Reconstruction & Reggae

Mauritius oil spill fiasco, photographer Cornell Watson

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🏛 The New Reconstruction

Adam Sewer has a must read essay in The Atlantic that contextualizes the present moment within the broad sweep of U.S. history, American politics and the Black freedom struggle:

How far will the possibilities of this moment extend? We could consider two potential outcomes—one focused on police and prisons, and a broader one, aimed at eliminating the deeply entrenched systems that keep Black people from realizing full equality, a long-standing crisis Americans have tried to suppress with policing and prisons rather than attempting to resolve it...

History teaches that awakenings such as this one are rare. If a new president, and a new Congress, do not act before the American people’s demand for justice gives way to complacency or is eclipsed by backlash, the next opportunity will be long in coming.

Adam Sewer

📷 Behind the Mask

North Carolina photographer Cornell Watson has an upcoming solo exhibition inspired by Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask.”

This photo series is in honor of my ancestors who smiled when they were not happy, laughed when nothing was funny, and cried when they were not sad so that I could be here today.

Cornell Watson

Checkout his interview on the This Can’t Be That Hard podcast and his profile in the Washington Post.

Y'all! Behind the Mask is up on the walls of @durham_arts ! I'm really really really really f*cking excited and a bunch of other emotions that I haven't had time to process yet. This project was personal for me. It was a release of feelings I needed to let out. And through this project, I've discovered things about myself. One of them being that I create my best work when I'm free. When I'm free from judgement, free from fear of retaliation, and free to be Black AF. I've always prioritized the comfort of others, specifically white people, at the expense of my own. I'm working on decolonizing my mind and putting my comfort and well being first. I'm working on being ok with saying no to relationships that have no regard for my own comfort. I'm working on only putting myself in situations where I'm free to be a dope ass Black artist. My hope is that other Black people will feel inspired to do the same in their lives. Because while this was hard and really stressful, it also felt really damn good. And life is too short to tolerate this white supremacy bullshit and not be able to feel really damn good.

Next Tuesday is the opening day for Behind the Mask. If you're in Durham or nearby please try and see this in person (appointment link in my bio). I promise it is worth your time. If you can't, no worries. Durham Arts Council is working on some virtual programming. I'm also going to do some IG live Q&A. I don't like being in front of the camera, but I think these conversations are really important and I've got time. Starting next Wednesday I'm going to start posting images from the series on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And each of those days at 9pm EST I'll do a IG live to answer questions.

I want to give a special thank you to all of the people and families that shared their stories with me and helped create this dope ass art with me.

Photo outtake from "Behind the Mask"
September 12, 2020

🛢 IMO In Hot Water Following Mauritius Oil Spill And Botched Wakashio Salvage Operation

“Mauritius received representatives from the oil industry who acted on behalf of a UN agency - the IMO - shutting out local talent, and have been behind a series of increasingly catastrophic interventions that has now led to the loss of four local crew in Mauritius (three confirmed deaths and the captain still missing), the carcasses of almost 50 whales washing up on the Mauritian shoreline, 30km of heavily impacted oil-drenched beaches, a 300m iron ore carrier - larger than the Titanic - being deliberately sunk in an unknown location off the coast of Mauritius, and the 75m high stern of the vessel protruding like a giant tombstone on the once pristine coral reefs of Mauritius with no clear plan of how and when this will be removed, as the corals below are ground away each day with the strong currents and the supporting chains from the salvage operation.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg of questions that remain unanswered.”


Read more of Nishan Degnarain’s coverage of this unmitigated disaster.

🇯🇲 Toots and the Maytals’ Toots Hibbert Dead at 77

“With the Maytals, Hibbert established himself as a leader in the development of the bright, easygoing sound of reggae in the mid-1960s. He was also credited with popularizing the term through his 1968 song ‘Do the Reggay.’”