Annie Lee-Her Work and her Legacy
Nov25

Annie Lee-Her Work and her Legacy

With sad hearts, we remember and celebrate the life and work of artist and humanitarian Annie Lee who passed away on November 24, 2014 at age 79. ColorBlind Magazine CEO and Co-Founder Leah Johnson has adored Lee’s artwork from a young age, and has met Ms. Lee on a few occasions. Below is blog post that originally appeared on The Wright Museum’s blog. This was the last time Leah got to see Ms. Lee in person two years ago. She will truly be missed.    Annie Lee: Capturing the Heart & Soul of Black America through Art Leah Johnson shares her experience of meeting artist, Annie Lee at the Wright Museum It’s the morning of the first day of the new week. I’ve sat on the edge of my bed, shoulders hunched over, half awake, and saddened that I have to leave my comfy covers. I tell myself that somehow I have to muster up the strength to get up and get moving. This groggy morning feeling, common to many, is beautifully captured in “Blue Monday,” a painting by artist Annie Lee. The artwork of Annie Lee has appeared on the walls of my home for as long as I can remember. My parents love art and early on introduced me to the work of Ms. Lee. As a little girl, the painting “All that Glitters” by Ms. Lee hung on the wall in my bedroom. The painting is of African American women at our second home — the beauty shop. Yes, it’s the place where we transform, improve, and share information about ourselves. At the time, this was the perfect picture to be in my room because I aspired to be a beautician and the painting kept my desire alive. What makes her work unique is she doesn’t include faces on any of the characters in her paintings. This helps people to project themselves or those they know into the painting. Seeing myself or others in her work continues to be fun. For instance, there’s a painting in my basement done by Ms. Lee named “Al Ain’t Here,” and one of the characters in the painting is an African American male sitting in a chair, unknowingly revealing part of his backside because his pants have slipped down. I’ve always said that Ms. Lee adding that bit of humor to the male character in the painting reminds me of my uncle, who at times has accidentally given the family a peak at his derrière during family gatherings. To me, “Al Ain’t Here” says that we all have quirks about ourselves that we can laugh at instead of taking them...

Read More
Meet Dej Loaf and Detroit Che: Detroit’s hottest new female MC’s
Nov10

Meet Dej Loaf and Detroit Che: Detroit’s hottest new female MC’s

Originally posted on RootsRhythmandRhyme.com Detroit has been at the center of controversy and financial distress for many years. Between its impending bankruptcy, rebirth and the constant criticism it receives, it’s safe to say there is no more room left for error on the city’s part. But one thing that never seems to fail is the musical allegiance and talent that its residents naturally encompass. From Diana Ross to Eminem, from the Winans to Jack White, from Aretha Franklin to Juan Atkins, this city boasts a long list of musical icons from multiple genres who rep the D to the fullest. In terms of hip hop specifically, Detroit has continuously churned out hit makers (Eminem, Big Sean, Royce da 5’9, Danny Brown, etc.) and now add to that list two new hot rap artists who are destined to enhance the city’s reputation for producing amazing musicians. Detroit Che and DeJ Loaf are seriously making some noise on the local and national scene right now. Both artists were raised in the D and have been on their grind to get their music out to the masses. Che and DeJ have mad skills and they don’t let their femininity or small stature interfere with their hardcore rhymes, intense appeal and unique lyrical flow. Detroit Che was recently selected as one of the Hot 16 contest winners for the BET Cypher, where up and coming rappers get to freestyle at the BET Hip Hop Awards. She is the first female winner of the annual BET Cypher challenge. DeJ Loaf’s new single “Try Me” is blowing up all over the country and has gotten the MC co-signs from some of the hottest artists in the game including Drake and Wiz Khalifa. Dej’s sing-rap-along style in the song may sound sweet, but she goes straight ham on anyone who dare step to her in a negative way. If you are new to DeJ Loaf and Detroit Che, you won’t be for long. Here are a few facts about the artists: DETROIT CHE The lowdown: Detroit Che, whose real name is Cherrish, started rapping at seven-years old. She played basketball in high school, and put down the pen for a bit, but picked up rhyming again in 12th grade. She won the Imported from Detroit contest at the underground hip hop venue The Shelter and got to perform at the Hot 107.5 Summer Jamz event this past June. Music: She dropped her debut mixtape NOAH in early 2014 and it includes her lead single “Talk My “s&%$”, a fierce, in your face tune that gives listeners a taste of Che’s rough poetic style. Some of her...

Read More
Cooking Tips for surviving the holiday season
Nov10

Cooking Tips for surviving the holiday season

The holiday season is in full force and at the heart of caroling, designing the perfect holiday dining table, decorating the house, and shopping is FOOD! Now, I’m not the expert when it comes to cooking. For the last 20 plus years, my only participation in holiday cooking has been sitting at the table and partaking in the delicious meal that my mom and dad have prepared. And then I top the meal off with some sweet potato pie and cake. Sounds typical, right? However, within the last year or so I have gotten the cooking bug and have begun to experiment in the kitchen. Last year for Thanksgiving, I made a creamed spinach casserole and for an appetizer I made fried ravioli. Both dishes turned out great, but I was nervous that something would go wrong and I would mess up both dishes. From that experience I learned that it is a good idea to make the dish once before trying to make it for a holiday dinner. That way you can iron out all of the kinks and if you mess up one of the steps, then you’ll know what not to do next time. If you’re a first timer at making a holiday dinner, then don’t worry. Cooking is not as hard as it may seem. Here are a few tips I’d recommend for tackling holiday dinner, or a side dish or two.appetizer I made fried ravioli. Both dishes turned out great, but I was nervous that something would go wrong and I would mess up both dishes. From that experience I learned that it is a good idea to make the dish once before trying to make it for a holiday dinner. That way you can iron out all of the kinks and if you mess up one of the steps, then you’ll know what not to do next time. 1: START SMALL Trying to duplicate the likes of a meal consisting of turkey, dressing, mac & cheese, rolls, and greens is no easy task, if you are just starting out. And if you have not even attempted to make a turkey breast let alone a whole turkey, then tackling a whole holiday meal may not be the best choice. That’s not to say you’ll never get there, but starting small is always a better idea. Offer to help your mom, dad or whoever is cooking with dinner and that way you can get a crash course on how they prepare the entire course without getting too overwhelmed. Maybe even ask your relative to give you a private lesson on cooking certain dishes and see if they...

Read More
Youthful Vigor in Costa Rica
Nov10

Youthful Vigor in Costa Rica

There’s something different about Kiara Bobo-Byrd and Dayania Johnson. They took the trip of a lifetime, literally, when both of them boarded a plane for the first time in their lives to visit Costa Rica in April 2014. As part of Alternatives for Girls (AFG) “Adventure Club”, Bobo-Byrd, 14, and Johnson, 12, were selected for the trip because they had been doing quite well academically. Typically, the Adventure Club plans events in the States, such as white water rafting, camping and the like. This year, however, Valerie Evans, Director of Prevention Services, decided to try something different. After landing in Costa Rica during mid-April, Bobo-Byrd, Johnson, and the rest of the AFG crew were ready to explore and embrace the culture. “I felt pretty happy,” Johnson said,” especially when they told us all the things we were going to do. “It felt normal to me at first, but once we got into the mountains and stuff, that’s when it felt kind of different,” Bobo-Byrd said. Family Life All eight girls that went on the trip were assigned to host families and stayed at their homes for one night. It was here that the experiences of the girls varied even further. For example, Johnson’s host family spoke only Spanish, which at times made the conversation difficult. Thankfully she was able to rely on some of the Spanish lessons that had been provided prior to the trip. Living away from home for a few days also presented other challenges, some of which were unexpected. “Because of the mango tree outside there were a lot of ants, and many of the ants were also in the bed where we were supposed to sleep,” Bobo-Byrd related. How was this situation handled? “The hardest part was making the girls feel comfortable and the solution [to the ants] was let’s just stay up all night,” said Tiffany Edwards, who was a Youth Services Coordinator for AFG at the time of the trip. Eventually everyone did fall asleep, but it was a lesson learned to not let an uncomfortable situation kill their joy. Their stay with their respective host families also reminded the girls about the importance of respect. “We thought it was disrespectful to do that [use your cell phone during eating time] in someone else’s house and playing on our phone,” Johnson admitted. “At home, I don’t really use my cell phone like that, but [in Costa Rica] you don’t know how they’re going to react.” That is certainly an honest evaluation and appraisal coming from a pre-teen. Amid the 76 degrees and humid weather, the girls along with their supervisors and tour guides...

Read More
Chit Chat: Revisiting the Quarter Life Crisis
Nov10

Chit Chat: Revisiting the Quarter Life Crisis

ColorBlind Magazine CEO and Co-Founder Leah T. Johnson had a chat with Tiffane Cochran, 30, who resides in Washington D.C. to talk about the Quarter Life Crisis and the lessons she’s learned… COLORBLIND MAGAZINE: Do you believe the quarter life crisis is real? Why or why not? TIFFANE COCHRAN: I think the quarter life crisis is real for anyone who feels that the reality of their twenties falls short of what they expected. If you’re fortunate enough to find personal fulfillment in your job and social life that age, you probably won’t experience it. However, if life throws a curveball or you’re simply confused and lacking direction in your twenties, you probably will. In a way, I think the sequential structure of schooling sets the stage for many to fall victim to the quarter life crisis. Your whole life is planned for you from pre-K through high school. Then suddenly, you graduate and you have to figure it all out on your own. There’s nothing to dictate what you do or where you go. The freedom of that is exciting, but the weight of the responsibility that comes with that freedom can be terrifying. Every decision seems to be a high stakes one. What college should I attend? What career/major should I chose? How should I budget my money? Who should I date? It could all significantly impact the rest of your life. And the stress of navigating those questions can lead to the quarter life crisis.  CB: If this is something most 20 and 30 something’s experience, why doesn’t it receive more attention? TC: Perhaps it’s because the people who experience the quarter life crisis aren’t aware that it’s a phenomenon—they may not realize there is a name for what they’re feeling. Or it could be that society downplays the quarter life crisis because it’s so commonplace. At some point, everyone has to face the existential question, “Why am I here?” It can occur early in life, later in life, or at multiple times in life depending on one’s development. Similarly, you don’t really hear people talking about the mid-life crisis as much as they used to. Maybe it’s because we’re beginning to reframe life crises as positive experiences. In particular, I’m thinking of all the stories I’ve heard about individuals who “reinvented” themselves in their 50s and 60s. I think that’s a positive spin on a mid/later-life crisis. Maybe us millennials are following suit and reframing the quarter-life crisis as an opportunity to define who we are rather than a hurdle preventing us from becoming who we think we’re supposed to be. CB:  Do you believe you have...

Read More
No Zebras. No Excuses.
Nov10

No Zebras. No Excuses.

  The issue of sexual assault has been a long-standing obstacle on college campuses, and Central Michigan University has a program to help those who have been victims with ‘No Zebras. No Excuses.’ CMU first introduced ‘No Zebras’ in 1997 as a way to help incoming freshman be more aware of sexual harassment. Over time, the name, formerly ‘It Could Happen to You’, transformed into ‘No Zebras. No Excuses’ by 2001.   The program’s message is still the same: placing sexual harassment awareness at the forefront of its client college campuses. ‘No Zebras’ is propelled by its scenes and cast. At a presentation at Wayne State University, four actors played the corresponding roles of four different types of harassment: sexual harassment, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. Sexual harassment scenes featured a skit in which a female student was harassed by a male student while at a party. The domestic violence scene included a girlfriend being physically abused by her boyfriend. To demonstrate stalking, the same girlfriend/boyfriend couple was seen and the boyfriend desperately followed her in an attempt to “get her back.” Sexual assault was shown with an attempted rape scene between a female student and her male professor. Although these scenes sound eerily accurate and disturbing, it is ‘No Zebras’ cast that stresses the importance of knowing these scenarios to become familiar with the signs. For the Wayne State presentation, CMU graduates Katie Kleve and Ashley Smith alongside educators Richard Bronson and Braden Thompson emphasized the lone question after these scenarios have played out: What will YOU do? The cast of ‘No Zebras’ understands that seeing these scenarios may be unnerving, but if victims do not feel they have a safe haven, sexual harassment will continue at a climbing rate. “If students at Wayne State had a place where victims of violence could speak out,” Thompson said “then there would be a greater support system on campus.” According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, April is the month for sexual assault awareness. The reality is that all statistics on sexual harassment should be noted year-round. Consider the one woman that is sexually harassed; there are two men that may be attacked as well. Every one in four domestic violence cases are those involving women. Sexual assaults result in one out of four survivors. Stalking did not become a major concern until after the early 2000s. ColorBlind Magazine is dedicated to women, and that includes empowering all women. To help, visit ‘No Zebras. No Excuses” at www.nozebrasandmore.com, and learn more about the program’s message to stop sexual harassments and other forms of violence. YOU have the power,...

Read More
My Personal Hero
Nov10

My Personal Hero

When you hear the word hero, who comes to your mind? Superman, Spiderman, Batman? Besides the fictional heroes we grew up idolizing, I grew up surrounded by real-life heroes – soldiers. Veterans Day has never been a holiday that was just glanced over in my household; coming from a family where both parents were in the military. I thought long and hard about whose story I would want to share with our ColorBlind readers for this special holiday. After my lengthy consideration I came to the conclusion that I should share the story of the proudest military personnel that I know… and that would be my father, George Gonzalez. What branch of military were you in?  Did you think about other branches as well? I was Army, all the way! I didn’t realize there were other branches. Are you sure there are other branches? What influenced your decision to enlist in the military? Money for college, plain and simple.  I needed a ‘bare gun’.  I had bare pockets, bare plate and a bare back. I was a poor kid from Harlem, NYC.  I needed to do something with my life and I needed money if I was going to continue my education.  The Army had this Veterans Education Assistance Program which would have given me everything I needed to help quench my thirst for knowledge. What years did you serve in the military? 1982-2003 Prior to joining the military, was that something you had always considered for yourself or did you have other plans? Me? In the military? No way! Shave off my Gerry curls? C’mon! I had other plans. I was already a published writer. I changed my college major several times. Initially I was Pre-Med, though it really didn’t suit me. I did it more for my father than for myself. When I came to the stark realization that all I wanted to do was write I quickly made a right turn, became a Literature major. Most people asked “If you want to then write why didn’t you become an English major?” That would have been great except I already knew English!  I studied the Masters; Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Poe, Zola, Solzhenitsyn, Chekov, Dostoevsky. A book that really reached in my chest and pulled at my very heart was “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Erich Maria Remarque which to me is the definitive narrative of war, and the reason we shouldn’t have wars. Wars only serve to kill the young. How did you feel on the day you had to actually leave your family & familiar surroundings? Excited, scared, anxious, all of the above? All of...

Read More
New book by director Bill Duke explores the beauty of dark-skinned women
Nov05

New book by director Bill Duke explores the beauty of dark-skinned women

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — In the tradition of the New York Times bestselling I Dream a World and Crowns comes DARK GIRLS, an inspiring and groundbreaking photo book that celebrates the beauty of dark-skinned women, created by legendary director Bill Duke. DARK GIRLS began as a documentary of the same name that aired on the OWN Network and became its highest-rated show with more than two million viewers. The women in the film told of their experiences being dark-skinned, and the awful prejudice they faced as girls and as women. The show was highly emotional and moving – colorism is a passionate subject amongst women of color throughout the world. Bill Duke knew he wanted to address these women with a book. Rather than a non-fiction book on the topic of colorism, he produced DARK GIRLS, a magnificent collection featuring accomplished dark-skinned women from all walks of life. In the book, celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o, Vanessa Williams, Loretta Devine, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Judge Mablean Ephriam, Brandi and Karli Harvey, and over seventy-five other outstanding women share intimate insights into what their dark skin means to them. Filled with gorgeous photographs and moving interviews with darker-skinned women by awardwinning writer Shelia P. Moses, this thoughtful, sophisticated, alluring, and uplifting collection captures the elegance of dark skin – joyfully showcasing that people truly are beautiful for who they are. Author Bios: Director, producer, and writer BILL DUKE is the godfather of African-American cinema. He was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Directors Guild of America, placing him in the company of directors like Stephen Spielberg and Clint Eastwood. Duke’s productions include “Miami Vice,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Sister Act 2,” “American Gigolo,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” “A Rage in Harlem,” “Predator,” and many more. He has degrees from Boston University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the American Film Institute. SHELIA P. MOSES is the author of fourteen books, including The Legend of Buddy Bush, which was a National Book Award finalist and a Coretta Scott King Award winner. Joseph was nominated for the 2009 NAACP Image Award. In 2000, she co-wrote Dick Gregorys memoir Callus on My Soul and directed his tribute at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. BARRON CLAIBORNE’s work has appeared in numerous publications including Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Interview. His photos are featured in museums and private collections throughout the world. Article courtesy of...

Read More