‘Even The Hate Mail I Get Reveals the Contours of White Privilege’

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 2.52.50 PM.pngWritten by Mark Naison, professor of history and African American Studies at Fordham University in New York:

My Black friends have always told me, “Mark, if you were Black, saying the things you do, acting the way you do, you would have been dead a long time ago.”

If you think they were exaggerating, read the article “The Ugly Truth of Being a Black Professor” in the April 29 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education about the death threats and insults the African American philosopher George Yancy is repeatedly deluged with when he comments about issues in commercial media. The great Fordham Theologian Father Bryan Massingale has had a similar experience, as have my friends Johnny Eric Williams and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who teach at two of the nation’s top colleges.

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Dr. Naison with colleague Father Bryan Massingale

This is startlingly different from what I have experienced when I comment about race in America for CNN (“‘White supremacists by default’: How ordinary people made Charlottesville possible“), or other media outlets. I get hate mail. I have scores of people telling me I should never be allowed to teach. But I have NEVER received a death threat or a rape threat or an email that begins ‘Dear n…..r Professor.’

Black people in positions of academic leadership, commenting on the issues of the day, bring out a kind of insecurity in too many whites that is easily transferred into violent fantasies, and in some cases, into violent actions.

No one should underestimate the power and prevalence of White Rage in this country. It is quite literally life threatening to Black people, even when they reach positions of influence through their talent and hard work.

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Cultural Groups Bring Live Music and Dance to Fordham University Campus on Bronx Celebration Day

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Marzarte Dance Company performs at the Second Annual Bronx Celebration Day at Fordham College at Rose Hill. Photos by Michael Dames

At the second annual Bronx Celebration Day on April 21, a Mexican folk dance troupe, Marzarte Dance Company, held hands with Fordham students and local residents for an energetic chain dance around the Walsh Lot of the Rose Hill campus.

Folklorist and choreographer Martha Nora Zarate-Alvarez, who heads the Bronx-based ensemble, said the group’s lively performance represented the traditions of the Huasteco and Jalisco regions of Mexico.

“We wanted to showcase the importance of Mexican culture in the Bronx and traditional Mexican dance,” said Zarate-Alvarez, who was dressed in a multicolored tiered skirt. “Mexican culture is more than just mariachi music.”

Bronx Celebration Day was presented by the Bronx Collaboration Committee, a division of the Fordham Club, and co-sponsored by Bronx Community Board 6, Fordham University Commuting Students Association, Fordham Road BID, and the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer at Fordham University.

Read more here.

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Yasser Tejeda & Palotrév

BOOGIE DOWN AT THE BRONX ZOO”

Screen Shot 2018-04-20 at 10.09.57 AM.pngYou guys know I LOVE the Bronx Zoo. What could make them even cooler? Well, they’ve teamed up with legendary rappers and street artists from the Bronx for a new series, “Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo!”

First off, there’s a song, which you can stream below. Nothing like legendary MCs rapping about zoo animals! This is wonderful for school-aged children, but I love it, too!

These events, starting on Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22, and continuing weekends from May 5 through June 3, will include artists and performers from a diverse representation of Bronx cultures. Think Sugar Hill Gang, breakdancing, Doo Wop music, and salsa and mambo, too! And there will be Cuban and Puerto Rican food, as well as Italian food from Arthur Avenue.

And there are great video teasers for the series. For instance, in this one, Grandmaster Caz talks about how the the Boogiedown borough inspired them. And he says the Bronx Zoo (and the Yankees) are synonymous with the borough!

Here’s a video starring Garndmaster Melle Mel:

Grandmaster Melle Mel and Scorpio of the Furious Five take the stage April 21, May 12, and May 13. You don’t want to miss it. Learn more.

Purchase tickets here.

Via ‘With a Brooklyn Accent:’ The United States of Sports and Music

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Clockwise from top left: Mickey Mantle, Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, Willie Mays, Dion and the Belmonts.

Via Mark Naison, professor of history and African American history at Fordham University:

Growing up in Crown Heights in the 1950’s, the child of two teachers who had come out of dire poverty to scrape into the middle class, I viewed politics and government as abstractions, frightening and remote. Between my parents whispered talks of McCarthyite purges, the mushroom clouds I saw on tv, and the shelter drills we had in school, politics was scary. Televised pictures of Eisenhower and Nixon, who looked nothing like the Jewish, Italian and Black People in our neighborhood, made it remote. I was told by my parents never to sign a petition, the Constitution was something we memorized in school and trying to become President seemed absurd for people in my section of Brooklyn.
So how did I become “American,” attached to the possibilities, mythologies, and opportunities the nation offered to people of modest means who came from immigrant backgrounds?
It was sports and music which made me American. Watching Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider play center field; watching Carl Furillo, who had the same face as many of my Italian friends, throw bullets from right field; listening to Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers; Dion and the Belmonts, and Little Anthony and the Imperials, kids who came out of neighborhoods just like mIne, create beautiful harmonies and sell millions of record; watching Giants linebacker Sam Huff try to tackle the great Cleveland running back Jim Brown! These were things that brought fame and fortune to kids like me, things that showed that anything was possible in America even if you grew up with very little or were stalked by ancient hatreds, such as the anti-semitism that was so much a part of my parents childhoods.
Read more here.

#NowPlaying: Toli & The Femm Nameless ‘See Line’

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Pic via the Femme Nameless Facebook page

I have some good news and some bad news.

The band news is I found out about an empowering all-female band that made beautiful music, but are no longer together. The good news? A Brooklyn record label has re-issued their music! This band is the Femm Nameless.

Led by Trombonist Toli Nameless, who recorded with Antibalas on their classic version of Willie Colon’s Che Che Colé, The Femm Nameless picked up where the Godfather of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti left off, just after meeting Sandra Izsadore. They had a powerful and unmistakeable energy that could only come from a woman, or in this case, eight women.

They describe themselves as “all-female punk funk meets ‘Mama Afrobeat,’ the Femm Nameless, disbanded after some active years of performing live and recording an incredible demo that never saw the light of day―until now.

The good folks over at Kooyman Records dug into the vaults, mastered and unearthed these jams from Toli & The Femm Nameless to bring us a 10” viny.! The record includes a dance floor monster―a cover of Nina Simone’s “See Line Woman,” flipped upside down, in fine Afrobeat style.

The ideas on the record were put together by Toli, along with Tom Brenneck of the Dap Kings, the Budos Band and the Menahan Street Band, and Ernesto Abreau of Antibalas. The record was recorded and engineered in East Flatbush, Brooklyn by Sydney Mills of Steel Pulse.

Get the record here: iTunes: apple.co/2h8wg5X
Limited 10″ Vinyl: bit.ly/2sFtfMl

Or stream it below.

A Look Back at this Year’s LAMC

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Mon Laferte at Central Park LAMC/SummerStage Showcase

The LAMC once again provided opportunities to network for conference go-ers and artists alike. Attendees were informed about industry trends through panels featuring representatives from Pandora, Spotify, Rogers & Cowan, NPR, Live Nation, The Orchard, Universal, Moet Hennessy, and Symphonic Distribution, among others, plus a special conversation with the legendary
Carlos Alomar and Eduardo Cabra.

Panel topics ranged from touring in the U.S. and digital music platforms to Latin music in TV and film. Additionally, our showcases around NYC featured artists like Mon Laferte, La Vida Bohème, Amaral, Los Pericos, C. Tangana, Rawayana, Princess Nokia, and Alex Anwandter at venues such as SOBs, Highline Ballroom, Central Park SummerStage, and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park.

During the Indie showcase on Thursday, A.CHAL and Jesse Baez were named this year’s “Discovery Award” recipients and received award packages from Shure, Gibson Brands, PioneerDJ, and Native Instruments joining previous Discovery alumni such as Kinky, iLe, Carla Morrison, and El Mató a Un Policía Motorizado, among others.

 

LAMC attendees were able to split their time between panels, showcases, and activations by PioneerDJ, Shure, Native Instruments, Sounds from Spain, Symphonic Distribution, and others at the Stewart Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Also present was the now classic LAMC media floor for all of the showcasing artists – filled with many key media outlets.

How I pull off working out several times per week

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If you didn’t IG your gym visit, did you really go?

I happen to post my visits to the gym on social media as a way to keep myself accountable and to motivate myself. There are many who think it’s an absolutely obnoxious habit, and that’s perfectly OK and they’re more than welcome to mute, unfollow or unfriend me. Really, I don’t take offense at those things!

It also has prompted a few friends to ask me how I do it. How do I get away from my office to fit a class in? How do I have time to shower?

I’m going to answer all of that in this blog post.

Just like keeping a food diary (which I do on Weight Watchers’ website, as it’s the best system that works for me), tracking my workouts is a must. After xx (heh!) years on this earth, I know what works for my body. Right now, I’m in a great place. I have virtually zero aches and pains, I’m sleeping well, and my energy is high.

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What Weight Watchers tracking looks like.

I achieve this through eating well (real nourishment! Lots of colorful vegetables and mostly plant based proteins) throughout most of the week with a little indulgences on weekend, be it a glass (or a few!) of wine, a second helping of dinner or a snack, or dessert.

As for working out, I treat it as a commitment. I’m paying $70 a month for my gym plus other fees here and there for different yoga studios that I use. So I refuse to let that money go to waste. We all have periods when we slack off. Well, for me, it’s never the working out.

I enjoy working out and with a history of Parkinson’s in my family, I know it’s better for my health.

The challenge for me is with the food part. I’m a stress eater. While my dad was in and out of the hospital and nursing home, I put on weight because I was eating meals at the hospital or on the go. No matter if I’m making good choices, the way it works with my body is if I’m buying close to 100 percent of my meals, I put on weight.

I’m uncomfortable when I’m carrying an extra 10-15 pounds. I literally feel bad, so I usually hit the breaks when I can and work to get back on track.

Working out

I take 45-minute classes of cardio mixed with high intensity weight and plyometric training (“Sports Circuit,” “Total Body Conditioning,” “Burn,” or “Cardio Cross Training”) about three to four times a week, and hot power yoga (the Baron Baptiste style) about four to five times per week. On weekends, I tend to hike or walk an hour with the dog.

(The class in this video is a good example of what some of the classes are like. This instructor, Simon Lawson, was one of my favorites! He recently moved on to teach at the Fhitting Room.)

So how do I do this while balancing my job as a director of communications for a mid-size university in New York City? Truthfully: it takes a lot of planning but I admit I’m very fortunate:

  • I have a great job with a great boss and a great team. Communications work (public relations, social media and content news writing) is nonstop at my job, but we’re not a news media outlet that must push out news 24/7. We’re the public relations and marketing arm of the university. I have a wonderful staff that works hard, and a vice president who cares about work/life balance. While, for some, this means coming in early and leaving early to deal with children, for me, it means I gym during my lunch hour. A healthy staff is a happy staff!

So, I dip out for an hour to take a 45-minute gym class at New York Sports Clubs with a quick shower afterwards. I’m so glad my gym offers 45-minutes classes at 12:15p each day.

  • It helps that my gym is literally half a block away from my office. Like, no kidding, I can leave the office about 5 minutes before class starts (I change in my office before ducking out so all I have to do is walk into class and, ‘Go!’)
  • I take quick showers and get dressed quickly. I’m not one to wear makeup at work, so drying my [now shorter] hair is a cinch.
  • I often work after hours. I’ll go home after yoga, cook (cooking is key to how great I feel because I’m eating lots of greens and grains), and then hop back on email and Twitter to catch up with more work!
  • Important: FOOD PREP! No, I’m not the type to prep seven days of meals on a Sunday. But I do make egg or egg whites using a muffin tin on Sundays so my breakfast is taken care of. As for lunch, I prepare a hearty and healthy lunch by cooking it while I cook dinner. I’m talking lots of vegetables, a healthy grain like couscous, quinoa or brown rice, or a low-glycemic sweet potato & about four ounces of grilled chicken, tofu, or a half cup of legumes.
  • Having lunch ready means I don’t have to take a detour after the gym to buy lunch. The break room to nuke my lunch and I’m back in the office!
  • We depend heavily on Google calendar at work, so, for the most part, meetings are planned in the mornings or late afternoon. And when they have to cut into my midday gym time, that’s ok, too! 
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Incentive for extra WW “points” = food

So … why the yoga?

The hot power yoga (which I take at this amazing studio called Lyons Den in TriBeCa) has been key to improving my flexibility and eliminating aches and pains. Before I started getting into yoga heavy, I was dealing with frequent headaches and a nagging tennis elbow situation. Ever since getting into Bikram Yoga, and now power yoga, most of those aches are gone. The heat loosens my muscles, improves my flexibility, and challenges my mental stamina, while the quick pace of power yoga works my muscles.

Since the schedule at “the den” is constant, I can go any time from right after work, to 8 p.m. at night.

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Bethany Lyons is the founder of Lyons Den. [Images via Lucky mag]

OK, but what about time for other commitments?

Alright. I’m not going to lie. My social life takes a hit when I’m this “on” with working out/eating well. I tend not to want to go out to eat or go out drinking after work. Both of those things mess with my sleep, which inevitably f*cks with my weight, so I try and avoid them depending on how things are going at work. Right now, we’re super busy, so the social activities can wait.

Truth is, I’ve always been more of a weekend warrior when it comes to going out. I need to have an alert mind at work, so going out and cutting loose is few and far between. But it’s ok.

One thing I’ve learned while battling restrictive eating and an eating disorder in my 20s was to rid myself of dichotomous thinking, meaning viewing things in black or white. So if I get invited to a string of events in the coming weeks (and it WILL happen), that’s OK if I miss some workouts. It’s all about balance, which is something many of us struggle with.

I’m grateful practicing yoga has helped me with that, too. Hopefully I’ve helped someone with this post!