IN LIVING COLOR

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The Messenger by artist Darren Jackson

It is the distinctive characteristic found among the people whose ancestral connections are near or around the equatorial regions of the world. That emblazoned distinction is, COLOR.

Where I grew up the current vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris is called “dougla”, that African and East Indian conjugation product. In the United States she is South Asian. It has a better ring to it, when described as “une femme noire” (French).

DEJA BLUE, (David MCKENZIE)

Braids of hair, saris, lavish gold ornaments and clothing have always been identified with “people of color”; they just did not know until later, that there exist people of colder regions, who love color even more.

Why did the Queen Isabella finance Christopher Columbus journeys to the warmer colorful regions of the world? Gold, and other instruments of color.

Today color is in, and the originators, are not selling it as raw material, but as finished products. There are paintings, utensils, jewelry, clothing, shoes; were Queen Isabella alive today, no steals, unless she paid under the table.

I recently travelled to a mixed media event, hosted by a man of color (un homme noir) and artistry, DAVID MCKENZIE.

CHANGES AT THE BSO 

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Assistant Conductor, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, JONATHAN RUSH

Christmas 2021 is not going to be a repeat of 2020; not at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, housed at the Meyerhoff Symphony Auditorium. 

I am attending a performance by LESLIE ODOM, JR. He made it big starring in the musical HAMILTON, in 2016 (see pic below); and bled the hearts of women as legendary Sam Cooke, in ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, the movie.

The Meyerhoff is not the Lyric, though both auditoriums are within kissing distance of each other. The crème de la crème attends the Meyerhoff, and appropriate dress is expected from the orchestra, attendants, et al. 

LESLIE ODOM JR (photo by Christopher Boudewyus)

Should I say, the attendees ran the gamut, and the concert seemed sold out. Odom does not have a hit record; he is not heard on the Black radio stations in Baltimore, and three years ago he was hardly ever known. He is just 40, married, with two children, so what is bringing out this crowd on a warm December? Is it Odom, the new Meyerhoff staff, someone, or something else? I remember the clean-cut altar server looking Odom, singing the Nationwide Insurance commercial. That too has changed. 

I would like to start with orchestra conductor JONATHAN RUSH. Tall, full of spirit, and doubled as the Master of Ceremonies, as he “turned up the volume” introducing his and Baltimore’s own, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and subsequently, the star of the evening, Leslie Odom JR. 

I looked at Jonathan dressed in the expected black, but not the customary tuxedo. He sported a pineapple dread hairstyle, that left “no doubt” it was the repeat of the 1968 Olympics, when two African Americans made headlines, “this is who we are !”. 

Leslie Odom JR., stepped out in white sneakers, a red suit, white tunic, and a boxed fade. He got standing ovations. In an open stadium he would have received flying undergarments in addition to the yells and kisses, this night. 

And get this, at the end of the show, evaporating snowflakes descended from the roof, as though we were “dashing through the snow.” 

Am I at the Meyerhoff? 

LESLIE ODOM JR among other songs, sang, Sam Cooke’s, A CHANGE IS GONNA COME. 

Change has come to the Meyerhoff, and the B.S.O.! 

NO DIGIDY, NO DOUBT 

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THREE GRACES, at the BATHERS POOL

By Robert Cloescott. (Baltimore Museum of Art)

The above phrase “No Digidy, No Doubt”, is unacceptable in any English class, Elementary, Middle or High school. In college only if one is writing a paper researching its origins, and whether such a phrase can be embraced by society at large. 

In 2013, BLACK LIVES MATTER, was launched, when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the shooting death of a Black man Travon Martin. George’s father was well connected, and a former judge. African Americans went ballistic. 

Then came the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The anti-establishment fever got high pitched. Middle white America showed solidarity. Donald Trump dismissed the movement, when the Charlottesville Virginia incident was committed by white supremacists’ activists, with Trump saying, “all lives matter, and they were good people on both sides”. 

Was white America going to look the other way, as the owners of cotton fields did in the 1800’s? 

NO!!! 

The American white suburbia planted signs for all to see BLACK LIVES MATTER! Television commercials began using more black and Asian models, fortune 500 companies were quickly diversifying their boards of directors, and black art graced the entrances of museums, such as the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Double Lilly ll, by SHIRLEY GORELICK (Baltimore Museum of Art)

For the next two months, little known black artists took bows and curtsies as their works were displayed. It was hip-hop artists Dr. Dre and Blackstreet, who wrote the words, “no Digidy no, Doubt”. “I LIKE THE WAY YOU WORK IT” has a different meaning in the “rap” song. These art works are for public scrutiny, at the BMA this month, with “must see” written emblazoned.

SALVATION, by KARA WALKER. (Baltimore Museum of Art)