Tag Archives: #AfricanAmerican

My Heart Was Built For War

I was told that in life, I would come across some trying times — that I should be prepared to be strong and fight with all of my heart. Those trying times are now upon us but my heart…was built for war. ~Toi Powell

Memories of my past and moments not so distant, reverberate within my chest as I summon the pain I once buried. The pain, it hurts. It burns within me like hot lava beneath a violent earth, promising to rupture at the slightest disturbance.

There ought to be another word to describe the breaking of ones heart besides “heartbroken.” The word just doesn’t do the act, nor the result of it, justice. It is much deeper than that. A heart and spirit so shattered and bruised should not, by any logical standard, function, at all.

The calluses surrounding my heart has formed a protective barrier, enshrining the glowing red shards left over from life’s battles. Whatever is left of it still feels, still hopes, still hurts.

When the first thing you have ever loved introduces the sting of betrayal and dishonesty, there is a special kind of “pain” that seems unrelenting. No matter how much modern medicine has tried to heal it, it cannot heal this. The pain of disappointing, hurtful, abandoning parents/loved ones, the first gods before you knew one, that kind of pain, it never leaves you. Therapy is but a tool, although helpful, tricks your mind into looking past it — to move forward so that you can function as a decent human being in society. But the heart, it knows. It never forgets.

Love is, of course, what our souls desire. It is our purpose. It is what the universe is made of. Procreation, mating and passion, begets life, creation and continued existence. So beautiful, so magical, yet at times, so unattainable. How exhausting is the journey, to have found it and in no fault or in every fault of your own, you have lost it?

Oh the heart, my 5 star general-ess, tired, worn and battle ridden. On the front lines, disabled, yet always charging full steam ahead. My general-ess is bold and brave. She feels and fights not only for her host, but for others who have fallen in life’s battles along the way. She expands, beyond her capacity to love those who cannot love for themselves. Her compassion reaches to the darkest corners of the earth, straining to touch them all. But compassion comes at a price.

Compassion cannot exist without feeling. As overwhelming as it is, one must feel. But how can a broken, wounded heart absorb the pain of others, being so close to the brink of its own devastation? Displacing ones own pain to make room for more, is like playing shuffleboard in a small box, the size of a deck of cards. The worlds pain is my Titanic, and I am desperately stuffing it into a small…box of cards.

Everything hurts. I feel everything. From war ridden countries, to babies without mothers. Genocides to homicides my heart aches to a throbbing beat. Civil rights, women’s rights, Immigration, religious rights, African American rights, LGBTQ rights, Native rights, justice for rape and domestic victims rights. Any basic rights denied to a simple human being on the face of this earth infuriates me. It tears at me. It haunts me.

My fore-fathers and fore-mothers taught us what institutions of education has failed to instill within us. When pain becomes unbearable, and betraying thoughts of surrender to the forces of evil begin to weigh down, there is a moment, if you catch it, where your fear blossoms into courage.

My ancestors had courage. They learned how to live with the pain and used it to fight for freedom, for equality, to fight for the right to love. Blockades of injustice tried to sever their spirits from their souls purpose, tearing families apart, litigating against them for being, different. Still, they used that pain to push on, the fire in them ignited forever. Every strike against them, armored their hearts for long, weary battles and equipped them with the capacity for compassion along the way.

I am a daughter of my forefathers and mothers and I am learning, as they did, to live with and to use the pain. Harnessing strength from them and within, I summon the pain from my memories past, and moments not so distant. I exhume the horrifying truths and disturb the slumbering, violent earth. I arm myself with ammunition against tyranny, patriarchy, discrimination, racism, sexism and greed.

My chin ascends to the heavens from which I came as I use these tools life has given me along the way, to fight. My compassion isn’t without consequence as I grasp the red hot blade of the worlds pain to wield it in battle against the rising evils.

Love is my saving grace. For it is because of love that I have the courage to fight. My 5 star general-ess is bold, strong and brave. She lives to fight another day. I was told that in life, I would come across some trying times — that I should be prepared to be strong and fight with all of my heart. Those trying times are now upon us but my heart…was built for war.

~ Toi Powell

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The Wiz Live – Review / Yahoo! Don’t Bring Me #NoBadNews

The Wiz is a Classic. If you don’t agree…Ease On Down The Road

I watched The Wiz Live last night and absolutely loved it! I joined the live twitter feed and of course like always, the Black Twitter family along with some honorary NON-Racist members of society, tuned in to watch together. When I say the amount of love, support, and connection that was felt through social media and throughout our culture was beyond overwhelming. It was! To laugh, applaud, shout in excitement and cry together with people you don’t know at all– but are connected as kin of the same struggle…it was epic, moving, chilling and glorious. Imagine 2 million people laughing, crying and making jokes at a family BBQ and you’re ALL related… yeah that’s Black Twitter. It was absolutely the best and proudest moment we could experience together and we LOVED @NBC for showing the magic of black actors in The Wiz to the world.

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Shanice Williams, let’s just say, I was very impressed by her musical theater presence. Being so fresh to the scene she showed a certain comfort-ability that most seasoned actors take years to attain.

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Mary J. Blige was spectacular, she was amazing, she sang DOOOOOOOWN and I was sooo proud of her. She has so many great moments in her performance and I was extremely impressed with her acting. Sure I can bypass some tiny moments of coming out of character a bit, because the amazing-ness coming from her and that amazing costume gave me all the life I needed for the night. I love her all over again!

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Neyo, David Alan Grier and Elijah Kelly were amazing as well. I was impressed wtih Neyo’s stage presence and David amazed at his role playing that Lion. Loved them. Elijah Kelley stayed in character the entire time and THAT was impressive!

THE WIZ LIVE! -- Season: 2015 -- Pictured: Common as The Bouncer -- (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)
THE WIZ LIVE! — Season: 2015 — Pictured: Common as The Bouncer — (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

Common, was ok. I could honestly do without his character. Maybe if they gave him more of a role, but how could they. I think he did pretty well for the amount of speaking lines he was given.

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Queen Latifah, I love her love her love her… but something with the songs I wasn’t really getting everything I needed from them.  She looked amazing and she was better playing herself than the Wiz honestly. Can we talk about the makeup and costumes?!! FLAWLESS! All I know is, she better work! She was still awesome to watch!

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Honey!!! AMBER freaking RILEY!!! SANG for the GODS last night! She was everything you would want in a good witch of the North! I didn’t know what else to do but stare, mouth open and absorb everything she spit out! I mean, Brava to her! She was getting DOWN with those munchkins!

Enough about my brief review – (trimmed it due to this nonsense I’m about to get into.)

I was so excited, I went to bed singing “Home” until 2 am this morning. Sang myself to sleep and woke up with the songs still in my heart. I couldn’t wait to read some reviews online because I just knew it was spectacular. And then I came across this article from Yahoo! Critic-at-large, Ken Tucker

Yahoo! Don’t Bring Me #NoBadNews

I am appalled. I speak to Ken now and any other people who don’t understand the magic of The Wiz (and no, I’m not even giving a paragraph to the idiots who said The Wiz is racist and there should be an all white cast of the Wiz. Look up Judy Garland and go back to sleep).

Ken, to say that…

The Wiz “simply isn’t a classic piece of material”

…just makes me sick. Your critique of performances is understandable, although I may not agree, I agree to disagree. But where I draw the line is when you discount a musical, one of the ONLY musicals that represent the black culture, and one of the ONLY successful earlier black productions ever to grace Broadway. To say it “simply isn’t a classic” is ridiculous!

Just because it doesn’t speak to you and people like you, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a classic!

You don’t understand the IMPACT this production, the movie and this newer modern version has had on our culture, on our creative talents and on our youth!

There are so many reason’s WHY the original “The Wiz” on Broadway may not have translated to “contemporary” audiences in prominent venues.

LIKE VIOLA DAVIS SAID: The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is OPPORTUNITY!

If there is no opportunity, how COULD it translate to “contemporary audiences”?

And who the hell is a contemporary audience anyway? If you were on Twitter last night, It was FULL of an audience who could relate, who loved it, who cried, who applauded, who had viewing parties. It was the top #1 trending topic all day AND night yesterday! So, AGAIN…. who are the members of the “contemporary” audience you speak of.

There was an overwhelming amount of support (crushing the naysayers and racists) for this production and it went on for hours! If you tuned in, you would see how our culture and others appreciated this momentous moment TOGETHER. You would see the hundreds and hundreds of tweets from people of multiple races express how they loved it as a kid, performed it in high school musicals and were actually watching it with their children…ECSTATIC to be able to share this CLASSIC with them!

To be so removed from our culture, our relations, our art, our appreciation, our CONNECTION to this CLASSIC production and movie, shows exactly WHY television needed this, why WE needed this, why this COUNTRY needed this.

Sure, Ken doesn’t need to sugar coat his critique of the performances. Ken, tell it like it is with all of your professional due diligence. BUT, do your homework, understand what’s going on here and WHY it’s important. Understand that YOU sir are just as bad as everyone else who discounts ANY and EVERYTHING we do or attempt to do, putting your “denied a classic” stamp on it because YOU are ignorant of its magic, its impact and its influence on our community!

This line here from you:

“Here’s a challenge: Name a song from The Wiz other than “Ease On Down the Road.” “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” maybe, but that’s about it.”

…. Goes to show your total and complete ignorance of this production and the “Contemporary Audience” your article is aimed at.

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“HOME”… “Home” is the biggest song of the production and movie. Stephanie Mill’s career took off from this song and it’s been a talent show staple song since! The Ballad piece is the most spectacular and popular song from The Wiz and you don’t even name it!

And What about “You Can’t Win”? Michael Jackson Slaaaaayed that song in the movie! That’s MY favorite! C’mon man!

Me AND Michael are looking at you crazy!

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As far as I’m concerned your critique means NOTHING because you KNOW nothing about the magic and the message of The WIZ.

This line you say here:

“The idea of seeking out some powerful wisdom that will grant intelligence, courage, and freedom, only to realize that these qualities reside inside, not outside, oneself—that’s a potent, enduring theme.”

Yes, it’s a potent and enduring theme, but do you understand WHY it’s important to “our audience” to “our culture”? Because when you have people like you who call the most epic piece of African American theater “Not a classic” you, Ken, enforce the idealism that minorities are not AS important and some of us therefore have to STRUGGLE through our OWN insecurities to find the INTELLIGENCE, COURAGE and FREEDOM inside of ourselves to become better versions of OURSELVES. To create art, to succeed at what our hearts desire. Your insensitive remarks enforce and reveal your ignorance of a culture you know nothing about.

THE WIZ LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Shanice Williams as Dorothy -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
THE WIZ LIVE! — Pictured: (l-r) Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Shanice Williams as Dorothy — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

When Uzo Adubo sang “Believe in yourself” she brought tears to not only the cast on stage but to thousands of people on twitter live. Most of whom did not know that UZO is a TRAINED OPERA SINGER! That song, that message speaks VOLUMES to those of us with shattered dreams, to those of us who have to overcome way more obstacles than your “contemporary audience”. As she hugged Dorothy it was as if she hugged US. That moment, that song was pivotal and encouraged HOPE & FAITH in us but in your words:

“Uzo Aduba was positively adorable as Glinda the Good Witch.”

And… that was it. What an UNDERSTATEMENT!

While I accept your critique and agree to disagree, I am going to ask you to “simply” Ease on down the road with that “Classic” BS.
The world loved it and if you don’t believe me, go ‪#‎TheWiz‬ or #‎TheWizLive‬ on Twitter and see for yourself. Your article was mediocre at best. Have several Theater seats. Thank you!