". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Art, Culture, Activism -- Tavis Smiley -- Black Latino Summit

This weekend Tavis Smiley re-ran his two-hour radio program (heard here on Sats. and Suns., 2 PM, in two parts, one each day) made from the "Black Latino Summit" held in Los Angeles late last year. One of the moderators and spokespeople is Wendell Pierce (Bunk - The Wire -- he's also starring in the new Simon series set in contemporary New Orleans).

Wendell Pierce is a serious artist. He's also a cogent thinker and articulate. He spoke clearly to the need for people to not confuse art with culture, that these are not necessarily the same sorts of expression. He defined the differences. He followed up with describing how art can, and may, and often does, grow out of culture. Then he connected both art and culture with activism, while insisting that there is a necessary place in any community's culture for art, and that parents should do their best to bring up their children with art as much as culture. IOW, museums, theaters and ballet lessons are as important for nurturing identity and community as is church and other cultural expression.

He describes the split between the African American communities and the Latino communities. He explained how his move to Los Angeles taught him what their communities shared culturally. His connection of the funeral second lines of New Orleans to the Latinos' El Día del Muertos was brilliant.He and the other moderators did a spectacular job too, of explicating just how the power structure works -- and spends lots of money on -- keeping the African American and Latino communities divided, along that same old effective strategy of 'divide and conquer.' We all must be smarter than to be used that way.

The Tavis Smiley show website is here.You may find the broadcast archived there, or listen to it streaming, depending on the time it broadcasts in your area. Listening is highly recommended.


K. said...

Pierce was wonderful on The Wire. There's a brilliant scene in one of the middle seasons where he and Dominic West revisit a cold crime seen. The entire dialogue is an exchange of F words, but they completely convey that the original investigation was botched.

Foxessa said...

That was "Old Cases," ep 4, of the first season, "The Corner." It was as you say, brilliant.

It also told us that both of them, f*ckers that they undeniablely are, are excellent police, and that they made a terrific team. It also really moved the action along, tying so elements together.

This show had the best writing on television, period. Though when Buffy was on the money, honey, it could give The Wire a run for the money. But they were such very different universes that comparison and contrast of technique (other than editing) is a useless gesture.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

BTW, Pierce as Bunk is responsible for one of my best friend's twin sons going into AmeriCorps.

Love, C.

Renegade Eye said...

I think immigrants are pitted against Afro-Americans fighting over "the jobs nobody wants to do." With the economic crisis it's worse than ever.

Foxessa said...
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