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Happy Creativity Thursday: Posing Beauty at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art

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Happy Creativity Thursday!

Last week, I visited Spelman College Museum of Fine Art’s Posing Beauty in African American Culture exhibition. Posing Beauty features over 75 photographs that span 12 decades (1890 to the present). It is the first exhibition I have ever seen that explores and challenges widespread and historic notions of African American beauty in photography. Deborah Willis, Ph.D., served as the curator of Posing Beauty. Willis is one of my favorite authors and photographers. She is also one of leading historians of African American photography.

While exploring the exhibition, I discovered and fell in love with a selection of cabinet cards featuring Spelman College faculty, students, and alumnae. Cabinet cards are photographic portraits mounted on 4 1/4 by 6 1/2 inch cards that people traded with each other in the early 1870s. They reminded me of several cabinet cards I have of my great grandmother Eunice Ann Thomas Roberts.

If you are in Atlanta, make sure you see the exhibition. It closes on December 7. Be sure to follow Spelman Museum on Twitter and Instagram. Like it on Facebook.

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Listen to my first Author Chat on BlogTalkRadio – Who are the love’s troubadours?

 

 

Happy Monday!

Today I hosted the first episode of my author chat series on BlogTalkRadio.  Click here to listen to the show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anandaleeke/2010/02/08/author-chat-with-ananda-leeke.   During the show, I discussed my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).  I also reflected on the question of the day – Who are love’s troubadours? – and how African American playwright Lorraine Hansberry inspired the novel series. Let me know what you think of the first episode (it is pretty short – 10 minutes).

By the way, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One is available on Amazon.com. It makes for a great winter read and Valentine’s Day gift. Click here to order the book: http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq 

Thank you for your support!  Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Joy for knowing I am one of Love’s Troubadours (so are you!),

Ananda 

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via Author Chat with Ananda Leeke.

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Ananda’s reflection on Kuumba (creativity), the 6th day of Kwanzaa

Greetings All!

Happy New Year’s Eve!  Happy Kuumba (Creativity), the 6th day of Kwanzaa!

What does creativity mean to you?

How have you been creative in 2009?

What are your creative plans for 2010?

Click on my Cinchcast below to hear my reflection on Kuumba and an excerpt about creativity from my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on Amazon.com – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg).  I also mention the way African Americans are using their creativity and social media tools (Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, etc.) to tell their stories on web TV shows such as my new five favorites: “Anacostia”, “Buppies”, “Kindred”, “The New 20s”, and “Wed-Locked.”  All of these shows represent a new wave of artistic freedom in 21st century visual culture.  They celebrate the independence of creative folks who are willing to tell a wide range of stories that document the many facets of African American life.  For me, they echo one of my favorite mantras: Black folks are NOT and will never be monolothic!  They also  remind me of my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com ; available on Amazon.com –  http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq) are also sources of inspiration for my next novel, Love’s Trouabadours – Symon: Book Two. 

Enjoy your day and New Year’s Eve!  Many blessings to you and your family in 2010! 

Peace, Compassion, and Creativity,

Ananda

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Diversity Among African Americans: We are not monolithic!

 

 

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Photos taken at Oyster Harbor Beach in Annapolis, MD

 

Happy Monday!

While my dad and I were getting some much needed “plage de temps” (French phrase that means beach time a/k/a chilling out, chill-axing, cooling out, R&R) on Sunday morning in Annapolis, he shared soundbytes from the Washington Post about Judge Sonia Sotomayor and his all-time favorite person, President Barack Obama.  He spent time talking about Eugene Robinson’s op-ed that discussed several comments President Obama made about his speech at the NAACP’s 100th anniversary. Click here to read Robinson’s op-ed:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/18/AR2009071801045.html.

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Robinson’s op-ed also referenced President Obama’s statement about how the civil rights movement weakened itself by promoting a one size fits all definition of what it means to be Black: 

“One of the ways that I think that the civil rights movement . . . weakened itself was by enforcing a single way of being black — being authentically black. And, as a consequence, there were a whole bunch of young black people — and I fell prey to this for a time when I was a teenager — who thought that if you were really ‘down’ you had to be a certain way. And oftentimes that was anti-something. You defined yourself by being against things as opposed to what you were for. And I think now young people realize, you know what, being African American can mean a whole range of things. There’s a whole bunch of possibilities out there for how you want to live your life, what values you want to express, who you choose to interact with…  I do think it is important for the African American community, in its diversity, to stay true to one core aspect of the African American experience, which is we know what it’s like to be on the outside… If we ever lose that, then I think we’re in trouble. Then I think we’ve lost our way.”

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Love’s Troubadours: Black Folks Ain’t Monolithic by Ananda Leeke (2005)

Message on painting: The truth is that Black folks ain’t monolithic.  No folks are. You dig! When Deno and I started writing the novel, we wanted to show the depth and breadth of Black folks loving themselves and each other in and out of life’s joys and pains … in and out of our identities…gender…class…religions…ages… We wanted to tell the truth.  The truth being that Black folks are Love’s Troubadours.”

 

I am so happy that President Obama talked about the diversity among African Americans and how being African American means many things.  His statement echoes a familiar chant that I have addressed in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com), Love’s Troubadours Art Collection, and my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (Summer 2009 – iUniverse, Inc.): African Americans are not monolithic.  See the photo of my painting, Love’s Troubadours: Black Folks Ain’t Monolithic above.  The lives of African Americans are filled with multi-layered stories.  We are much more than what we read about in mainstream media.  Our lives are richer and deeper than what we see on television and movie screens.  That’s why we must be vigilant in telling and documenting our stories. 

More on President Obama

Last night I had a chance to catch up on my reading. So I read an op-ed by Shayne Lee, one of my favorite authors. Click here to read Shayne’s op-ed: www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/50451437.html?cmpid=15585797.  In his op-ed that was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 10, Shayne discussed how former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka cleared President Obama’s path to becoming Senator and President.  How could that be?  The topic itself made me blink a few times.  To see why I blinked, read an excerpt from Shayne’s op-ed below.

“Let’s go back to 2004. National Democratic leaders strategize feverishly in an effort to win enough seats to control the U.S. Senate. They have their eyes on Illinois, a state with no incumbent running for reelection. Obama wins the Democratic nomination for the open seat, and the Republican nominee, Jack Ryan, drops out of the race due to the embarrassing details of his divorce records.

Obama is looking down a clear path to the Senate – until Mike Ditka begins flirting with the idea of running on the Republican ticket.

Some Democrats are champing at the bit for their Harvard-educated lawyer to pit wits against the charismatic but nonetheless inarticulate jock. But others fear that the former NFL coach, who brought Chicago its first and only Super Bowl championship, enjoys instant name recognition, while Obama is still establishing himself with Illinois residents. They find the prospect of a young politician with a weird name running against one of the state’s greatest sports legends somewhat daunting.

So, to raise Obama’s visibility, they grant him the great privilege of addressing the 2004 Democratic National Convention in prime time. Ironically, Ditka announces he will not enter the race shortly before the convention. But Obama’s name is already carved in stone on the schedule.

Almost 10 million Americans watch Obama deliver a riveting speech that changes his life and American politics. Before long, Obama is the new face of the party, criss-crossing the nation in fund-raising efforts for struggling candidates, building strategic alliances, and thereby taking steps toward a viable presidential candidacy.

I sum things up with a sort of syllogism: Obama’s presidential run is unimaginable without the political power and rock-star status bestowed upon him by his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His speech never happens without a sports legend threatening to run against him for the vacant Illinois Senate seat. Therefore, Barack Obama would not be president today without Mike Ditka.

There is a lesson to be learned from the president’s remarkable journey. Even an immensely gifted, highly competent, Ivy League-trained talent such as Obama needs a bit of luck to achieve great success in America. How much more of it do the rest of us need”?

Okay now what do you think? 

If you are like me, you might be saying, “this cat made me think.”  That’s why I am a huge fan of Shayne’s work.  His writing always pushes the envelope and causes me to consider a different perspective.  He uncovers facts and weaves them together with insightful commentary that sheds light on areas most folks miss.  I think Shayne moonlights as an “Easy Rawlins” detective when he leaves his gigs as an author, sociologist, and professor at Tulane University.  

For more information about Shayne, visit http://www.tulane.edu/~sociol/slee.pdf

Be sure to check out and buy Shayne’s books on Amazon.com: T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher (NYU Press, 2005) and Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace (NYU Press 2009).  Support Shayne!  His work will enrich your life! 

To read my review of Shayne’s book, T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher, click here: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-review-td-jakes-americas-new.html.  

Visit BAP Living Radio to listen to a recording of my February 23rd interview with Shayne (search for Episode 13):  http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/18598.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

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African American Art at the White House and in Ananda’s Debut Novel, Love’s Troubadours -Karma: Book One

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Cut by Kara Walker – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Walker

 

Happy Saturday!

I read a great post on Black Visual Artist’s blog that featured an article by Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History & Culture. It discussed African American art, one of my passions and a major subject area in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com). Click here to read the post: http://blackvisualartist.blogspot.com/2009/07/african-american-art-still-needs.html.  The article was published in the July/August 2009 issue of The Art Newspaper: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/African-American-art-still-needs-support/18560

I enjoyed reading about how President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have launched the White House campaign to bring greater diversity to its art collection—including more works by African American artists.  I agree with Conwill’s assessment that the Obamas’ efforts are having “a catalytic effect—stirring conversation, raising expectations. And that’s a good thing. The move is also throwing a strong light on African American art and the artists who create it.”  Several of the artists that Conwill mentions such as Kara Walker, Betye Saar, and Lorna Simpson are featured in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).  I have included a blurb about the artwork in my novel below.  Enjoy!

Who are some of your favorite African American artists?

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

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African American Art Featured in Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com): 

Art plays a major role in the life and museum curator career of Love’s Troubadours’ main character Karma Francois. It inspires, consoles, and teaches her. Love’s Troubadours offers you a wonderful opportunity to look at life through Karma’s eyes as an art enthusiast and museum curator. Through Karma’s eyes, you will learn about exciting artists and photographers from the African Diaspora, such as Lois Mailou Jones, Kara Walker, Renee Stout, Faith Ringgold, Chris Ofili, Marion Perkins, Elizabeth Catlett, Jean Michel Basquiat, Annie Lee, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Amalia Amaki, Joyce Scott, Lorna Simpson, Eldzier Cortor, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Archibald Motley, Adrian Piper, Hughie Lee Smith, and Charles W. White.  Artists from other countries are also featured.  Click here to read more: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2007/09/blessings-all-my-debut-novel-loves.html.

Are you looking for a great summer read that discusses African American art?  If yes, click here to purchase a copy of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One from Amazon.com:  www.amazon.com/Loves-Troubadours-Karma-Book-One/dp/0595440819/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-2834089-1615222?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192066805&sr=8-1.

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What was your favorite part of President Obama’s NAACP Speech?

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Happy Friday!

Watching President Obama’s NAACP speech made my day — correction … it made my weekend! My favorite part was: “No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands – and don’t you forget that… No excuses. No excuses,” Obama added, verging off his prepared remarks. “You get that education. All those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes, we can.”

What was your favorite part of President Obama’s NAACP Speech?

Do you think the NAACP is relevent today?

Enjoy your weekend and remember to tune into BAP Living Radio on Sunday, July 17th at 7pm EST for a juicy discussion with the MamaLaw (www.mamalaw.com) bloggers about their upcoming Blogalicious (www.blogaliciousweekend.com) conference for women of color bloggers in October. Click here to listen to the show: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/18598.

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

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Blogging While Brown Conference Update #1

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The official Blogging While Brown Conference photo taken by Freddy O – http://www.freddyo.com

NOTE: I am seated in the second row in between the two ladies wearing black.

Happy Tuesday! Happy Summer!  Happy Belated Father’s Day!

Today I am writing a very short post about the 2009 Blogging While Brown (BWB) Conference that I attended on June 19 and 20 in Chicago.  It was a fabulous experience!  Wonderful people !  Fantastic information!  And so much inspiration!  I am glad I went to both the 2008 and 2009 conferences.  I will post a longer BWB update later in the week.  I’ll also post about my Chicago art adventures.  In the meantime, I thought you might like to watch videos that feature BWB conference sessions.  They were taped by NextGenWeb, a BWB conference sponsor. Click here to watch the 5 videos:   http://www.nextgenweb.org/news-and-blog-clips/nextgenweb-blogging-while-brown.

If you would like to read additional BWB upates written by conference participants, see the links below.

1) BWB Conference founder Gina McCauley (includes several videos)

http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com/2009/06/oops-we-did-it-again-blogging-while-brown-2009-chicago-first-video/

2) BWB Conference program chairperson Shawn Williams, founder of Dallas South blog

http://dallassouthblog.com/2009/06/22/2009-blogging-while-brown-recap-by-dallas-south/

3) BWB Conference participant Megan Smith, Blogher representative at BWB

http://www.blogher.com/blogging-while-brown-2009-conference-people-color-lessons-all-bloggers

4) BWB Conference participant “Awesomely Luvvie,” a Chicago native 

http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/2009/06/blogging-while-brown-rocked.html

5) BWB Conference participant Adria Richards’ Flickr BWB photos

http://www.flickr.com/groups/bwb09/

6) BWB Conference participant Talia Whyte

http://globalwireonline.org/2009/06/21/bwb-bloggers-on-digital-activisms-past-present-and-future/

FYI – I am planning to host a special episode of BAP Living Radio on July 5th that discusses lessons learned from the 2009 BWB conference.  Stay tuned for more details and the list of guest panelists.   

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda