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Voting Ends Thursday – Reza Rites Nominated for Spoken Word Artist Award

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Voting for the 2017 Motif Theater Awards ends Thursday, August 3. Click here to access the information and ballot. 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Hi friends, crazy awesome news happening here in the universe of Venus Sings, 3 AM IS THE NEW BLACK and the #AmbitiousBlackFeminst: Yours truly, Reza Rites, has been nominated for a 2017 Motif Theater Award. As I’ve told some folks recently, this was already feeling like a good year in poetry for me. From performing at the RI site of the Women’s March on Washington, participating in the 30 Poems in 30 Days meditation, creating “I Am Salt Water: Honoring the Sacred Motions of Gaia LaVonne Gallactica” an interactive performance art piece and theological fantasy story built off of my poetry, and creating a manuscript tentatively called “Planet Love” which was inspired by a performance curated by Roz Raskins of Roz and the Rice Cakes,  I was already feeling positive about my progress as a poet. After all of that, to then get the news from fellow nominee Vatic Kuumba that I was among those being considered for a Spoken Word recognition – well it truly served as a certain type of icing on top. Thanks for all the support over the years; support for this effort expires Thursday, August 3, 2017, while the event where winners are announced happens Sunday, August 13. To see the other nominees, to find info on voting, and for details on the August 13 event, click here.

Sunshine and laughter,
Reza Rites

P.S.

  • To see video footage from my Women’s Rally performance, click here.
  • To learn more about “I Am Salt Water,” see a short teaser and trailer here.
  • To view and follow my art, essays and poems, visit @3amblack on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • To be in touch about ways to access projects and performances ready for the public or to book me, email rezaclif@gmail.com or message me on Twitter or Facebook @3amblack or @rezaclif.

Venus Sings and Votes: Election Day Reflections and Tips

Venus Sings and Votes: Election Day Reflections and Tips

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by Reza Corinne Clifton

PROVIDENCE, RI – People have a lot to say about the elections. Well I too wanted to say a little something even though I too am suffering from election coverage fatigue. Specifically what I’m sharing below is a list – a guide of sorts, really – for how to navigate, circumvent, or quickly put aside questions like these: “Why are you even voting? How can you vote for her (or him)? Why are you voting for a third party? Aren’t you selling your soul by showing up to the polls? Why aren’t you voting for someone you believe in? Are you trying to ruin this election?

When these inquiries abound, and when your sense of optimism, cynicism, reality and the underworld combine to make your head explode, consider these ideas instead:

1) Yes I think folks should vote. The struggles, the blood, the ongoing conflicts around the world that are fought in pursuit of the ballot…yes. Vote.

2) Every election isn’t everything. Local elections, county elections, ballot initiatives – these are closer to everything. How you treat your neighbors and those different from you, what you do when witnessing injustice or after a mirror has been put up allowing you to see the injustices you carry out, helping the next generation, supporting the previous generations – these things are everything.

3) If you live the average life cycle of Americans, you will vote in many elections. Sometimes you will vote for things, sometimes you will vote against things. Yes, it’s okay to vote against something just as it’s okay to vote for something. It’s also okay to vote while leaving feelings aside and outside of the polling places.

4) The people running for the presidency are basically cardboard cut-out figures. Yes. Cardboard. Or maybe those flying vinyl dummies outside of car shops and furniture stores. They will sway this way for this money, this way for this arms deal, and this way for this political ally. Stop giving so much of your emotions to cardboard. Hear what they’re saying, hear what others are saying, vote and move on. Remember, cardboard and vinyl dummies can’t fully be relied upon to withstand the rain, never mind your emotions. Try not to give so much of your heart to these people and this process.

5) If you want to vote third-party, consider what you’re going to do after Tuesday to strengthen that alternative party’s positioning in the next election. And by all means, try to make it work! But whatever you do, don’t give too much attention to the folks berating you for not going with a third party. Trust me – many of these folks are hypocrites and assholes. No really…assholes. I know some of them and they’re the type to manipulate, denigrate and abuse women, to call for unity while being decidedly abrasive to those trying to unify, and to give attention only to national races when any seasoned community organizer will tell you to keep your eyes on the local prize. Seriously, vote 3rd if you want, but not because some pseudo-intellectual with a sea of disgruntled community members always in tow told you so. Also see numbers 2-4.

6) Whether it’s your candidate that wins or the other gal, if you think something’s wrong, you should start trying to fix things in your own community, in your own way, and/or with support from neighbors. Don’t put all your stock in cardboard. Don’t. They’ve got enough support; someone else needs you.

Reza Rites Visits A Lively Experiment: On YouTube AND TODAY AT NOON, RI PBS

IMG_2748On Friday, August 19, Reza Clifton participated in “Troubling issues at Kennedy Plaza and the Ethics Commission dismisses the complaint against House Majority Leader John DeSimone,” a conversation on “A Lively Experiment,” a show that airs on RI PBS.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Did you know that Black women and the African American community in RI deal with the highest infant mortality rates, the highest percentage of infants with low birth weight, and the highest percentage of pregnant women with delayed prenatal care? Did you know that the Black and Native American communities in RI have the highest rates of children with incarcerated parents – 63.8 for Black children compared to 8.0 for White children? Did you know that “all minority groups [in RI] have higher poverty rates than [W]hites and the state as a whole,” and that Black Americans and Latinos in RI have higher unemployment rates than Whites and the state?

These sometimes staggering and often saddening facts, gathered and disseminated by the RI Department of Health, show how some communities are more vulnerable to the devastating consequences that come with these conditions and barriers – while others exacerbate the inequities or, at least, remain free or much less affected by them. On the other hand, both Black Americans in RI and Latinos have a lower median age than White Rhode Islanders and the state – meaning there are more and more Black and Brown youth and younger generations being brought up in RI who may help turn the tides on some of these Ocean State trends.


Watch the episode TODAY at noon on RI PBS or click on play above to see the episode on Youtube

Those are just some of the reasons why it’s important that we have inclusive and broad conversations and representations in the media, during and outside of election years. And that is why team #sonicwatermelons was so glad that Founder and Executive Producer, Reza C. Clifton, was selected to be a panelist on this week’s edition of A Lively Experiment, a political roundtable show that airs on RI PBS and PBS Learn. The show was guest-hosted by producer Kim Keough, and at the Friday, August 19 taping, #rezarites appeared alongside the following co-panelists: Ian Donnis, political reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio; Kate Nagle, news editor for GoLocalProv.com; and Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, president of Latino Radio and Chairman, Women & Infants Health Care Alliance.

Catch it on the medium screen TODAY at 12 noon on WSBE Rhode Island PBS, which “transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on Rhode Island cable: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable: Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36 / 3128HD, Dish Network 36.” Or see the YouTube clip: https://youtu.be/ENtr-yu-ZU4.


Click here or on the sheet above to review some of the coverage and fact sheets reviewed by Clifton prior to Friday’s taping.

***

Follow Reza Rites, On the Web:
http://www.VenusSings.com
http://www.AmbitiousBlackFeminist.com
“Sonic Watermelons” on iTunes
Follow Reza Rites, On Social Media:
@rezaclif (FB, Twitter)
@3amblack (FB, Twitter, IG)
@watermelonsradio (Twitter)
@sonicwatermelons (FB, IG, Soundcloud)

Young, Gifted, Black…and Arrested: #BlackLivesMatter on #SonicWatermelons, Part I

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Young, Gifted, Black…and Arrested
#BlackLivesMatter on #SonicWatermelons
Sonic Sunday Podcast, August 14, 2016

Depending on who you talk to, Christopher Johnson may not quite fit under the moniker of young. Or maybe you think the 45 year old does. Still, there is no arguing that the poet, playwright and actor is gifted and Black, to borrow from the wise words of Nina Simone. In fact, just this past May, Johnson was interviewed by the office of RI state Governor Gina Raimondo for the position of state poet laureate.

However, Johnson now may also be known to some as the “poet” who “was arrested in Providence for ‘walking while black’.” That is because earlier this week on August 10, the Providence Journal published an article sparked by an August 3rd essay written by Johnson, for Motif Magazine, in which he discusses being “stopped by a police officer while walking home from a bus stop in May.” And on August 4, Bob Plain of RIFuture.org, also published a piece about Johnson and his arrest, including the perspective of Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steve Pare who said “‘The officer is going to have to articulate to the court why he asked this man his name and where he was going.’” Matt O’Brien’s piece in the Journal reminded readers that Governor Raimondo “is considering about 20 candidates for state poet,” with a note from the governor’s spokeswoman Marie Aberger saying that an “‘arrest would not preclude someone from being named to the position’” though acknowledging that “‘the seriousness of the alleged offense…[and] the circumstances surrounding it and the outcome’” may be considered.

This is indeed a serious matter, and this is an ongoing case, all of which should help you understand some of the work Johnson shares, and why he sometimes writes, posts and advocates in the name of or with the inclusion of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Luckily for all of us, he has developed this craft of joining words to create something new, and whether it’s love, racism, or violence, Johnson holds a mirror up to the world we live in, not to placate and soothe us but to ensure that the truth, sometimes harsh, sometimes beautiful, is told. Johnson is not only the face of racial profiling or another victim of police brutality, he is an artist. And that’s the man who joined Sonic Watermelons on June 28, 2016, when Johnson visited the show as a guest to tell us about his relationships and network in Providence, the many projects he has worked on, and the amazing opportunity he was embarking on the very next day in Sedona, Arizona.

No, we didn’t talk about his experience with being profiled and harassed on a short walk home one night this past May. Because we don’t need violence and death to remind us to talk about why #BlackLivesMatter on #SonicWatermelons. To listen to the podcast, “Christopher Johnson Visits Sonic Watermelons Y Las Vidas Negras Importan” click here: http://bit.ly/2aTY7EP. Subscribe to “Sonic Watermelons” on iTunes; follow the show on FB, SoundCloud and Instagram @sonicwatermelons and on Twitter @watermelonradio; and hear the live show via webstream every Tuesday, 7-8 PM on bsrlive.com.

Read/Learn More:

More About Sonic Watermelons:
“The world is a big place. With big ideas. And lots and lots of music.” That is the theme of Sonic Watermelons, a radio show on Brown Student and Community Radio (www.bsrlive.com) started in 2010 by Reza Clifton (Reza Rites), an award-winning multimedia producer. Sonic Watermelons can be heard / streamed live every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 PM (EST) on bsrlive.com, where Clifton is now joined by co-producers and crew members Jose Ramirez, Deejay Kellan, Jessica LaBrie, and other rotating volunteers. Every Sunday, the team publishes and shares podcast versions of previous episodes and other multimedia tidbits; #BlackLivesMatter on #SonicWatermelons is a series that will be shared in that space. To listen live or find archive links (going back to 2010), visit http://www.bsrlive.com. Follow Sonic Watermelons on Facebook, Soundcloud and Instagram @SonicWatermelons, on Twitter @watermelonradio; subscribe to podcasts on iTunes under “Sonic Watermelons.”

Interview with Danay Suarez, Part 2: Different Festivals, Different Countries, One People

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Interview with Danay Suarez, Part 2:
Different Festivals, Different Countries, One People

By Reza Corinne Clifton
(with translation work by Reza Clifton, Tamara Diaz, Bryant Estrada, and Jose Ramirez)

It’s been almost a year since Cuban Hip Hop Emcee and World Music artist Danay Suarez hit the stages of the Afro-Latino Festival in NYC, and much has happened in between. She’s been featured in the Fader Magazine, on CNN, and in dozens of other news sites, blogs, and multimedia spaces. She has also continued touring and making art.

The year before, Summer 2014, was the first time I met Suarez. I was at the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC), also in NYC, and she was one of the artists I had hoped to see perform and/or who I hoped to interview. The interview didn’t work out, but because of mutual friends of friends, I did meet Suarez, and she was kind and inimitable. With one set of incorrect directions too many, my friend and I, upon arriving at the venue, found that we missed Suarez’s performance. We still liked some of the bands who performed, like Sante Les Amis from Uruguay. However, the sting of missing Suarez was sharp.

This wasn’t so a year later. That is because in 2015, at the Afro-Latino Festival, I saw Suarez perform on the opening night. I was in the front row, dancing, singing, smiling and catching footage to accompany my interview, which came a few weeks later. Mostly, though, I danced.

Earlier this year, around the time that President Obama visited Cuba, I shared part of the conversation between Suarez and I in which she discussed diplomatic relations between our two countries, and how she produced a rap song following similar releases by Jay-Z, Pitbull, Wyclef and Common. Suarez was the only rapper who released an “Open Letter” verse who actually lived in Cuba – the country at the center of the musical and political debate among the artists.

But it’s June now, and the summer festivals have begun, which means LAMC is coming up, the Afro-Latino Festival is coming up, and even here in Providence, PVDFest already comes to a close on Sunday, June 5. Why do these spaces and sites matter? What does using a term like Latin Alternative or Afro-Latino signify? How do festivals and the culture of festivals change from one country or continent to another? These were additional topics discussed during the 2015 interview I did with Suarez, which was conducted in Spanish. Click on the Soundcloud link below to listen to that excerpt.

As you will hear in the segment, Suarez, who lives in Cuba but tours internationally, also talked about her journey from being a computer programmer in Havana to an internationally-known Universal Music Group artist. It started with hip hop in many ways, for it was the rap movement in Cuba that inspired her to move from wanting to be a singer to grabbing a microphone and notebook, and writing and recording songs in the studio. Today she also sings, writes and performs in different jazz, reggae and hybrid styles, and dabbles in visual and multimedia arts. Overall, Suarez says she considers herself a composer of ideas, and any idea is within bounds, as is clear in her music and in listening to her views on macro and micro festival cultures.

Suarez says she understands that people need cultural movements, religion, etc to identify with and feel part of something and to feel like life has purpose. However, Suarez says that when she is part of these festivals, her message is that there shouldn’t be flags or borders. We are all from the same place, says Suarez, and we are all owners of all territories (aka we all have claim to this earth). To hear more, click here or listen to the podcast above.

To hear her music, and to follow Suarez, search for and follow Danay Suarez on Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud.

Visit the following link for more information about the Latin Alternative Music Conference: www.latinalternative.com/

Visit the following link for more information about the Afro-Latino Festival: www.afrolatinofestnyc.com/

Visit the following link for more information about PVDFest: www.pvdfest.com

To follow my #rezarites #venussings #sonicwatermelons and #3amblack coverage, follow http://www.venussings.com, http://www.ambtiousblackfeminist.com, and @rezaclif on Facebook and Twitter.

For tips and recommendations on 2016 Summer festivals, listen to “Sonic Watermelons Summer Guide, 2016 and Bonus Danay Suarez Interview, May 10, 2016,” a Sonic Sunday Podcast released Sunday, June 5, 2016.

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