Indie Incognito Summer 2022 Issue

Page 1

Spr ing 2022



Celebr ating Women's Histor y M onth

On The Cover

The NFT Ar t of

Synthia Saint James

Indie Incognito celebrates JUNETEENTH

The REAL DEIL All about Microaggresions by Theresa Robinson






The Artistic world of Mike Fields

Celebrating Juneteenth with the artworks of Synthia Saint James

Carlos Averhoff, Jr. Latin American Jazz Empresario

March for Our Lives. David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting






The photography of Johann Walter Bantz

Hip Hop Corner. The amazing story of Clemson University doctoral candidate AD Carson

EditorINDIE ial TeamIncognito PUBLISHER | EDITOR- IN- CHIEF Tony Smith publisher


Paulette Jackson

Domonique Jones

Jo- Lynn Herber t

Danielle Batiste



CONTRIBUTORS Mar ie Lemelle https://www.platinumstar Rober t Walker Theresa M. Robinson, ABD

Subscr iptions and Adver tising: publisher

Indie Incogntio is published quar terly by Kase Qtr Productions Pasadena, CA 91107 | +818- 723- 5386


That's Your Opinion

with Jo-Lynn

with Paulette Jackson







MAMA'S WELLNESS Preparing For A Healthy Pregnancy

NEW GEN VOICES NFT's in the Metaverse

P ublisher's message Tony Smith P ublisher

We are about to embark on our third year of publishing Indie Incognito Magazine, and I have to say that each issue has been a blessing and a necessary link in our chain. We have spoken to acclaimed musicians, indie film makers, young entrepreneurs, politicians, fashion designers and more. We have shared knowledge on health and wellness, business resources, finance and more. We are so excited about our next chapter. Features and interviews about more dynamic and inspirational people from around the world. With limitless possibilities comes limitless opportunities and we plan to expand, explore, expose and entertain, all at the same time. With our dedicated team of writers, photographers, contributors and designers, we will continue to bring you the best. Indie Incognito Magazine


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JUNETEENTH STATEM ENT by Paulette Jackson Indie Incognito Associate Editor

"Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. Freedom our ancestors fought and died for in order for those of us coming after them, can live our best lives and be our best selves carrying on the torch they first lit. We at Indie Incognito Magazine stand in honor and grace of the celebration of Juneteenth and all it stands for. Indie Incognito Magazine stands in support of creative individuality and independence in every way shape and form" Paulette Jackson

Sh ow casin g t h e ph ot ogr aph y of

Johann Walt er Bant z


"T he day we accept that what happened to usactually happened for us, isthe day we graduate from survivingasVictimsof life to thriving asVictorsof life." Dr Troy



His lif e. His st or y. As t old by M ike Fields. edited by Tony Smith I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio the youngest of 5 children. Art has always been in my life. I played sports as a youth which is what most little boys did in the inner city. I was actually a really good athlete in all sports. I would draw in my alone time. I loved the challenge of creating art. I found the challenge of drawing "Tony the Tiger " and "Sugar Bear " off cereal boxes. I then started drawing the characters from the comic strip in the newspapers. I couldn't wait to get to school to show my classmates. As I got older I moved to more challenging subjects for my reference pictures like comic book superheroes, then on to album covers and Sports Illustrated magazines. People would always compliment me on my talent, but I never took it to heart even when renowned artist the late Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson told me I was very skilled as an artist. Like every kid in those days my future was going to be as a Professional athlete in Major League Baseball the National Football League or the National Basketball Association. It wasn't until much later in life that I even chose to paint (1998). My friend and neighbor Scott "DJ Prime" Lindsey took my 1st "4" paintings out of my house to be exhibited in an event he was doing at the Kiaca Gallery in the Short North the main arts district in Columbus, Ohio. mentor Talle Bamazi seen my work and offered me my first showing out of nowhere which turned out to be a solo exhibition in 2007. The exhibit was a hit critically but not financially, but it was the spark that lit the fire in me that burns hot today. I began my career through research. I dove deeply into the art world from the artists to the business of art. Speaking of research, I research each and every person I create in my portraits. That information helps me decide what my reference photo will be because of the story I'm trying to tell of my subject. I also choose my subjects based on the event I'm doing or creating. I've also learned to create several pieces at the same time. I'll research, draw and then paint

It was there Gallery owner and . I was also able to create a name for myself locally by doing Charity events because those attendees have disposable income which is what's needed to by Art. I built relationships with the American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, AIDS Resource Center and many others. One of the others was the Jazz Arts Group which led me to a decade long relationship with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra. I would show paintings based on the theme of the concerts. I would have several new paintings each show and on occasion do the special guest performers like the late Allen Toussaint, John Clayton, Nicole Henry, Maurice Hines and too many more to name. I also wanted to expand outside of Columbus and I did Jazz Festivals like the Indy Jazz Fest where I met and presented a painting to 10 time Grammy Winner George Benson. I also had an opportunity to exhibit and paint live in Los Angeles at the historic Parker Room in Hollywood. I was also able to take my talents to Europe where i was the featured artist at the 2016 North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. L.A. has been great to me as I just finished the George Lopez Foundation Fundraiser and Golf Beef Celebrity Golf Event. I also have a piece going to London, England this Summer for the Grand Prix Ball which is a Black Tie Gala that kicks off the British Grand Prix. I'll also my 1st NFT coming out from the estate of Thelonious Monk. Another thing that greatly improved my knowledge of the Art World was my time as Gallery Director of the Homeport Gallery in the Neighborhood I lived in. It was directly in the heart of an Urban community that was being "rebuilt". I had to inquire about this new space and soon was doing a solo exhibition before becoming a part of staff and then Gallery Director.

What I learned in my short but impactful time there was how to present Art and how the viewer looked at Art. I did shows called "Duets" where I gave 2 artists a wall and a theme. The theme would be Photography, Abstracts or even Pop Culture. This gave artists who had not been seen and especially on this scale a chance to show as a Professional Artist in a serious Art Gallery. This greatly improved my own artwork as well as gave me a chance to help other artists on their journey

You can follow Mike at


JU N ET EEN T H T he H istory On ?Freedom?s Eve,? or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. Only through the Thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States. But not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas.

J une 19 marks the annual observance of J uneteent I ndependence day, which commemorates the J une 19, 1865 abolition of slavery and emancipation of enslaved people across Texas and former Confederate sates. F ollowing the end of the Civil War, the J uneteenth proclamation foramlly ended one shameful chapter of US history. J uneteenth is widely observed as a celebration of A frican A merican history and heritage.

Emancipation Day celebrated freedom in parts of North Carolina beginning in 1862 before that same news reached Texas in 1865? known as Juneteenth (June 19, 1865). Juneteenth honors hope and freedom. The North Carolina Museum of History invites you to observe this holiday by bringing friends and family to the museum for reflecting on the past and looking to the future. sourc: North Carolina Museum Of History. A Smithsonian A filliate

LICENSE "JUNETEENTH" ART (* Licensing* Category Below) SALE Coupon: JUNETEENTH20 The Launch of NFT ART by Synthia SAINT JAMES


"Let Somebody Know"

Shop for Synthia Saint James' Lim it ed Edit ion Items of art. Check out her online gallery here and use Promo Code KQP10 at checkout

A Q&A w it h Ch ildr en's Book Au t h or s, Ver n on Gibbs & St even Gr ay ROBERT WALKERMAR 26, 2022

Vernon D. Gibbs Thanks for the time out of your busy schedules to allow our readers to learn more about your contributions to the visual arts and literary worlds. RW)You have had two highly acclaimed and successful Children?s books out with ?When Good Fruit Goes Bad?and more recently with ?I?m Dreaming of a Brown Christmas?. How would you describe your working partnership, is it co-writer and illustrators, or you do the illustrations Steve, and you are the writer Vernon? St eve & Ver n on )We are co-writers on all these projects, it is just that sometimes one of us takes the lead more than the other. For the fruit book, I came up with the initial idea, storyboards and did the drawings in traditional pen and paper which Steve then colored, edited and formatted on the computer for publishing. He also helped with extensive re-writes to make the story flow and rhyme better.

Steven T. Gray For the Christmas book, Steve did all the art and most of the writing, while I helped with some of the layouts, writing and gave input on the RW)How did the idea to write and illustrate ?When Good Fruit Goes Bad? come about? What is your message with the book for kids and parents? S&V)It was based on an incident from my son Justin who wanted to throw away a banana that had a little brown spot on it and I told him it could be used in a smoothie. I thought there was a real story there about what might happen when good fruit goes bad combined with lessons about eating healthy, creating less waste and knowing that there is still value in something even with a few bumps, bruises or brown spots on it. Lessons I think all parents can apply to their own lives and pass along to their kids when it comes to valuing ourselves but also about eating healthy. .

RW)?I?m Dreaming of a Brown Christmas? was your next book? How did the concept for that come about, and what do hope the book accomplishes for its readers?

"When Good Fruit Goes Bad" RW)?I?m Dreaming of a Brown Christmas? was your next book? How did the concept for that come about, and what do hope the book accomplishes for its readers? S&V)Steve was inspired by the classic song ?White Christmas? and his desire to re-imagine the song with brown images as the focus. In the food, in the gifts and in the people. The title of the original song refers to snow, but we wanted to put out a book that showed black and brown people enjoying Christmas and the holidays with people of all shades. It celebrates the beauty of brown, but is still diverse in the characters and people represented in the drawings. We hope readers see a piece of themselves in the images, but also get a glimpse into a world that maybe they are not familiar with as well and like what they see.

S&V)Steve was inspired by the classic song ?White Christmas? and his desire to re-imagine the song with brown images as the focus. In the food, in the gifts and in the people. The title of the original song refers to snow, but we wanted to put out a book that showed black and brown people enjoying Christmas and the holidays with people of all shades. It celebrates the beauty of brown, but is still diverse in the characters and people represented in the drawings. We hope readers see a piece of themselves in the images, but also get a glimpse into a world that maybe they are not familiar with as well and like what they see. RW)Who were some of your influences that made you want to pursue the work that you now do, and if what other children?s books are out there now that you admire and would recommend to read? S&V)We look at a lot of books, everything from silly series like Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce and the Dogman Books by Dave Pilkey to ones with a more serious and historical one and painted art like the 1619 Project :Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson and the classic Brown is a Beautiful Color by Jean Carey Bond. For us, Influence can come from anywhere, songs, books and just our daily lives.

RW)Who were some of your influences that made you want to pursue the work that you now do, and if what other children?s books are out there now that you admire and would recommend to read? S&V)We look at a lot of books, everything from silly series like Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce and the Dogman Books by Dave Pilkey to ones with a more serious and historical one and painted art like the 1619 Project :Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson and the classic Brown is a Beautiful Color by Jean Carey Bond. For us, Influence can come from anywhere, songs, books and just our daily lives.

We did a pilot in 2021 based around concepts from ?When Good Fruit Goes Bad? that includes animation, puppetry, and original songs where we did all the elements. The writing, animation, and editing. We hope to build on this more in the future and we hope we can turn more of our books and ideas into animation

RW)Is what you do as creatives just targets stories for children, or do you use other genres for more adult themed stories? S&V)Right now our focus is on content for young children and families, but we are developing ideas for middle school and young readers as well. RW)Is there a plan to turn anything you have written into an animation series or movie, and if not what you have already published, any plan to create something new for film or a series? S&V)We did a pilot in 2021 based around concepts from ?When Good Fruit Goes Bad? that includes animation, puppetry, and original songs where we did all the elements. The writing, animation, and editing. We hope to build on this more in the future and we hope we can turn more of our books and ideas into animation. RW)What has been one of your biggest rewards with having published these books so far? S&V)Being able to put out 2 books has been a huge reward for us, not to mention having the printing of Christmas book full-funded by our Kickstarter last July and even being carried in Barnes and Noble in NJlast December. More importantly the positive feedback we get from friends, family and sometimes complete strangers about our work lets us know we are on the right track and makes us want to keep putting out content people enjoy and are proud to share with others

S&V)Being able to put out 2 books has been a huge reward for us, not to mention having the printing of Christmas book full-funded by our Kickstarter last July and even being carried in Barnes and Noble in NJlast December. More importantly the positive feedback we get from friends, family and sometimes complete strangers about our work lets us know we are on the right track and makes us want to keep putting out content people enjoy and are proud to share with others. RW)Where can people purchase your books, and where can they follow you on social media? S&V)People can go to our sitewww.cuzzosmedia.comfor links to purchase ?When Good Fruit Goes Bad? and ?I?m Dreaming of a Brown Christmas? and learn more about us. They can also follow us on social media on Instagram @cuzzosmedia @coolminivandad and @stvnlovemusic RW)What would you like to have accomplished in the next 5 years with your book creations? S&V)We just want to keep putting out fun, creative family content that people will enjoy and be able to see in bookstores, online and on tv and maybe even on the big screen. I want to thank you again for sharing with us more about who you are and what you are accomplishing. We look forward to many more great books to come from you.

RW)Is there a plan to turn anything you have written into an animation series or movie, and if not what you have already published, any plan to create something new for film or a series? S&V)We did a pilot in 2021 based around concepts from ?When Good Fruit Goes Bad? that includes animation, puppetry, and original songs where we did all the elements. The writing, animation, and editing. We hope to build on this more in the future and we hope we can turn more of our books and ideas into animation. RW)What has been one of your biggest rewards with having published these books so far?

Robert Walker Literary Talent Agent at Smith Young Talent and a regular Indie Incognito guest columnist. Contact Robert Walker

photo by Samuel Zlatarev

SOU N D OFF with Jo-Lynn

Lifetimes include so many dynamics as we well know. It starts at birth. The gift of life is a surprise of the day of our birth. What is interesting and exciting is that we are given an opportunity of a lifetime on that specific date, day, and time. Newborns are born every day of all nationalities, color, and creed. Newborn babies have no idea what they are born into? but we do! Recently and again, I am asking, ?What are we giving our children??

"Building masterpieces takes much moment to moment effort. Being able to say, Good M orning, is part of the masterpiece".

In our modern changing society of technology, knowledge, and accessibility we are reminded every day individuals making choices based on their own unresolved hate. Being heartfelt is being honest and to the point. Every household captures their own daily work. Every household is so different because individuals are different. As the same from Pre-K to adult learning experiences holds so much energy and focus hoping that students will become lifetime learners, compassion for others to gain new and improved knowledge and skills for applicable careers, social connections, and joy. Communities are the capstone of endeavors where people join to live, eat, and sleep i.e., neighborhoods, restaurants, and hotels. Having individual goals tend to have impact of our daily lives that may feel like riding a roller coaster; rushed, squeezed and nauseated. So much living to do! So much learning to do! So much communicating to do! So much to do in a lifetime that we forget there are more distinct opportunities waiting in the shade.

I remember working for the City of NYC as an Assessment Case Manager. I remember over time wanting Friday to come? NOW! That feeling turned into a minute-to-minute anxiety driven unhappy person. My focus was not in the moment but in days ahead.That is a powerful reminder that we must appreciate our present to experience minute to minute joy, thoughts, and responsibility. As I grow wiser, I remember distinct experiences of pain, gain and loss; yet also remembering when I was able to bounce back with new perspectives of being able to say, ?Good Morning!? Being able to share and say greetings is the most basic reminders of communication. It takes a minute to realize that a person or people are around; we do not live in a microscopic bubble. Our attention and awareness of our surroundings have always been an important regard for safety. No less as effective in the past remains crucial to be alert, cautious and engaged in your course of living. Lately, I have been thinking of how society resolves issues, it still takes a village to raise a child. I think that perspective should be revisited. We take our children to doctors for their medical and health needs as well as to school to gain education. That is not always easy, but we do it. When there is not a cooperative systematic thought inclusion process, the ability to resolve for the good of humanity fails. Therefore, ongoing results of destruction, hate, violence, and malice when inclusion is absent from mainstream ideals. How can we fill gaps of safety and progress? To acknowledge that we all come to on this earth with a purpose to learn how to be of service for each other? We all have a date of birth.

No human being is perfect, but we have opportunities to self-correct or at least model after those attributes that gives opportunities to every human being to live their lives respectfully to their God given birthdates. We are all born for a purpose, it may take a lifetime to figure it out, it is worthy to know, seek, and accept the importance that humanity includes us all! Humanity includes every individual on this planet creating masterpieces that we all can benefit from. I?d rather be surprised by joyful friendships and opportunities than unnecessary grief and loss. To be reminded we are the masterpiece of our birthday as a gift that we must not take for granted. It is not of anyone?s decision or judgment to take anybody?s lifetime away. We must strive for daily good so we all can enjoy lifetime of masterpieces. Jo-Lynn Herbert, founder of Jo-Lynn?s Expressions, Writing Express and Indie Incognito?s ?Sound Off ? editor.

OpEd ? The Mindset By Paulette Jackson Throughout my life I have heard people say, ?you have to change your mindset,? I often wondered what that meant and what impact it really had on my daily life. AsI have gotten older and experienced more, I have come to learn what changing one?s mindset is all about. Early on, I did not put much stock into what folks were saying to me, I did not feel by just changing my way of thinking, my outlook, would make much difference in areas of my life where I may not have been as confident in myself or my abilities to achieve. Low self-esteem can really wreak havoc on one?s psyche, what we feel about ourselves manifest into what we think. Life has taught me somethings, I needed to change and shift to get out of the rut I would find myself in at times, and I know I am not the only one to experience that. If we want different outcomes, we must do different things. That may mean moving away from things and people that are not encouraging positive growth. So, what people were saying was true, you must change your mindset and believe that you can achieve and become anything you want.t I have always kept a line from the movie ?Sister Act: Back in the Habit? in my mind since I heard it and it is true. ?If when you wake up and before you go to sleep, and all you can think about is singing, then you are supposed to be a singer.? Now this line may not be verbatim but, the message is that if all you can think about 99% of the day is what you want to do and it brings you joy to think about it and you can honestly see yourself doing it, then that is the thing you should be doing, at least taking the leap to start. What we tell ourselves is everything. So, why not start saying and believing that we are great in our beings and that we as a people; man, woman or child, can become the best version of ourselves and go after that thing.

We were created to contribute to this world. I for one am finding out more about what I can do and not afraid now to at least try. I am a creative being, an artist, I have always known that about myself but, the key was to start changing my mindset and stop letting people or circumstance get in my way. I was getting in my own way, which a lot of us are guilty of too. Are you ready to change your way of thinking, of doing to go to your next level? What is your mindset?

Th e REAL DEIL Abou t Racial M icr oaggr ession s: Wh at t h e ?Giver ? Needs t o Kn ow

- by Theresa M. Robinson, ABD "The Disruptive Inclusionist" Helping Organizations Execute on their Well-Being, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion Strategies via 3D Transformation

* For the record, I hate the term microaggression and would prefer something more accurate such as the ?ignorant stuff people say and do.? And for racial microaggressions, I lean toward "regularly occurring racist dumbfuckery." However, for the sake of efficiency, I?ll go with microaggression for now. Recently, a brutha shared this experience with me: While serving at my church?s information desk greeting visitors, I had a troubling encounter with a church member? an older white woman. She said to me, ?Brown people have the best-looking facial hair.?

I paused for a moment because I was uncertain about what to say, so I responded, ?I?m sorry?? She noted the puzzled look on my face and took that as a sign to ?reiterate? her point by reaching out and running her hand through my beard while repeating her comment. Thankfully, another church member? a white woman? witnessed it and grabbed back her hand, pulled the older white woman away from me and told her, ?Sweetie, you can?t do that.? The older white woman then responded, ?What? this is a safe space.? I stood there open-mouthed and shocked as the older white woman was ushered away.

[It?s church y?all; the bigots have to be ?ushered? away. If you?re a church-folk, you know.] When I told my wife what happened, she laughed and said that this is what Black women go through every day But I did not move on. I could not shake the feeling that if I did something like that towards the older white woman, the outcome would have been drastically different. Whew chile? ? ? could these kinds of ?touch any part of my person? microaggressions be considered a form of assault? Hmm. Though it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the legal definition for assault is...

?a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily harm on a person that puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension? of such harm or contact Generally speaking, microaggressions stem from biases, unconscious and conscious, that we hold of people or groups that are different from us. It?s the comments, the questions, and even the behaviors that stem from what we believe or assume about someone due to their age, their gender, their race, their religion, their body type, their family situation, and more.

Moving on now to racial microaggressions. Racial microaggressions are the EVERYDAY racism that Black and Brown people face in the form of ?compliments,? jokes, insults, actions.......can't stress enough that everyday part. It's ev-er-y-day. Daily. Now. It's happening this minute for someone as I type this.

The cumulative cost of racial microaggressions in the workplace is a huge enough deal to single-handedly take down and nullify a company?s grandest words on its professed anti-racism or DEI commitment. In other words, the lived experiences of its Black and Brown employees will negate an organization?s words every time. Every single time. Are you a ?giver? of racial microaggressions? In my anti-racism workshops, this question usually makes folks squeamish and uncomfortable. They avoid eye-contact . Many are embarrassed that they have to think about it because they honestly don?t know. Did you catch that?

If your answer is ?yes? to the following two questions then you are most likely a ?giver ? of racial microaggressions: 1. Do you think it?s a compliment to tell a Black or Brown person that they?re "very articulate"? 2. Do you feel the need to reveal to Black or Brown folks that your spouse/partner, your child, or your best friend from childhood is Black or Brown, but you don?t have that same need to reveal it to white folks? If you're saying to yourself? ?oh, I've never said that,? or ?I?ve never done that,? so I?m safe.

And it?s not a question that Black and Brown folks should be expected to answer for you. Please note that there is no comprehensive ?cheat-sheet? list of racial microaggressions. There are countless types, countless instances of racial microaggressions.

The stress of racial microaggressions includes being on the receiving end of ?what?s the big deal?? reactions from those who don?t regard any microaggression as serious.

Let me clue in all the "givers" out

Sure, you might be able to Google some of the most common ones out there. But that wouldn?t cover all the possibilities.

there. You might want to set down

What you need to do:

your latte for a minute.

I?ve never heard a single Black or Brown person characterize racial microaggressions as ?not a big deal? or otherwise inconsequential. Not a single one.

The person on the giving end of a racial microaggression is the last one to know that they are a ?giver.?

Take responsibility for educating yourself in order to grow your awareness and increase your racial and cultural IQ.

And it?s due to being on the receiving end of not just one but many? and constantly. It?s the ?many? nature of racial microaggressions that makes them so detrimental.

They. Don?t. Know.

Here it is:

In other words, your racial bias might be unconscious to you, but it?s conscious to every Black and Brown person on the receiving end of it. You are a "clear and present" danger to those around you. So how will you know if you're a ?giver ? of racial microaggressions?

Why you need to do it: So you can stop harming Black and Brown people and be a decent human being.

Welln ess Pr epar e f or a h ealt h y pr egn an cy

5 beh avior s t o h elp r edu ce t h e r isk of bir t h def ect s. (Family Features) If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, now is a perfect time to make a plan. There are steps you can take to increase your chances of having a healthy, full-term pregnancy and baby ? and part of that includes learning about birth defects. Understanding birth defects across the lifespan can help those affected have the information they need to seek proper care. Each year,birth defects affect about 1 in 33 babies born in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mainly developing in the first three months of pregnancy as a baby?s organs form, birth defects present as structural changes and can affect one or more parts of the body (heart, brain, foot, etc.). They can cause problems for a baby?s overall health, how the body develops and functions, and are a leading cause of infant death. Common birth defects include congenital heart defects, cleft lip, cleft palate and spina bifida. An individual?s genetics, behaviors and social and environmental factors can impact one?s risk for birth defects. Even though all birth defects cannot be prevented, there are things you can do before and during pregnancy to increase your chance of having a healthy baby. ?It?s critical that women who are planning to conceive or are pregnant adopt healthy behaviors to reduce the chances of having a baby with birth defects, which are a leading cause of infant death,? said Dr. Zsakeba Henderson, March of Dimes senior vice president and interim chief medical and health officer. ?We also encourage these women to get the COVID-19 vaccine since high fevers caused by an infection during the first trimester can increase the risk of birth. To help prepare for a healthy pregnancy and baby, consider these tips from the experts at March of Dimes, the leading nonprofit fighting for the health of all moms and babies, and the CDC: 1. Have a pre-pregnancy checkup. Before you become pregnant, visit your health care provider to talk about managing your health conditions and creating a treatment plan. Talk about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and supplements you?re currently taking. You should see your provider before each pregnancy.

2. Get vaccinated. Speak with your health care provider about any vaccinations you may need before each pregnancy, including the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, and flu shot. Make sure your family members are also up to date on their vaccinations to help prevent the spread of diseases. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 compared to those who have not been impacted by the infectious disease. Research shows babies of pregnant people with COVID-19 may be at an increased risk of preterm birth and other complications. High fevers caused by any infection during the first trimester of pregnancy can also increase the risk of certain birth defects. The COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people ages 5 and older, including those who are pregnant, lactating, trying to become pregnant or might get pregnant. 3. Take folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that prevents serious birth defects of the brain and spine. Before becoming pregnant, take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day to help ensure your baby?s proper development and growth. While pregnant, increase to 600 micrograms daily. Add to your diet foods containing folate, the natural form of folic acid, such as lentils, green leafy vegetables, black beans and orange juice. In addition, you can consume foods made from fortified grain products, which have folic acid added, such as bread, pasta and cereal, and foods made from fortified corn masa flour, such as cornbread, corn tortillas, tacos and tamales

4. Try to reach a healthy weight. Talk to your health care provider about how to reach a healthy weight before becoming pregnant, as excess weight can affect your fertility and increase the risk of birth defects and other complications. Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy foods and regular physical activity. 5. Don?t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful substances. Cigarettes and e-cigarettes contain harmful substances that can damage the placenta or reach the baby?s bloodstream. Smoking cigarettes can cause certain birth defects, like cleft lip and palate. It is also not safe to drink alcohol at any time during pregnancy. This includes the first few weeks of pregnancy when you might not even know you are pregnant. Drinking alcohol can cause serious health problems for your baby, including birth defects. Additionally, do not take opioids, which are drugs that are often used to treat pain. Opioid use during pregnancy can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome, preterm birth and may cause birth defects.

Consult your physician before stopping or changing any prescribed medications. Find more resources to support your family across the lifespan at and Understanding Common Birth Defects Cleft lip and cleft palate are birth defects in a baby?s lip and mouth that can be repaired by surgery. Additional surgery, special dental care and speech therapy may be needed as the child gets older. Clubfoot is a birth defect of the foot where a baby?s foot turns inward, so the bottom of the foot faces sideways or up. Clubfoot doesn?t improve without treatment, such as pointing, stretching, casting the foot or using braces. With early treatment, most children with clubfoot can walk, run and play without pain. Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are heart conditions babies are born with. They can affect how the heart looks, how it works or both. CHDs are the most common types of birth defects. Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Black Americans Lead in Meta Verse, NFT, and Digital Currency. Working shorter

Working shorter hours: 38 companies in the USA are testing the 4- day week.

What does that mean for our community By Keyanna Harper Black Americans leading in digital spaces are taking the internet by storm, but it is not a new concept for many who follow Sci- Fi. This concept is conceived from the 1992 novel Snow Crash. Movies like 1996 Lawn Mower man 2 Beyond Cyberspace and the 2018 movie Ready Player One, which derived from the novel. It predicted that cyber reality will shift our lives forever. It is happening with African Americans being in the lead. A known fact, we are always left out of spaces like these, but 23% of black people in these spaces are crushing It, versus the 11%of white and 17 % Hispanic, according to the Harris poll. This is allowing black and brown people to own a piece of this digital reality that is shifting the world. Now more than ever, we need to teach and learn the ways of NFT, Digital Currency, and blockchain technology. We are stepping into the new generation, with Black Americans leading in crypto. Here is a quick overview of the digital world for those who do not know.

Meta terms - Avatars: Every user in Metaverse has their personalized avatar. Avatars can be customized to look however the user wants and can be used to represent the user in different situations.

- Avatars: Every user in Metaverse has their personalized avatar. Avatars can be customized to look however the user wants and can be used to represent the user in different situations.

Metaverse could be represented by an NFT and have made millionaires out of people, with 2.47 billion dollars sold in; these rare collectibles are booming, and the possibilities of what this could be are endless.

- Spaces: There are dozens of different spaces that users can visit in Metaverse. It can be used for work, play, or socializing with other users.

In Obsidian Peoples blog, What are NFTs and How do They Affect the Art World. NFTs are

- Digital assets: Metaverse is home to various digital assets, including currency, property, and collectibles. These assets can be bought, sold, or traded on Metaverse's decentralized marketplace. Places like Metaverse Property is a digital real estate company that sells and rent the property for your space to build how you like.

explained how artists can capitalize on their talents and make their work collectible and rare. Black artists can get their work seen and bought from people all over the world; many artists feel the needed sense of belonging with in the art world, the NFT space is being met graciously by filling that void.

What is NFT? NFT stands for "non- fungible token." An NFT is a unique digital asset and cannot be replaced by another asset. NFTs are often used to represent items in games or digital worlds. For example, an avatar in

Keaynna Harper Founder Obsidian People Indie Incognito columnist



Cuban Saxophonist, composer, band leader of two musical projects Iresi & iQba is a recording artist at SunnySide Records Jazz Label and a Grammy Nominee for his collaboration with Buena Vista Social Club Presenta a Omara Portuondo. Following the legacy of his father, Carlos Averhoff Sr., Carlos Averhoff Jr has stablished his name among the new generation of Cuban musicians. All About Jazz names Carlos "a dynamic fresh new voice on the saxophone?. Latin Jazz Network portrays his playing as ?quite extraordinarily expressive and beautiful,? further adding, ?Carlos Averhoff Jr. is a musician who is renowned as a virtuoso soloist.? The music of Carlos Averhoff Jr. offers a new hybrid sound of modern Cuban Jazz, his compositions and arrangements masterfully painting a landscape of contemporary harmonies and rhythms from his native land, Cuba. As a band leader and side man, Carlos Averhoff Jr. have performed in recognized stages and Jazz Festivals around the world such as: Carnegie Hall, Paris Philharmonic, Krakow Philharmonic, Monte-Carlo Sporting Club, Berklee Performance Center, Scullers Jazz Club, Blue Note Jazz Club, Angela Peralta Teather, Barcelona Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, Irapuato International Jazz Festival among other.

Carlos Averhoff Jr. has collaborated and played alongside very well known artists from the Jazz and Latin Jazz scenario such as: Chucho Valdes & Irakere, Chucho Valdes & La Creacion, drummers Louis Hayes, Jimmy Cobb; Bob Moses, Cuban drummer Horacio ?El Negro?Hernandez; pianists Jason Moran; Roberto Fonseca; saxophonists Dave Liebman, Greg Osby; Bill Pierce, Paquito de Rivera and the list goes on. In US, Carlos Averhoff Jr. continued his studies in Jazz Performance at Berklee College Of Music graduated with bachelor degree, Suma Cum Laude and The New England Conservatory, Master Degree graduated with honors. Carlos Averhoff Jr. took instruction from Jazz luminaries Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Ed Tomassi, Frank Tiberi, Greg Osby, Bill Pierce, Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano, Jason Moran, Cecil McBee, Ran Blake, John McNeil and Donny McCaslin.

Carlos has also collaborated in many aspects with respected drummers: Louis Hayes, Jimmy Cobb, Bob Moses; Cuban drummers Horacio El Negro Hernandez and Calixto Oviedo, pianists Jason Moran, Chucho Valdes, Roberto Fonseca and Alexis Boch; saxophonists Dave Liebman, Greg Osby, Bill Pierce, Paquito de Rivera; Cuban singers Isaac Delgado and Augusto Enriquez. In addition to Latin Grammy nominated recordings with Omara Portuondo and Buena Vista Social Club, Manuel Guajiro Mirabal, Roberto Fonseca and Temperamento, Pablo Milanes, Cuban Rumba group Los Papines, among others. Carlos Averhoff, Jr currently resides in Dallas, Texas.

NEW ALBUM ?TOGETHER?-HONORING MY FATHER COLLABORATION WITH WORLDWIDE RECOGNIZED ARTISTS is h er e "a dynamic fresh new voice on the saxophone? - All About Jazz ?his playing is quite extraordinarily expressive and beautiful? - Latin Jazz Network -

Danielle M. Bat iste From Denial to Determined Learning to live wit h Type 2 Diabetes By C NaTasha Richburg Life has a way to whisper guidance as lessons to allow imperfect people to walk a perfect path to meet their destiny. Danielle M. Batiste, a native of Louisiana, has enjoyed the food traditions influenced by Creole cuisine, Cajun Cuisine, and Soul Food with dishes such as Beignet, Jambalaya, Crawfish Boil, heaping Po'Boy sandwiches, and much more. These dishes represented dietary pleasantries that fill memories of gladness associated with good times. Danielle also has a military background, including worldwide travel with various lifestyle experiences. Currently residing in Newport News, VA, she lives with her family. Yet, Danielle had no idea the future would include a health challenge that would place her in a position to help others cope with life's challenges. Usually a person of good health, Danielle started feeling off-kilter one day. Eventually, Danielle went to the doctor only to learn she had Type 2 diabetes. Her diagnosis sent shock waves through her system, and denial set in as an impenetrable shield of armor. However, research and a complete diagnosis investigation forged a path to acceptance. The goal to get in better health took over Danielle?s psyche. Diabetes is not new to the list of diseases most familiar to Americans. According to medical news, "Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes high blood sugar levels. Early signs and symptoms can include frequent urination, increased thirst, feeling tired and hungry, vision problems, slow wound healing, and yeast infections." Eventually, the diagnosis went from Danielle's denial phase to the determined stage.

A conversation with Danielle yielded the following lessons of hope for all who desire to use their diagnosis of diabetes to put them on the road to better health: Descr ibe you r accept an ce of you r in it ial diagn osis. My acceptance of diabetes came a whole year and a half after my first symptom happened. I was scared, and disbelief came over me. I said to myself, this SH%$ is real. The part I could not accept about having diabetes, and still sometimes to this day, was the pricking of my fingers twice a day. The development of the FreeStyle Libre has solved the finger pricking problem.

This journey to better health has made me more in tune with my body. It's like my body, and I synchronized as ONE well-functioning unit. Also, I get to talk to other diabetics, and we can bounce ideas off each other. I have come up with many different ideas and ways to help people with diabetes. Wh at is a ch allen gin g day?

According to It is no longer necessary to prick your skin [finger], with the FreeStyle Libre system. Instead, you attach a small sticky chip (sensor) to your skin (a commonly known place that works well is the back of the upper arm. Discu ss ch an ges in you r eat in g h abit s. I left my fried food alone. That was the biggest thing for me. However, I have fried food on my cheat days. After all, you can deprive yourself of small amounts of guilty pleasures from time to time because if you don't you may make a mistake and eat ten times more. I have incorporated a lot of green vegetables into my diet, which was not my favorite before diabetes. Still, the greens are part of my lifeline to eating healthier and cleaner. I watch my carbs along with my sugar intake and eat what my doctor advises. Each person will have to tweak everything they eat to fit what works because everyone is different. For me, diabetes has been a lifestyle change. I now believe in portion sizes and eating in moderation. I pay attention to what my body tells me to eat. I know what agrees with me and what doesn't. Descr ibe you r daily act ivit ies. A day in the life of Danielle starts first thing in the morning, taking my Metformin and checking my blood sugar. I usually eat two boiled eggs and get dressed to begin my 8-hour day. I drink lots of water, which is good because it is my detox process.

When diabetes gets to me, my numbers are off after doing everything I need to do to stay on top of it. I have to realize that I'm only human, and this disease will do what it does whether you are on point or off-kilter. What I mean by this is sometimes I go thru hypoglycemia, and the feeling is terrible with the dizziness. For me, the sense of not being in control is the worst, but at least I know how to correct it. My mind is set on maintaining this disease every day, constantly, and daily. On challenging days, I beat myself up for not taking diabetes seriously from the beginning of my diagnosis when I was in the pre-diabetic range. Diabetes came into Danielle?s life to teach lessons about how diet and exercise contribute to healthy living. Danielle's former lifestyle ignored the potential pitfalls of overindulging in fried food. In a personal reflection for blessings learned on the path to better health, Danielle declared as she looked diabetes in the eyes, "I want to thank you, diabetes, for showing me that without you, I was already on a course for destruction. Now, I want to thank you for showing me a healthy way of eating, exercising, and the ability to publicly speak to others who received their initial diabetes diagnosis. These eight years have taught me a lot, and I am ready for the rest of the journey.


healthy works



M ichael Carolina

M ar ch f or Ou r Lives h eads t o Wash in gt on , D.C., again . The gun-violence-prevention organization is gathering supporters again in response to another deadly school shooting.

ByHaben Kelati June 8, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. EDT

People gather in Washington, D.C., for the March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018. The youth-led march against gun violence was a reaction to the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Last month's shooting in Uvalde, Texas, caused March for Our Lives to plan a similar event for Saturday with sister marches in other cities. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

In 2018, the March for Our Lives (MOFL), a youth-led gun-violence-prevention organization, staged the biggest gun violence protest in history. The group plans to do it again Saturday in Washington, D.C. The march will begin at the Washington Monument at noon. The route has not been announced. Confirmed speakers include MOFL co-founders and school shooting survivors David Hogg and X González. There will also be more than 450 sister marches across the country. Four years ago, the protest ? and the organization itself ? was a response toa shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schoolin Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 14 students and three staff members. An estimated 1.4 million to 2.2 million people marched at 763 locations, according to a Washington Post analysis. On May 24, 17 elementary-school students and two teachers were shot and killed in a school in Uvalde, Texas, prompting the organization to mobilize another march in less than three weeks.

Zoe Touray, who graduated in May from Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, traveled to Washington to participate in the march after being invited by MOFL organizers. The 18-year-old is a survivor of a school shooting that killed four of her classmates in November. ?I?m hoping that we can actually get some change this time. I know it?s been like a lot of movement on both sides at this point,? she says about what she thinks the march can accomplish. Touray wants new laws requiring stricter background checks for those who want to buy guns and safer gun storage for those who own them. With hundreds of chapters across the country, MOFL aims to ?harness the power of young people across the country to end all forms of gun violence in America.? Over 75 percent of their staff are members of Generation Z, according to their website, meaning they are 25 years old or younger. It is these young people and their efforts to keep organizing that makes Touray optimistic about the future. ?All the different people that are working to put this stuff together, they make me hopeful because ? they have such a passion about it,? she says. Touray says if kids want to get involved with MOFL, they should ask a parent if they can text ?MARCH? to the number: 954-954. This will give information about the closest march to them and other ways to help the organization.

Haben Kelati Haben Kelati is a news aide at The Washington Post. She has previously contributed to the Real Estate section's Where We Live column.Twitter David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, attends a gun-violence protest Friday in Washington. Hogg will be among the speakers at Saturday's march. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


This Pride Month, we?re spotlighting and celebrating LGBTQIA+ creators who champion queer visibility through their creative works? including Crystal Anderson and Lakiesha Herman who spearhead the Clio Award-winning experiential house,a very good job. Founded by the power couple in 2020, ?a very good job? is an advertising house focused on film, television, music, and fashion. Initially establishing themselves as an events company, the co-founders quickly pivoted to premium gifting experiences for major film and TV launches, and have since worked with networks such as Showtime, STARZ, HBO Max, Netflix, and Amazon Studios to help brands and studios tell their stories. Herman is a designer and digital strategist whose work has spanned the advertising and music industries. Most notably, she has worked at ad agencies BBDO and Translation, and at Columbia Records, playing an integral part in projects for companies and musical artists like State Farm, FedEx, Solange, and John Legend. Anderson, who adds her hands-on expertise to the picture, attended Howard University and has experience spearheading production on some of the most popular experiential events like Tough Mudder, the Museum of Ice Cream, and 29Rooms. Together, these two fierce leaders use their platform to destigmatize conversations around mental health and promote narratives of what it means to navigate the world as Black queer women. You can check out more of their workhereon Creatively and@hellocreativelyon Instagram.

What is the first creative project you remember? We produced our first live event together in March 2020 while we were both still employed at our nine-to-fives? we immediately knew we wanted to make this our full-time job

Meet Crystal Anderson and Lakiesha Herman of a very good job.


Hillman Grad Homecoming, March 2020

Describe your aesthetic in three words. Weird. Wonderful. Wild.

. Wh at w as t h e m ost f u lf illin g collabor at ion you ?ve w or ked on ? Our work on Blindspotting with Starz was our most fulfilling project. We took a chance and went super conceptual and the project came out so cool! We ended up winning the biggest award of our careers with that project. Wh at 's on e cr eat ive pr oject t h at t au gh t you som et h in g f u n dam en t al abou t you r self ?

HBO Max: "And Just Like That" influencer mailers

What a tricky question! I genuinely have taken so many learnings from each project. I had never worked in the agency world before creating a very good job, so I've become an intern and a founder and head of creative at the same time! -Crystal Do you t h in k cr eat ivit y is som et h in g you ?r e bor n w it h , or som et h in g you ?r e t au gh t ? I believe creativity evolves as long as you allow yourself to be weird and throw ideas out. I genuinely think we have to let kids be wild without borders. Those kids become the creative geniuses. -Crystal

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work? I want people to talk about how we made space for other Black Queer people. We want to be remembered as people who disrupted the ad world and forged a new space for other people to walk. We want young folks to walk by the house we used to live in and say, ?that's where Crystal and Kiesh made a very good job.?

I think everyone is born creative, but rarely do people survive past childhood and still believe in it. Either through art scars or institutionalization, it's lost, and that's a great shame. We've missed out on so many geniuses. -Kiesh Wh at ?s a dr eam collabor at ion or pr oject you 've alw ays w an t ed t o do? Our dream project is to produce the Academy Awards gifting suite! It's been on our radar for so long and is a dream collaboration! STARZ: "Blindspotting" influencer mailers ? Recipient of Clio Award for "Best TV/ Streaming Press Kits" (Bronze)

Johann Walt er Bant z

photo by Kazuo Ota

FILM ?Em er gen cy ?: M eet t h e Film m ak in g Du o Wh o Cr ossed ?Har old & Ku m ar ?w it h ?Get Ou t ?f or a Su n dan ce Hit Director Carey Williams and writer K.D. Dávila tell IndieWire how they subverted teen party movie tropes for the entertaining comedy thriller. by Jude Dry May 27, 2022

That premise fueled the short of the same name to a Sundance Jury Award as well as taking home Best Narrative Short at SXSW in 2018. The film marked the first collaboration between director Carey Williams and writer K.D. Dávila, who met during Film Independent?s flagship inclusivity program Project Involve, which counts amongst alumnae the likes of Jon M. Chu, Justin Simien, and Lulu Wang. With so much interest in the short at SXSW, Williams announced that they were working on a feature before even discussing it with Dávila. ?I came up with the idea basically on the spot that day, as he?s started

?Emergency? Quantrell Colbert/ Amazon Studios

telling everyone I was writing it,? the screenwriter told IndieWire. ?I was like, well, the only version I can see that makes any sense is one that all takes place on

Best friends and seniors Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins)

one night. So that?s the constraint I put on myself. ? I

and Sean (RJCyler) set out to hit up every major

like to take a concept that you?ve seen before and try

Greek party on their campus circuit, something that

to turn it on its head in some way.?

was long ago dubbed a ?Legendary Tour.? But being two young Black men in a not-your-average college party movie, the fun is over before it begins. Their epic night is abruptly interrupted by the sudden appearance of a young white girl, who the guys find passed out in their living room. Together with their friend and comedy sidekick Carlos (Sebastian Chacon), this trio is faced with an impossible dilemma: Whether to call 911 or not. What ensues is a darkly funny social satire that teeters on the verge of horror at every turn ? a scathing reflection of the everyday occurrences that can too quickly turn horrific for young Black men.

?Emergency? Quantrell Colbert/ Amazon Studios read full article

Johann Walt er Bant z

photo by Ian Schneider


Clem son Un iver sit y Doct or al can didat e AD Car son def en ds h is disser t at ion in t h e Wat t Fam ily In n ovat ion Cen t er au dit or iu m , Feb. 26, 2017


Clem son doct or al st u den t pr odu ces r ap albu m f or disser t at ion an d it goes vir al. Source Clemson News Clemson University doctoral student A.D. Carson is many things ? poet, activist, and rap artist to name a few ?- but ?typical Ph.D. candidate? is not one of them. So, when it came to writing a dissertation, he couldn?t simply write a traditional one. Instead, he produced a 34-song rap album that already has the internet buzzing. The album,?Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes and Revolutions?uses Hip-Hop to explore such ideas as identity, justice, economics, citizenship and language. The songs have garnered tens of thousands of views on YouTube, more than 50,000 streams and downloads on SoundCloud, and hundreds of thousands of hits on Facebook -? all before Carson defends them as a whole to his doctoral committee Feb. 24 in the Watt Family Innovation Center auditorium. Using a music album for a dissertation, as opposed to the usual written document, has never been done at Clemson before, but Carson says it was the only way he could do it. ?I had people ask, ?Are you doing this just to be provocative? Is this a gimmick??My response is ?absolutely not.?This is my way of being in the world,? said Carson, who speaks with effortless eloquence and cuts a cool and dignified figure in a ball cap, T-shirt and dark grey sweater with a ?Reading is Sexy? badge pinned to it. ?Both my senior and master ?s theses were on music that I?d been making, so at this point I figure, you don?t get to the one-yard line ? to use a metaphor that Clemson will understand ? and then put the ball down.?

Carson recorded the album in a small studio he put together in his apartment near campus, using Adobe recording software made available to all Clemson students. He enlisted two childhood friends from Illinois, Blake E. Wallace and Marcus Fitzgerald, to help produce it. The resulting music has a production value good enough to rival anything on the charts today. At Clemson, Carson discovered that one of his professors, Chenjerai Kumanyika, just happened to be a former Hip-Hop musician with a Ph.D. in mass communication. Before he became an assistant professor at Clemson, Kumanyika was in the Hip-Hop group ?The Spooks,? which had several gold and platinum records in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Kumanyika became a mentor to Carson and provided literature and insight on theory and methodology that informed his dissertation. ?A.D. Carson?s virtuosic musical performance and composition, his scholarly rigor, and his deep literacy with African-American cultural production are all on display in his mostly completed dissertation,? said Kumanyika. ?The project, which has already been referenced publicly by such leading scholars in popular music culture as Mark Anthony Neal, explores complicated questions related to the art, criticism, and knowledge production in the context of the ongoing problem of global racial and class hierarchies within and beyond the academy. Throughout the process, Carson has been clear and committed to his vision.?

The album begins with the scratchy notes of a fiddle and banjo playing the classic Southern anthem ?Dixie,? but then it slips into beat-driven Hip Hop with rapid-fire lyrics and cadence that wouldn?t seem out of place on contemporary albums by Jay Z or Common. Carson uses a diverse selection of samples throughout the album ? from Aretha Franklin to the soundtrack of the movie Django Unchained -? which he equates to the quoting of sources in a standard dissertation. ?The central thesis of my dissertation is: Are certain voices treated differently?? said Carson. ?I?m trying to examine how an authentically identifiable black voice might be used or accepted as authentic, or ignored, or could answer academic questions and be considered rightly academic. So, I have to present a voice rather than writing about a voice.? Carson has never been one to take the path of least resistance. Throughout his childhood in Decatur, Ill. ? where his father was a factory worker and his mother a caretaker for her disabled brother ? Carson was more a seeker of knowledge than a dreamer of fame and fortune. ?My parents divorced when I was fairly young, and I have seven siblings,? he explained. ?I mostly grew up with my mother and one ? sometimes two ? of my brothers. We moved from one apartment to another just about every nine months. I attended a different school every year until my junior and senior years of high school. I think that might?ve inspired a lot of writing for me during those times.? His thirst for comprehension drove him to become the first in his family to graduate college.

He received undergraduate degrees in English (Secondary Education) and writing from Millikin University in Decatur and his master ?s degree in English from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Clemson?s rhetorics, communication and information design (RCID) Ph.D. program drew him to the Upstate. The program is cross-cultural and transdisciplinary, and offers an academic-professional degree designed to prepare students to conduct research and to disseminate their findings through teaching and publishing in professional journals. ?The [RCID] program here is really innovative,? said Carson. ?When I spoke to the director of the program, he knew that I was working for the Urban League, and was a writer-in-residence for a university?s literary journal, and doing a lot of other things. I operated in a lot of different worlds and he said ?Yes, that?s what we do ? that?s what we want!?? Clemson associate professor of English Jillian Weise, herself an award-winning poet on the national stage, said being a member of Carson?s dissertation committee has broadened her notion of what a thesis ? and literature itself ? can be. ?It expanded my comfort zone. I listened to rap, but I hadn?t been analyzing it until coming on board as a dissertation committee member,? she said. ?One thing I think is really amazing is we?re in the year when the Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Bob Dylan. To me, I just see in the next 50-100 years, the Nobel will go to a rapper. There?s that potential. I really believe in the power of the lyric.?

A.D. Carson receives his Ph.D. in a ceremony in the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, May 15, 2017.

Carson?s music already has demonstrated the kind of power Weise referenced. One of the tracks, ?See The Stripes? ? a spoken-work poem full of biting metaphoric imagery imploring students to ?see? the black stripes in the Clemson Tiger, not just the bright orange normally associated with the football team ? generated nearly 15,000 views on YouTube alone and sparked a public dialogue online and on campus in 2015 that eventually involved Clemson?s administration and led to a series of lectures, discussions, performances, exhibitions and peaceful protests. Carson credits the university for encouraging such open discussion.

?I would not have been able to do the work or learn what I?ve been able to learn had it not been for coming here,? he said. ?The challenges and the triumphs are all a product of this particular space, and my critical perspective has been sharpened here.? Carson admits that some people will find parts of ?Owning My Masters? offensive, but that is part of the design. ?There are challenging lyrics and even challenging language. Those are deliberate choices I?m making. That?s part of the kind of engagement that we need,? he said. ?Sometimes it?s difficult to find the opportunity to approach a conversation about language. Hip-Hop makes it an organic engagement.?

Carson carefully controlled every detail in the 34 songs, and he laid out the amount of thought that went into them by using one as an example:. ?There?s a song called Familiar that uses a classic trap beat ? trap being a distinct form of rap with a very deliberate tempo and drum pattern that originated in the South, specifically Atlanta. So it?s not just a style of music ? it speaks to the circumstance the people who make it might be in,? he explained. ?The form of the song is imitating Langston Hughes?Dream Variations, a poem that has two stanzas that are very close to one another ? and the content is informed by James Baldwin?s idea that Americans are trapped in history and history is trapped in us. So think about using this rap form called trap that originates in the South, in a song where you don?t know if the verses are the present or the past ? it?s subtle but it works on a lot of different levels.? The resulting record is breaking boundaries and challenging assumptions even long-time faculty members have about academics. impact his dissertation will make in the opening lyrics to the second song on his album, ?Dissertation [Part 1: The Introduction]?: They say History is written by the victors, so when you see my picture in the book it?ll be consistent with my memory, my victories, my tendencies that tempered me and wintered me. Cold, like those Chi City winds, ?cause they?re blistering. It?s in my DNA. It?s in my bloodline. What I do is much deeper than a punchline. | Words and stuff by A.D. Carson.

Johann Walt er Bant z

Articles from Indie Incognito Summer 2022 Issue