Saturday, July 11, 2020

Mbemba Diebaté

Over the past few months I've really come to love and appreciate the kora, sometimes referred to as the West African harp. I find the sound of this unique and centuries-old instrument to be very soulful and soothing. It's been the perfect sound to immerse myself in during these past five months of uncertainty and upheaval.

The kora is a string instrument that originated and is used extensively in West Africa. It typically has 21-strings which are played by plucking with the fingers.

The sound of a kora resembles that of a harp, though when played in the traditional style, it bears a closer resemblance to flamenco and Delta blues guitar techniques of both hands to pluck the strings in polyrhythmic patterns (using the remaining fingers to secure the instrument by holding the hand posts on either side of the strings). Ostinato riffs (“Kumbengo”) and improvised solo runs (“Birimintingo”) are played at the same time by skilled players.

Legend has it that the kora was gifted to humanity by the djinns or spirits of the West African savannah. Though played in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, the kora first emerged in the area of West Africa now known as the Gambia. Kora players have traditionally come from jali families of the Mandinka tribes. They are traditional historians, genealogists and storytellers who pass their skills on to their descendants. Most West African musicians prefer the term “jali” to “griot,” which is the French word. “Jali” means something similar to a “bard” or oral historian.

I'm gradually becoming familiar with a number of kora players, including perhaps two of the greatest: Toumani Diabaté from Mali and Seckou Keita from Senegal. This evening though, I share the music of a lesser- known but still incredibly gifted kora player, Mbemba Diebaté, who, incidently, celebrates his birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Mbemba!

A descendant of a Jali family, Mbemba Diebaté, is from Pakaou Soubaly, a village in Casamance, Senegal. As a child he was captivated by the sounds of the kora played by his uncle, "Old Kouyaté," who would later be his teacher for many years. Notes Mbemba's Facebook page:

While preserving the Mandinka culture of his ancestors, Mbemba Diebaté also offers a rich and varied repertoire through personal creations in a modern style and open to the world, reflecting his artistic journey.

Since 2016, Mbemba has embarked on a musical career centered in two musical projects of his creation: Bacoumba Fusion Afro Gnaoua (left), a fusion of traditional West and North Africa styles and instruments (kora, guembri, karkabat, and percu), and Kora 'Frika Jazz, a modern style combining the kora and contemporary jazz musicians.

Following is Mbemba Diebaté performing “Terìya.” Enjoy!

Following is an article I found online about Mbemba Diebaté. I used Google Translate to translate it into English from the original French. This article was first published July 9, 2018 on the website, Music in Africa.


Mbemba Diebaté Kora,
Divine Guest Star of the Moroccan Scene

It was at the Mama Africa Festival in the Moroccaon village of Merzouga that Music In Africa spotted the promising Mbemba Diebaté and his Bacoumba Fusion formation, created in 2016 in Casablanca. Since then, the band has continued to ignite the Moroccan scene.

At the foot of the dunes, four musicians and two dancers, led by the kora, performed magnificent melodies on stage, songs that were as sweet as powerful, and accompanied by the muscular energy of the dance.

Of traditional inspiration revisited in a very contemporary way, the group's repertoire shows a fine mastery of an artistic project born from a meeting in Morocco of artists from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, Congo, and Cameroon.

Quickly identified in his host country as a reference, Mbemba Diébaté responded enthusiastically to invitations from renowned Moroccan artists. Among other things, he was invited for a month of residence last June at the Gnaoua World Music Festival to participate in the creation project of the Mâalem Mokhtar Gania, entitled Africa Gnaoua Experience.

Mbemba Diebaté began his apprenticeship in kora at the age of seven in Casamance (Senegal), with his master Vieux Kouyaté. Originally from a family of griots who introduced him to this ancestral art, he saw music as an inexhaustible breeding ground for languages and travel at a crossroads of universes almost as old as the big bang.

However, nothing seems as new to our ears than this music which, trance-like, spreads its mesmerizing and liberating energy all the way down to our toes.

Related Off-site Link:

Previous featured musicians at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford | Vaudou Game | Yotha Yindi and The Treaty Project | Lil Nas X | Daby Touré | Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Susan Boyle | D’Angelo | Little Richard | Black Pumas

Friday, July 10, 2020

From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf

I continue today my series that draws from the wisdom within the many books on my shelf at work. As most reading this would know, my work, since September 2018, is that of a palliative care interfaith chaplain at a hospital just north of the Twin Cities.

In this third installment I share an excerpt from François Mitterrand's foreword of Marie de Hennevel’s book, Intimate Death: How the Dying Teach Us How to Live.

(NOTE: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)


How do we learn to die?

We live in a world that panics at this question and turns away. Other civilizations before ours looked squarely at death. They mapped the passage for both the community and the individual. They infused the fulfillment of destiny with a richness of meaning. Never perhaps have our relations with death been as barren as they are in this modern spiritual desert, in which our rush to a mere existence carries us past all sense of mystery. We do not even know that we are parching the essence of life of one of its wellsprings.

[Marie de Hennezel’s book Intimate Death] is a lesson in living. The light it casts is more intense than that of many philosophical treatises; it does not offer thought but, rather, bears witness to the most profound of all human experiences. Its power derives from facts and from the simple way these are represented. Represented is exact – “to render present again” that which escapes our awareness: the far side of things and of time, the heart of anguish and of hope, the suffering of another, the eternal dialogue between life and death.

It is this dialogue that re-presents itself in Hennezel’s book, the dialogue that she sustains unbrokenly with her dying patients. . . . Hennezel tells us about the dignity of [her patients’]; she also tells us modestly but therefore all the more movingly about the unwavering supportiveness of the teams who accompany them on their last journey. She lets us experience the everyday adventure of the discovery of another human being, the engaging of love and compassion, the courage in the gentle movements that tend these damaged bodies. She shows how it is the love of life, not any death wish, that feeds the choices they make and the things they do.

[Hennevel and I] have talked about these matters often. I asked her question after question about the sources of the power that erases anguish and brings peace, and about the extraordinary transformations she sometimes witnesses in people who are about to die.

At the moment of utter solitude, when the body breaks down on the edge of infinity, a separate time begins to run that cannot be measured in any normal way. In the course of several days sometimes, with the help of another presence that allows despair and pain to declare themselves, the dying seize hold of their lives, take possession of them, unlock their truth. They discover the freedom of being true to themselves. It is as if, at the very culmination, everything managed to come free of the jumble of inner pains and illusions that prevent us from belonging to ourselves. The mystery of existence and death is not solved, but it is fully experienced.

That is perhaps the most beautiful lesson of [Hennevel’s] book: Death can cause a human being to become what he or she was called to become; it can be, in the fullest sense of the word, an accomplishment.

François Mitterrand
Excerpted from the foreword of Marie de Hennevel’s book,
Intimate Death: How the Dying Teach Us How to Live
pp. vii-ix

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf (Part I)
From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf (Part II)
Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Spirituality and the Healthcare Setting
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day
Resilience and Hope
The Calm Before the Storm
George Yancy on the “Unspoken Reality of Death”
Arthur Kleinman on the “Soul of Care”
“Call Upon Those You Love”

Related Off-site Links:
In Pandemic, Health Care Chaplains Address an “Existential and Spiritual Crisis” – Alejandra Molina (Religion News Service, March 20, 2020).
Hospital Chaplains Bring Hope and Solace to COVID-19 Patients and Staff – Lulu Garcia-Navarro (NPR News, March 29, 2020).
It's Time to Get Serious About End-of-Life Care for High-Risk Coronavirus Patients – Jessica Gold and Shoshana Ungerleider (TIME, March 30, 2020).
Learning to Cope With the Pandemic From Palliative Care Patients – Rob A. Ruff (, May 8, 2020).
Our Crash Course in Being Mortal – Ira Byock (Goop, May 2020).

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Monday, July 06, 2020

What We Are Hoping and Fighting For

The Wild Reed’s 2020 Queer Appreciation series concludes this evening with excerpts from BuzzFeed contributor Alexey Kim's wonderful photo-essay on this year's Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality in New York City.

During the June 28 march, Kim photographed a number of participants, invited them to say why they were participating, and asked them about their hopes for the future. The resulting compilation of images and comments is well worth checking out in its entirety. Following is just a snippet of Kim's inspiring and hope-filled project. Enjoy!

Says Joel Rivera (pictured in this post's opening image):

I guess it's kind of cliché: I hope for equality. I hope that if I was to go on a train . . . I wouldn't face any harassment. I hope that there is a new system that doesn’t see the color of your skin but sees the content of your character. That's what Martin Luther King said.

I hope that every single person in the world, now that’s crazy, but I hope that every single person in the world finds love in their heart. If you have love, it doesn't matter your sexuality, your gender identity, your skin color, because you will just love everybody. And honestly, I take it back when I said it was a stretch. It should not be a stretch to be able to love everyone, but some people just make it so difficult.

Says Katie Rose Summerfield (pictured with her children above):

I am an artist and a human in the world who cares about the humanity of all people. I think it’s essential that we show up for our brothers and sisters who have not been treated with any fairness, kindness, justice, or humanity for hundreds of years. And it’s time that we all be accomplices in the fight for abolition of white supremacy, racism, police brutality, and inequality across everything.

My hopes for the future are that everybody in the world, everybody in America, feels safe to live in [. . .] as they are, to be exactly who they are, to be loved tirelessly and fearlessly, and for everyone to feel safe.

Above (from left): Terence Edgerson, Samy Nemir Olivares, and Luis Mancheno.

Says Terence:

What brought me here today was trans rights, Black Lives Matter, and equality for all. . . . We are marching together to be with all my sisters and brothers and non-binary folks.

My hope for the future is that I won’t have to be out on the streets saying “Trans Lives Matter”; I won’t have to be out on the streets saying “Black Lives Matter”; I won’t have to be on the streets saying “Black Trans Lives Matter.”

It’s beautiful that we are saying those [thing], but the reason that we are out here saying [them] is because we are continuously killed and there is no justice and we have to keep fighting and protesting. I’m hoping for the future that we no longer have to be out on the streets fighting against the state, and [the] state will side with us, and they will give us protection so that Black trans girls will have protection, Black people will have protection. We want to fight against people that are killing us.

Says Samy:

I'm here because this is the real Pride. It started 51 years ago with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson – a riot against police brutality – and we are still criminalized and oppressed by the state and the police forces. So we need to continue organizing, running for office, voting, and getting engaged with our community to actually fight for change, including social justice and a [city] budget that really helps our community.

So we are honoring that life and that spirit of resistance. This is what this march is [about] – to bring that rioting spirit to actually fight for equal justice.

I really hope that we don’t have to fight against the state and discrimination, that we live in [a] society that honestly honors our lives, that we have full respect and we have full equality and justice. And that starts with the Equality Act, but we need so much more.

Legal marriage equality [happened], but that just got us the right to love. Now we need the right so we can walk in the streets without violence and being murdered, so the moment that no Black trans women are being killed in the streets, when people are not discriminated at work, when all the eradication of discrimination happens. That’s why we are truly here; that’s why we are marching.

We are not only celebrating that we could march because of the history of our movement, but because there is so much work to be done.

This is just the city’s Pride as Black Lives Matter rally, because the most important, impacted members of our LGBTQ community are the LGBTQ people of color: Black trans women, Latinx, undocumented queer immigrants. . . . It is a movement of solidarity.

Fighting for racial justice is to fight for queer rights; fighting for queer rights is fighting for racial justice. So we are not only standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, we also have Black queer lives, we also have immigrant Latinx queer lives and people of color. So this is a movement of solidarity, but we are both because our struggles are very interconnected. That’s why this Pride, this Queer March is so powerful, because it combines the intersectional lives and identities that we all live and they have been oppressed for so long and this is the moment for liberation.

Says Luis:

I am here with my friends and my community. This is our family. Until all of us are liberated, every single person in our community is liberated – trans, Black, queer, nonbinary, Latino people – the queer community will not stop until all of us are fully equal.

And at the end, us browns and Black people, we are also protesting against the mainstream LGBTQ community which has for so long discriminated against us, discriminated against our most vulnerable members. And we are saying today: This is the Pride that we want; this is the Pride that we celebrate and nothing from now on in the future will be less.

Says Rollerena (pictured above center):

My hope for the future is the blue wave on election day, that everybody gets out there and votes; votes with their conscience and gets this horrible regime out of office.

Says Bones Jones:

I am here today at the Queer Liberation March to liberate humanity, honestly. People of the LGBTQIA+ community are the backbone of how culture moves in this country. So I am here to support humanity in this outfit, have a good time, and support those who need support.

My hope for the future is that all people have the same rights, the same opportunities, the same abilities. We’ve seen what happens year after year after year when it comes to these things. It gets us nowhere to just oppress one group of people, so my hope and my wish is that we all just get the equal rights, equal opportunities, and just live in peace, celebrate in peace, love in peace, have sex in peace.

Says Cory Walker:

I am out here celebrating Black and brown trans lives and just witnessing a revolution.

It’s been a beautiful way to emerge back into the new world and to be in New York City is such a blessing. Because this is kind of where that kind of liberation began: going to Stonewall and just feeling that energy. I feel like the ancestors are really here. I’m taking it moment by moment; it’s really a lot to digest, but it’s everything we’ve been asking for, so. I think this is our time.

Oh, [I have] so many [hopes]. I would say for everyone, every being who enters this plane, this earth, this physical experience, to know that there is so much worthiness and rightness in their existence.

I would love for kids to be born knowing that there is a reason that they are here and that they have the power, that their evolution and their natural flow is going to look so specific for them, and that’s beautiful. And I want the people who maybe didn’t have that, who are kind of learning that about themselves now, I want them to heal and be graceful knowing that they always did and survived the best way they knew how.

And for people to just have more empathy and compassion and to really see each other again more, maybe for the first time. We are all kind of seeing ourselves for the first time. I think we are all being initiated into ourselves. So, my hope for the future, my hope for now, really, [is] just to continue [the] celebration.

To experience Alexey Kim's photo-essay, “This Is The Future Queer Liberation Protesters Are Fighting For,” in its entirety, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
Queer Liberation March Floods New York Streets – Harry Reis (Yahoo! News, June 28, 2020).
Pride Can’t Go Back to What It Was Before – Spencer Kornhaber (The Atlantic, June 30, 2020).
On Stonewall Anniversary, the NYPD Launched a Brutal Unprovoked Attack on LGBTQ People – Bil Browning (LGBTQ Nation, June 29, 2020).

For previous posts in the The Wild Reeds' 2020 Queer Appreciation series, see:
Zaylore Stout on Pride 2020: “What Do We Have to Be Proud Of?”
Francis DeBernardo on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Title VII: “A Reason for All Catholics to Celebrate”
Mia Birdsong on the “Queering of Friendship”
The Distinguished Rhone Fraser: Cultural Critic, Bibliophile, and Dramatist
“To Walk the World Without Masks”

See also the previous posts:
The Queer Liberation March: Bringing Back the Spirit of Stonewall
Reclaiming and Re-Queering Pride
Remembering the Stonewall Uprising on Its 50th Anniversary
Michelangelo Signorile on the Rebellious Purpose of Queer Pride
Standing with Jennicet Gutiérrez, “the Mother of Our Newest Stonewall Movement”
Historian Martin Duberman on the Rightward Shift of the Gay Movement
Barbara Smith on Why She Left the Mainstream LGBTQI Movement
Police, Pride, and Philando Castile
Making the Connections
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2017 | 2016 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride – 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
Gay Pride: A Catholic Perspective

Images: Alexey Kim.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

A Patriotism of Improvement

Circle Pines resident Khoi Truong Minh Phan had a thoughtful letter-to-the-editor in Friday's edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. As you'll see, it's all about understanding patriotism as our efforts to improve our country.

It was early morning and I stood outside class, lamenting societal woes; someone told me that I “should go back to Vietnam if you think America’s bad.” That stuck with me. Why is it that this patriotism inspires, not action, but dismissiveness?

Is there a better patriotism?

Is the mother working two jobs more patriotic than the inheritor of a business with a flag in his yard? Is the young Black man protesting against police brutality more patriotic than the warden with the stars-and-stripes hat? Is the student marching for her life more patriotic than the corporate lobbyist with years of media training?

I believe the answer to all of these is “yes.” I believe in a patriotism of improvement, not one focused on a blind ideal of America but rather one understanding of the chasm between that and our reality. History has validated this gap’s bridgings, from the freedom amendments after the Civil War, to the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, to the judicial activism during the civil rights movement.

Bitter partisanship, which characterizes the contemporary debate, was behind these triumphs. But I believe that they were motivated by a patriotism beyond deification. I believe that patriotism is petitioning the government, voting and filling out the census, not defying stay-at-home orders and occupying the State Capitol. I believe that patriotism is a sense of obligation beyond oneself, to see that one’s actions have repercussions. Most importantly, I believe in fighting society’s injustices.

So, why shouldn’t I just leave if I see so many problems here? Because on arriving, I owe it. America took me in, that wide-eyed boy from a distant country, and with my parents’ work, gave me a comfortable life.

My dad told me to see our backyard – itself quintessential America – as a blessing, to improve and perfect. And America’s the best backyard on Earth, so why not help it out?

– Khoi Truong Minh Phan
Star Tribune
July 3, 2020

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “America the Beautiful”
Ibram X. Kendi: “Patriotism on the Fourth of July is Resistance”
Michael Sean Winters on 2018’s Grim Fourth of July
Queer Native Americans, Colonialism, and the Fourth of July

Related Off-site Links:
Trump Doubles Down on Divisive Messaging in Speech to Honor Independence Day – Jeremy Diamond and Jason Hoff (CNN, July 4, 2020).
This Independence Day, Generation Z Celebrates Its Moment of Radical Hope – Gwyneth Bernier (Common Dreams, July 4, 2020).
Thousands Take Part in Black 4th March Through Downtown Minneapolis – Christine T. Nguyen (MPR News, July 5, 2020).
The Hollow Man and the Fourth of July Fireworks – David Weiss (Full Frontal Faith, July 5, 2020).
Fifth of July: An Independence Day Like No Other, and the Real Struggle Lies Ahead – Andrew O'Hehir (Salon, July 5, 2020).

Image: Photographer unknown.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Buffy Sainte-Marie's “America the Beautiful”

Here's something very special for this year's Fourth of July . . . It's Buffy Sainte-Marie's “Indigenous version” of “America the Beautiful,” about which she says:

“America the Beautiful” has been recorded by so many different people, and it’s also had verses added by many, many people. You go on the internet, and you’ll see there’s all kinds of verses from all kinds of perspectives. I mean, some of them are really kind of racist, and others are just kind of natural and beautiful.

But my friend John Herrington was the first Native American astronaut. And when he was going to get his ride, NASA invited me to sing and invited a whole lot people to come from his reservation, Chickasaw reservation in Oklahoma. And I had been thinking about “America the Beautiful,” so I wrote new verses for it, and I also wrote an introduction for it. It says, “There were Choctaws in Alabama, Chippewas in Saint Paul. Mississippi mud runs like a river in me. America, ooh, she’s like a mother to me.” . . . And the verses continue from there, with small changes, and then there’s a middle section, too.

But it really reflects kind of a different approach to America than you usually see in the headlines. It’s about America the country, not America the nation state. It’s about the real America that so many people, regardless of their political associations, really feel in their hearts – you know, this beautiful, beautiful place. So, it’s yet another take on “America the Beautiful.” People seem to enjoy it.

This past May, Buffy performed her version of “America the Beautiful” from her home in Hawaii during the the Junos 365 Songwriters’ Circle, a series of five virtual events featuring some of Canada’s best songwriters telling the stories behind their songs and performing from home. Adapted from the popular Juno Week event that was cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic. Enjoy!

There were Choctaws in Alabama
Chippewas in St. Paul
Mississippi mud runs like a river in me
America – Oo she's like a mother to me

O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesty
Above the fruited plains

America, America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea
From sea to shining sea

There were cliff towns in Colorado
Pyramids in Illinois
Trade routes up and down the Mississippi River to see
America – Oo she's like a mother to me

O beautiful for vision clear
That shines beyond the years
Thy night time sky
Our hopes that fly
Beyond all human tears

America, America
God shed His grace on thee
Til selfish gains no longer stain
The banner of the free

And crown thy good with brother and sisterhood
From sea to shining sea

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Ibram X. Kendi: “Patriotism on the Fourth of July is Resistance”
Michael Sean Winters on 2018's Grim Fourth of July
Queer Native Americans, Colonialism, and the Fourth of July
Michael Greyeyes’ Latest Film Provides a “New Understanding of How History Repeats”

Related Off-site Links:
Fourth of July Musings: The Curse of Exceptionalism and the Perils of Patriotism – Danny Sjursen (Scheer Post, July 2, 2020).
Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message – Annie Karni (The New York Times, July 3, 2020).
Treaty Defenders Block Road Leading to Mount Rushmore – Mary Annette Pember (Indian Country Today, July 3, 2020).
American Indian Protesters Told to “Go Home” by Trump Supporters at Mount Rushmore – Levi Rickert (Native News Online, July 4, 2020).
Native Americans and Mount
The Hollow Man and the Fourth of July Fireworks – David Weiss (Full Frontal Faith, July 5, 2020).

For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the November 10, 2017 release of Buffy's latest album, Medicine Songs, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “I'm Creative Anywhere”
Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC's Central Park
Buffy Sainte-Marie, “One of the Best Performers Out Touring Today”
The Music of Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Uprooting the Sources of Disenfranchisement”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Things Do Change and Things Do Get Better”
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Medicine Songs

For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's award-winning album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That “Human-Being Magic”
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: “Go Where You Must to Grow”
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient”
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood

For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the "Spirit of the Wind"
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2016)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2018)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2019)
Happy Birthday, Buffy! (2020)
Actually, There's No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “The Big Ones Get Away”

Buffy-related Off-site Links:
Buffy the Truth Sayer: An Interview with Buffy Sainte-Marie – Mandy Nolan (The Echo, February 13, 2020).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Named As the Recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award – Ian Courtney (Encore, February 14, 2020).
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Authorized Biography Serves As a “Map Of Hope” – Scott Simon and Ian Stewart (NPR News, September 29, 2018).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Tells Her Life Story, Her Way – Sue Carter (The Star, September 29, 2018)
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jess Moskaluke, and The Dead South Lead Saskatchewan Artists Nominated for Junos – Spencer Leigh (The Independent, January 9, 2018).
Buffy Sainte-Marie: “I Constantly Ask Myself, Where Are the Great Protest Songs of Today? Are People Deaf and Blind?”Regina Leader-Post, (February 6, 2018).
Music as Medicine: Buffy Sainte-Marie Talks Politics, Sex Scandals and Her Brand New Album – Rosanna Deerchild (CBC Radio's Unreserved, November 19, 2017)
Buffy Sainte-Marie Takes a Stand with Medicine SongsET Canada (November 30, 2017).
Buffy Sainte-Marie Makes Music for a New Generation of Activists – Tom Power (CBC Radio, November 17, 2017).
The Unbreakable Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Candid Conversation with the Resilient Songwriter and Activist – Whitney Phaneuf (Acoustic Guitar, January 18, 2017).
What Does Buffy Sainte-Marie Believe? – CBC Radio (December 30, 2016).

Image: Photographer unknown.

Friday, July 03, 2020

From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf

This evening I continue my series that draws from the insights contained in the many books on palliative and/or spiritual care that I have on my shelf at work. My work, since September 2018, is that of a palliative care interfaith chaplain at a hospital just north of the Twin Cities.

In this second installment I share an excerpt from Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death by Joan Halifax. (For the first installment in this series, click here.)

Sometimes all a loved one dying a difficult death needs is permission to leave, and the knowledge that they have been loved. Prayers, practices of devotion, and blessings from teachers, relatives, and friends can be helpful in transforming the atmosphere [for this giving and receiving to occur]. One friend’s father struggled in active dying until she told him, “Death is safe; death is safe,” quoting conscious pioneer Ram Dass. Her father clung to the phrase like a lifeline and repeated it until his last breath, using it as a raft to carry him to the other shore.

Another caregiver used the Lord’s Prayer as her raft, during the night-long vigil she kept by the bedside of her mother. I myself have floated on the Heart Sutra, chanting it softly under my breath. And how often have we heard family members encourage their dying relative, “Move toward the light,” “It is all right to die,” “We are here with you,” “You are loved and can let go,” or even, simply, “Thank you for all you have done for us.” In my father’s final hours, I could only thank him repeatedly for all he had done for me and for so many. Simple gratitude can hold our hands tightly in the very darkest moments, if we can manage to stay upright in the storm.

To illustrate surrender in dying, Henri Nouwen used the story of a trapeze artist who told a secret: that the important person to watch is the one who catches the other, not the one who jumps from the trapeze into the arms of the catcher. “The catcher,” said Nouwen, “is the real star. . . . [T]he flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. . . . The flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, and his catcher will be there for him.” I think also of Christ’s dying words, in the Gospel of Luke: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Prayers and good words can carry us across, but there is a moment when we must leap, trusting the other side will catch and hold us safely.

We need to learn to stay with suffering without trying to change it or fix it. Only when we are able to be present for our own suffering are we able to be present for the suffering of others, and the difficulties they may encounter in dying. The practice of insight meditation, in which we watch the ebb and flow of mental activity, is a good way to cultivate this ability. With gentle precision and honesty, we stay with our experience through foul weather and clear skies. Seeing the mental weather go through its changes gives us some sense of the nature and cause of our suffering and also of the possibility that, at the very ground of our being, we are all free from suffering.

. . . When we cultivate our ability to be present, we train our hearts to open to suffering, transforming it into well-being and offering our own natural mercy. We’re asked to invite suffering into our being and let it break open the armor of our heart. The tender spaciousness that arises awakens selfless warmth and compassion. We cannot help but send our love and kindness to the one who is suffering, be it others or ourselves.

It is both true that suffering exists, and that some deaths are challenging – and it is also true that beings can be free of suffering and that death can be natural and simple. When I sit with a dying person, I must perceive both of these dimensions together. I must look from a place in myself that includes suffering but that is bigger than suffering. I must look from a heart that is so big that it is open to everything, including freedom from suffering. Can I see her struggling to die and her great heart as well? Can I see his true nature, who he really is, deeper than the story?

I sat once with a woman who felt completely defeated by her critical dying mother. From her mother’s point of view, she could do nothing right. The heaviness of failure shrank her body until it seemed small and defended. I shared with her how much effort it took to let go of my own expectations. This woman wanted her mother’s death to be “good” and her work to be easy. But in the end, her practice was to let go, again and again, of her expectations, her desire to flee, and her sense of despair. This required diligence, perseverance, and a pretty good sense of humor. But before she could start to let go of her own suffering, she also had to accept that it was completely real.

Ultimately, to help others, we must relate with kindness toward our own rage, helplessness, and frustration, our doubt, bitterness, and fear. We must get in touch with the obstacles that prevent us from understanding and caring. Through accepting our own suffering, we can begin to be with others in a more open, kind, and understanding way. We learn not to reject difficult situations or people. Rather, we meet them exactly where they are.

This is the basis for our work with the dying. We cannot prevent death from happening, or make it easier for the dying one to accept it. We can learn to meet it and find mercy in it. Cultivate the detail and craft of this practice. It can be done on every breath that you take, every breath that you give. Our own difficult personal experiences become the bridge leading us to compassion and to giving no fear when the ones we love are struggling with difficult deaths. This is what the old teachers mean by their saying “riding the waves of birth and death.”


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf (Part I)
Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Spirituality and the Healthcare Setting
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day
Resilience and Hope
The Calm Before the Storm
George Yancy on the “Unspoken Reality of Death”
Arthur Kleinman on the “Soul of Care”

Related Off-site Links:
In Pandemic, Health Care Chaplains Address an “Existential and Spiritual Crisis” – Alejandra Molina (Religion News Service, March 20, 2020).
Hospital Chaplains Bring Hope and Solace to COVID-19 Patients and Staff – Lulu Garcia-Navarro (NPR News, March 29, 2020).
It's Time to Get Serious About End-of-Life Care for High-Risk Coronavirus Patients – Jessica Gold and Shoshana Ungerleider (TIME, March 30, 2020).
Learning to Cope With the Pandemic From Palliative Care Patients – Rob A. Ruff (, May 8, 2020).
Our Crash Course in Being Mortal – Ira Byock (Goop, May 2020).

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Photo of the Day

“To Walk the World Without Masks”

The Wild Reed’s 2020 Queer Appreciation series continues with an excerpt from the book Shirt of Flame: The Secret Gay Art of War by Ko Imani.

Shirt of Flame explores how LGBTQI people can adopt a leadership role in co-creating a society of equality, freedom, justice, respect, truth, and growth by living our best lives – lives “grown in love” and filled with love, compassion, and community. For as Imani reminds us, “Demanding change without embodying change will never create change.”

In the following excerpt from Shirt of Flame, Imani challenges us to “walk the world without masks.” Obviously, in this time of the global coronavirus pandemic, this isn't a reference to actual physical, life-saving masks, but rather to the metaphorical “masks” of inauthentic, life-denying words and actions that we can be tempted to wear so as to avoid change and transformation – ours and the world's. Accompanying Imani’s words are images of queer men who, in my view, are living in the world without these metaphorical masks.

All of us, whether we consider ourselves activists or not, must recognize that our oppression, like a wall, is two sided, not one sided. Our focus must be turned inward and outward at the same time, but the only way we'll be able to hold both in mind gracefully is if we stop clinging to thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that limit our attention and cause suffering. This is why self-control and self knowledge are inherent in our Power. We have to examine the ways in which we participate in our own oppression.

How many of us have walked down Main Street or through the park with a partner and not grabbed our beloved’s hand? For how many candlelit dinners in fine restaurants have we settled for eye contact from opposite sides of the table? How much of our time do we spend with the eyes in the back of our heads wide open, afraid to fully express our selves for fear of attack?

The answers? Too many. Too much.

Start small and just challenge yourself to observe the ways you think. In the examples just given, although there is an atmosphere of oppression that is sometimes present in public, and certainly there are situations in which it would be unsafe to do so, most of us actually oppress ourselves by not grabbing that hand, cupping that waist, offering that peck or special smile, or by only frequenting queer establishments. We do the oppressors’ hardest work for them by allowing ourselves to be boxed in. We assume the worst and that keeps us from our best.

You, yes, YOU, deserve a full, joyful, and abundant life filled with Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love, but if you wait for someone else, somebody “over there,” to give it to you on a platter – it ain’t gonna happen. You have to claim it for yourself.

A great example of claiming space is also one of my favorite memories from when the Rev. Fred Phelps’ family visited Ann Arbor, Michigan, in February 2001. My partner dropped me off near the University of Michigan early so I could prepare for my silent prayer vigil sitting among the Phelps family holding their "God Hates Fags" signs.

The first thing I saw after I got out of the car was an image more powerful than watching hundreds of same-sex couples make-out in the university commons later that day, more powerful than any speech I heard: I saw two young, punk men striding confidently across South University Avenue holding hands. What I didn’t see was any hint of self-consciousness, maybe a bit of defiance, true (the green mohawk was a clue), but I didn’t see a sideways glance, not a hesitation. Just the inspiring courage to walk the world without masks.

– Ko Imani
Excerpted from Shirt of Flame:
The Secret Gay Art of War

pp. 34-35

NEXT: What We Are Hoping and Fighting For

Related Off-site Link:
The One Choice You Can Make Today to Create the Beloved Community – Ko Imani (Whosoever, July 1, 2002).

For previous posts in the The Wild Reeds' 2020 Queer Appreciation series, see:
Zaylore Stout on Pride 2020: “What Do We Have to Be Proud Of?”
Francis DeBernardo on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Title VII: “A Reason for All Catholics to Celebrate”
Mia Birdsong on the “Queering of Friendship”
The Distinguished Rhone Fraser: Cultural Critic, Bibliophile, and Dramatist

See also the previous posts:
Our Lives as LGBTQI People: “Garments Grown in Love”
Growing Strong
A Spirit of Defiance
Spirituality and the Gay Experience
Michael Bayly’s “The Kiss” Wins Award at Twin Cities Pride Art Exhibition

Images: Subjects and photographers unknown.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Distinguished Rhone Fraser: Cultural Critic, Bibliophile, and Dramatist

The Wild Reed’s 2020 Queer Appreciation series continues with Stephen A. Maglott’s 2017 biographical tribute to Rhone Fraser, a writer, activist, and all-round inspiring human being.

In 2019, two years after Maglott published his tribute to Fraser on his website, The Ubuntu Biograhy Project, Rhone Fraser’s first book was published, Pauline Hopkins and Advocacy Journalism. It was followed later that same year by Critical Responses About the Black Family in Toni Morrison's God Help the Child: Conflicts in Comradeship, an anthology Fraser edited.

As founder and creator of The Ubuntu Biography Project, the late Stephen Maglott wrote numerous biographical tributes to “distinguished LGBTQ/SGL [same-gender-loving] people of color/African descent.” As a distinguished cultural critic, bibliophile, and dramatist, Rhone Fraser was a worthy subject for The Ubuntu Biography Project, an endeavor that was described as Maglott’s “soul work.”

Stephan Maglott's tribute to Rhone Fraser is reprinted in its entirety below with added images and links. Enjoy!

(NOTE: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

Rhone Fraser was born on October 12, 1979. He is a widely respected literary critic, journalist, advocate, playwright, and academic. Dr. Rhone Fraser identifies himself as gay, Marxist, and Christian, “without contradiction.”

Rhone Sebastian Fraser was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jamaican immigrant parents. His mother is a registered nurse, and his father is a pharmaceutical manager. Fraser’s family moved to White Plains, New York, when Lederle Pharmaceuticals hired his father.

Fraser’s mother read to him as a child, and later told him he was reading from the age of two. He was raised in the Episcopal Church, and attended Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Valhalla, New York, until the age of ten, when his father’s job moved his family to Wesley Chapel, Florida. While there, Fraser played basketball in high school and junior high, and joined the National Honor Society at Zephyrhills High School. He also performed in drama productions of Everyman, directed by influential drama teacher, Greg Burdick.

Fraser attributes his intellect to the various range of art forms to which his father introduced him, especially Black drama. The first drama he remembered watching with his father was Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, which inspired his love for the theater. Fraser graduated from Zephyrhills High School in 1997, and Yale College in 2001. He discovered his love of Black literature while performing the role of Meridian Henry in a Yale production of James Baldwin’s play, Blues for Mister Charlie.

Fraser has admitted that he did not have a sexually gratifying experience until he was 28, due in part to his own homophobia taught by his religious upbringing. He did not consider himself to be truly “out” until he told his father and mother personally in November of 2011.

Fraser has endured difficulty reconciling his sexuality with his faith, but eventually did so as a result of reading Baldwin, receiving some helpful counseling, and especially after meeting his second cousin, Jason Latty [right], in 2011. Fraser now works as general secretary at the organization founded by Latty, Caribbean Alliance for Equality (CAFE), which is devoted to ending homophobia in Jamaica and the greater Caribbean.

Fraser taught eighth grade earth science at Augusta Lewis Troup Middle School in New Haven, Connecticut, until 2003. He was invited by then-principal Valerie Reidy to teach Regents chemistry and forensic science at the Bronx High School of Science until 2004, when he moved to Florida to continue his graduate education. Fraser applied to medical school and law school to no avail, yet flourished in broadcast journalism at Pacifica radio’s WBAI program, Tuesday Arts Magazine. He interviewed and produced segments with a range of journalists, scholars, and artists, including Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Bobby Seale, Yolanda Adams, Juan Williams, Tavis Smiley, Ellis Cose, Randall Robinson, Jasmine Guy, Marcus Gardley, Tonya Pinkins, Phylicia Rashad, Shola Lynch, Amy Goodman, Dr. Charles Ogletree, and Boris Kodjoe.

While in Tampa, Dr. Fraser also read on Friday evenings for WMNF Evening News. In 2005, he started the Master’s program in Africana Studies at the University of South Florida, and wrote his first documentary play, Living Sacrifice: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, that was read at the ROAR Anniversary celebration in Hamer’s hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi, in August of 2005. In 2007, Fraser earned his Master’s degree and began the Ph.D. program in African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A year later, he completed his second play, A Sound Mind, based on a group of influential young ministers of the Gospel he met called Odd Generation.

After attending a 2008 production of Leslie Lee’s play, Sundown Names and Night Gone Things, based on Richard Wright’s experiences in 1930s Chicago, Fraser committed himself to writing historical drama, and began taking playwriting classes taught by Lee, the former artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company, at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center from 2008 to 2010. With Lee’s supervision, Fraser completed his third play, Negro Principles, about the personal and political life of A. Philip Randolph and Lucille Green Randolph during one week in Harlem in 1928.

In 2011, Fraser was personally selected by Philadelphia mayoral candidate Diop Olugbala as education chair in Olugbala’s unsuccessful campaign against current mayor Michael Nutter. He also chaired the campaign’s effort to appeal to LGBTQ voters. Frasier supports third party movements such as the Green Party and the Workers World Party.

On July 27, 2012, Fraser defended his more than 420-page dissertation and earned his Ph.D. The dissertation, “Publishing Freedom: African American Periodical Editors and the Long Civil Rights Struggle, 1900-1955,” focuses on three periodical editors – Pauline Hopkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Paul Robeson – and how their writings influenced the Black freedom movement in the twentieth century. He is excited about promoting the work of these Black writers, and especially the work of journalist-playwrights Alice Childress and Lorraine Hansberry, whose plays, Fraser argues, came from the periodical Freedom, inspired by Paul Robeson. He believes that works by Childress and Hansberry are the unsung foremothers of the Black Arts Movement.

In 2013, Dr. Rhone Fraser produced a reading of his play, Unity Valley, based on the actual 1803 pamphlet by Quaker merchant David Barclay called “An Account of the Emancipation of Slaves from Unity Valley Pen, Jamaica.” The following year, Fraser was honored to speak at, and direct shorts of, Leslie Lee’s plays at the memorial for Lee, hosted by the Signature Theater and featuring Woodie King, Jr. and Douglas Turner Ward.

That same year, Dr. Fraser produced and directed a historical drama reading series called “Readings at the X,” which featured Starletta DuPois, Zuhairah McGill, Brian Anthony Wilson, Caroline Clay, Alexander Elisa, Carlene Taylor, Shayne Powell, Norman Marshall, and many other notable actors. The series featured a new historical drama written by Ted Lange about John Brown and his collaborator Osborne Anderson entitled The Journals of Osborne Anderson, a gathering which Lange himself attended.

In 2015, Dr. Fraser joined the faculty of the Department of English at Howard University, where his teachings featured Between the World and Me, a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates that he said changed the course of his life. He believes this is the first mainstream publication that spoke to him directly, because he related so much to Coates’ thoughts on manhood, and the fact that he and Coates are fellow Librans and there are similarities between his Aquarian father, Anserd, and Coates’ father, Paul. In September 2017, Fraser was invited to lecture at Pacific Lutheran University about his critical response to Between the World and Me, during which Coates was compared as a journalist to the likes of Ida B. Wells, Pauline Hopkins, Hubert Harrison, and Marcus Garvey.

In 2016, Dr. Fraser organized a panel, “Marcus Garvey: 100 Years Later,” about the historical significance of journalist Marcus Garvey, who sailed to the United States exactly one hundred years prior. The gathering at the Left Forum included historians Horace Campbell and Jeffrey B. Perry. That October, the son of Marcus Garvey, Dr. Julius Garvey, called Fraser and asked him to join a lobbying effort, organized by Howard University’s Dr. Goulda Downer, to get then-President Obama to grant Marcus Garvey a posthumous presidential pardon. Dr. Fraser committed himself and got others to write and tweet weekly to President Obama for the pardon, which was ultimately not granted.

On January 1, 2017, Dr. Fraser completed his fifth play, The Original Mrs. Garvey. The work is based on two biographies of Amy Ashwood Garvey, the first wife of Marcus Garvey, by Lionel Yard and Tony Martin. He has lectured about Amy Ashwood Garvey at the Francis A. Gregory Library in Washington, DC, at Howard University, and at a U.N.I.A. Division #330 meeting.

Dr. Fraser considers his dramatic works much more nourishing than the stale and bland diet promoted by the mainstream. His says his plays are “gems waiting to be discovered” for any play director ready to be challenged and develop them. They are works which come from many influences, including his Temple University dissertation adviser, Dr. Heather Thompson, who won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in History for her book Blood in the Water, about the 1971 Attica prison rebellion. The book was optioned and selected by TriStar Pictures last year to be produced as a film by Amy Paschal and Rachel O’Connor.

Dr. Fraser is also a scholar of the novel. He is a member of the Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins Society and the Toni Morrison Society. Fraser completed scholarly book reviews about the work of novelists Paule Marshall and Elizabeth Nunez [right]. The Journal of Pan African Studies is publishing a special issue on the fiction of Nunez, edited with an introduction and a critical article by Dr. Fraser. He is also completing a manuscript for publication which is a literary criticism of the four novels by the Boston-based journalist and dramatist, Pauline Hopkins.

Fraser appreciates all novels and nonfiction by Professor Ishmael Reed. He presented a paper about the novels Batty Bwoy by Max-Arthur Mantle and Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn at a conference organized by Antoine Craigwell called “In My Mind,” dealing with mental health in the queer community of color.

Fraser, true to the values of Lorraine Hansberry and Malcolm X, makes Black liberation from race and class oppression a priority in his dissertation and his historical drama. He sees this as the root of all oppression, including homophobia, and ties themes of liberation theology into all his plays. He is featured in the “Modern Day Black Gay Project” by Donja Love.

Like the thinkers he studies and teaches about, Fraser eschews the two-party system, and supports the formation of a political party that supports the interests of the working class and not the current ruling capitalist class named by George Jackson in his book Blood in My Eye. Fraser supports the kind of revolutionary nationalism endorsed by Malcolm X and Jackson, and is increasingly resistant to reforms to the current two-party system because of its clear advancement of austerity and increasing mass incarceration of Black youth.

Fraser is also a staunch supporter of army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, whom he believes is an important example for all other U.S. soldiers to follow, because she challenges the repression of the U.S. military, and the military dictatorships across the globe that they support.

The Black SGL/LGBTQ community is very important to Fraser, who cherishes open dialogue about racism within and outside the U.S., such as the struggle for LGBTQ youth in Jamaica to be heard in a way that does not stigmatize them. He resists the gay tourist industry’s privileging of white experiences, and supports a U.S. State Department boycott of the Tourist Board of Jamaica, until the nation repeals its English colonial anti-buggery (anti-sodomy) laws. Fraser applies the anti-colonial theories of Martinican Frantz Fanon to understanding the endemic homophobia in Jamaica, and is working with CAFE to further that.

Fraser was disappointed in Jamaican church leaders rallying hundreds against the repeal of anti-buggery laws, yet being unable to rally against the Jamaican Minister of Agriculture’s sale of thousands of acres of Jamaican land to the Chinese government. On his blog, Edifying Debate, Fraser has described this as behavior of a tragically “colonized bourgeoisie” (to borrow Fanon’s term).

As a Marxist, Fraser is also suspicious of the American government’s use of “pinkwashing,” a term coined by Jasbir Puar to express the promotion of gay rights as only a cover for supporting corporate interests that enforce racist practices, such as Shell Oil, which prides itself on being tolerant, yet has a history of supporting a military dictatorship in Nigeria. As a Christian, Fraser is also highly critical of the lack of political education and consequent ignorance that the Western church promotes, in order to privilege homosexuality as a moral issue instead of what he sees as the more serious problems within the United States: militarism, austerity, and mass incarceration. He is a staunch supporter of a Free Palestine, and supports the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Fraser believes it is important for Black SGL/Queer men and women to be proud of who they are because, true to James Baldwin’s teachings, “it is our responsibility to support revolution of this morally decaying system, while at the same time teaching those who are uncritical supporters of American hegemony about its racist and capitalist nature in order to ultimately dismantle it.” According to Fraser, part of this means rejecting hetereonormativity, not just for its own sake, but to restore the leadership of women to its rightful place in human history, and to stop the increasing concentration of wealth and power that denies most people the right to self-determination.

Dr. Fraser makes his home in the Philadelphia area. He says he has yet to have the pleasure of meeting his life partner, however by loving himself and the intellectual path that life has allowed him, he believes he will find that special someone.

NEXT: “To Walk the World Without Masks”

Related Off-site Link:

For previous installments in the The Wild Reeds' 2020 Queer Appreciation series, see:
Zaylore Stout on Pride 2020: “What Do We Have to Be Proud Of?”
Francis DeBernardo on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Title VII: “A Reason for All Catholics to Celebrate”
Mia Birdsong on the “Queering of Friendship”

Images: Photographers unknown.