New local musician on my ipod: Doria Roberts
Today at school, Doria performed for some high schoolers because she used to be in a band with a colleague /co-coach of mine. Described as a Tracy Chapman meets Woody Guthrie, Doria is a folksy, sultry singer/songwriter. Her website bio describes her music as “a delicious, bohemian blend of folk, jazz and pop.” It says, “Doria’s versatility as a songwriter and entertainer is never lost whether she is performing solo or with her band.” After practice, I immediately downloaded a few songs, and I can’t wait to get some more. The proceeds from “Perfect” and “SOS” are going to rebuild a womens’ shelter in Haiti.
I can’t wait to go see a full show of hers at Eddies! Maybe Coach O can get me back stage…I’d love to pick Doria’s brain about a few things…
Here’s a verse from “SOS”
So now we’re running with this weight on our backs
And we’re watching each step on treacherous and narrow paths
But every time there is a fork in the road
We are just getting used to our heavy loads
And we’re so tired from the choosing that we haven’t got the strength for trying
And I’m so tired of living just because I am afraid of dying
But I won’t give up fighting for this pilgrimage I call surviving
How is identity formed? Who forms it? What are the politics of knowledge? What is blackness?
A colleague and I watched an incredible documentary yesterday on one of the first people to wrestle with this issue.
Check out a preview of “Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness”
Melville Herskovits, a Jewish-American scholar at Northwestern University, was instrumental in beginning the study of African-American history in the United States in the 20th century. He argued along with a few other anthropologists that race was cultural rather than biological, a truth few deny today. He also claimed that African Americans were strongly linked to Africa,unlike E. Franklin Frazier’s assertion that black culture was similar to white culture. Historians have long debated if black Americans have connections to Africa or their culture was stripped along with their dignity in the Middle Passage. Herskovits showed that African culture was connected to African-American culture. This might sound right on target, after all, how could a culture be extinguished completely on the other side of the Atlantic? But his study is more complicated than it seems at first. The documentary brings up questions of the study itself, not the answer to his original question.
Herskovits was a white guy discussing studying black culture, which angered many black people. One historian in the documentary asks, “Does the right to define and describe and observe a people give you power over those people?” Is this “colonization of the mind?” Do white people have the right to tell black people about their culture? How long will black Americans be the objects not the agents?
The documentary asks, “What is “objective study” and when does it become politicized? What happens when the scholar becomes the powerbroker? What are the consequences when we deny a people the right to define themselves? Who controls the production of knowledge, how and why?”
Needless to say, I highly recommend it. It’s on file here in our Diversity Library.