Farewell: Isaac Hayes And Bernie Mac

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[What’s Going On]


TRANSITIONS: Heaven must be hosting some special events which require good humor and music! While processing the shock of Bernie Mac’s 8/9 death, related to pneumonia complications, we learned that Isaac Hayes – born  8/20 - died a day later. He succumbed to a  stroke.   Mac, 50, and Hayes, 65, appeared in the film SOUL MEN, a story about two former backup singers, Mac and Samuel Jackson, who re-team years later, directed by Malcolm Lee who calls the two deaths “surreal.”  Film opens on 11/14.

The Africa Day Parade and Festival on August 24 is the culmination of Africa Week  which begins on August 18. The brainchild of Ivory Coast born Mamadou Kone, 27, the Parade along with new satellite events, now in its second year, was conceived as a forum to unify and celebrate New York’s disparate African populations.  Mr. Kone, equal parts, African music impresario, full-time insurance agent enthuses. “ I like to dream big.”  The first Africa Day Parade,  in 2007, boasted more than 2000 participants from 23 African nations, and upwards of 8000 spectators.  This year, there will be a weeklong roster of  pre-Africa Day Parade events: a fashion show, art exhibits, tourism and business expos, a children’s festival, and a Women’s Achievement Awards Banquet. The Parade route is across the 116 Street, Le Petit Senegal corridor, into Morningside Park.  For more info about Mr. Kone’s big dream celebration of African culture or to participate or volunteer,  call 646 934.7337

CARIBBEANS AND U.S. CENSUS: There is a movement afoot to petition the US
Census Bureau to add a new category – West Indian or Caribbean American – by  2010. This category pertains to Anglophone Caribbean Americans - a group which comprises Afro-Caribbeans and Indo Caribbeans - in the tradition of the Latino/Hispanic census classification. It is an idea that makes me uncomfortable. Firstly in the census, Blacks lost millions of  Black people owing to that  Latino/Hispanic classification.  Afro Latinos check the Latino box, not African American. Black numbers would again be eroded by the West Indian classification. What happened to strength in numbers?  Secondly, these classifications, ipso facto, are divisive. The Latino/Hispanic category suggests that they are a race, which they are not. Every 10 years, you find the African American numbers shrink because of new census stats. What socio/political benefits accrue to the West Indian classification? 

As the child of two Caribbean-born African Americans, I support political empowerment for those nationals living in the U.S.  Consider ramifications!  Why at a time when a Black man could conceivably become US president which would alter perceptions of Blacks throughout the world is there talk about segmenting a group of  Blacks.  I don’t see any benefits accruing to Indo Caribbeans either. Who are your Congressional Black Caucus supporters?
If  English-speaking Caribbean Americans want more political power, I recommend the following.  1) apply for U.S citizen. 2) petition politicos to grant  the right to vote, to non-citizens, in local elections, a practice observed in many cities across the country.  Since people of color are the majority NYC residents. If they were all eligible to vote, imagine a radically changed power landscape where the mayor, the NYC Council and all other power posts were manned by the majority.  Madison Avenue, the consumer marketers, and the Census Bureau all know about the numbers of English-speaking Caribbeans living in the U.S.   Sorry, I don’t see the West Indian census pitch having much traction.   Recommend reading:  8/10 NY Times Magazine cover story WHAT WOULD A BLACK PRESIDENT MEAN FOR BLACK POLITICS, POST-RACE, a study of the new American politics and the 8/18 New York Magazine’s RACE emblazoned in red, across its cover, above b&w etchings of  Michelle and Barack, which includes more than 7 essayists, holding forth about Obama and Race, including John McWhorter and Patricia J. Williams.   I will analyze NYT and NY next week.
OBAMAS TAKE COVERS: The Obamas are on some September national magazine covers.   Michelle Obama is the Ebony magazine cover personality. The Obamas family dons the Essence Magazine cover. The fanciful Harper Bazaar cover of Michelle and Barack features Tyra Banks as Michelle and a male model as Obama.
And you are cordially invited to attend a real-world Garden Reception with Governor Bill Richardson with entertainment provided by jazz bassist Ron Carter, Payton Crossly et. Al, a benefit for the Obama Victory Fund, on Saturday, September 6 at the home of Robert Van Lierop, 90 Gregory Avenue, West Orange, NJ.  For the  VIP Reception and/or the General Reception, tickets are scaled from $2,300 to $500 per person. RSVP required by September 5 to Vinson Cunningham at 212.763.4850
HARLEM 411: The NYT published another poorly-researched Harlem article “In Changing  Harlem, Soul Food Struggles,” by Timothy Smith, who called Brooklyn-based foodies as research sources.  Long story short, soul food eateries are alive, well and enduring in Harlem.  I called Harlem restaurant owners and real estate brokers for reactions to the NYT piece. To a man, they were essentially dismissive, saying that piece was simplistic and/or pitifully inaccurate. Article did not mention M&Gs on Morningside/125 Street, which is again shuttered, this time without any note posted on door.
Apropos of food, in last week’s column,   I waxed poetic about the restaurant, Gran Piatto D’Oro, and I inadvertently listed a Mr. Gucci as a co-owner. Its co-owners are Amie Kryos and Gilberto Petrucci.   I also failed to mention Gran Piatto’s manager extraordinaire Rolando Calle and identify its location at 1429 Fifth Avenue at 117 Street.

ARTS @ ENTERTAINMENT:  The excitement that attends FELA! the Off-Broadway musical about Nigeria’s pre-eminent Afrobeat musician/political activist, is reaching a fever pitch and spilling over into the neighborhoods.  On Monday, August  18, Harlem’s Mobay restaurant  hosts a  Fela! party, featuring his Afrobeat music and recreating Fela’s Shrine.. Brooklyn’s Le Grand Dakar restaurant hosts a Fela! party, redolent of Fela’s famous club. Some partygoers will get FELA! tickets and dinner for two at the host venues.

The Fifth Annual On Our Toes in the Hamptons, a benefit for Evidence, A Dance Company, will take place at Nova’s Ark in Bridgehampton, NY  on Saturday, 8/23.  Evidence is a nonprofit troupe of African-American dancers whose works are inspired by Black cultural currents.  Founded by Ronald Brown, who is also its artistic director,  Evidence relies heavily on revenues, generated by its Hamptons event and its Winter Gala, for operations. Philanthropist Reggie Van Lee is Evidence Board Chair.  “On Our Toes” begins with a catered outdoor reception, followed by an engaging dance performance, held under a prodigious tent. The post performance reception encourages patrons to mingle and dance with the Evidence Company.

Tickets are scaled from $2000 to $500. For info and reservations, call 718.230.4633.


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