The Difference Between a Slave and a Prisoner Is That the Slave Has Given Up His Will, the Prisoner Is Being Held Against His Will
{liberatormagazine.com exclusive feature}by Faro-Z
Slavery:// Submission to a dominating force (Webster).
// That civil relation in which one man has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another (Black’s Law).
Prisoner:// A person deprived of liberty and kept under involuntary restraint, confinement, or custody (Webster).
// One who is deprived of his liberty; one who is against his will kept in confinement or custody (Black’s Law).
13th Amendment (US Constitution):// Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
// Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
According to the definition of the word slave, we can not say that all the kidnapped Africans who survived the middle passage were made into slaves. More accurately, we should call them prisoners or P.O.W.’s. Even if they worked plantation fields for a limited time or until their death, as long as they possessed a rebellious, defiant mind and spirit they could never become slaves. More than for a sense of ancestral pride, this is a very important historical and psychological observation to make. 
The visual image of a slave is a very strong one. It carries a heaviness to it. It reflects someone who is helpless, weak-willed, and unintelligent. It carries the idea of someone who lacks power; a person who has no hope. A slave is someone who has accepted servitude as their place in life. 
This would be historically inaccurate in referring to the state of black people during 16th-19th centuries. The records of hundreds of revolts, rebellions, rebellious acts, and escapes from white bondage prove that in the eyes of Africans this whole slavery business was to be fought against and won. There have been numerous free black states (maroon societies, quilombos) that were created during this time who fought against and in many cases defeated European armies that would try to force these Africans back into bondage. How logical is it then to call a man a slave who obviously refuses to accept that title, who refuses to submit? 
Additionally, when using this title to refer to our ancestors, we have to remember that “slave” is an ethnic European vocabulary term and concept. “Slave” was not how we identified ourselves. 
So, did slavery ever happen? I must acknowledge that many of our ancestors did become enslaved; enslaved in their minds and spirits by European torture and brainwashing. Similarly, many of our people are still enslaved to this very day. They lack fire in their chests and have accepted servitude to Europeans as their place in life. They do not know that to fight against European dominance is their birth right. Slavery, just as freedom, is a concept. It exist in the mind, and is reflected in behavior.

The Difference Between a Slave and a Prisoner Is That the Slave Has Given Up His Will, the Prisoner Is Being Held Against His Will


{liberatormagazine.com exclusive feature}
by Faro-Z


Slavery:
// Submission to a dominating force (Webster).

// That civil relation in which one man has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another (Black’s Law).


Prisoner:
// A person deprived of liberty and kept under involuntary restraint, confinement, or custody (Webster).

// One who is deprived of his liberty; one who is against his will kept in confinement or custody (Black’s Law).


13th Amendment (US Constitution):
// Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

// Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


According to the definition of the word slave, we can not say that all the kidnapped Africans who survived the middle passage were made into slaves. More accurately, we should call them prisoners or P.O.W.’s. Even if they worked plantation fields for a limited time or until their death, as long as they possessed a rebellious, defiant mind and spirit they could never become slaves. More than for a sense of ancestral pride, this is a very important historical and psychological observation to make. 

The visual image of a slave is a very strong one. It carries a heaviness to it. It reflects someone who is helpless, weak-willed, and unintelligent. It carries the idea of someone who lacks power; a person who has no hope. A slave is someone who has accepted servitude as their place in life. 

This would be historically inaccurate in referring to the state of black people during 16th-19th centuries. The records of hundreds of revolts, rebellions, rebellious acts, and escapes from white bondage prove that in the eyes of Africans this whole slavery business was to be fought against and won. There have been numerous free black states (maroon societies, quilombos) that were created during this time who fought against and in many cases defeated European armies that would try to force these Africans back into bondage. How logical is it then to call a man a slave who obviously refuses to accept that title, who refuses to submit? 

Additionally, when using this title to refer to our ancestors, we have to remember that “slave” is an ethnic European vocabulary term and concept. “Slave” was not how we identified ourselves. 

So, did slavery ever happen? I must acknowledge that many of our ancestors did become enslaved; enslaved in their minds and spirits by European torture and brainwashing. Similarly, many of our people are still enslaved to this very day. They lack fire in their chests and have accepted servitude to Europeans as their place in life. They do not know that to fight against European dominance is their birth right. Slavery, just as freedom, is a concept. It exist in the mind, and is reflected in behavior.

25 Years Later: Howard U Student Protest of 1989

{liberatormagazine.com exclusive feature}
by April R. Silver

1989. 25 years ago, students at Howard University took over the “A” (administration) building. [editor’s note: Anniversary Panel Discussion, Friday April 11th at Howard] We occupied the building until March 5th. Hundreds of us, led by The Coalition of Concerned Students, were protesting ten things and we decided that the most important was the removal of Lee Atwater from the Board of Trustees of this historically Black university. Aarian Pope (now Aarian Punter) was the one who bought the Atwater issue to Black Nia F.O.R.C.E. in late February (Black Nia FORCE, the student org founded by Ras Baraka). In Douglas Hall, room 116, the members of BNF couldn’t believe that our beloved university had such a man on the board. The more we sat and talked that Friday night at our weekly meeting, the more it was obvious that this was unacceptable. The plan for direct action was being shaped and over the course of two weeks we had countless meetings and debates about how to take our university back and how to language and present our grievances to the university. We sought advice from a few trusted adults, we worked in committees, we researched the issues, and we outreached to other student groups on campus. On the day we actually went to have a meeting with the president of the university about our grievances, we even said a prayer in the lobby of the “A” building. I was the executive minister of BNF at the time so I was designated as the spokesperson of the group. We were a small but determined coalition: Sheri Warren, David Porter Sr, Garfield Swaby, Rob Turner, Zenobia, Ras, and I. We worked hard to make this a campus-wide direct action, to get more students engaged. Truthfully, most of the people didn’t join in until they saw that we were serious. Kicking Bill Cosby off the stage during Charter Day ceremony a few days before the unannounced take over might have been a clue that something was brewing. The local and national news attention, Jesse Jackson’s (carefully orchestrated) appearance, and that of Ralph Abernathy might have been another clue that this was something big. The SWAT team that stormed the building in an effort to remove us I’m sure let the world know that were were indeed serious about what we believed in.

Sonia Sanchez, who guided me so carefully during this time (over the phone), made it all clear to me one night when we, as a group, had decided to go through with the plan to shut down the school. In effect, she said, in the most maternal way, “April, when people ask you why you are fighting against your own school, when they try to tell you that you are wrong to protest against President Cheek, when they ask you why are you going through with shutting down the school [a plan that was unknown to most at the time], you have to tell them it’s because you love Howard University, because you love Black people. You have to tell them that you are fighting because what you believe in is worth fighting for. It’s up to you all to make sure that Howard fulfills its mission to you. We fought too hard to let our Black institutions end up in the hands of people who oppose us.”

So on the 25th anniversary, as Jelani Cobb seeks to write an account of The Protest for the archives and as other projects and initiatives are being planned for this milestone anniversary year by the organizers and participants of The Protest, I’m asking myself what do I love and is it worth fighting for. In my private life, with my family, within my community, am I fighting wisely? At what point do we say “The fight is over. Tally up!” Always us, always yes, eternally. 

To my BNF family, the protest organizers, the ones who showed up, the ones who were with us in spirit, to the Rooftop Posse, to the young women who laid their bodies in front of the SWAT team thinking that that would slow them down, to the faculty and administrators, security officers and employees on campus, to Marion Barry (God bless you for calling off the SWAT team whose soul intent was to kill us) and to his aides, to Cathy Hughes who was at the time a radio host on WOL AM Radio and told WDC to come to our rescue, to all the WDC residents who sent us food and clothing and toothpaste and sanitary napkins and other sundry items because we had locked ourselves in that building with no set time to leave, to our lawyer Donald Temple, to everyone who made copies for us at their jobs so we could get the word out, to the people who watched us take over our beloved campus and said “Dem niggas is crazy,” to the HU football team, to all the people who sang and chanted in the lobby to keep the spirit alive, to the people who slipped and fell in the stairwells when the SWAT poured oil on the steps, to all the parents and caretakers who watched in horror as the helicopters hovered over the A building as though we were armed (and we weren’t), and to Bill Cosby who said to the press “These are good kids. Cheek should listen to them. They don’t mean any harm,” and to all the high school students who watched the protest on national news in their homes and decided in that moment that they too wanted to be bold and brave and said “I’m going to Howard!,” AND to whoever in the world told us that when we take over the building to NOT block the entrance or exist to the post office in the basement of the “A” building, lest we catch a federal case after everything is over, and to Morani for introducing me to his mother… to all of you, 25 years later I’m saying that I love you still with all my heart. Every waking moment of my life is somehow still tied to 1989 and how that period in time shaped me as a thinker, a woman, an activist, a proud carrier of African ancestry. I have never fully processed that moment in time on a personal level. The death threats from the skin-heads from around the country who called my dorm room had me shook for a very long time. But politically, I’m clear and always have been. We are worth fighting for, flaws and contradictions galore, we are worth fighting for… over and over again.

There’s nothing new or unique about what we did 25 years ago this day, not spiritually. New to us at the time, yes but not universally. Still, I do get nostalgic and emotional and a little sensitive looking back (no apologies for that). But mostly, I’m focused on what’s next and making sure that my love of Howard and of family is concrete…that you can see it and touch it and know that it’s real. I’m thinking about how to do my part to get Ras elected as mayor of Newark this May. I’m thinking “What is our 2014 version of the “A” building, the flagpole, 116, and the Black tam?” I’m thinking about families and friends and contradictions and lessons not learned. I’m also thinking about the fact that we’re still here, most of us. I’m thinking about how to use the time we have left for the benefit of our community so that, for instance, there’s a Howard and an HBCU for our children to attend if they desire. BNF epitomized for me something that Souljah used to say all the time: “Love is demonstrative.” With that, count me in as a life-long, joyful, fierce demonstrator, scars, gray hairs, and all.

SZA / “Sweet November" 

SZA / “Sweet November

Bedstuy’s House of Art Gallery / An Interview With Richard Beavers & Kai Deveraux Lawson

{liberatormagazine.com exclusive feature}
by Nia Iman Smith

[“Freeze Tag” (2013, 17 x 35, Oil on Canvas) by Frank Morrison; "Black in America" (11 x 14, Gelatin Silver Print) by Jamel Shabazz]

"To be truthful to yourself and never compromise is the foundation of what House of Art Gallery was about when we first opened the doors, and is what we will continue to be about."
-Richard Beavers House of Art Gallery, Bedstuy Brooklyn

Community-minded exhibitions and programming have helped establish House of Art Gallery (HOA), in the heart of Bed-Stuy, as one of the area’s most beloved cultural institutions. We sat down with gallery owner, Richard Beavers and production coordinator, Kai Deveraux Lawson to discuss HOA’s history, the importance of creating cultural equity through community engagement, and the gallery’s commitment to showing socially and culturally relevant art. 

Liberator Magazine: Let’s talk about the initial founding of HOA. What was the inspiration for its creation?

Richard Beavers: The gallery was founded in 2006, and on October 25th of that year, we had the grand opening. Prior to that, I had been traveling around the country doing art exhibitions and working with the Tom Joyner Foundation. After doing that for around seven years, I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I was in between as to what the next step was going be and I decided that I would open up an art gallery. I wanted to open it in the community that I was from and share my passion, appreciation, and understanding of the importance of art. I wanted to bring art to a community where it wouldn’t be typical to have an art gallery. I wanted the art to be reflective of the aspects of everyday life in the inner city or an urban environment, so when people walked into the gallery there would be would be work showing that they could identify [with] and relate to . 

Liberator: Prior to working with the Tom Joyner Foundation, did you have a visual arts background that drew you to your appreciation of art?

Richard: I’m not a scholar. I’m no historian. When I was a kid, my mother would take me to galleries, so that was the early influence. I remember going to a museum and seeing artwork that was not reflective of my experiences. I came home one day and told my mother that I didn’t care for art and she asked me why. After I explained why to her, she took me to Savacou Gallery which was founded by two women of color from the Caribbean. The moment I walked in there was the moment that I began to have an appreciation for art. I literally fell in love with art. So, that was my early introduction. When I got my first apartment, my mother gave me art as a gift and from there I began to collect. One of the first artists whose work I saw that really spoke to me was Leroy Campbell. I went to see his one-man show and began to work with him after that. One of my other influences was Simply Art Gallery and Frame Shop in Fort Greene. I worked with [the owner] for a number of years so that mentorship, working with Leroy and the introduction to Savacou set me on my path. 

Liberator: Kai, what was your introduction to HOA and the world of art? 

Kai Deveraux Lawson: I didn’t necessarily have one until I met Richard, which was very recently. Prior to meeting him here, I worked in advertising and was looking for an outlet to do something involving my background of production and events, which I’ve done for a number of years. When I met Richard, I told him,“You have a space that I’m sure could utilize programming.” He said, “Well, what do you do?” and I responded, “I can do that.” He gave me the opportunity to have free reign in doing that … so that’s how I got here. Through being here you learn by looking, by listening to discussions … overhearing and watching. You get to be in a space where you see art and speak with the artists. In being really immersed in the art, you pick things up and start to find pieces of yourself in it. It has become a passion of mine. 

Liberator: So, what’s your process for developing exhibitions? 

Richard: It starts with a concept and we try to stay focused on work that communicates a message. For instance, The Games We Played was a nostalgic re-visitation through art of the street and board games we played growing up. Once we came up with the concept, we began to identify the artists we felt would best be able to communicate that visually. I put together a list of games I remembered playing while growing up, did some research on the Internet, and then reached out to the artists. We wanted participation in the exhibition to be personal for them. If they didn’t see a game on the list reflecting a direct childhood experience or one they observed, we allowed them to add to the list. Then we asked each artist to choose a game to create an original work of art based off their selection to have a broad spectrum in what the work represented and who the work spoke to. We try to, and Kai laughs at me all the time, because my biggest thing is keep it simple. You know? Let’s make it simple; but let’s still be very effective with what we do so that the average person can walk in here and really pick up on the message and what it is we’re communicating. 

Liberator: One thing I’m hearing from the both of you is an emphasis on community and the importance of having people, whether they live in Bed-Stuy or not, come into gallery and not only understand the art but be able to have a personal connection to it. I’m curious to know who do you see as your clientele and what are you doing to keep the connection to the Bed-Stuy community at the forefront of what it is you show?

Richard: On a personal level, I think that with any business in whatever community it may be in there should be that responsibility to give back. As an art gallery, that responsibility is in the the programming we do, or some of the fundraisers and other initiatives we have. For example, Frank Morrison is an artist we represent and with an exhibition of his work, we did a kids art workshop. That’s our way of reaching out to young people, and hopefully introducing them to art so they will have a different and a more personal experience. 

Kai: With The Games We Played,we partnered with the Bedford-Stuyvesant Early Head Start Program to “Gift A Game.” We adopted two classrooms and gave the kids games to take home, with the hope that it would spark interest within their homes to start a family game night, if one was not already taking place. 

Richard: I think one of the biggest things also is to provide art to an under-served community. How many inner city or urban communities can say, “We have an art galley with artists ranging from emerging to established”? It’s really communicating through art and saying to people, “You matter.” When someone comes in here, looks at a painting and then says, “Yo, I remember this…” or “That’s me…,” then I think that something has been accomplished. In a lot of instances, when you go to fine art galleries or museums you can appreciate the art but may not identify with its story or message. 

Liberator: Let’s talk about some of the art that can be seen here and the artists you represent. Give me five words that describe the type of art someone would see in HOA…

Kai: Intriguing…you limited me (laughter).You see yourself in it, which is why so many people stop in. When they do come in, they feel like they want to see everything. They want to know more. The art generates curiosity, so I would say narcissistic in a good way, almost. It’s modern … it’s warm … welcoming … it’s home. Home. Family. That’s what the work is like. You see it and you get it. When you come in, there is at least one piece where you can say, “Oh I remember that…” or “When I used to…” It’s work about what people in this community and communities like it have experienced.  

Richard: I’d say raw, authentic, controversial, political, and urban. 

Liberator: You represent a good mix of established artists such as Jamel Shabazz as well as mid and early career artists. How do these artists embody the adjectives you both listed? 

Richard: I would say with Jamel Shabazz, it’s familiar. It’s raw … it’s urban and his work tells the story of the the early to mid-80s in New York. If not for him, the legacy and history of a whole generation could have been lost. He persevered [through] that. I think that’s a big part of what we are about. To preserve that legacy, tell that story, and make certain that it’s never forgotten. Frank Morrison is another artist; the story that he’s telling is so similar. He has a Cutest Kids series, where he depicts children of color in everyday life. He sees the brilliance of our children and uses it as an influence to create the work. 

Liberator: Going back to the adjectives “modern” and “raw,” do you feel that there are any significant black art movements happening now? If so, how are the artists you represent and show engaging in those movements?

Kai: As far as a movement, I don’t know. I mean there are movements, but I don’t see them as Black Diaspora-focused. The artists I’ve seen in here kind of do their own thing. To Richard’s point, one of the adjectives he used was “political” and what he says is political to me is real life. A lot of artists are just painting what they see in their life. I think that’s a movement within itself-artists feeling comfortable with being honest and vulnerable in their work. To me, Frank’s work is vulnerable. He’s showing moments in life a lot of people think we don’t do. There’s a portrait he has of a ballerina and the way he paints her form and muscle tone…how clean her arabesque is is not the media’s portrayal of what it is to be a little black girl, although there are millions of black girls that are ballerinas and have that athleticism to them. The fact that people love these works is a movement within itself. This idea of cultural honesty … this is what we really do. This is how I really feel about it, so I’m going to show you. 

Richard: I agree with a lot of what Kai said. I believe there’s a movement going on in here. An artist who is honest with themselves and creating work that may not be the norm can set up on the street and that’s a movement. It’s a movement because you never know who is going to see the work, who it’s going to inspire and what it may uplift them to do. Like Kai said, a young child comes in here and sees a ballerina, or sees a girl playing a horn or trombone…

Kai: Things that are “mainstream” looking but actually quite normal in “urban” life, so to speak. I would say going digital is a movement. The fact that a lot of artists have so much access to social media, and are able to directly reach out to people who are interested outside of galleries is a movement. They are able to have their own digital galleries, and the beauty of the work and information is able to travel faster. 

Liberator: How do you view HOA within the local and national art landscape? 

Richard: I’m thankful that HOA could have six years because there’s galleries in Chelsea that haven’t lasted six years. I know they say location is everything, but I’m a strong believer that strong art is going to bring people out regardless of where the gallery is located. Once the world gets out that the quality work is here; that it’s unique and distinctive in it’s own right then people will travel to see the art. I think it’s also important to not just think on a local level, but to think nationally and globally. That’s one of the things the internet has afforded us to do. Social media and having online campaigns has really opened up the doors for us and exposed the work to a larger audience. 

Liberator: What’s next for HOA? What can people look forward to experiencing here? 

Richard: As far as programming and a schedule for exhibitions, we don’t have a calender of what the next exhibitions are going to be three months from now, or even a year from now. It’s very organic. The Games We Played came together organically and so did the The BoomBox exhibition prior to that. I’m just inspired by everyday life and the things that I see that move me. If I see something that can translate well into an exhibition, and communicate something uplifting and inspirational to the individuals that come in here, then that’s something we’ll go with. 

Kai: The intent is to do more of everything. It’s growth. That’s what the art is about. That’s what being in business is about. That’s what this community is about. To do what we can with what we have to make sure we have a presence in the community. Not solely for business but also for cultural equity … to establish that. To also encourage people to buy more art. I know a lot of people in our community don’t feel that they can afford it, or feel that they don’t have any ties to it; “It’s not for me.. that’s for rich white folks…” and that’s not the case. There’s art for everybody. To get education about what art buying is, is also important for this year. 

Richard: Also, to maintain a space. The majority of the artists we’ve represented over the years have had a very difficult time gaining entry into the art world without having to change the subject matter or the style of the work they’re creating to be more commercial … to be less raw … less urban … less inner city. To continue to have that space for them to exhibit their work and create honestly without having to comprise the integrity of their creativity or voice is important. As a gallery owner, I could never allow myself to get to the point where there is work in here that didn’t move me or I felt didn’t have some sort of social consciousness or awareness to it. If it ever got to that point, it would be time for me to move to something else. To be truthful to yourself and never compromise is the foundation of what HOA was about when we first opened the doors, and is what we will continue to be about.

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A Race Of Angels / “Eusebea”

Jay Z x Jay Electronica / "We Made It"

GGN: Uncle Ruckus, Snoop Dogg, & Aaron McGruder (video)

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"There are too many long words in the world today" (Orson Welles)

The Red Balloon (1956) by Albert Lamorisse (writer, director, producer)