fight in
Vietnam. He was banned from boxing, convicted for his refusal and his case went
to the United States Supreme Court.
week’s showing is a Cleveland premiere. You can view the compelling trailer here.
information, including tickets, visit here.
Black Professional of the Year Gala is this
nonprofits in town do an annual gala as, well, professionally, as the Black
Professional Association Charitable Foundation. This year’s event, set
Saturday, October 19 at the new Cleveland Convention Center, salutes Dr. R. A. Vernon as the
Black Professional of the Year.
year’s general chairs are Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, the Rev. Dr. Otis
Moss, Jr. and Jerry Kelsheimer, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank. The
Honorary Co-Chairs are Pamela Marshall Holmes, Valerie McCall, and Myrna Lee
information, call 216.229.7110.
year’s BPACF Scholarship Class:
Gary Baker, Case Western Reserve University
Paige Bobbitt, Towson University
Lamar Burns Jr., Kent State University
Nicolette Carson, Eastern Michigan University
Kymeron Carter, Berklee College of Music
Damian Cowan, Walsh University
Eric Dowery Jr., Muskingum University
Moses Ford, University of Toledo
Jailyn Greenwood, Eastern Michigan University
Gabriann Harris, Cuyahoga Community College
Stephanie Harris, Miami University
Theo Hike, Central State University
Jaelin Johnson, University of North Carolina
Morelle McCane, Clark-Atlanta University
Elisha-Grae Peoples, University of Toledo
Kevin Pettit, Howard University
Sierra Reid, Cleveland State University
Miranda Richmond, Case Western Reserve University
Anthony Simmons, Morehouse College
Faith Speight, Ohio Dominican University
Shannon Suttles, Butler University
Murder Mystery Theater Company featured at CTO
Cleveland Tenants Organization is hosting its annual benefit dinner next week, October 24, at Windows on
the River, 2000 Sycamore in the Flats, Cleveland. Dinner and show start at
6:30PM, preceded by a cocktail hour.