I love music and I love the way it changes the way you tell a story. One of the Art Professors here at, Guilford College, came up with a topic on how music has changed but yet still stay the same. Everyone in the room received a different objective through a little piece of paper. I got, “paint a picture without using paint.” I created a portrait of Nina Simone.
Years ago, way before I was born, Nina Simone came up with a song by the name of “Mississippi G–dam.” In this time period, for you to be a black woman and to even be in the music business was a huge deal! But, then she came out with this song and people started losing their minds! Speechless even. In the song, Nina was talking about all the problems that were happening from Alabama to Mississippi, to the mistreatment of black people.
Nina Simone used her success to promote the revolution and even marched from Selma to Montgomery with several well-known civil rights leaders including Martin L. King and Malcolm X. (She was also neighbors with X.) At the march she sang “Mississippi G–dam” where more people started to hear about it and caused her career to fall.
No one wanted to book her anymore because they all thought she was going to come out with her ideas on revolutionizing and resisting and that didn’t help because most of her audience were white people.
Her documentary: What happened Nina Simone? explains more in-depth on her life and her music career.
About the portrait:
Nina Simone is surrounded by brown circles with green blotches that represented black women in uniforms wanting black liberation:
and behind them are lyrics to one of Nina’s most controversial songs. Her shirt says “g–dam!” and is shaded in to represent her 1971 album, “Here Comes The Sun.” Above her head are fists in all shades fighting for one thing: Liberation.
Alternatives to paint used for portrait:
- oil pastels
- cigarette ash
- melted plastic
Today, I am standing on grass. Today, I am breathing non-toxic air. Today, I realized I have lived two decades and four months. I have lived.
I was sitting in class and we were watching a short PBS documentary, “Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground” and I am so thankful to be alive and to have experienced as much as have because this documentary opened my eyes to what I always tend to forget: I am privileged even during current events.
Unlike Ghana, I’m not walking on dismantled metal from used technology and I’m not mixing a large barrel of toxic chemicals to melt the metal and I’m not devaluating my experiences but instead uplifting the fact that I have a small opportunity to help what is happening around the world. As a millennial, I am what the market is looking at. My demographic is very important right now because, CAPITALISM!
The economy works for me and if I make a small shift and encourage others to do the same, everything will shift. Of course, this has to be a large number of people but if I start somewhere that means so much more than just sitting here on this green grass, typing on my computer that will be disposed somewhere in another country that has metal dumping grounds and kill several people.
Do things for impact not intent. This moment will become a movement.
On July of 2016, I decided to take a very spontaneous trip to my childhood home, Panorama City, California. When I arrived at LAX, I was greeted by my oldest Uncle, Celestino. Let me tell you, I left California at the age of 4 years old so, little did he know he was going to see me eleven years later. At first he didn’t recognize me but, my mother’s side has a very distinguishable nose so, it wasn’t hard to figure out who was my uncle. Short ole’ man that was full of joy when he saw me. I will never forget a warm moment of that reunion.
This trip was full of getting out of my comfort zone. I’m an introverted-extrovert. I love silence and the feeling of being comfortable in skin at all times and none of this happened for two weeks. My Uncle took me to meet family members that also haven’t seen me in years; there were godmothers that didn’t want to meet me, there were aunts who wanted to know what my parents looked like now because they also haven’t seen them in years, and cousins who wanted nothing to do with me. But, aside from the negative and some positive.
My Uncle introduced me to a young fourteen-year-old, she truly made my travels unforgettable. We walked everywhere: to El Pollo Loco, where you can find real rotisserie chicken at a fast food restaurant, El Gallo Giro, where I ate the greatest huarache that my stomach ever experienced, and then to truly experience social anxiety in another state I decided to learn how to use public transit!
And to be honest, the anxiety wasn’t even that bad! I took a risk and it helped me grow. This trip was worth every single dark moment because there was so much light to cover every bit of it.