Monday, September 25, 2017

Cultural and Historic Information

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His father was Alfred Du Bois and his mother was Mary Silvinia (nee Burghardt) Du Bois. Mary Silvina Burghardt's family was part of the very small free black population of Great Barrington and had long owned land in the state. She was descended from Dutch, African and English ancestors. William Du Bois's maternal great-great-grandfather was Tom Burghardt, a slave (born in West Africa around 1730) who was held by the Dutch colonist Conraed Burghardt. Tom briefly served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, which may have been how he gained his freedom during the 18th century. His son Jack Burghardt was the father of Othello Burghardt (who was the father of Mary Silvinia Burghardt). Alfred Du Bois came into the United States sometime before 1860 from Haiti. Mary Burghardt DuBois moved with her son back to her parents’ house in Great Barrington until he was five. She worked hard to supporter her family. She had a stroke in the early 1880’s and passed away in 1885. Great Barrington was a majority white community. DuBois was young and he attended the local integrated public school. He played with white schoolmates. As an adult, he wrote about racism which he felt as a fatherless child and the experience of being a minority in the town. Teachers knew of his ability and encouraged his intellectual pursuits. He later wanted to use academic studies to use his knowledge to empower African Americans. Du Bois graduated from the town’s Searles High School. The congregation of his childhood church, the First Congregational Church of Great Barrington, raised money for his tuition to college. He attended Fisk University, which is a historical black college (HBCU) from 1885 to 1888. This college is located in Nashville, Tennessee.  He experienced many black friends. He experienced Southern racism for the first time too as Tennessee was dominated by Jim Crow laws, bigotry, suppression of black voting, and lynchings. During that era, there was massive lynching in America. He received a bachelor’s degree from Fisk and he attended Harvard College. He attended Harvard from 1888 to 1890. In Harvard, he was influenced greatly by his professor William James or a professor of American philosophy. Du Bois paid his way through three years at Harvard from money from summer jobs, an inheritance, scholarships, and loans from friends. In 1890, Harvard awarded Du Bois his second bachelor's degree, cum laude, in history. In 1891, Du Bois received a scholarship to attend the sociology graduate school at Harvard. In 1892, he received a fellowship from the John F. Slater Fund for Education of Freedmen to attend the University of Berlin for graduate work. When he was a student in Berlin, he traveled across Europe. He studied with many German social scientists like Gustav von Schmoller, Adolph Wagner, and Heinrich von Treitschke. After returning from Europe, DuBois completed his graduated studies.

In 1895, W.E.B. DuBois was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He had many job offers during the summer of 1894. They came from Tuskegee Institute and other places. He accepted a teaching job at Wilberforce University in Ohio. He was strongly influenced by Alexander Crummel (of Wilberforce), who believed that ideals and morals are necessary tools to effect social change. While at Wilberforce, Du Bois married Nina Gomer, one of his students, on May 12, 1896. After two years at Wilberforce, Du Bois accepted a one year research job from University of Pennsylvania. He worked as an assistant in sociology in the summer of 1896. He did his sociological field research in Philadelphia’s African American neighborhoods. This formed the foundation of the historic, landmark study of his named “The Philadelphia Negro.” It was published in 1889 and while he was teaching at Atlanta University. It was the first case study of a black community in the United States. Back during the 1890’s, racists stereotyped black people in Philadelphia as being filled with crime, poverty, and mortality. DuBois’ study refuted the stereotypes with experiment evidence. He exposed how segregation had a negative impact in black lives and reputations. He promoted racial integration and democratic equality in American cities. While taking part in the American Negro Academy (ANA) in 1897, Du Bois presented a paper in which he rejected Frederick Douglass's plea for black Americans to integrate into white society. He wrote: "we are Negroes, members of a vast historic race that from the very dawn of creation has slept, but half awakening in the dark forests of its African fatherland.” In the August 1897 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Du Bois published "Strivings of the Negro People", his first work aimed at the general public, in which he enlarged upon his thesis that African Americans should embrace their African heritage while contributing to American society.

The St. Louis founding existed during the 18th century. Jean-Jacques Blaise d’Abbadie was the new governor of Louisiana in June of 1763. He changed colonial policies. He moved to grant trade monopolies in the middle Mississippi Valley to stimulate the economy. Among the new monopolists was Pierre Laclede, who along with his stepson Auguste Chouteau set out in August 1763 to build a fur trading post new the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The settlement of St. Louis was established at a site south of the confluence of the west bank of the Mississippi on February 15, 1764, by Chouteau and a group of about 30 men. Laclede arrived at the side by mid-1764 and provided detailed plans for the village, including a street grid and market area. French settlers started to arrive form settlements on the east bank of the Mississippi River in 1764. They were afraid of British control. This was after the transfer of eastern land to Great Britain after the Treaty of Paris. The local French lieutenant governor moved into St. Louis in 1765. He started to award land grants to people. There were peace negotiations to end the Seven Years’ War. It caused Spain to gain control of Louisiana according to the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762. Due to travel times and the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768, the Spanish took official control in St. Louis only in May 1770. After the transfer, the Spanish confirmed French land grants and the Spanish provided local security. Most settlers in St. Louis were involved in farming. By the 1790’s, almost 6,000 acres were cultivated around St. Louis. Far trading was the major commercial focus of many residents. It was much more lucrative than agriculture during that period. The residents were not religious per se, but most of them were Roman Catholic. Most French people in America during that time were Roman Catholic. The first Catholic Church in St. Louis was built in mid-1770 and St. Louis had a resident priest by 1776. It caused Catholic religious observance a more customary component of life. The French settlers had both black and Native American slaves in St. Louis. Most of them worked as domestic servants. Some were agricultural laborers. By 1769, the Spanish prohibited Native American slavery in Louisiana. Yet, it was still done among the French Creoles in St. Louis. Spanish governors ended the Native American slave trade. Yet, they allowed the retention of current slaves and any children born to them, which was evil. In 1772, a census determined the population of the village to be 637, including 444 whites (285 males and 159 females) and 193 African slaves, with no Indian slaves reported due to their technical illegality.  During the 1770's and 1780's, St. Louis grew slowly and the Spanish commanders were replaced often. During the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, the Spanish governor Bernardo de Galvez (in New Orleans) helped the American rebels with weapons, food, blankets, tents, and ammunition. The Spanish lieutenant governors at St. Louis aided the colonists too. They especially helped the forces of George Rogers Clark during the Illinois campaign. On June 1779, the Spanish Empire came into the American Revolutionary War on the side of the Americans and the French. The British prepared to invade St. Louis and other Mississippi outposts. Yet, St. Louis was warned of the plans and residents fortified the town. On May 26, 1780, British and Indian forces attacked the town of St. Louis, but were forced to retreat due to the fortifications and defections of some Indian forces.

In spite of their defeat, the British and their allies destroyed much of St. Louis' agricultural lands and cattle stock, killed 23 residents, wounded 7, and captured between 25 and 75 as prisoners (some might have been murdered after their capture). A subsequent counterattack launched from St. Louis against British forts in the Midwest ended the threat of another attack on the town. After the British were defeated, more French Creole families evaded Anglo-American rule by moving to the Spanish-controlled land on the west bank, including wealthy merchants Charles Gratiot, Sr. and Gabriel Cerre. Both the Gratiot and Cerre families intermarried with the Chouteau family to create a Creole-dominated society in the 1780's and 1790's. The families also had marital ties to Spanish government officials, including the lieutenant governors Piernas and Cruzat. During the 1790’s, towns near St. Louis grew. This was when small farmers sold their lands to the Cerres, Gratiots, Soulards, and the Chouteaus. These farmers moved into towns like Carondelet, St. Charles, and Florissant. Only 43% of the district’s population lived within the village by 1800 (1,039 of 2,447). The Spanish government secretly returned the unprofitable Louisiana territory to France in October of 1800 in the Treaty of San Ildefonso. The Spanish officially transferred control in October 1802. Yet, the Spanish administrators were in charge of St. Louis throughout the time of French ownership. Later, a team of American negotiators purchased Louisiana, including St. Louis. On March 8 or 9, 1804, the flag of Spain was lowered at the government buildings in St. Louis and, according to local tradition; the flag of France was raised. On March 10, 1804, the French flag was replaced by that of the United States

A diversity of occupations is related to art. One career is an illustrator. They can work on drawings, photography, and digital illustrations using computers. Illustrators make interesting images and they inspire the creative energy to spread worldwide. CAD systems or computer aided design technologies readily aid illustrators in creating their pictures as well. A photographer can capture many images globally. A Master of Fine Arts specializing in photography can readily help photographers. Photographers develop portfolio, many have contracts, and they deal with weddings, advertising, models, photojournalism, and other aspects of human civilization. An animator and a graphic designer deal with art readily too. An art teacher, printmaker, and an art administrator have helped people for years to develop their skills and work in improving the cultural development of any society. A sculptor and a painter are great careers in dealing with art. Sculptors take hours and days to finish their work. Advanced images of many types of designs relate to sculpture. Painters also need a great deal of time, effort, and determination to establish their own works.

2020 is almost here. Popular culture has been an international reality. Many of people in popular culture receive massive popularity and massive scorn. Popular culture is filled with controversies, unique stories, and a lot of historic events. No good fruit comes from a bad tree. Therefore, the fruit of many sections of the celebrity culture has been rotten filled with materialism, shattered lives, sexism, racism, and anti-morality (from adultery scandals, domestic abuse, and other scandals). Therefore, more people recognize this unfortunate reality. Also, people understand that not all celebrities are monolithic. Some celebrities are doing egregious, wrong actions. Some act as agents of the two party system in advancing militarism, capitalist exploitation, and conformity to the status quo. In other words, in order to get things right, people have to admit the overt crimes done by U.S. imperialism for centuries (via the acts from the Pentagon and the rest of the military industrial complex. Even Ken Burns’ documentary about the Vietnam War has documented the evil of Western imperialist actions). Many celebrities are working hard to do the  right thing via sincerely helping communities, giving back via charities, and fighting for legitimate social causes (from environmental justice to racial justice) as well. For example, many celebrities are heroically kneeling in protest of injustice in football games nationwide. We have to witness the complexities of life in order to understand the truths found in life. The popular culture world is a billion dollar yearly business. It just doesn’t involve movies or TV shows. It also encompasses concerts, fashion, marketing, business arrangements, interviews, corporate sponsoring, and a wide array of activities. To understand how the world is, we have to go deeper into why things are and how things function. We witness record financial centralization into the hands of the 1% while the poor continue to suffer. There is no solution to our problems unless we help the poor and homeless human beings of America including the world. During the decade of the 2010’s, there is further expression of shows on Netflix and other independent, Internet based television channels. There are diverse actresses and actors from Issa Rae to Jessica Williams. We all want freedom and justice. Therefore, this we must act as be shining lights in advancing the truth in an in-depth, unapologetic fashion.

Jay’s Z’s 4:44 was released on June of 2017. It was his thirteenth studio album. It reflected his life and his new found confessions dealing with his life. This is the first time where I issued a commentary on the album in a lengthy fashion. His album has similarities and differences to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Nevertheless, Jay Z’s album deals with the issues of infidelity, economic empowerment, OJ Simpson, and music in general. It has been promoted by a diversity of black actors and actresses like Mahershala Ali, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danny Glover. One song is named Adnis, which is the name of Jay Z’s father. No I.D. was the famous producer of the album. Jay Z has said that he woke up one morning at 4:44 am, which gave him the inspiration to create the album. Many samples of it include funk, soul, reggae, etc. These include Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today", The Clark Sisters's "Ha Ya (Eternal Life)", Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free", and Nina Simone's "Four Women" and "Baltimore.” The album wants to portray a message from a nearly 50 year old grown African American man who feels the need to reflect on a life that has existed for almost a half a century. In many ways, the album is like a response to Lemonade. For example, the  "You better call Becky with the good hair" line on Beyoncé's "Sorry", with Jay-Z retorting, "Leave me alone, Becky" in "Family Feud.” However, No I.D. said that to make the entire album a response to Lemonade was not the intention. Instead, Jay-Z wanted to focus on an album "where I talk about the things that I've never talked about.” There are many messages in the album. The song “Kill Jay Z” was about him wanting to end or kill his ego. The song talks about Kanye West and his rumored infidelity. The Song of OJ song is self-explanatory. It is the easiest song to know about its meaning. It is a song exposing the self-hatred and anti-Blackness displayed by OJ Simpson. It also has a video that uses the racist anti-black caricatures that was used decades ago to expose how vicious self-hatred is. The song is a cautionary tale about how to be careful in the industry and to make sure that someone doesn’t lose their own sense of self. The song also references the concept of economic empowerment and black capitalism. “Smile” is a personal song where Jay Z talks about his mother being a lesbian. “Caught Their Eyes” is about Prince and streaming rights. The song 4:44 is a song meant to be an open apology to his wife Beyoncé.

“Family Feud” has many meanings. It discusses the separation within the culture and tensions in the black community plus at home. Bam is a reggae inspired song that uses Damian Marley’s vocals (with usage of a horn and guitar). Moonlight references the films Moonlight and La La Land. It shows information about the culture. As he approaches 50 years old, Jay Z knows that he can’t have the same mentality as a 21 year old. We grow and evolve as time goes on. So, this album is an evolution of his views from a young person from Marcy's Projects in Brooklyn, NYC to an almost billion dollar businessman. 4:44 tells the truth about the viciousness of self-hatred, the importance of black community growth, and the importance of family. The song "Story of OJ" (which uses the N word, which I don't subscribe to) tries to advance the narrative that black capitalism can greatly enrich the black community as a whole, which I don’t agree because of obvious reasons. Capitalism is an economic system where a select few of human beings controls the vast majority of the means of production (involving factories, businesses, lands, transportation, other technologies, farms, etc.). The primary goal of capitalism is promoting profit and maintaining profit irrespective of other altruistic motives. We know that Western capitalism has been complicit in slavery, imperialism, genocide, land thefts, various wars, economic exploitation, sexism, etc. for a long time. Black capitalism promotes the goal of black people buying our way to freedom via business alone, which is faulty as true liberation addresses the environment, health, wages, land, poverty, and other important issues. One of the most important lessons of 4:44 is that the album gives more opportunities for people to have a discussion about important issues in our community. As Jay Z is not the complete cause of our problems. Jay Z (who unfortunately hasn't repudiated misogynoir, the glamorization of nihilism plus anti-black themes in some hip hop music, the N word with the -a at the end of it, and the system of capitalism) is a victim of the same system of oppression that we all are. Our lives should be more than about making money, but making our families and our black community strengthen, so black collective power can grow internationally. Jay Z is very intelligent. He knows that the system is corrupt, but he wants to use means to possess not abolish the system. The problem with that logic is that the system deserves to end since it doesn't work to help the black collective. In order for us to see the Promised Land, we have to discuss, plan, and take social action in getting solutions made.

By Timothy

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