#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.

Repost: The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women

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I am loving this entire list of the greatest albums made by women by the good folks over at NPR Music. No Doubt, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, La Lupe… it’s like going down memory lane with so many great albums.

Here’s an excerpt of number 47 by Cuba’s Celia Cruz:

47. Celia Cruz
Son con Guaguanco(Emusica/Fania, 1966)

When Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso sang, people stopped and listened. Alfonso, known by her stage name Celia Cruz, possessed a full-bodied voice filled with emotion and sincerity that makes you feel viscerally what she’s singing. She took Cuban music out of Cuba, out of Latin America and into the world. And she did it as a black woman in a male dominated field that valued whiteness. On her 1966 album Son con Guaguanco, she sings about daily life—about not having manteca to cook, losing her purse and being deeply in love. As women fought to be taken seriously in the workplace, Celia Cruz tirelessly put out albums and toured the world as a single woman — something many people looked down on. But she was the ultimate example of a woman carving her own path and demanding the respect she merited. Though Son con Guaguanco didn’t have much commercial success, it marks the type of music she popularized from the beginning of her career called pregón, which is a Cuban musical style based on the calls and chants of street vendors. She also popularized the Afro-Cuban sounds filled with the raucous horns and drums that comprise the basis of salsa, which became the music of Latinos in the 1970s. A true legend and superstar, and compared to Ella Fitzgerald by many in the American press for her soneos (improvisational sections of salsa songs more nuanced than jazz scats), Celia Cruz continues to be a shining example for being completely yourself. —Christina Cala (NPR Staff)

Read the whole list here.

Sharing: feminism, women’s rights and heroines

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 11.05.14 AM.pngVia friend and amazing person behind Building Beats (an organization that provides DJ and music programs that teach entrepreneurial, leadership and life skills to underserved youth), Phi Pham. He sent this in an email and it’s too good not to share:

Welcome to the very first issue of Build Your Knowledge. I started this project mainly because I was inspired by all the books I read/listened to and wanted to motivate friends to always be learning. Each month, I’ll send reviews on 5 books on a specific theme or topic. If you want to unsubscribe, just click here.

This month’s theme is feminism, women’s rights and several heroines that have led the social progress of women in history.

I hope my reviews inspire you to read a book or dig deeper in your learning journey. And don’t forget to pass on the knowledge to a friend!

Phi


The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irina Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
The Notorious R.B.G. was a great beginner’s guide to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, our oldest Supreme Court Justice. The origins of the book came from a Tumblr account of the same name created by Shana Knizhnik who loved the R.B.G. Knizhnik and Carmon go through R.B.G.’s entire career progression up to her appointment as the 2nd ever female Supreme Court Justice. My favorite story interwoven throughout the book, is Ruth’s marriage/partnership with her husband Marty. They had a radical (at the time) relationship of 56-ish years. They shared career sacrifices as well as household duties to the benefit of one another. Marty was a well-known tax law expert who spent his later years as a master chef, giving up a lot of his own career goals as Ruth ascended the ranks. #realrelationshipgoals. The idea of a book about a Supreme Court Justice may not sound enticing to many, but The Notorious R.B.G. was great. (http://amzn.to/2kUUgtP)


We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
If we do something over and over, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over again, it becomes normal.” – in reference to a boy chosen as a classroom monitor over 9-year-old Chimamanda. The teacher said the student with the highest test score would be monitor (which Chimamanda had acheieved). “If only boys are made class monitor, then at some point we will all think, even if unconsciously, that the class monitor has to be a boy. If we keep seeing only men as heads of corporations, it starts to seem ‘natural’ only men should be heads of corporations.” Chimamanda describes many other examples of how we have normalized our youth on how to act that result in the impedance of equal rights for women. This was a quick short read (48 pages long) that’s a useful for someone who may not understand the importance of intersectional feminism. (http://amzn.to/2kZFRwj)


All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister
Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies proclaims the rise of the independent, single woman in the 21st century. She explores how society has evolved from a “marriage as a mandatory part of life for women” to marriage as one of many options. Traister showcases the various relationships of today’s single woman through interviews & stories. My favorite example: Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow’s BFF female-to-female relationship. She also touches upon about the the diversity of women through the lens of race, economic status, and sexual orientation aka intersectional feminism. This book gives a positive perspective on the future of human relationships that doesn’t necessarily have to include marriage and also gives an encompassing overview of the history social progress of the American woman.(http://amzn.to/2kZHxpE)


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
The story of African-American women contributing to NASA’s space race is impressive and provoking. Hidden Figures, the book, was released in October, 2016 and the movie came out this past holiday season. I first listened to Hidden Figures in October and thought it was OK. Then I watched the movie and loved it. I immediately listened to the book again and loved it. The story revolves around three women who worked at NASA at the peak of the space race. Dorothy Vaughan was the leader of the West Computing Room for the African-American “computers”. Katherine Johnson was a mathematical whiz who gained the trust of John Glenn with her computing expertise. Her calculations and work played a pivotal role in Glenn’s first orbit around the earth. Mary Jackson was a teacher turned engineer after getting to take night classes at an all-white school. The film helped provide a context while the book went deep into each woman’s personal histories as well as tying in their impact on the larger civil rights movement. (http://amzn.to/2lxnpJ5)

Cool fact I learned in the book: Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge trekkie and convinced Nichelle Nichols to continue her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on Star Trek.
Bonus: Katherine Johnson receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIWJFNAN4XI


My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King as told to Barbara Reynolds
Coretta Scott King is always portrayed as the widow to a legacy, Martin Luther King Jr. Rarely is she given the appreciation or recognition that she deserves. This book is her perspective on an important era in American history. My Life, My Love, My Legacy is like a three part saga on Coretta’s various stages of life. Before meeting Martin, Coretta is a well-educated woman who dreams of being a musician. After graduating from Antioch College, Coretta receives a fellowship to attend the New England Conservatory of Music. Boston is where she meets Martin and so begins the journey of her next phase in life as Mrs. King. You can tell she has a very strong adoration for him through her stories of unwavering support during Martin’s peak events. I’ve always heard rumors on MLK’s infidelity to his wife, but several times in the book Coretta denies he was ever unfaithful. The final phase of the book is post-MLK’s assassination and Coretta’s impactful role building the MLK legacy. Her role in advocating for turning Martin’s birthday into a national holiday has institutionalized his legacy for society. It’s interesting to see her role transform from supporter to leader after Martin’s death. (http://amzn.to/2kZGuFS)


If you have comments, books to recommend or any feedback, hit me up! If you want to subscribe just sign up here or email me: phi@buildyourknowledge.com.

I don’t care if you don’t like me; I love me *wink*

'... don’t be too pushy … because you have to be likeable. And I say that is bullshit.' PREACH, Chimamanda. Preach!
‘… don’t be too pushy … because you have to be likeable. And I say that is bullshit.’ PREACH, Chimamanda. Preach!

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who first came to my attention when her novel, Americanah, became a New York Times best-seller, and when audio of a speech of hers ended up in the Beyonce song, “Flawless,” is, as Blavity puts it, *everything.*

I’m such a fan of her feminist views. And, of course, the excerpt in Flawless is the kind of thing that should be required reading in the 5th grade:

“We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls,
“You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man.”
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes”

I can’t help but think of my five-year-old niece when I read her views. This latest one, which, in a perfect world, is taught to every little girl in the world, is from a speech she gave at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards in New York City, where she was named the groundbreaker honoree.

Via Blavity:

During her speech, Adichie spoke less about her stellar accomplishments and more about why young girls and women shouldn’t care about being liked when trying to pave their paths as writers and storytellers.

“Forget about likability,” the 37-year-old exclaimed. “I think that what our society teaches young girls — and I think that it’s something that’s quite difficult for even older women, self-confessed feminists, to shrug off — is this idea that likeability is an essential part of the space you occupy in the world. That you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likeable. That you’re supposed to kind of hold back sometimes, pull back. Don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy … because you have to be likeable. And I say that is bullshit.”

And, with that, I’ll leave you with one of the best little girls to ever grace Vine:

Today in things that shouldn’t be…

Screen shot 2015-05-06 at 9.50.54 PMJust the other day, a friend of mine posted a mini-rant on Facebook about men who, under the guise of saying “Good morning,” are really just trying to get you to engage in a conversation, and how, when she doesn’t return the greeting, or God forbid, smile, she, at times, gets a nasty response. The backlash on that particular morning? “At least you could smile, bitch.”

Yes, it goes without saying, not all men are this way. (Isn’t that common sense?) But this kind of thing happens far too much. And it sometimes feels (to me, anyway) that the backlash is much worse than the fake greeting/catcall/harassment, whatever the situation was.

Predictably, my friend was deluged with comments, many of which were of the #NotAllMen type, but a few were pretty mysogynistic:

“Well, you’re hot (she is), but women who aren’t should be thankful.”
“I really am saying good morning. What’ the harm in that?”
“Maybe if women didn’t walk around all stone-faced and just said ‘Good morning’ back,” and so on.

One guy even tried to say he greets strangers on the street equally. Yeah, ok!

Debate ensued.

But the following is an example of something that just SHOULDN’T BE:

Police are still searching for a man suspected of slashing a woman in a downtown Manhattan subway station over the weekend.

According to the NYPD, the incident occurred at 5:40 p.m. this past Saturday, May 2nd, at the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop: “[The] suspect attempted to engage the victim, a 34-year-old female, in conversation. When the victim ignored the suspect, the suspect spat at the victim, who then began to laugh at the suspect. The suspect then took out a sharp instrument, slashed the victim in the arm and then fled the station.” (Read more on Gothamist.)

Imagine that: A violent response to being ignored by a woman who dared to ignore a man trying to engage her. This kind of shit shouldn’t happen. Maybe if more (#NotAll) men empathized, just put themselves in our ‘heels,’ and realized, sometimes, we just want to get where we’re going — quietly — we wouldn’t have to fluster your sensitive little feelings into a debate on Facebook. 🙂

Here are some other links that appropriately fit this headline:

A Nebraska woman who claims to be an ambassador for God and his son Jesus Christ is suing all gay people on Earth. (Daily News) — waste of court time, if you ask me!

In Chicago, it isn’t the cops who tortured who will dole out $100 million to victims. That’ll be the taxpayers. (Fusion) That’s a lot of taxpayer money. Now will people see why there is a problem with police brutality?

Cop bites man’s testicles on Cinco de Mayo. (Death and Taxes) What is there to say, really?

Bad ass alert: Sister Joan Chittister on Gender Equality In The Church

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 5.25.39 PMI’m so #TeamNun. No matter how strict they were when I was in elementary school, one thing was always clear: they cared about us. Also, they cared about their student’s families: They’d let my parents pay tuition late when times were rough, as they often were. And they taught me EXCELLENT grammar and writing, and a most important forgotten art: penmanship!

Over the weekend, Pope Francis reportedly became the first pontiff to meet with a transgendered person, meaning he’s much more open to gender inclusivity than any Catholic leader before him. But what of women in the church?

This Here and Now interview (on WBUR) of Sister Joan Chittister proves women religious aren’t just your kid’s disciplinarian anymore. Of course, most of us knew this already. But it’s good to see the discussion out there. Radical feminists? I think not. #TeamNun is in a class by themselves.

I’ve teased out some of my favorite parts, but you can listen to the whole AUDIO interview here.

Excerpts:

Sister Joan Chittister: I would not deny that in every dimension of the church there is a great respect for the sisters. Since Vatican II, sisters have grown up too, just like women everywhere, and they basically highly educated and very committed people. When they began to function with confidence as full adults, that threatened an old church. The image of women religious by churchmen themselves was the eternal silent servant. Now you have a body of intelligent educated adult women and you’re facing a new climate in the church with a Pope who is apparently not afraid of difficult topics.

I mean, they have a word for it that’s embarrassing; they call it radical feminism, which means they don’t even know what radical feminism is. What they mean is that a thinking, articulate woman with an agenda and intends to pursue it for the sake of women everywhere, as well as the families and the children we serve.

HOST: Women cannot be priests still in the Catholic Church. Why is that door still closed?

Sister Joan Chittister: This anti-female attitude—they don’t want to call it that—‘We respect you, we love you, look at how we put you on a pedestal,’ meaning, as long as you’re on a pedestal, you yourself can’t move anywhere. This is very, very ingrained in churches in general, and in the Catholic Church, especially. This pope has said feminism is about allowing every member of the human race to become a fully functioning human adult. He has talked about the fact that until we really look at the feminist issue, he says, quote, ‘We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step, will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church.’

Now, I think we could just start with the profound theology of the human, and we wouldn’t necessarily be starting on the same foot we always have, as in women are different as men, women are not as fully human as men.. there’s no sense in that. This Pope, however, has opened the door to the question. If ti’s still a question for men, we’ll help them answer it, but it has to be addressed.

You have to remember, too, that as much as we don’t want to admit it, the church has also taught racism, anti-semitism, and slavery, just as well as they teach sexism yet today. If this Pope, with what I see as a powerful and graced openness to the questions in our society, really pursues this question, we will all have a new consciousness of what it is to be human, to be female as well as male, and to be a church that’s really a church.

HOST: What hope do you have of that?

Sister Joan Chittister: I’m not even sure it’s hope anymore because we’re on the wrong side of history. Every single thing that we have dealt with this way has fallen. And this will fall, too, because it is so wrong. It’s theologically untenable, it’s psychologically ridiculous, and scientifically bizarre and bankrupt.

Guest post: How #Women’s Empowerment Shaped My Parenting and Helped Change Brooklyn Sports

Photo via Maxpreps.com
Photo via Maxpreps.com

Via the BK Nation Blog
By Mark Naison

Everyone who knows me well knows two things about me. First, I am a passionately committed political activist. Second that I am a sports fanatic. Here is how the two defining characteristics of my life came together for me and shaped the upbringing up my daughter Sara in a feminist household.

When we got married my wife Liz Phillips and I decided that Liz would keep her name and that we would bring up our children in accordance with feminist principles. This entailed totally sharing childcare, cooking and household chores. We engaged in collective household decision making, and the creation of hyphenated last names for our children — Naison-Phillips — that reflected our commitment to gender equality.

Some men would consider this arrangement to be a burden. Commitment to gender equality carried one huge benefit. When our first child Sara was born, I enjoyed the freedom to teach her everything about sports that my father taught me—how to hit throw and to catch, how to get up when knocked down, and how to walk onto a ball field as though you owned it. I started sports training with Sara when she was two years old. By the time when she was five, I walked her into the St. Saviour’s Youth Sports League, signed her up for baseball, and volunteered to coach a team.

Fortunately, the league let her play…even though the league was 95 percent boys. There, her abilities proved to be something of a revelation. Sara hit, threw and caught as well as all but a handful of boys her age and soon became a star. She batted lead-off and played the coveted position of pitcher’s mound — coaches pitched to their own teams — where you normally placed your most reliable fielder. She won complete acceptance in the league, became a pitcher at age eight when the league made the transition to kids pitching, and even earned a spot on the much sought-after St. Saviours’s travelling team when she reached the age of 10.

In basketball, Sara left her most indelible impression. Fast, strong, tough and capable of doing 40 push-ups as a result of her gymnastics training, she played on the highly competitive St. Saviour’s 10-and-under boys’ CYO travelling team at the age of eight. Over time, Sara became a highly visible figure in Brooklyn CYO basketball, whose participating parishes extended from Marine Park to Bay Ridge to Bensonhurst, to Red Hook and to Fort Greene. All over Brooklyn, mothers who were rooting for their own teams cheered for my daughter when she came into the game and the boys on the other teams found themselves caring less than they were being guarded by a girl and more than they were about to get stripped of the ball by that girl if they didn’t protect their dribble.

That lasted until Sara was 10. That year, she started on the boys’ team that won the Brooklyn CYO championship—beating arch-rival St. Thomas Aquinas of Flatbush in the Championship Game. The Aquinas coaches grumbled loudly after the game, claiming that her presence on the team gave St. Saviour’s an unfair advantage because the boys on other teams couldn’t play with as hard with a girl guarding them. Without informing the St Saviour’s coaches, they launched a secret — and ultimately successful — campaign to ban girls from boys’ CYO basketball.

We did not find out about the ban until a year later when St. Saviour’s 11-year-old team lined up to play Aquinas in the first game of the season. The Aquinas coaches loudly proclaimed “the girl can’t play,” at the beginning of the game, quoting the newly approved league rule. Pandemonium broke out in the gym and I had to be held back from physically assaulting the Aquinas coaches. The referee said he thought the rule was “ridiculous.” The real heroes proved to be Sara’s male teammates, who refused to take the floor unless she played. The result: the game was played under protest with Sara on the court, and I was determined to find out what the hell had happened.

My years of political activism quickly jumped into high gear. After calling the league director and finding out that a rule banning girls from boys’ CYO had been passed, I called friends of mine who wrote for Newsday and for The New York Times and told them what had happened. Within hours they assigned the story to reporters. A day later, front page articles on Sara — including pictures — appeared on page three of Newsday and on page one of the Metro Section of The New York Times. By 7 AM, every television station in New York City called the house to ask to film stories about Sara. Television segments were shot at Fordham in which she shot baskets with the Fordham’s women’s basketball coach and in the schoolyard of JHS 51, where they showed her taking shots with her teammates.

The wave of publicity achieved its desired outcome. By 5 PM, Brooklyn CYO leaders released a statement saying that the rule had been rescinded. Sara and other girls were free to play on boys’ teams if their parish didn’t field girl’s teams.

The drama did not end there. Sara’s story touched a chord with people all over the country who viewed the effort to ensure that girls enjoyed the right to participate at the highest levels in sports as a human rights issue—not merely as a question of justice and of fairness. The New York Times and Newsday published editorials supporting her right to play, a Catholic social-justice group developed Continuing Catholic Development lessons based on what she experienced. Sesame Street came to our home to film a three-minute segment about Sara and about her teammates!

For Sara, who became a nationally ranked tennis player and captain of the Yale tennis team, this proved to be a formative experience in a life of athletic and academic success. For our whole family, this odyssey affirmed the importance of fighting for the rights of all people to realize their potential in all aspects of human endeavor.

A revolution begins with many small acts. This is the story of how one family took the lessons of Women’s History Month to heart.

Mark Naison is a professor of history and African American Studies at Fordham. He is the author of “White Boy: A Memoir (2003),” and “Pure Bronx (2013).”