Recently in Power Imbrications: Race, Gender, Class, & Sexuality Category

5933_138844056102_615201102_3187376_1816497_n.jpgI met playwright, hip-hop artist, and performer Idris Goodwin in Chicago in 2002. Our friendship and his finesse as a teacher brought him to teach at the high school I started in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.

A prolific artist whose talents have won him a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Goodwin now lives in Iowa City with his wife, a graduate student in the Department of English at University of Iowa, .

Here Goodwin discusses the problem with Black History Month, teaching, performing, and why he loves his mama.


My mama is the coolest. . . She's the first one on the dance floor.

LA: What do you like to be called?

Do you mean "professionally"? A break beat poet, playwright, hip hop performer, teacher and video artist

LA: Where are you from?

IG: I spent the early part of my youth in Detroit, MI and my adolescent and teen years in a nearby suburb.

Why do you love your mama?

IG: I love my mama because she's both a mentor and a best friend. She's the first one on the dance floor. She cries in church and laughs at all my jokes. My mama is the coolest. My dad is pretty dope as well. Smartest, hardest working guy I know. The second one on the dance floor. I learned to have a diverse breadth of experience from him.


At Steppenwolf theater, one of the more prominent companies in Chicago, the only time you'll see black and brown people on stage is when it's an adaptation of some sort of slave narrative or some story that takes place in the early 1900's, down south somewhere. Meanwhile, there are a slew of new works by middle-aged white, mostly male playwrights. It limits the imagination.

LA: You left Chicago a while ago. You lived there for a minute, no? Why did you move to Chi-Town in the first place?

IG: I lived in Chicago from fall '96 to March 2008 - so just under 12 years. Damn! I came to Chicago because I was 18 going on 19 and desperately wanted to be in a thriving urban setting. Though the proximity to the city of Detroit was only about 40 minutes, there wasn't much going on there. God bless it. It's the place where my grandparents migrated and where my parents and uncles and cousins and we were born and where my church family worships. But whenever we would go there to visit family and friends, all I could focus on was the neglect, vacant houses, crumbling neighborhoods. 7126_1199858151971_1094056778_30705852_8132381_n.jpg I knew I wanted to be in a place where there was some energy and life, a creative environment. I wanted to experience real diversity, ethnically, economically, and culturally. New York and L.A. were a little too intimidating for a suburban kid from Michigan by himself, so I picked Chicago. The catalyst was an arts school in the downtown called Columbia College. I enrolled in their film/video and screenwriting program.

LA: Tell me about Chi. Those of us who have lived there know it's a hard place to live with integrity. The City always seems to be pushing folks to step over people. Did the context of Chi's quid pro quo political system and the way it does "bidness" influence the content of your music and plays? If so, in what ways and through which media?

"Fear of a Black C-SPANet"

This is absolutely hilarious and just might make you rise up and shout Hallelujah!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Fear of a Black C-SPANet
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party


wilmamankiller.jpgActivist and Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller died of pancreatic cancer on 6 April 2010 at the age of 64 and after a long life of political action on behalf of indigenous people and women. Though Mankiller, as Principal Chief, actively opposed the inclusion of Cherokee freedmen in the Nation (the descendants of Cherokee slaves of African descent) (1), she was responsible for an important legacy of Indian advocacy from health care to Indian women's rights.

1. David Cornsilk (editor, Cherokee Observer), Afrigeneas (22 October 2007): "In 1987 Wilma Mankiller, as Principal Chief, presented a resolution before the Cherokee Nation tribal council endorsing the rules of the enrollment office requiring "Indian blood" as proven by a CDIB card. In so doing she took the Freedmen's expulsion by her predecessor Ross O. Swimmer one step further"; "Cherokee Freedmen Caught in High-level Dispute," (20 August 2003): "The Bureau of Indian Affairs was prepared to reject the results of the Cherokee Nation's recent election in which African descendants weren't allowed to vote until a high-level delegation of tribal dignitaries, including former chief Wilma Mankiller, requested to meet with Bush administration officials to protest, documents filed in federal court show."

ICCED Women Report.jpgThe Insight Center for Community Economic Development released a report on the gender wealth gap to mark International Women's Day. The report found nearly half of all single black and Latina women have zero or negative wealth, meaning their debts exceed all of their assets. The median wealth for single black women is only $100; for single Latina women, $120. This compares to just over $41,000 for single white women.

Democracy Now spoke with "the chief author of the report, Mariko Lin Chang and C. Nicole Mason, Executive Director of the Women of Color Policy Network." Click here to read or watch the interview.

JaneTrenka.jpgIf you're in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend that prospective and current adoptive families go - with an open mind - to hear Jane Trenka. What she has to say about adoption is extremely important to consider before adopting and after.

Author and activist Jane Jeong Trenka is presenting a lecture titled "A Million Living Ghosts: Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea" tomorrow

Date: Thursday 11 February 2010
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Location: @ University of Minnesota, 100 Smith Hall
Cost: Free

Description: Since the end of the Korean War, South Korea has sent away more of its citizens to be adopted than any other country in the world. If we count

RZA's Version of Washington Crossing the Delaware


9 February 2010
"The RZA's New Solo Project: Historical Art"

Wu-Tang fans might be surprised to hear that the RZA's latest work of art isn't a piece of music. Victory or Death is a limited-edition set of canvas prints that samples and remixes Emanuel Leutze's 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware. In his version, the RZA replaces George Washington, and he's proudly flying the flag of Wu.

"It didn't begin 20 years ago... more like 200 years ago. And when you see the piece we're making right here, you're going to know what I'm talking about," RZA has explained. "We're about to rewrite and change history."

For Whom is "Precious"?



5 February 2010

"Fade to White"1
BY Ishmael Reed
Oakland, Calif.

JUDGING from the mail I've received, the conversations I've had and all that I've read, the responses to "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" fall largely along racial lines.

Among black men and women, there is widespread revulsion and anger over the Oscar-nominated film about an illiterate, obese black teenager who has two children by her father. The author Jill Nelson wrote: "I don't eat at the table of self-hatred, inferiority or victimization. I haven't bought into notions of rampant black pathology or embraced the overwrought, dishonest and black-people-hating pseudo-analysis too often passing as post-racial cold hard truths." One black radio broadcaster said that he felt under psychological assault for two hours. So did I.

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