Wednesday, April 28, 2021

“He Was Just Interested In the Work”

Above: Chadwick Boseman being honored during the
In Memorium segment of the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony
– Sunday, April 25, 2021.


Actor Chadwick Boseman died August 28 last year from colon cancer. He had been living with the disease since 2016, though never spoke of it publicly.

Since his passing, I’ve honored Chadwick on the 28th day of every month at The Wild Reed. (To begin at the start of this honoring series, click here.)

I was anticipating honoring Chadwick this month by celebrating his Oscar win for Best Actor at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. But like many people, I was both surprised and disappointed when that didn’t happen.

Here’s how USA Today’s Brian Truitt recounts what many view as an “upset.”

This was supposed to be Chadwick Boseman’s night.

After rolling through most of awards season, Boseman was a favorite to win at Sunday’s Academy Awards. He was supposed to win for the memorable career he had, for the signature roles we’ll never see, and for the Ma Rainey's Black Bottom character that encompassed everything he did so well in one cocky, complicated cornet player.

The Oscars, which usually announces its top prize – best picture – last, even appeared to foretell a Boseman win by making the best-actor award the finale. . . . Why wouldn’t the Academy Awards finish its show honoring all that the beloved performer did in his career before his death last August, too young at 43, after a long battle with colon cancer?

But no. Anthony Hopkins, who turned in an exceptional performance in The Father, won. He wasn’t there to accept, bringing an already strange ceremony to a clunker of an anti-climax, but on social media early Monday morning, Hopkins – ever the gentleman – paid tribute to Boseman, “who was taken from us far too early.”


So what happened? Well, according to Joyce Eng, senior editor of the award season punditry website GoldDerby, Hopkins’ win came down, in part, to “good old-fashioned Hollywood strategy” on the part of the studio that produced and marketed The Father.

In Johnny Oleksinski’s April 26 New York Post article, Eng explains this “strategy.”

On paper, Chadwick Boseman appeared to be the favorite because he won most of the precursor awards and Anthony Hopkins only had the BAFTA. Ma Rainey’s actor won the SAG Award and the Golden Globe. But I think there was something in play that general fans were not aware of, and that’s the fact that The Father was peaking at exactly the right time [for the Oscars]. Sony Pictures Classics held off releasing the film till literally the last minute in theaters. It opened February 26. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, on the other hand, dropped on Netflix back in November, during a tricky year with ample distractions.


Whatever the reason for the upset, I take heart in the response from Chadwick’s family. As TMZ reports:

[Chadwick's brother Derrick (left)] doesn’t view Chadwick not winning an Oscar for Best Actor as a snub because every nominated actor was excellent and deserving of the award. He says the family isn’t upset or agitated whatsoever that Chadwick’s name wasn’t called at the end of the Oscars ceremony. Derrick tells us the family wishes Hopkins and his family all the best because, as Derrick put it, “I’m sure [Anthony] would if Chad won.” Derrick says Chadwick wasn’t one to put too much value on the Oscars anyway. Derrick says Chadwick “always described them to me as a campaign.” That being said . . . Derrick says, yes, an Oscar would have been an achievement, but was never an obsession.


I take heart too in the words of Chadwick's colleague Viola Davis, who says: “Chadwick was a character actor in a leading man’s body. He was 100 percent dedicated and was just interested in the work. . . . He was not interested in what he did before [or] his ego. He wasn’t interested in any of that. He was just interested in the work. That’s Chad.”

How then to celebrate Chadwick, eight months to the day since his passing? Well, what better way then by focusing on the work that he loved so much and which made him the great arist that he was. And so I share, with added images, videos, and links, a recent review of Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of An Artist, the Netflix special I intend watching tonight. This review is followed by the special’s trailer.

___________________


Chadwick Boseman:
Portrait of An Artist


5 Things the Netflix Special
Reveals About the Late Actor



By Sarah El-Mahmoud

CinemaBlend
April 20, 2021


Since August, we’ve been mourning a legend. Chadwick Boseman touched the lives of many with his work as an actor and his insurmountable presence. Best known for being Marvel’s Black Panther, the actor, playwright, producer and philanthropist died on August, 28, 2020 at the age of 43. In tribute to the legend, Netflix has put together a special for the late actor called Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist, and it has a number of highlights we won’t soon forget.

Portrait of an Artist features a few of Chadwick Boseman’s close collaborators such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom actress Viola Davis and Da 5 BloodsSpike Lee. They share their experiences with Boseman and what he was like as an actor, or as he preferred to call himself, an “artist.” Here are a few things the new release, currently streaming on Netflix for a limited time, reveals about him.


What Chadwick Boseman was like at Howard University

Chadwick Boseman has always been proud of his college, D.C.’s Howard University, an alma mater he shares with Taraji P. Henson, Anthony Anderson and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. During Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist, his former teacher Phylicia Rashad, best known for her role in The Cosby Show, shares her own impressions of the actor while he was part of her class.

In Rashad’s words: “He was this lanky young man with a very gentle face and a gentle smile. Eyes big and wide open, wanting to take everything in, wanting to know all there was to know about theater and I mean everything.”





Rashad has been known to be one of Boseman’s early mentors when he studied directing at Howard. In the special, she shares her personal experiences with him before he became a Hollywood star. She speaks about how he wanted to learn everything involved in studying theater. He came in to become a director, but ended up finding a calling in acting. It’s quite amazing to hear how highly Phylicia Rashad speaks of him from the inception of his career.


Viola Davis felt like she needed to “step up” with Chadwick

Chadwick Boseman had some incredible opportunities to work with some truly talented actors to match his own expertise, including Viola Davis, with whom the late actor worked in his last performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Davis is prominent in the special, saying a number of memorable things about her co-star, including the following: “Chadwick was one of those actors that scares you because you know you have to step up when you’re in his presence, that he is going to go 100 percent. He just is, you feel it. He’s looking at your work and he’s like ‘I have to believe you in order to believe myself, in order to believe this, that we are in this world.’”


The actress goes on to open up his personal script for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and read some of the notes he had written down for his character of Levee. Viola Davis gets emotional reading his notes about the character because she felt he truly understood the character and took it one step further with it. Quite a few other collaborators in the special reveal Boseman’s tendency to want to embody the “essence” of a character, rather than run lines or imitate them.


He was a perfectionist, especially when it came to playing famous figures

The special also reveals how committed Chadwick Boseman was to playing the real people he portrayed in some of the biopics he was part of. The actor played Jackie Robinson, the first African American MLB player, in 2013’s 42, Godfather of Soul James Brown in 2015’s Get On Up [right], the first Black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s Marshall. It was an impressive run of real people to play, and while it’s clear he took his roles seriously through his work, he was apparently a perfectionist about getting things absolutely right.





He studied the foot movements of James Brown, he studied the techniques to slide on bases just like Jackie Robinson and picked up the cornet with precision and ease for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. His co-star Glynn Turman called him a “technician.” His Get On Up director Tate Taylor remembered Chadwick Boseman practicing his James Brown moves every waking moment, even while waiting for a table at dinner.


Denzel Washington’s powerful words about the actor

You may be aware of Chadwick Boseman’s unique connection with Denzel Washington. Back in 2019, Boseman told the story at an AFI award show about the time when Washington paid for his summer tuition for a theater program at Oxford.

He shared there was “no Black Panther without Denzel Washington” during the speech.





Years following the anonymous donation, the actors established a relationship with one another. In Portrait of an Artist, Washington describes the late actor with these words: “Some people have a concentrated dose of life. It’s like the old frozen orange juice that was in that little container and you have to put a gallon of water in it to make it a quart of orange juice. Well, some people are that concentrated juice with no water in it. It’s too strong. It’s too good. It’s too powerful.”

It’s a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman because it really illustrates who he was from a fellow talented and respected member of the Hollywood community. The documentary shows that he was truly an inspiring person even to the elder Oscar winner because of his zest for life and ability to be a complete version of himself that was not watered down.


Why Chadwick Boseman stood out among Hollywood’s finest

Ultimately, Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist is simply as advertised. It shares a brief but powerful picture of who he was and why his shocking loss to colon cancer is felt so deeply. He was truly a one of a kind human and a special person who touched all who knew him.

As Viola Davis puts it in the special: “Chadwick was a character actor in a leading man’s body. He was 100 percent dedicated and was just interested in the work. . . . I will continue to say this. He was not interested in Black Panther, what he did before, his ego. He wasn’t interested in any of that. He was just interested in the work. That’s Chad.”

Davis went on to share how many actors are in Hollywood to be famous, but that was never his goal. He truly and deeply cared about acting as a medium to be an artist. The Netflix production is not lavish or too in depth, but that message alone feels like a worthwhile and meaningful one.







NEXT: Remembering Chadwick Boseman’s Life of Purpose



Related Off-site Links:
Anthony Hopkins Wins Best-Actor Oscar in Upset Win Over Chadwick Boseman – Yohana Desta (Vanity Fair, April 25, 2021).
Absent Anthony Hopkins Denies Chadwick Boseman a Posthumous Award in Weirdly Abrupt Oscars Ending – Paul Donoughue (ABC News, April 26, 2021).
What Happened With Anthony Hopkins and Chadwick Boseman?Paper Magazin (April 26, 2021).
Here’s How Anthony Hopkins Beat Chadwick Boseman for the Best Actor Oscar – Joyce Eng (GoldDerby, April 26, 2021).
He Deserved More: Why Chadwick Boseman's Posthumous Oscar Loss Stings So Much – Brian Truitt (USA Today, April 26, 2021).
Chadwick Boseman Deserved Better – Bailey Herdé (The Cut, April 26, 2021).
Anthony Hopkins Honors Chadwick Boseman After His Surprise Oscar Win – Chelsey Sanchez (Harpers Bazaar, April 26, 2021).
Oscars Fail 2021: Pitting Anthony Hopkins Against Chadwick Boseman – Martha Ross (The Mercury News, April 26, 2021).
Chadwick Boseman Wasn't Snubbed at Oscars, Brother Says Family Not UpsetTMZ (April 26, 2021).
Oscars NFT of Chadwick Boseman to Be Redesigned After Best Actor Loss – Antonio Ferme (Variety, April 26, 2021).
Chadwick Boseman Losing at the Oscars Has Sparked a Ton of Drama After People Accused the Academy of "Building the Entire Show" Around Him – Ben Henry (Buzz Feed, April 26, 2021).
Oscars 2021: Tyler Perry Speech and Chadwick Boseman Snub Showcase the Academy's Misses – Margaret H. Willison (NBC News, April 26, 2021).
Chadwick Boseman's Wife Simone Ledward Boseman Wears Custom Versace Gown at 2021 Oscars – Jen Juneau (People, April 26, 2021).
Chadwick Boseman and Carey Mulligan Could Be Avenged at MTV Movie and TV Awards After Oscar Upsets – Daniel Montgomery (GoldDerby, April 26, 2021).
Chadwick Boseman’s Best and Boldest Roles – Yohana Desta (Vanity Fair, April 22, 2021).
Chadwick Boseman: A Film Icon Who Changed Hollywood – Hanna Flint (BBC News, December 23, 2020).

For The Wild Reed’s series that remembers and celebrates Chadwick Boseman, see:
Remembering Chadwick Boseman
Honoring An Icon
Chadwick Boseman’s Timeless Message to Young Voters: “You Can Turn Our Nation Around”
Chadwick Boseman’s Final Film Role: “A Reed Instrument for Every Painful Emotion”
Celebrating a Special Day
Boseman on Wilson
Chadwick Boseman and That “Heavenly Light”
In This Time of Grief
A Bittersweet Accolade
Chadwick Boseman Receives Posthumous NAACP Image Award

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now
“Avengers Assemble!”
Jason Johnson on Stan Lee’s Revolutionary Legacy
Another First for Black Panther
“Something Special,” Indeed!
Queer Black Panther


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Celebrating the “Color of Spring” . . . and a Cosmic Notion of the Christ


Everywhere – Christ.
Realization of oneness.
Reverence.
Every kind of life has meaning.
Every life has an influence
on every other kind of life.

Caryll Houselander



Yesterday was Independent Bookstore Day, and so after my (much-needed) haircut in Uptown I visited and supported not one but three independent bookstores here in Minneapolis – Magers and Quinn, Present Moment Herbs and Books, and DreamHaven Books, Comics and Art.

Afterwards, I went to my old south Minneapolis neighborhood by Minneahaha Creek and visited the Prayer Tree. That’s where I enjoyed the scenes of nature honored in the photographs I share today, photographs that capture, in the words of my friend Brian, “New Green – the color of spring.” Indeed!

In sharing my photos today, I accompany them with an excerpt from one of the books I bought yesterday, The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr, in which he quotes the words of artist, writer, and mystic Caryll Houselander that open this post.



Who wouldn’t want to experience [Caryll Houselander’s life-changing revelation of Christ]? And if Houselander’s vision seems to [most mainline Christians] today somehow exotic, it certainly wouldn’t have to early Christians [nor, in the last 100 years or so, to those within the New Thought movement, often dismissed and maligned as “New Agers.”] The revelation of the Risen Christ as ubiquitous and eternal was clearly affirmed in the Scriptures (Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, John 1, Hebrews 1) and in the early church, when the euphoria of the Christan faith was still creative and expanding. In our time, however, this deep mode of seeing must be approached as something of a reclamation project [one that is taking place both within and outside mainline Christianity]. When the Western church separated from the East in the Great Schism of 1054, [it] gradually lost this profound understanding of how God has been liberating and loving all that is. Instead, [Christians in the West] gradually limited the Divine Presence to the single body of Jesus, when perhaps it is as ubiquitous as light itself – and uncircumscribed by human boundaries.

. . . What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every “thing” in the universe?

What if Christ is a name for the immense spaciousness of all true Love?

What if Christ refers to an infinite horizon that pulls us from within and pulls us forward too?

What if Christ is another name for everything – in its fullness?

. . . G. K. Chesterton once wrote, Your religion is not the church you belong to, but the cosmos you live inside of. Once we know that the entire physical world around us, all of creation, is both the hiding place and the revelation place for God, this world becomes home, safe, enchanted, offering grace to any who look deeply, I call that kind of deep and calm seeing “contemplation.”

The essential function of religion is to radically connect us with everything. (Re-ligio = to re-ligament or reconnect.) It is to help us see the world and ourselves in wholeness, and not just in parts. Truly enlightened people see oneness because they look out from oneness, instead of labeling everything as superior and inferior, in or out. If you think you are privately “saved” or enlightened, then you are neither saved nor enlightened, it sems to me!

A cosmic notion of the Christ competes with and excludes no one, but includes everyone and everything (Acts 10:15, 34) and allows Jesus Christ to finally be a God figure worthy of the entire universe. In this understanding of the Christian message, the Creator’s love and presence are grounded in the created world, and the mental distinctions between “natural” and “supernatural” sort of falls apart. As Albert Einstein is supposed to have said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

– Richard Rohr
Excerpted from The Universal Christ
Convergent Books, 2019
pp. 4-7



Christ is everywhere.
In Christ every kind of life
has a meaning
and a solid connection.

Caryll Houselander


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Let the Greening Begin
The Landscape Is a Mirror
Photo of the Day – April 6, 2021
Photo of the Day – April 21, 2019
Welcoming the Return of Spring (2018)
Celebrating the Return of Spring (2017)
The Enkindled Spring (2016)
Green Destiny
In the Footsteps of Spring
O Dancer of Creation
“I Caught a Glimpse of a God”
The Cosmic Christ: Brother, Lover, Friend, Divine and Tender Guide
In the Garden of Spirituality: Richard Rohr (Part I)
In the Garden of Spirituality: Richard Rohr (Part II)
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence
Andrew Harvey on Radical, Divine Passion in Action
In the Garden of Spirituality: Paul Collins
An Erotic Encounter With the Divine
Called to the Field of Compassion
Divine Connection
Considering Resurrection
Prayer of the Week – November 14, 2012

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

“Let This Be a Turning Point”


Earlier this evening I joined with a number of my south Minneapolis neighbors to walk with lighted candles through our neighborhood.

We did this so as to honor the memory of George Floyd (right) and commit to the ongoing work of racial justice in the wake of the guilty verdict today in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer who had been charged with Floyd’s murder last year. Sentencing is expected in about eight weeks.

(Update:Chauvin Gets 22 1/2 Years for George Floyd’s Murder” – MPR News, 6/25/21)


Floyd’s murder took place last May not far from our neighborhood, parts of which were destroyed and damaged in the social unrest that followed.


Following are a selection of responses to today’s verdict. Some of these responses are from friends here in Minneapolis, others are from nationally-known figures. All convey the hope and need for this verdict to be, in the words of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), “a turning point” in the ongoing work of creating a society that truly reflects the belief that “all are created equal.”

_____________________


Today a jury in Minneapolis, Minnesota, convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin on all counts in the death of George Floyd. On May 25, 2020, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds after arresting him for allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. The jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He faces up to 75 years in prison, and will be sentenced in two months.

As we heard this verdict today, it was striking how many Americans breathed a sigh of relief. It stands out to me that, although a girl passing by, Darnella Frazier, had the presence of mind to record a video of the entire encounter on her cell phone so we could all see what happened entirely too clearly, we were not certain of the outcome.

. . . If Ms. Frazier had not captured the video, would Chauvin be in prison right now? Between 2013 and 2019, only 1% of killings by police have resulted in criminal charges.

How many of those deaths are like that of Mr. Floyd?




Here’s my question for white folx: what would you have done had Derek Chauvin been acquitted?

Whatever your ideas were, please do them anyway.

Rev. Tara Parrish
April 20, 2021



Despite today’s guilty verdict, true justice for George Floyd and the other Black lives snuffed out by police has yet to be done. . . . Derek Chauvin will now serve a penalty for acts deemed exceptional. But his behavior was not exceptional, and treating George Floyd’s murder as a consequence of extraordinary acts neither protects Black people nor captures the unreformable depravity of our system of policing. His murder is the predictable outcome of policing’s origin in slave patrols and the ongoing, constant threat to Black people of arrest, incarceration, violence, and death.




The jury’s verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd. Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person. The trauma and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder must never leave us. It was a manifestation of a system that callously devalues the lives of Black people. Our struggle now is about justice – not justice on paper, but real justice in which all Americans live their lives free of oppression. We must boldly root out the cancer of systemic racism and police violence against people of color.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
April 20, 2021


Artwork: Nikkolas Smith


Of course, true justice for George Floyd would require him to still be alive. . . . Not only did Derek Chauvin deny George Floyd his human rights, he also showed utter disregard for George Floyd’s humanity. We must acknowledge the racist roots of law enforcement in this country if we are to address the systemic failures of policing and bring about meaningful public safety for those that have been historically overpoliced. This must include shrinking the size and scope of law enforcement in daily life, eliminating qualified immunity that creates a barrier to redress for victims of unlawful policing, demilitarizing law enforcement, and enacting strict limits on the use of force altogether.

Kristina Roth
Amnesty International USA
April 20, 2021



It’s hard to celebrate because George Floyd’s life was callously extinguished to bring us to this moment. It’s impossible for this verdict to singlehandedly end systemic injustice. But perhaps today is one small step toward the comprehensive healing we must undergo to confront white supremacy and fashion a new world. Trying to remain firmly grounded in reality, while maintaining my unshakeable idealism for a more just future.

Phillip Clark
April 20, 2021



I think this is less about justice and more about accountability, but the sound of an overwhelming sigh of relief was very welcomed today.

Carrie Chillman
April 20, 2021




This conviction must mark the beginning of true change in our country, where the criminal justice system has consistently failed to hold police officers accountable for the unwarranted killings and brutality that have disproportionately taken the lives of Black people and other people of color in traumatized communities. . . . Although today's verdict marks an important step forward, we call on leadership at every level of government to advance urgently needed policing reforms that bring about true racial justice and equality.

Abigail Dillen
Earthjustice
April 20, 2021



While this verdict brings a certain rare form of accountability for police, achieving this outcome for Mr. Floyd is only one step in addressing police abuse of power, disparate treatment, and excessive force against Black and Brown communities. We still must radically change policing in Minnesota and across the country, increase accountability and transparency, and create policies that combat racism in policing. The jury's decision to convict Derek Chauvin does not negate the fact that Mr. Floyd’s tragic murder is part of a horrifying local and national pattern of officers using excessive force against people of color.

John Gordon
ACLU of Minnesota
April 20, 2021



Today’s verdict is an acknowledgement that police officers cannot get away with murder, but we still have a long way to go to achieve the justice demanded by so many protesters in the last year. . . . The fact that justice was done in this case cannot allow us to forget about the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson, among many others. But this case galvanized a movement for justice that has expanded across the country, rooted in longstanding demands for a reimagining of a criminal legal system built on anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Lawmakers at the state and federal level must begin holding officers accountable for police violence.

Margaret Huang
Southern Poverty Law Center
April 20, 2021




Today, so many people are exhaling with relief for the thousands who cannot: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Duante Wright, Adam Toledo, and so many more. A legal system that has been over-applied to Black and brown people and dramatically under-applied to law enforcement has now convicted one police officer. The verdict is deeply meaningful for being so rare. But we cannot mistake this for a transformative moment. We still pour billions more dollars into policing than into proven health-based violence prevention. Black people are still not safe when they're pulled over, jogging, even surrendering. And our nation has not been accountable to the harm of centuries of racist policies embedded in our justice system and far beyond it.

Shari Silberstein
Equal Justice USA
April 20, 2021



We cannot let today’s verdict allow us to become complacent about the challenges we face. We have to do better. Black people in America are exhausted with fear and anxiety every single day. Today's verdict is appropriate punishment for a single crime. But to honor the memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, and so many others whose only 'crime' was being Black, we must work with greater effort and urgency than ever to bend the arc toward racial justice.

Lee Saunders
AFSCME
April 20, 2021



While today’s conviction is a necessary condition of justice, it is not sufficient. For centuries, Black people have faced violence at the hands of the state in our country. For centuries, systemic inequalities in the form of housing, income, education, and criminal justice have plagued our country – holding us back from our creed of liberty and justice for all. Let this be a turning point, where we finally create a society that reflects the belief that all men and women are created equal. Let this be the moment where we implement a broad anti-racist agenda to root out the inequalities that continue to plague us.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
April 20, 2021



Today’s verdict doesn’t mean we don't have a problem in law enforcement, but it does mean that a very important institution of American justice held today. . . . We all know that one decision in one murder trial is not going to fix everything. The problems are gargantuan. But when we see any aspect of our system hold then it can give all of us hope and faith in what we do. We can get it right. . . . We can demonstrate that every human life matters.

And today our system said George Floyd’s life mattered.

Marianne Williamson
April 20, 2021


Related Off-site Links:
Derek Chauvin Found Guilty On All Charges in George Floyd’s Death – Sara Boboltz and Hayley Miller (The Huffington Post, April 20, 2021).
“An Important Step Forward for Justice”: Reactions to Chauvin’s Guilty VerdictsMPR News (April 20, 2021).
Tears and Relief Sweep Intersection Where George Floyd Died – The Associated Press via MPR News (April 20, 2021).

UPDATES: Guilty Verdict in the Chauvin Trial Is Not Enough for Real Change – LZ Granderson (Common Dreams, April 21, 2021).
Chauvin Gets 22 1/2 Years for George Floyd’s Murder – Jon Collins, Riham Feshir and the Associated Press (MPR News, June 25, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“I Can’t Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
He Called Mama. He Has Called Up Great Power
Honoring George Floyd
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Mayor Melvin Carter: “The Anger Is Real, and I Share It With You”
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Out and About – Spring 2020
A Very Intentional First Day of the Year
Bearing Witness
“And Still and All, It Continues”
The Problem Is Ultimately Bigger Than Individuals. It’s Systemic
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz: “We Need to Make Systemic Changes”

Minneapolis images: Michael J. Bayly.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz: “We Need to Make Systemic Changes”

Yesterday I lamented that government authorities in Minnesota seem to be reacting to the effects, rather than the underlying cause, of the social unrest we’re seeing in Brooklyn Center in response to the recent police killing of Daunte Wright and the social unrest many fear may erupt after the verdict comes down (perhaps as early as tomorrow) in the trial of former police officer Derek Chavin for the murder of George Floyd last year.

Earlier today Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (left) joined with Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis and Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul for a press conference, and I have to say I was impressed with what all three had to say.

All three acknowledged the systemic racism at the root of the social unrest we’re currently both witnessing and fearing, and which caused such upheaval and destruction last May in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.


Right: St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minneapols Mayor Jacob Frey survey the damage in the aftermath of the social unrest and destruction of last May.


All three want to see systemic changes made.

And all three recognize that unless such changes are made in relation to the racial injustice that undergird and permeate our economic, political, healthcare, and criminal justice systems, we’re going to be, in the words of Gov. Walz, “right back here again. . . . And we cannot continue to live this way.”






NEXT: “Let This Be a Turning Point”


Related Off-site Links:
Chauvin Trial: Case Goes to the Jury; Deliberations Begin – Jon Collins, Brandt Williams, Riham Feshir and Matt Sepic (MPR News, April 19, 2021).
Lawmakers Tussle Over Public Safety Practices as Chauvin Verdict Nears – Brian Bakst (MPR News, April 18, 2021).
More Than 100 People Arrested on Sixth Night of Brooklyn Center Protests; Journalists DetainedMPR News and the Associated Press (April 17, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Problem Is Ultimately Bigger Than Individuals. It’s Systemic
Mayor Melvin Carter: “The Anger Is Real, and I Share It With You”
“And Still and All, It Continues”
Bearing Witness
“I Can’t Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
He Called Mama. He Has Called Up Great Power
Honoring George Floyd
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Out and About – Spring 2020
The Language of the Oppressor
A Very Intentional First Day of the Year

Remembering Elisabeth Sladen, Ten Years On


The death [ten years ago today] of Elisabeth Sladen was one of the saddest events to ever rock the Doctor Who universe. She was such an incredible actress – and, I hear, woman – it is tragic that she left us so soon. To think of all the wonderful adventures, she and the Bannerman Road Gang could have had. All the times she and the Doctor could have met up and regaled about past exploits. The passing of Elisabeth Sladen occurred too soon but there is nothing that can be done now. All we can do is keep her memory alive by revisiting all her amazing episodes and stories.

Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull
Excerpted from “Heroes of Who: Elizabeth Sladen
Doctor Who TV



Personally, I think that [Sladen’s] Sarah Jane Smith is an amazing woman and character, but it is the personality from Elisabeth Sladen that I adore. For a character to be so loved in the 1970s, and now still loved by generations of children and adults is very special. Despite being a huge fan of Amy and Rory, Donna, Martha, and Rose, I have to say that Sarah Jane is the top of my list for Who-related characters. For me, I see so much of the Doctor in Sarah Jane. Her use of sonic lipstick, her super-computer Mr Smith, and her gang of companions. From the Doctor she has learnt so much, and as I look back on her legacy, I can see that her character has many lessons to teach us. The virtue of humility, the beauty of sacrifice, the essence of everlasting love, and the mindset of a Time Lord are all characteristics that I see in Sarah Jane.

K-CI Williams
Excerpted from “The Legacy of Sarah Jane Smith
Doctor Who TV



See also the previous The Wild Reed posts:
Blast from the Past: Sarah Jane Smith Returns to Doctor Who
What Sarah Jane Did Next
She’s So Lovely
Impossible! . . . It Can’t Be!
She’s Back!
Too Good to Miss
The Adventures Continue
Remembering Elisabeth Sladen
Quote of the Day – April 20, 2011
Mourning Lis, Farewelling Sarah Jane
As Doctor Who Celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Sarah Jane Smith is Voted #1 Favorite Companion
Nine Years On, a Poignant Farewell to Sarah Jane


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Reacting to the Effects, Not the Cause, of What Ails Us


It’s an act of desperation – if not outright cowardice – to spare no expense in military might while investing in the cheapest plywood, all in an effort to protect this state’s investment in whiteness. If power has to be maintained through overwhelming force, or even hastily built barriers, those of us standing in trauma on the other side have to wonder who’s really being protected.

Justin Ellis
Excerpted from "Minnesota Values White Comfort
More Than Black Lives
"
The New York Times
April 16, 2021


Driving into Minneapolis from my workplace in Coon Rapids Friday afternoon, I was shocked to see the number of National Guard soldiers, all heavily armed, and their military vehicles on the steets. I mean, I get it . . . to a degree. There is still much unrest in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center over the recent police killing of Daunte Wright, and tomorrow, Monday, the jury in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, charged in the killing of George Floyd while in police custody last year, begins its deliberations. A verdict could be reached as early as tomorrow.

Clearly, city officials and many residents are nervous about a repeat of last year’s urban unrest and destruction if Chauvin is not found guilty. Yet for others, the presence of such a strong militarized force on the streets of Minneapolis is unsettling and problematic.

The corporate mainstream media maintain that Minneapolis is "on edge." Well, certainly many white Minneapolis residents are on edge, especially for their businesses and property. Again, I get it. But at the same time I also recognize that Black residents throughout the country are exhausted and on edge all the time, given the stress around the economic disparity the vast majority of them have to deal with on a daily basis, and the perpetual threat of state-sanctioned violence at the hands of law enforcement, a threat that’s all too real regardless of how well they might be doing financially.

I think we need to be very clear: The military presence we’re seeing in Minneapolis is a response to the effects of our economic and political system. The cause of these effects, namely the long-standing racial injustice that undergird and permeate these same systems, remains largely ignored by those in authority and many of those white citizens nervously awaiting yet more of the effects to make themselves known. And yet . . .

Seeking to solve a problem merely on the level of effect is not a true solution but only a temporary fix. Only when we address the level of cause – most fundamentally the thoughts that caused the original deviation from love – do we produce fundamental results.



I don’t have the answers or solutions, though I’m pretty sure where and how we can start. In addition, there are many people – Black and white – who have spent years, in some cases decades, thinking about, researching, and community-building around a range of responses and solutions. I long for their voices and perspectives to be lifted up in both the political and mainstream media arenas.

I lift up four of these voices in this post: Marianne Williamson and Justin Ellis (whose words open this post), Rabbi Michael Adam Latz (whose words are shared below), and social justice activist, scholar, and public theologian Ruby Sales (right) who features in the video embedded at the end of this post. All speak of – or to – the need to "create a new story" for our world, a story of healing and justice in our time.


We have now criminalized public grief. We are living in a war zone. National guard tanks throughout the city. Guard members in fatigues and combat gear dressed for Bagdad or Fallujah, not Minneapolis or Brooklyn Center.

Imagine instead of spending millions of dollars on national guard troops and criminalizing blackness, what if instead public leaders invested those dollars into communities? What could we do if people – especially Black and Brown and Native and Asian and Immigrant and Muslim and poor people – had vast public parks, quality education, affordable college, clean drinking water, fresh affordable food within walking distance of their homes, vast public transportation, health care that includes mental health care and trauma care, high speed internet everywhere, and vast resources for mental health, parental respite, and thick communal support?

Policing – as it currently exists – is fundamentally broken.

We don’t suffer from a lack of resources, only a lack of imagination. We must radically transform public safety. Our neighbor’s lives depend on it. And so does our humanity.

Rabbi Michael Adam Latz
April 17, 2021


Above: Members of the National Guard patrol behind a security fence perimeter surrounding the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is being held – Minneapolis, March 31, 2021. (Photo: Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images)



The following reflection by activist, scholar, and public theologian Ruby Sales is part of the Healing Our City Virtual Prayer Tent, a daily time of prayer and meditation during the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. This virtual prayer tent is inclusive of all faiths, colors, genders, and orientations. You can be part of it each day at 8:00 AM Central time by clicking here..





NEXT: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz:
“We Need to Make Systemic Changes”


Related Off-site Links:
Lawmakers Tussle Over Public Safety Practices as Chauvin Verdict Nears – Brian Bakst (MPR News, April 18, 2021).
More Than 100 People Arrested on Sixth Night of Brooklyn Center Protests; Journalists DetainedMPR News and the Associated Press (April 17, 2021).
Shots Fired at National Guard Members in Minneapolis; Two InjuredMPR News (April 18, 2021).
Families Victimized by Police Violence Unite and Call for Higher Charges for Daunte Wright’s Killer – Mel Reeves (Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, April 17, 2021).
Critics Say Chauvin Defense “Weaponized” Stigma for Black Americans With Addiction – Brian Mann (MPR News, April 16, 2021).
The Money Story Behind Police Power: Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt Explains – Morgan Simon (Forbes, April 16, 2021).
Podcaster Chronicles Racism, “Resistance” and the Fight for Black Lives – Terry Gross (Fresh Air, April 15, 2021).
Brooklyn Center Renters Blame Police for Chaos at Daunte Wright Protests
– Logan Carroll (Sahan Journal, April 13, 2021).
Chauvin Trial Again Casts Spotlight on Minneapolis Police Department’s Training Program – Libor Jany (PBS News, April 3, 2021).
How We Can Start to Heal the Pain of Racial Division – Ruby Sales (TED.com, September 2018).
Ruby Sales – Where Does It Hurt? – Krista Tippett (On Being, January 16, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Problem Is Ultimately Bigger Than Individuals. It’s Systemic
“And Still and All, It Continues”
Bearing Witness
“I Can’t Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
He Called Mama. He Has Called Up Great Power
Honoring George Floyd
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Out and About – Spring 2020
The Language of the Oppressor
A Very Intentional First Day of the Year

Minneapolis images: Michael J. Bayly (except where noted otherwise).
Image of Ruby Sales: Nikki Kahn/Getty Images.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Remembering and Celebrating Dusty


Today is the 82nd anniversary of the birth of the late, great British pop/soul vocalist Dusty Springfield (1939-1999).

Dusty’s been in the news lately as a compilation album, Dusty Springfield: The Complete Atlantic Singles 1968-1971, has topped various charts for both reissued material and R&B/soul music, and garnered widespread and positive praise.

My interest in and admiration for Dusty is well documented here at The Wild Reed, most notably in Soul Deep, one of my very first posts.

Other previous posts worth investigating, especially if you’re new to Dusty, are Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon, which features an excerpt from Laurence Cole’s book, Dusty Springfield: In the Middle of Nowhere; Celebrating Dusty (2017), which features an excerpt from Patricia Juliana Smith’s insightful article on Dusty’s “camp masquerades”; Celebrating Dusty (2013), which features excerpts from Annie J. Randall’s book, Dusty!: Queen of the Postmods; Remembering Dusty, my 2009 tribute to Dusty on the tenth anniversary of her death; and Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On, my 2019 tribute on the twentieth anniversary of her death.

And, of course, off-site there’s my website dedicated to Dusty, Woman of Repute (currently only accessible through the Internet archive service, The Way Back Machine).

My website’s name is derived from Dusty’s 1990 album Reputation, and as I explain in Soul Deep, it was this album that introduced me not only to Dusty’s music but also to her life and journey – much of which resonated deeply with me. Indeed, my identification with aspects of Dusty’s journey played an important role in my coming out as a gay man.



Above: Dusty, amidst the flowing streams, standing stones and picturesque Celtic ruins of County Clare and the Galway coast for the making of the music video for “Roll Away,” a track from her last album, 1995’s A Very Fine Love. The liner notes of the 2016 2-disc expanded collector’s edition of A Very Fine Love include my reflections on this beautiful song, reflections which are also shared in the previous Wild Reed post, Time and the River.


In honor of today’s 82nd anniversary of Dusty’s birth, I share “Don’t Forget About Me,”* a track featured on The Complete Atlantic Singles and first released on Dusty’s landmark 1969 album, Dusty in Memphis. It’s followed by NPR’s Oliver Wang’s review of Dusty Springfield: The Complete Atlantic Recordings 1968-1971.





______________________


In 1968, Dusty Springfield – then an established pop star in the U.K. – flew across the pond to conquer the U.S. by signing what was meant to be a long-term deal with Atlantic Records. The label sent Springfield down to American Sound Studio in Memphis, Tenn., hoping to impart some of the Southern soul magic that had worked so well for Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin. Those sessions are now collected in the new anthology Dusty Springfield: The Complete Atlantic Singles 1968-1971.

One of the first songs Springfield recorded at American Sound Studio – “Son of a Preacher Man” – had literally been written for Franklin. But when the daughter of a preacher man initially passed on it for being a bit too on the nose, it went to Springfield instead, becoming one of the defining songs of her career. It cemented her reputation as a so-called blue-eyed soul singer, a rather awkward industry euphemism for “white artists recording black music” – never mind that Springfield’s eyes were actually brown.

Atlantic followed with a more scattershot approach to her recordings. Sure, there were naked attempts at reproducing the same soulful vibe as “Son of a Preacher Man,” like the laid-back “Willie and Laura Mae Jones.” But the label also kept Springfield in the same crossover pop lane she’d paved in the U.K., with the familiarity of “In the Land of Make Believe.” There were also a few funky dance tracks, such as “Haunted,” that never quite caught the right groove.

To be clear, Springfield had her share of gems with Atlantic as well. One of the last sides she recorded for the label, the bluesy ballad “I Believe in You,” was released as a stand-alone single late in the fall of 1971.

Springfield begged out of her contract soon after, but even if the Atlantic years didn’t create the kind of chart-topping success either party wanted, it wasn’t a footnote. Not only did it yield her most acclaimed album, Dusty in Memphis, but Springfield would enjoy a prolific career up until her death in 1999. Along the way, her American sojourn also set a marker that generations of British singers have sought to follow since. Springfield managed to do all this with understatement, not by belting her way to the top, but with the coolest of croons.

– Oliver Wang
"Dusty Springfield’s Take on Southern Soul Gets Another Look"
NPR News
January 21, 2021



* About “Don't Forget About Me,” Paul Howes writes the following in his book, The Complete Dusty Springfield:

Although it wasn’t widely known at the time, “Don't Forget About Me” had already been recorded by Dusty in a London studio a year before she cut the track with Jerry Wexler for the Memphis album. The two versions differ considerably, not only in arrangement and production, but also in Dusty’s vocal styling. On the Memphis cut, Dusty’s sweet, husky vocals hover over the notes, swooping down for the harsher refrain surrounded by horns, funky guitars and, of course, the Sweet Inspirations. The arrangements and production is more polished than the British recording and is overall more exciting. The song had previously been recorded by Barbara Lewis and P J Proby but never sounded like this.


Related Off-site Links:
Revisiting the Tender Sounds of Dusty Springfield – Amanda Petrusich (The New Yorker, February 1, 2021).
Dusty Springfield: The Complete Atlantic Singles 1968-1971 – A Review – Alfred Soto (Pitchfork, February 15, 2021).
Dusty Springfield: The Complete Atlantic Singles 1968-1971 – A Review – Terry Staunton (Record Collector, February 25, 2021).

For more of Dusty at The Wild Reed, see:
Soul Deep
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Remembering Dusty, 20 Years On
Remembering and Celebrating Dusty (2020)
Remembering and Celebrating Dusty (2019)
Remembering Dusty (2018)
Celebrating Dusty (2017)
Celebrating Dusty (2013)
Remembering Dusty (2009)
Remembering Dusty – 14 Years On
Remembering Dusty – 11 Years On
The Other “Born This Way”
Time and the River
Remembering a Great Soul Singer
A Song and Challenge for 2012
The Sound of Two Decades Colliding