The Second Line Blog

Revoking Vouchers: A House is Not a Home

Protecting the rights of people to have affordable housing is something Community Journalist, Lamont Douglas believes in. Check out his video.

Black Panther is an Imagination Renewed

We live in a world that generally has us functioning at a mile a minute and thrusting upon us the desire for instant gratification from issues that we have been enduring for awhile. The stop and go, “I needed it yesterday” and “how soon can I have that” mentality has found many of us lost and confused with the demand of this energy-draining society.

Subscribing to the hectic pace of this world has a large portion of our society caught within a continuous pattern of complacency reminiscent of the movie, Groundhog Day, where the same thing happens day-in and day-out. What’s truly disheartening about this lifestyle is that it tends to drain our natural energy, apply detrimental stress to the body and mind, and restricts clear thinking of any sort. This situation is also a clear cut death to one’s ability to effectively use their vivid imagination.

But there’s no need to fear for a Wakandan Savior is here! Ready to save us from our own demise. Yet, as the movie Black Panther showed us, this mission is less about his strength, technology, or vibranium but more about showing us what is already inside of us, but needs some coercing out. Here, we find our hero being our imagination agitator. It is that agitation that prompted me to write this:

Black Panther is our hope and our dreams and our wildest thoughts manifested in a familiar hue.

Black Panther is what every reading and literacy teacher aspires their students to take with them on a reading journey.

Black Panther is what every book lover experiences as they delve into every descriptive word of a novel and turn every coarse papered page of their favorite book.

Black Panther is imagination fellowshipping with aesthetics culminating in a colorful adrenaline rush that is not in a hurry, but eager to be enjoyed over a period of time.

Black Panther is You, Me, and Us.

Black Panther is all of the infinite possibilities that lie in our path waiting for us to take full advantage.

Black Panther is imagination personified in a visual presentation that sparks our greatness.

Black Panther is a vocabulary builder, letting us know that words like whimsical, quirky, and eclectic can and should be used as adjectives to describe us.

Black Panther is not just a saving, but a renewing of imagination allowing us to be greater than we have ever thought possible.

Black Panther is a superhero who allows the people to be superheroes realizing just what we possess inside of us.

Black Panther is…

Now, that I have expressed to you what Black Panther is to me, I believe you may want to have this experience for yourself. If you have already experienced the power of the Panther, I appeal to you to reflect on what the experience brought out of you. With lives fulfilled and imagination renewed, I say to you, Wakanda Forever!

Let’s Celebrate Black History Month! But Then What’s Next…

 

February 2018 is a great time to be black in New Orleans. If you have any exposure to media outlets, you’d likely agree there is an infectious positive energy associated being with being black, especially right here in New Orleans.

In addition to the recurring celebration of Black History Month, and the local celebrations of Mardi Gras, which in the city’s black culture, significantly honors the Zulu Club, Nomtoc Club and the recent celebration of the Treme Sidewalk Steppers, which honored our very own, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, we have been lucky enough to witness the box office phenomenon that is the release of Marvel’s Black Panther movie.

And with Black Panther breaking box office records earning a smashing $235 million during its opening weekend, you can’t help but feel the euphoria.

Even if you try your hardest not to.

But when our celebratory month comes to an end, the floats return to their warehouses, and  Black Panther is no longer in theatres, what will we be left to enthrall as it relates to our heritage?  What will we celebrate then?

How can this hypnotic black spirit carry over so we are able to keep our kids excited about their heritage throughout the year? What will remind them to be proud of their blackness rather than afraid because of the images on their televisions?

Don’t Put Your African Garb Away Just Yet!

There is something very strong and regal about African culture, and incorporating it into our lives allows opportunities for both adults and youth to learn more about the traditions of African culture, the garments, and its appropriation. We saw beautiful people adorned with African printed garbs and face paint as they graced the movie theatres. I hope you didn’t buy those items for just one special occasion! Why not make this presentation a part of your lifestyle in whatever way you choose, whether it be home decor, artwork, clothing, etc.?

While Movies Have Your Attention, Watch MORE!

What better time and opportunity to bond and discuss our heritage than during and/or after viewing visual art that illustrates the tenacity of those before and among us.  And no, these don’t all need to be slave adaptations, but even films such as Akeelah and the Bee deviate from traditional stereotypes of black communities, providing an inspirational glimpse into the life of a young black girl who braves participation in the Scripps National Spelling Bee despite an oppositional (but really just overprotective) single mother.  

Don’t Forget to Read!

Similar to the beautiful depictions and discussions derived from film, books not only provide great stimulus for discussion, but reading to and with your child has a significant impact on learning and literacy, sparking both enrichment and empowerment for the entire family.  Children are tasked to read each day in school, so involvement in your child’s book selections will not only promote their knowledge and improve their reading skills, but as parents, we can identify whether or not the content being taught in schools is providing rich and relatable content as well. Click here for a list of Essence’s suggested readings for black children

Don’t Let the Talk of Wakanda Waste Away as Chatter of the Movie Does.  

Teach and Maintain Positive Affirmations Yearlong!

How beautiful it is to speak about race without mentioning one of Trump’s egregious Tweets, a senseless murder or some other existing inequity? As a group that has been marginalized since the beginning of time, there is no better time to celebrate being black!  The association of black men as kings rather than thugs and/or targets is a beautiful thing. Black men don’t typically resonate with their beauty.  But, they are just that-beautiful.

For myself, as a 30+ year-old woman who grew up captivated with the beauty and strength of a very white Wonder Woman, this is a beautiful time for the black, female superhero to shine on the big screen, widening the frame of reference for little girls everywhere.  And, can we gloat about this being our chance to discuss science and the advancements in technology more as career paths rather than that which is not attainable or an association of black communities?  

Black History Month is representative of the ongoing pain, strength and triumph experienced by blacks in America. Black Panther presents the ideas of possibilities without restraint. Being black in America has been characterized by a wide range of defeat and oppression, yet our strength and beauty is something that has and can never be denied. So, as the months pass, and time moves on, while we are ensuring our children are protected and mindful of the harsh world in which they live, don’t forget to create space for them to celebrate and love their little black lives.

In Love with Another Man…

By Marlena Little

I’ve been in love with Black Panther since before I can remember, waaay before this weekend!  Believe it or not, I’m a comic book nerd.

I was first introduced to comics as a third grader attending a predominantly-white “gifted center/school”where children from all over the Chicago-land area were taught. It was nothing to see all my classmates, girls and boys, reading and exchanging comics over lunch, recess, and every other social time in between.

When you are identified as “gifted” and an exceptional learner, it’s easier to find solace in the pages of comic books with superheroes who had super powers and super intellect. I wasn’t readingThe Baby-Sitters Club series or a Nicholas Sparks novel;I was reading Black Panther.

Naturally, I was in love with King T’Challa. Yes, King T’Challa is Black Panther, but the man behind the mask was who my pre-teen self admired.

If you didn’t know…

1. T’Challa is a genius! He smarter than Tony Sparks any day. He studied at Oxford University and, obtained a PhD in physics. Although wealthy, he didn’t buy his intellect.

2. The title of “Black Panther” is a hereditary right of the King of Wakanda, a protector of both the land and its resources. It isn’t a title that one can just choose to become because of a suit (i.e. Batman).

3.  King T’Challa has more wealth than any other superhero in the Marvel Universe at $90 trillion. Frankly, the net worth of Wakanda’s resources would be worth more than the GDP of our current, real world.

As ae pre-teen, adolescent and young lady, I loved T’Challa.

But Friday night, I fell in love with Killmonger.

I’m in love with another man.

Before Friday, I loved what Black Panther represented to me. Education. Intellect. Strength. Unity. Pride. T’Challa is the epitome of “Black Excellence,” from his pride in his country, his tribe, to the ways in which he chooses to serve and protect his people. He understands the detriment of colonization and protects his people at any cost. Hiding “in plain sight” is how he’s survived.

He effortlessly demonstrates my motto – Real G’s move in silence.

But as a woman, I have fallen in love with Erik Killmonger.

In Marvel Universe, Erik’s parents are killed by Klaw, who then takes him captive.  Erik escapes to the United States and despite not having a family, let alone a father to be his living example, graduated from MIT. What he doesn’t have in wealth, he has in passion.

Black Panther movie director Ryan Coogler amended this part of the story to provide us with a juxtaposition of T’Challa. Erik is a man who is equally intelligent, equally passionate and equally instinctive – with a completely different foundation. Where T’Challa represents Black Excellence at its finest, one could describe Killmonger as the antithesis.

And if you did so, you’d be sadly mistaken. Erik is completely misunderstood if he is seen as the “Angry Black Man.” He knows from whence he came and who he is. He carries his birthright, hidden in plain sight – literally and figuratively, he is connected to Wakanda. He carries this, knowing he can neither return to Wakanda nor fight against it.

His scars are not ritualistic, yet they resemble those of his people. He dons a reminder of those he has killed, self-mutilating not as a badge of honor, but as a necessity – a means to an end. He seeks revenge for his father, which means destroying a piece of who he is. He recognizes the struggle of the oppressed and is furious that his family has not only abandoned him, but also the people who look just like him.

Erik is not evil or full of hate. He is what we could call “woke.”

As a girl, I needed T’Challa in my life. I loved T’Challa’s mind and his vision. I relied on his pride and emulated that for myself, being in a world that didn’t look like me.  During the day, I went to school with my head held high knowing I belonged among my white counterparts. After school, I returned to my “hood.”

Yet, as a woman, I can no longer be comfortable with simply getting the education and preserving my legacy. I need to help my people who don’t have, give them tools to not just succeed, but fight back. I sometimes tell my students to channel their anger – be angry enough to make a change, be angry enough to use all your time getting the education you deserve that hasn’t been given to you.  Be angry enough to go against your people who aren’t doing what they can.

I almost jumped out of my seat at the end of the movie where we see T’Challa and Erik sharing a moment after Erik’s defeat. T’Challa offers Erik restoration, a sort of restorative justice, to which Erik responds,

“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships because they knew death was better than bondage…”

There is no life in bondage – whether by those who look like you or those who do not. While we all may go to the movies, showing pride in our heritage, and #doitfortheculture, let’s ensure that when this movie is done, we are as enthusiastic about honoring our culture and legacy through empowerment, education, and access.

Let’s make sure that more stories are told, more images are seen, not just on the big-screen, but in our living rooms, on the streets, in our classrooms – everywhere. I challenge us all to embrace a bit of Killmonger in our lives, not just T’Challabecause both are representations of who we are.

Because I need to put away my childish things, I must say: I used to be in love with T’Challa, but I’m a woman now and I need me some Killmonger.

Black History in New Orleans

New Orleans celebrates Black History at various locations in the city.  From Treme to Tulane University, you won’t have to look far to find yourself immersed in the rich Black culture of the city.  It is important to teach our children about Black History Month and to be lifelong learners ourselves.  Explore and enjoy!
Read more here

Black Women- Backbone, Heart and Soul

By Gary Hardie

Black women didn’t just start coming to the rescue in 2017, saving US Senate races. They have a long-standing history of being the backbone, heart, and soul of movements, revolutions, and shaping history. The cliché, “Behind every successful man is a strong woman,” could not be more accurate for black women.

We don’t have to travel far through history to find examples of this. Michelle Obama was the most decorated first lady in our nation’s history. She was Ivy-League educated, championed girls’ education, nutrition and served as a shining example of grace, poise, and elegance as she served alongside the first black President of the United States. But for every Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, or Harriet Tubman, whose platform allowed them to break barriers, 100 black women worked behind the scenes to support movements, sacrificed, marched, boycotted and cooked while they played integral roles in shaping history. We must make sure we tell their stories. I recently learned about a black woman, an unsung hero of the civil right movement, who was instrumental in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Zephyr Wright was the personal chef of President Lyndon B. Johnson and his family for over 27 years. During her time at the White House, she was dubbed “queen of the kitchen on the second floor” and was known to have learned the family’s tastes so well she rarely had to ask Mrs. Johnson what she should cook. “I have yet to find a great chef whose desserts I like as well as Zephyr’s,” remarked First Lady Johnson.

Wright was hired by Lady Bird Johnson in 1942 as she majored in home economics at the historic black college, Wiley College. She would make meals for family dinners and when the Johnson’s entertained guests. When the family moved to the white house, Wright and her husband followed. She, as the personal chef. Her husband as a messenger. While at the White House, Zephyr worked to ensure President Johnson was fit and healthy, often consulting with white house physician, Rear Admiral George Burkley to craft meals that were both appetizing and low in calories. Though she controlled the calories, she had trouble controlling the portions President Johnson requested. She once sent him a note that read, “Eat what I put in front of you and don’t ask for more and don’t complain!”

The relationship Wright had with President Johnson afforded her the ability to speak openly and honestly and offer her perspective on vital issues. One such issue, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Lady Bird Johnson asked Zephyr to drive one of the family dogs back to Texas. Wright declined, explaining that black people had a hard-enough time finding a place that will accommodate them and it would be doubly hard to do so with a pet. Wright’s sharing this perspective with the Johnsons is said to be the reason a public accommodation section preventing segregation was in the bill. In lobbying Congress for this specific provision, President Johnson often used Zephyr’s experiences as evidence. When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he saved one is his pens for Mrs. Wright.

Though men often get all or most of the glory, women have had just as much if not more influence on shaping the past and the present. They will undoubtedly shape the future as they take their rightful places, taking on prominent roles in government, industries that have been dominated by men and shattering every glass ceiling in the way of reaching their goals. This Black History Month, it’s important to make sure we tell the stories of the many women who, like Zephyr Wright, served as the backbone, heart, and soul, but rarely have their stories told.