Women Who Read Are Dangerous!

(left to right: Dr. Shamika Mitchell, Natalie N. Caro, Laura Alvarez, Carli Braithwaite and Lorraine Currelley) Saturday March 4, 2017

I had the pleasure of participating as a panelist for Women Who Read Are Dangerous by Stepfan Bollmann. The book focuses on artist’s fascination and interest with women who read.  What is it about women reading that has captivated hundreds of artists over the centuries? Stefan Bollman’s Women Who Read Are Dangerous explores this popular subject in more than sixty artworks-drawings, paintings, photographs, and prints-by iconic artists such as Henri Matisse, Edward Hopper, Suzanne Valadon, and more. We expanded the framework to include sex, race, class, and gender within a historical context. I was joined on the panel by my fellow panelists Natalie N. Caro, Dr. Shamika Mitchell, Carli Braithwaite and our host and curator Laura Alvarez.

Dr. Shamika Mitchell stated during the discussion that women were allowed to read within strict social constructs, and gained access via the Bible. Historically reading women were wealthy, books were expensive and only the wealthy could afford to purchase them. Carli Braithwaite gave a Powerpoint presentation based on Stefan Bollmann’s book prior to the start of the discussion and referenced how these women showed up throughout history.

Who are these dangerous women? Dangerous women are relatives, friends, colleagues, partners, etc. They’re women who dared and dare to challenge the status quo. Women who with threat to life and limb spoke out and speak out against injustices. Women who were and are yesterday’s and today’s pioneers and warriors. Women who refused and refuse to keep silent, knowing  their silence and our silence would not and will not protect them nor us.

Powerful moments included panelists and our host Laura Alvarez sharing personal stories. Stories centered on generational struggles to realize dreams and goals. Our common thread, the similarities that shaped and grew us.  We have successfully created paths for ourselves becoming role models for women and girls. We are duty bound and stand on shoulders of those who sacrificed for us. Everyone stressed the importance of having strong support systems and being one.

My presentation was centered on bringing my female ancestors into the room. This discussion could not happen without their represented voices. Living in critical times demand our courage. We are called to take advantage of all opportunities to share information, and speak truth. This is how we heal, This is how we grow. This is how we breathe. This is how we strategize for coping in a society that threatens to crush us, when speaking truth to power. During the discussion I pointed out enslaved Africans were not given access to books, not even the Bible. Enslaved Africans were maimed or murdered if caught reading.

Here are some names of powerful and brilliant African American women artists. Women creative’s who used and use their art in protest. Names many will not recognize nor their contributions to the struggle for equality and liberation.

I speak the names of dangerous women:

Sculptor Betye Saar challenged historically negative stereotypes of African Americans. She began working in assemblage in the late 1960s. She
uses the medium to express heritage. In 1972 she created The Liberation of
Aunt Jemima. It addressed race and gender by subverting a racial stereotype and turning it into empowerment.

Printmaker & Sculptor Elizabeth Carlett, “I’m not thinking about doing things new and different. I’m thinking about creating art for my people.” She’s known for fighting racial equality in the arts and her expressionist portrayals of Black culture in the 1960s and 1970s. Her famous Sharecropper, created in Mexico shows Catlett’s activism for African-Americans and females in the South.

Sculptor Augusta Savage, began sculpting at a young age, using her red clay soil from her Florida backyard. She attended Cooper Union in the early 1920s and was commissioned to make a bust of W.E.B. Du Bois for the
Harlem Library.  A key artist in the Harlem Renaissance, Savage was important for fighting both racial and sexual prejudice throughout her career, becoming a social activist and encouraging the work of others while nurturing her own  career in the
US and Europe. One of the most famous works, Gamin (French for “street urchin”), depicts what may be her nephew Ellis Ford or a homeless boy.

Conceptual Artist Adrian Piper has studied art and taught philosophy at
renowned institutions across the globe. Piper was a trailblazer in introducing the concepts of gender and race into a feminist art movement
and has integrated drawing, street performances, and costumes into her art. Her 1981 drawing Self Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features has a
permanent home in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the
Brooklyn Museum.

19th Century Antislavery Women
Journalist/Anti Lynching Activist , Ida B. Wells
Charlotte Forten (1784-1884)
Margaretta Forten
Harriet Forten
Sarah Louise Forten
Angelina Grimke
Educator, Sarah M. Douglas

20th Century Dangerous Women
Fannie Lou Hamer
Poet/Author/Activist, Audre Lorde
Author/Activist/Quilter/Mother/Publisher/Editor, Cheryl Hudson Willis
Poet/Author/Nurse-Healer, Nella Larsen

I speak the name of the woman who birthed me
and gave me all.

Mother/Writer/Dancer/Activist/Community Leader, Annie Daniels Currelley

I speak the names of women who influenced me.

Godmother/Community Activist, Beulah Gardner
Nurse/Journalist/Activist/Educator, Alma John
Godmother/Community Activist, Lorrayne Younger
/Community Activist/Educator, B. Taylor
Mother/Community Activist, Helen Currelley
Historian/Author, Paula Giddings

I’m honored to be one of these dangerous women along with my fellow panelists. A
panel of women who understand we have nothing to lose but our chains!

Our audience contributions of shared experiences and questions enhanced the overall discussion. We were enriched by their added voices. Thanks, Laura Alvarez and the NYC Department of Parks and St. James Recreation Center. Thanks, to my fellow panelists
for sharing their experiences and insights.

©Lorraine Currelley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Why I Can’t F**king Breathe: The Murder of Deborah Danner

Deborah Danner suffered from mental illness, and lived alone. Reports state, police had been called to her apartment in the past and she was taken to the hospital without incident. What made this time different? On the night of her death, Danner’s sister called for help to take her to the hospital as she had in the past. Sadly, she will have to live with this memory for the rest of her life. The very act of calling for help for her sister, resulted in her death, at the hands of an officer sworn to protect.

She was murdered in Castle Hill. NYPD said, officers responded to a 911 call. Deborah Danner age 66 was said to be behaving irrationally. Allegedly she was armed with scissors,  a responding officer convinced her to put them down before allegedly picking up a baseball bat, and attempting to hit NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry, who fired two shots into her torso. She was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead. Sgt. Barry had a taser, he chose not to use it. He was trained to physically subdue an individual without drawing his weapon. Instead, he ignored his training on how to de-escalate situations, Deborah Danner paid the price. This fact alone is reason enough to bring him up on charges.

Bronx resident Deborah Danner was murdered by Sgt. Hugh Barry, let us not skirt around the facts. Fact, had Bronx resident Deborah Danner been white and lived in a white neighborhood her life would have been spared. She would have been treated with the utmost care, gently subdued and escorted to the hospital. Sgt. Barry did not see a human being standing before him. He saw an upset Black woman and that was enough to end her life. He did not see his mother, aunt, or neighbor in her Black face. He did not see humanity in need of help and compassion.

When I read of her death I was overcome with feelings of sadness, anger and horror. Deborah Danner was one year my senior, I could have been her. I thought of my death. The  words mental illness and the circumstances of her murder exacerbated my horror. The 1984 murder of Eleanor Bumpers, a grandmother with mental illness came rushing back to memory. Here is one more case of murder added to an already existing list of traumatic experiences. I demand justice for Deborah Danner! I’m sick and tired of
the usual investigations, the modified desk duty, blaming of the deceased and the NYPD sanctioning of murder.  NYPD is drowning in the blood of innocent murdered civilians. Every time a murder is justified and the murderer set free, we are all at risk. The prevailing mindset by those who murder is we can kill without impunity. Daily Blacks and people of color are assaulted with traumatic event after traumatic event. Brutality, murder and assaults to our humanity and bodies are America’s norm for those of dark hue.

We hear a lot about PTSD. What is  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the result of being traumatized. An individual (s) has/have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. Police brutality and murders of civilians, the death of a loved one, pet and experiences as a veteran contribute to PTSD criteria.

Are you finding it difficult to cope? Sometimes, a good talk with a friend, family member or clergy is enough. Other times it is not enough and you may have to contact a professional.  Here are some available resources. Please visit the links below.

Mental Health & Advocacy for information, resources, data etc. on mental health disorders.
http://lcinformationandresourcecenter.wordpress.com

Protective Service for Adults Program in NYC
http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/psa/

#JusticeforDeborahDanner #BlackLivesMatter #StopMurderingBlackPeople

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Ryan Lochte, Entitled & Privileged

I set in front of my television outraged by the prejudicial spins on the Ryan Lochte robbery fabrication. Listening as journalists tried their best to justify his behaviors and worse his lies. Behaviors and an arrogance deeply rooted in an American history of White entitlement and privilege. Journalists looked into cameras urging us to excuse Lochte and his buds behaviors. We were asked to give them a break. Afterall, they’re kids and kids make mistakes. Life goes on. This was followed by praising Lochte’s athletic abilities. Give me a fukking break! What does his athletic abilities have to do with anything? This is not about some young folk getting drunk at a party. This is about entitled and privileged White men drunkards pissing on gas station floors, destroying property, trying to escape and making false accusations of being robbed, robbed by an armed person of color. No innocent children in this scenario, no boys will be boys. Lochte is thirty two years of age.

What makes Lochte’s behavior extremely frightening is his belief that he would be believed. A belief based on the color of his skin. It’s the accusing Black men of kidnapping White babies, only to discover their mother strapped them in car seats and pushed the car into the river. It’s the belief his whiteness would exempt him from laws the rest of us follow. The racism embedded in his psyche. He believed the same American rules would play themselves out in Brazil. Black sons and daughters don’t get the same understanding, compassion, love, empathy and forgiveness. Yet Blacks are demonized for speaking truthfully about systems of oppression. We’re said to be privileged and entitled for having the audacity to do so. We’re called out for not placing our hands over our heart during the American national anthem.

His lies nearly caused an international incident. Brazilians have every right to protest the audacity of Lochte, to come to their country and behave badly. The Brazilian government could have initiated a manhunt for Lochte’s fabricated perps. I’m horrified by what could have resulted. Innocent lives could have died because of his lies. The facts are Brazil has a history of being racist and abusive to her Black people. His actions could have fed this monster. I have no doubt Blacks in the poor favas of Brazil and worldwide understood the unspoken realities entrenched in his lies. For me, I saw America.

Blacks and people of color live daily with these historical and present day realities. Whether in America or Brazil. We have a history of paying the price for America’s sons entitlement, privilege, ignorance, intention and stupidity. Innocent Black bodies swinging from trees, beaten to death, imprisoned, crosses burning on the lawns of Black people, threats, dragged from their homes, communities bombed, set on fire and men falsely accused of rape by America’s daughters. America continues to coddle her White sons, while she justifies the murders of Black mothers sons and daughters. Lochte? Lochte is not deserving of anyone’s forgiveness, nor a second chance. I give less than a damn about his future and endorsements, and believe all corporations that employ him should be boycotted.

No America, your sons will not be held nor suckle at the breast of my compassion. Your poisoned womb gave birth to this liar. My arms and heart remain heavy with the blood of my murdered Black sons and daughters.

©Lorraine Currelley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Ngoma’s Not Your Average String Thing

12654304_124513931265131_8021431466017120202_nOn Thursday August 6, 2015 Barrio Poetic featured poet Ngoma Hill is a dynamic wordsmith and musicologist. His performance was passionate, his words explosions of truth. Words and music tearing through and breaking down strangling societal isms and ills. Turning our collective anger,  and outrage into haunting passionate poems and songs of protest. All responding eloquently to the cries of the people for justice, equality, peace, and life. His musicology is  superb. “Ngoma’s Not Your Average String Thing -Vocals, Bamboo Flute, Electrik Violin, Acoustic Guitar, Yidaki (Didgeridoo) & Garage Band Tracks. Ngoma Hill performed works from his CD Lessons from the Book of Osayemi and his latest CD release Ngoma Lessons from the Book of Osayemi (Chapter ll) Spirit/Blues/Prophecy. Ngoma Hill’s performance ended with a standing ovation from audience members.

Ngoma,  a former member of the SPIRIT HOUSE MOVERS AND PLAYERS with Amiri Baraka and the Contemporary Freedom Song Duo, SERIOUS BIZNESS, Ngoma weaves poetry and song that raises contradictions and searches for a solution for a just and peaceful world. Ngoma was the Prop Slam winner of the 1997 National Poetry Slam Competition in Middletown, CT and was published in AFRICAN VOICES MAGAZINE, LONG SHOT ANTHOLOGY, THE UNDERWOOD REVIEW, SIGNIFYIN’ HARLEM REVIEW,BUM RUSH THE PAGE/DEF POETRY JAM ANTHOLOGY and POEMS ON THE ROAD TO PEACE (Volumes 1,2 & 3)-Yale Press. LET LOOSE ON THE WORLD”(CELEBRATING AMIRI BARAKA at 75) He was most recently published in the 35th Anniversary Issue of Blind Beggar Press and The Understanding Between Foxes and Light. He was also featured in the PBS Spoken Word Documentary, “The Apro-Poets” with Allen Ginsberg. Ngoma has hosted the slam at the Dr. Martin Luther King Festival of Social and Environmental Justice Festival (Yale University-New Haven, CT) for the past 18 years. Ngoma was selected as a participant at the Badilisha Poetry Xchange in Capetown, South Africa in fall of 2009.In December of 2011 he was initiated as a Priest of  Ngoma has hosted the slam at the Dr. Martin Luther King Festival of Social and Environmental Justice Festival (Yale University-New Haven, CT) for the past 18 years. Ngoma was selected as a participant at the Badilisha Poetry Xchange in Capetown, South Africa in fall of 2009.In December of 2011 he was initiated as a Priest of Obatala in Ibadan, Nigeria. More recently he returned to Ibadan to be initiated as a Priest of Ifa. – http://www.Ngomazworld.com

Hill’s latest release Lessons from the Book of Osayemi (Chapter ll) Spirit/Blues/Prophecy continues his legacy of producing great music and poetry. Music for My Soldiers, Love Song, Where I Come From and Up South are four of the outstanding poems on Ngoma Hill’s  latest release. The authenticity of his poems content resonate with his audiences. There are no lies here, only truth telling. His poems and music is earth and soul grown. His words are love notes to listeners, those seeking truth. There is the presence of unrelenting hunger, thirst and raw passion. His poems had audience members moving and clapping in their seats, leading to a call and response. We became a chorus united in the refrain music for my soldiers, when he performed Music for My Soldiers. Where I Come From, another of Ngoma Hill’s poems is one man’s declaration of his rich heritage and that of a people. All poems are life explosions unabashedly unapologetic and uncompromising.

You can purchase both Lessons from the Book of Osayemi and Lessons from the Book of Osayemi (Chapter ll) Spirit/Blues/Prophecy @

iTunes,Amazon and Bandcamp

©Lorraine Currelley 2015. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author is strictly prohibited.

BxArts Factory 12″X12″ Fundraising Exhibition Celebrated with Community at Gun Hill Brewing Company

036029
Congratulations BxArts Factory on your first international small format fundraising exhibition event 12”X12”! What is 12″X12″? As defined by the BxArts Factory 12”X12” is a compilation of artworks made by more than 100 renowned and up and coming international and local artists presenting work in multiple mediums. All pieces in the exhibition are 12″X12″!
024021
I arrived and was met with smiles, hugs and kisses from welcoming friends. We shared words and I excitedly took leave to view 12″X12.” I found myself standing before amazing artworks, Some I viewed via postings on social media during their installation. However, nothing compares to their actual viewing in person. My senses were delighted repeatedly by the vibrancy of colors. At times I felt as though I were experiencing a living poem, embraced by colorful metaphor and phrasing.
040042041039037038

034019018016017030025028

020
I had fun at the Selfie Station.

There was something special happening at BxArts Factory’s 12″X12.” Something that spoke to the heart of community. There was a welcoming community energy. Community with a mutual respect and love for art. A gathering of artists and residents in celebration and support of the building of a community home grown institution. What an innovative idea, curating and hosting an art exhibit at The Gun Hill Brewing Company. I left rejoicing and feeling enriched by the experience.

012
Check out my caricature drawn by local community artist Pablo D. Martinez. What do you think?

How to support BxArts Factory? BxArtsFactory says, Help support our restoration fund to renovate our, soon to be open, space near The Hub in the Bronx! It is a win-win situation! Our cultural space will be an incubator space for Bronx artists to grow, collaborate and create. We will be an integrated multipurpose space that will include: art research center, resident artists’ studios, performance space, classrooms and gallery space. The BxArtsFactory endeavors to become a preeminent Arts institution in The Bronx, dedicated to the promotion and use of the Arts as a vital tool to inspire artists and communities within the borough to contribute to the social and economic development of The Bronx.

For more information about BxArts Factory you can follow them on their various social media outlets or visit their website (links below):
Twitter and Instagram: BxArtsFactory
Website: www.bxartsfactory.org

© Lorraine Currelley 2015. All Rights Reserved.   (Photo credit Lorraine Currelley)

Stop Begging for Inclusion!

Black women/feminist can start from the premise our needs and issues remain different from those of White women/feminist. Black males and females are still fighting for our human rights. Each morning we awaken to a society which questions our humanity and existence.

Historically, when White feminist ran off to meetings, Black women and women of color (the help ) cared for their children. We were never invited to the table, nor were we asked our opinions nor treated as equals. The Feminist movement has always been told from the perspective of White feminist. Today the feminist being spoken off are the same descendants of earlier feminist. Persons with the identical racist, cultural, social and political prejudices. Persons sharing the same elitist attitudes and behaviors as their ancestors. Why is this surprising? Why is valuable time wasted on these women? We as Black women and women of color don’t need their approval! Time should be spent creating
our own platforms to address our issues. We don’t need them in order to speak! Coalitions are fine as far as coalition go. However, why waste time with the ignorant and psychotic?

Our needs and issues continue to be fodder for debate, by those who like their ancestors believe they know what’s best for us. Persons attempting to drown out our voices and silence us. Persons wanting the pedestal, entitlement and white privilege.

They like their counterparts always manage to find some desperate individuals looking for massas acceptance. Trotting out these Blacks when Black face is needed. The only purpose to give the movement color and a contrived faux appearance of equality and unity. Do for self! This is the big lesson. Free yourself from the noose at your throat!
Reblogged from August 15, 2013 at 5:21pm
Black women/feminist can start from the premise our needs and issues remain different from those of White women/feminist. Black males and females are still fighting for our human rights. Each morning we awaken to a society which questions our humanity and existence.

Historically, when White feminist ran off to meetings, Black women and women of color (the help ) cared for their children. We were never invited to the table, nor were we asked our opinions nor treated as equals. The Feminist movement has always been told from the perspective of White feminist. Today the feminist being spoken off are the same descendants of earlier feminist. Persons with the identical racist, cultural, social and political prejudices. Persons sharing the same elitist attitudes and behaviors as their ancestors. Why is this surprising? Why is valuable time wasted on these women? We as Black women and women of color don’t need their approval! Time should be spent creating
our own platforms to address our issues. We don’t need them in order to speak! Coalitions are fine as far as coalition go. However, why waste time with the ignorant and psychotic?

Our needs and issues continue to be fodder for debate, by those who like their ancestors believe they know what’s best for us. Persons attempting to drown out our voices and silence us. Persons wanting the pedestal, entitlement and white privilege.

They like their counterparts always manage to find some desperate individuals looking for massas acceptance. Trotting out these Blacks when Black face is needed. The only purpose to give the movement color and a contrived faux appearance of equality and unity. Do for self! This is the big lesson. Free yourself from the noose at your throat!

© Lorraine Currelley 2013. ll Rights Reserved.

No Beyonce! There is Nothing Entertaining Nor Sexy About Black Women Getting Their Asses Kicked !!!

Beyonce’s new CD has sparked discussion globally. While the issue of Domestic and Sexual Violence has always been on the table, it is my hope this discussion will enlighten. It is also my hope that these discussions will lead to emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual healing. Below is a letter in response to a dialog with a young Black brother on domestic violence.

Thank you for taking the time to read my response. Of course, I do not agree with you! Your response lacks the maturity of years, in depth study, comprehension of my righteous position, research and experience. It lacks the insight of one who has been on the forefront for generations addressing this issue. I come to this discussion with 22 years in law enforcement and doctoral studies in psychology. My work focus is to help heal the deeply rooted trauma we as the descendants of enslaved and colonized Africans carry. This is not a figment of my imagination. Please read, if you have not already Dr. Joy Degruy’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.

Your response is largely emotional, filled with assumptions, in defense of your idol and attacks on my person. I have no experience with ivory towers and high horses. lol I speak from a platform based on years of study, observations, and personal experience. I do not come to this discussion inexperienced with Beyonce’s new CD as my foundation. I find it appalling that you and your friends behind closed doors would even joke about domestic violence.

Don’t be absurd! Of course, there are Black males who do not use their physical strength to batter. Males who are not threatened by the accomplishments of women. Males who do not lash out as a result of feeling less than and insecure. Thank God, for these enlightened males who do not condone a culture of violence specifically domestic violence. However, there are those with even the best intentions who must address their deeply rooted gender biases and conditioning.

This is not about Black male nor male bashing! Thank you, for bringing this argument to the conversation. This is an old argument in defense of irresponsible criminal behaviors. Historically whenever Black women and women of color speak out against sexual and domestic violence we are accused of bashing our men, being race traitors and attempting to destroy the men of our race. Black women and women of color are suppose to keep silent in the face of beatings, cuts, bruises, gun shots and sexual assaults. We are suppose to stand by while brutes beat and molest our children. We are suppose to keep these abuses (crimes) responsible for destroying generations secret. No woman and child should be subjected to these acts of violence!

This is not just a heterosexual issue! I’m speaking out against woman on woman violence, male on male violence, women who abuse men and the increasing violence against transwomen! Abuse is a criminal act!

You speak of the vague possibility that young females will become enlightened and conscious regarding domestic violence. If only this were and proves true. Logically does it make sense that someone who supposedly is opposed to and enlightened would embrace and condon such a brutal line? Respectfully stated ,frankly I don’t give a damn what you and Beyonce fans do with their purchase! My concern is for the Rihannas and the criminal Chris Brown abusers. Young males and females influenced by this society’s culture of violence. Abuse and disrespect of elders, parents and children have become the norm.

*It is my hope that Black males and all males will indeed form coalitions in support of women and address this issue which causes the death of women and children daily! Hopefully Black males and all males will take responsibility for their actions and seek the mental health counseling needed to heal generational violence. Hopefully this culture of violence will cease and we will no longer have to found organizations, nor bury relatives beaten to death nor best friends shot to death as I have. You see, this is not some so-called intellectual exercise for me. It’s very real! I hope you will take the same energy used to attempt to verbally flex on me and work to eradicate this culture, so that grandmothers are no longer afraid to walk the streets of their neighborhoods. Here are two important sites for information and resources.

http://www.menstoppingviolence.org

http:lcinformationandresourcecenter.wordpress.com

©Lorraine Currelley 2013. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author is strictly prohibited.