Category Archives: The Arts

Multicultural Art and Poetry

Diversity and Speech No. 35: Rockin’ Diversity – by Carlos E. Cortés and Teri Gerent

Carlos:  Tell me, Teri.  How did you come up with the idea of teaching history through rock and roll music?

Teri: I’ve always loved music.  From the time I became a history teacher in 1998, I thought of music whenever we reached the twentieth century.  Then it hit me.  Why not help students reconsider U.S. history by structuring a course around music?  It worked.  

Carlos:  Well, if music works for teaching high school students, why not for diversity workshops, too?    

Teri: It certainly can.  Lyrics are a great way to generate discussions about tricky topics involving diversity.

Carlos:  Could you be specific about how you use music to explore diversity?

Teri: Sure.  I call one of my strategies “implicit vs. explicit.”  Explicit lyrics are usually straight forward.   For example, Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” explicitly critiques politicians who spend taxpayer dollars on the space race rather than helping poor communities that are struggling to stay afloat. 

Carlos: How about implicit lyrics?

Teri: Because implicit lyrics use metaphors, they foster differing interpretations and spur intense discussions.   Take the Rolling Stones’ 1966  “Under My Thumb.”  I ask students to identify lyrics that might be considered implicitly misogynistic and indicate why they came to that conclusion.  Then I ask them to compare that song’s treatment of gender with the Statement of Purpose of the National Organization of Women, which was formed the same year.

Carlos: How ironic, Teri.  But did your teaching approach encounter any criticism?     

Teri: When I tried to get my course into the District catalogue, my title, “A Socio-Political History of Rock ‘n Roll: the Blues through Hip Hop,” caused some resistance.  But I documented how the course met statewide curriculum standards and, over time, demonstrated that my use of music sparked students to explore historical dynamics in greater depth.  My students regularly scored higher on Advanced Placement national history examinations than students who had not taken my course.  When the California Council for the Social Studies gave me its 2011 Senior High Outstanding Teacher Award, most skepticism seemed to disappear.  

Carlos: Why did you focus on rock and roll? 

Teri: I was born in 1957 and grew up on rock and roll.  It commented on the world in which I lived and helped me think differently about such things as the many struggles for social justice.  So I decided to use rock music as social documents to explore the second half of the twentieth century, from Eisenhower through Clinton.

Carlos: So let’s talk about how your use of musical documents could be adapted for diversity workshops.  

Teri: There are lots of songs that deal with diversity, like TuPac’s “Changes” and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”   Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” advocates for the LGBTQ+ community.  Rage Against the Machine’s “Freedom” challenges the incarceration of the American Indian Movement’s Leonard Peltier.

Carlos:  What are some of the approaches that lyricists use to address diversity?

Teri: Take the theme of equity.   Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” poses questions like “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?”   In “Talking Birmingham Jam,” Phil Ochs employs satire to tell the story of the 1963 Children’s March that challenged Alabama Governor George Wallace, who called for the maintenance of racial segregation in his inaugural speech.  War’s “The World Is a Ghetto” tugs at the heart strings by invoking a sense of hopelessness in black and brown communities.  People can examine the theme of equity by comparing these different approaches.  

Carlos: How about using music to consider how thinking about diversity has changed over time?   

Teri: Well, you could listen to Sam Cooke’s 1964 “Change is Gonna Come” about the treatment of African Americans and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ 2012 “Same Love,” which deals with the LGBTQ+ community.  Different groups.  Songs nearly half a century apart.  These two songs can be used to spur reflection on continuities and changes in thinking about social justice.  

Carlos: What was your most fundamental framework for using music as social documents?

Teri: That’s easy.  Multiple perspectives.  To understand diversity, you need to recognize that human experience is comprised of multiple stories.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s video, “The Danger of the Single Story,”  reveals how uniquely each person experiences, interprets, and communicates about the world.  Rock music is social storytelling replete with different, sometimes conflicting, points of view.  

Carlos: You’re so right, Teri.  Could you give an example?  

Teri: Let’s go back to the Rolling Stones’ 1966 “Under My Thumb.”  Just six years later Helen Reddy came out with “I Am Woman.”  Consider the change of perspective from the misogynistic lyrics of “Under My Thumb” to the roaring words of “I Am Woman,” which became a sort of 1970’s anthem for the women’s movement.  

 Carlos: Terrific idea, Teri.  So do you have any final thoughts?

Teri: One in particular.  I’ve found that using music to explore social phenomena reduces defensiveness and sparks meaningful conversations about difficult issues.  It could work in diversity workshops as well as classrooms.

 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 1) – by Leslie Nelson

racial healing“What are the typical saboteurs of genuine efforts to have cross-racial dialogues about race?”

That was the opening question posed to Phyllis and Eugene Unterschuetz, co-authors of Longing Stories in Racial Healing.  They were invited by Terry Howard, co-founder of Douglasville’s 26 Tiny Paint Brushes Writers’ Guild, to speak at our Nov. guild meeting. 

The book is a memoir of the White couple’s immersive journey across the nation exploring the deep, murky, irritable waters of racism. Their mission was to have a candid and honest conversation about racism in a room mostly filled with people of color.

Continue reading The Audacity of Baby Steps and Hope! (Part 1) – by Leslie Nelson

Diversity and Speech Part 30: The Strange Odyssey of Racial Sports Metaphors – by Carlos Cortés

Woke people don’t stereotype, right?  And, of course, white men can’t jump.  Hm.  Consider the following.

For relaxation, my wife Laurel and I attend a bi-weekly creative writing workshop.  For a recent assignment, our instructor Jo Scott-Coe asked us to write about chocolate.   Each of the other participants wrote about food.   Not me.  For whatever reason, Jo’s assignment triggered thoughts of former National Basketball Association guard Jason Williams.

Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 30: The Strange Odyssey of Racial Sports Metaphors – by Carlos Cortés

Integrating the Arts in Health – by Patricia Lambert

NOAH Seeks to Professionalize Arts Programs in Healthcare Settings

No person looks forward to a visit to the hospital or other similar healthcare settings. Oftentimes, being in the hospital is a process that is scary, uncertain, and full of anticipation for answers and recovery. Research has shown that healing is made better by the arts, which bring humanity to institutions such as hospitals, elder and hospice care, as well as those living at home with chronic diseases like cancer or Parkinson’s. 

Despite research that supports arts in health, many health institutions do not have programs incorporating the arts. This is why the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH) has remained committed to expanding awareness and acceptance of the arts as a vital component for healing, public health, and wellbeing. 

Continue reading Integrating the Arts in Health – by Patricia Lambert

Vincent Van Gogh and the Art of Longevity – by Martin Kimeldorf

 “Either we all survive or none of us do”
~Vincent Van Gogh

In 2020, I drew together a small collection of lifetime short stories and essays in a slim volume entitled Camping On The Edge.  I was facing a medical fork in the road about eliminating my  anti-cholesterol pill which caused tremendously painful leg cramps. I felt I was faced with choosing more life in the years remaining versus simply adding years to my life. Or, as I like to say, “Longevity is highly overrated.”
Van GoghOne of the essays was entitled Dear Theo. It is a letter I wrote in the spirit of Vincent Van Gogh based on my readings and lifelong study of his art and letters. Now, after sharing my letter to Theo with our delightful editor-publisher Ms. Levine, I try to respond to her query: How Do You Make Art Come Alive? The next morning the answer was clear and concise: I become them in a letter writing session.
Whether I’m studying playwrights like Eugene O’Neil or Bertolt Brecht, artists like Paul Cezanne or Vincent Van Gogh, I dig deeply into their works and what others have said about them. Over time, I find myself becoming like one of my heroes. When I am full to the brim with Vincent Van Gogh I write a letter as though I were him, addressed to his brother Theo.  It is a great way to sum up my learning. My process does not require submission, display, or editing, and I just toss down whatever comes my way as I write the letter.

My letter began in my first round of Van Gogh studies and was marked in my journal with the title: 1/25/12 RX for Reclaiming Life. As a boomer growing up in the 1950s, my parents were intent on educating my entire personality. This included painting, carving, and dancing lessons . Carving has randomly sustained itself over the years in the form of soap carving. Recently, I placed an Amazon order for a palette, paint tubes, brushes, and pallet knives.  I am returning to my lifetime lust for life: painting.

In 2022 we were fortunate to attend the spectacular Van Gogh exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. Upon exiting, I spied a book weighing several pounds and running 800+ pages. In my life that would be the equivalent of 3+ books. Never too old to learn a lesson, eh?
This book, by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, turned out to be one of the best three books I’ve ever read. I learned so much about the times and the personalities. On my walls these last few decades I get to view my favorite Van Gogh quote: Either we all survive or none of us do.
Longevity plus Creativity! I am gassed up, tank be full, as I release the parking brake and head back down that acrylic painting highway. With this I present you my slightly edited long lost letter from Vincent to his brother Theo.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Lost Letter

Dear Theo,
The longer I stay in Paris the more my reason dissipates. My life is in jeopardy! Ever since the breakup, it has been like a perpetual funeral in winter. Dark and brooding colors are choking off my very breath. Clouds of burnt sienna shut out all the light, and dull olive-green shadows close in upon my very footsteps.

I am choking on bourgeois snobbery. The dealer you sent me to has rejected my work as the product of an “amusing colorist.” I must flee the cruel passions of an indifferent public.
This is why I must use your generous check to strike out upon a new path. I must take leave of this heartless city before the gloomy horizon swallows me up, body and soul!!
The crimson passion, smoldering deep inside me, is about to burst if I don’t find an outlet for my energies! This is why I plan to leave this dreary place for the sunny south lands. I want to use the money to open a deli in Arles. But this will be much more than a bagel-shop. I’ll call it the Post-Impressionist Deli and it will cater to the needs of tortured souls — a haven for my misunderstood brethren.
I have just finished sketching plans for an entire art colony, built around the deli. I know artists will flock to a terrain overflowing with lemon yellow sunshine. Each day gently bids adieu amidst a delicate, purple haze. You must come and see for yourself, dear Theo.
I have already written Gauguin and offered him the upstairs. I know what you will say. You think I am a poor roommate owing to my stubborn and argumentative qualities. Do not worry. I will give Paul complete reign of the upstairs which he can flood with canvas. I will play out my mission below, constructing my themes upon the stove and butcher block.
I realize that my past exploits in the kitchen are nothing to brag about. I ignored the treasures of the tongue because my mind was fastened upon my oils and brushes. But I am now free of that plague!  Your “amusing colorist” is driven by a deep and abiding hunger to create for others, and this hunger will catapult me into the ranks of my culinary colleagues. Today I salute the new direction my life has taken!
You should also know that I did not make this decision lightly. In fact, I believe this choice was guided by the very hand of God! Last week I was watching Cezanne painting an open-air market. My eyes were caught up with the colorful array of fruits, meats, breads, and flowers. I suddenly began hearing a chorus of color in my head. Before my eyes a dazzling parade unfolded. I saw starburst yellows cavorting with fruity oranges, celery greens streaked by pure meaty reds. My head was spinning, spinning as my vision dissolved into flecks of pure color!
I found myself stumbling backwards, falling against a bookseller’s cart. The words of a hundred authors cushioned my decent. I reached out for a railing to pull myself up, and providence guided my hand in this divine comedy. I found myself clutching a slim, colorful volume entitled “Recipes from the Impressionist’s Kitchen.”
Surely, dear Theo, this is the sign I have been waiting for all my life! God is urging me to this calling. You will die for the Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Chocolate Upside Down Cake.” And the chapter on “Pointillists Appetizers” is nothing, if not brilliant!
I would write more, dear Theo, but I must hasten to the market before sunset. I’m going to begin with healthy foods, starting tonight with Monet’s “Water Lilly Low-Fat Salad.” I will throw my entire being into this venture!! I will keep at it until I get it right. I don’t care if I must eat a hundred salads by next week! I will rip my tongue out before I quit!!
Yours Forever,

Vincent

Author’s final note: Fortunately, for the history of art, Van Gogh was a terrible cook and never got much beyond a potato eater. As a result, his brother Theo refused to fund the deli and Vincent returned to painting while in Arles. And for those of you who share Vincent’s passions, for whom the art of cooking is no less than the art of writing, painting, playing, or helping others, I ask only that you let me know when you open your own Post-Impressionist Cafe.

Let’s survive and come alive together! 

WINDHAM-CAMPBELL PRIZES REVEAL 10TH ANNIVERSARY RECIPIENTS

WINDHAM-CAMPBELL
(l-r: Sharon Bridgforth, Emmanuel Iduma, Margo Jefferson, Wong May, Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, Tsitsi Dangaremba, Winsome Pinnock and Zaffar Kunial)

“I am receiving this award with wide open arms, humbling crumbling with gratitude – calling the names of those on whose shoulders I stand, those that have loved and guided me, those known and unknown who are my champions.”

~Sharon Bridgforth, 2022 Windham-Campbell Recipient for Drama

The Windham-Campbell Prizes recently announced the 2022 class of recipients – including Pulitzer prize-winning Margo Jefferson, the trailblazing playwright Winsome Pinnock, and PEN Pinter prize-winning Tsitsi Dangarembga – marking the 10th anniversary of one of the world’s most significant international literary awards. 

For the past decade, this major global prize has recognized eight writers annually for literary achievement across fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, at every stage of their careers. With total prize money now exceeding $14m USD, each recipient is gifted an unrestricted grant of $165,000 USD to support their writing and allow them to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.

Continue reading WINDHAM-CAMPBELL PRIZES REVEAL 10TH ANNIVERSARY RECIPIENTS

MODERN VIEWS OF MASCULINITY AND MANHOOD – by David B. Grinberg

BOOK REVIEW:
“TALKIN’ TO YOU, BRO!” 

James Baldwin, a leading voice of Black America in the 20th century, once observed: “The American idea of sexuality appears to be rooted in the American idea of masculinity.”

This truism raises complex questions at the dawn of a new millennium. For instance:

  • What is the appropriate archetype to define masculinity in today’s increasingly diverse demographic construct? 
  • What characteristics most resemble the proverbial modern man according to today’s conventional wisdom?

These questions are posed and answered in a compelling new book by  Elwood David Watson, PhD: “Talkin’ To You, Bro! Liberate Yourself from the Confusing, Ambiguous Messages of Contemporary Masculinity” (Lasting Impact Press).

Continue reading MODERN VIEWS OF MASCULINITY AND MANHOOD – by David B. Grinberg

Inaccurate Depiction of Autism in Film – by Vanessa Willis

In a world where diversity and inclusion in popular media is becoming a more commonly discussed topic, the possibilities of meaningful stories being told are endless. The push for diversity encompasses people of all races, abilities, ethnicities, and genders, including people with intellectual disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder. As the push to create media that tells the stories of people of varying backgrounds and life experiences continues and production companies purposefully try to create inclusive content, it is important that these stories are told with grace, truth, and reality. 

Continue reading Inaccurate Depiction of Autism in Film – by Vanessa Willis

Eileen Koteles Podcast: Teaching Through the Arts

Arts Eileen Koteles is an actor and choreographer. Raising her three sons, she realized the gift of teaching through the Arts. Now returning to the stage, Eileen performs  as Dr. Ruth, an iconic sex therapist who lost her family in the Holocaust.

Eileen finds she is still teaching through the Arts and urges us to support the arts as a platform for tolerance whether theater, writing, poetry, dance, painting, or photography.

Hear Eileen talk about:

1. How does teaching through the Arts apply to diversity and inclusion?
2. What does the one woman show about Dr. Ruth teach us?

CLICK for Podcast

Books for Peace International Award Ambassador 2022

Deborah Levine:
Silver Ambassador for Culture

Editor-in-Chief Deborah Levine of the American Diversity Report has now been named Silver Ambassador as a  humanitarian supporter for promoting culture of the Books for Peace International Award.

Dear Noblewoman Ms. Levine,
I feel embarrassed to write to you because our small prize can never be as great as your culture, as your immense soul, as your immense heart, as your wonderful and immense literary capacity.

You enclose the essence of the Woman, the Friend, the Artist, the Poetess, the Woman of today with the ethical and moral values of other times.  You are a unique woman.

THANK YOU FOR EXISTING, thank you for accepting our recognition.

With affection, esteem and gratitude,

Prof. Antonio Imeneo
DIRECTOR UNIFUNVIC EU- (BFUCA UNESCO BRASIL) CEO International Research Center Sport Prevention / Founder BOOKS for PEACE International Award
________________________ Continue reading Books for Peace International Award Ambassador 2022