23 March 2013


Image of Painting by Monica Stewart
For those who've visited my blog periodically, I'm sure you've noticed my love for art and featuring artists and their works in some form or another.  One of my favorite artists is Monica Stewart. The rich colors, tones and affects of the men featured in the above art piece reminds me of the various male figures that I've encountered over the years.  Some are representative of  men who were significant in my upbringing as well as those I've  worked and socialized with during the movement years.  Wise griots of the Yorubas located in NYC whom  I would listen to and attend their cultural affairs, liberation theologists, academicians, legal scholars, some law enforcement officers, cultural artists, bus drivers, retailers...well you get the point.  The common thread is that many of them were and are 'men of vision' who not only talked a good game but worked diligently towards making their varying visions a reality.  

This was in draft form for some weeks and today after hearing about the death of Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian literary scholar and political foe of oppression; I decided to post a few thoughts about these men.  I had grand plans to create a dynamic and engaging article; for there is still so much on the internet and media in general about the character flaws of black men and the ongoing strife between them and the females of their various ethnic groups. Balance is always the key.  Human beings are complex and circumstances are dynamic within the many domestic and global milieus that we must navigate.  This is especially true for people of African descent throughout the diaspora.  The men in the painting featured are looking forward and I continue to see these men in their various spheres of influence today working towards improving the human condition.  A few that come to mind is Bryan Stevenson, {introduced to me when featured on the Field Negro sidebar} a legal scholar who actively advocates and works towards a more equitable Criminal Justice System with a focus on minorities whom disproportionately enter and remain in the penal system.  Dr. Geoffrey Canada, a Harlem educator  who has a well established developmental and scholastic process that literally starts from birth through high school for those children in marginalized communities.  
Then of course, there are the many men of color in our communities whom we see that are not headlined.  They  work diligently towards rearing and inspiring their children, family members and neighbors to develop their own personal talents and skills that not only benefit their communities but mainstream society as well.  

Balance is indeed the key and I'd like for us to acknowledge them not because we have low expectations as Chris Rock once joked about but to make sure that all the so-called black male pathologies don't overshadow what many of us know to be true on a daily basis. A caveat to the latter is that many of these dysfunctional behaviors are related moreso to the culture of poverty than race.  We see these presentations among white males whom reside in low income urban and rural communities, however, they are viewed as personal character flaws and not the characterization of an entire ethnic group.  The noted and deceased poet, Lucille Clifton wrote a poem about black women in "Won't You Celebrate With Me".....'that something has tried to kill me and has failed'.  Those same sentiments describe that of black men in the diaspora for every day something or someone has tried to eradicate or invalidate them and has been unsuccessful.



Chinua Achebe: November 16, 1930 ~ March 21, 2013 

Remembered  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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