By Emily Schorr Lesnick Walk into a comedy club or watch a Comedy Central special…
By Guest Contributor Daryl Khan, cross-posted from Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
NEW YORK — Whenever LaQuint Singleton found himself about to get into a fight out in the courtyards or in the small playground in front of his building at the General Ulysses S. Grant Houses, he would run and find his mom, Venus. He’d scamper up the stairs and go up to her looking for protection. Back then, Singleton was a good student who regularly attended school and attended church service every Sunday. One day, in an attempt to impress the older teenagers and men, he carried a gun to give to another resident. He was arrested, and spent six months in Rikers Island waiting for his case to wend its way through the criminal justice system — and then another year after he was sentenced.
“They sent him to the Island, and he came back a monster,” Venus Singleton said, sobbing on the steps of an apartment building on Old Broadway, referred to as the DMZ by people on both sides of the blood feud between the Grant and Manhattanville Houses. “That boy they sent back is not the same boy I sent them. The department of corrections turned my son into a monster. I love my monster, but that’s what he is. That’s what the Island did for me.”
Now, Singleton said, more monsters are about to be made.
Read the Post Harlem Residents: We Asked City for Help, We Got a Raid Instead
By Andrea Plaid
While I’ve been working here at the R–among other places–I’ve also been working as the Social Media Fellow at Maysles Documentary Center (MDC), home of Maysles Cinema in Harlem, NY. Started by legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens) as a community-based movie house run by a mostly multiracial staff, MDC is also home to several educational programs to teach folks in the community to do the same thing he does–get the true-life stories that fascinate them on the screen. And not just adults: Maysles Documentary Center teaches them early, from the Film in Action film club for the 7-to-11 set to the Teen Producers Academy.
And the Academy has been producing some great short docs, ranging from the lessons of superheroes to racial identity to their take on “the Black Hair Wars.” Some of their flicks have been accepted at film festivals around the country this year and one–Triggering Wounds–just won (and what I mean by “just” is the director of the MDC’s educational programs, Christine Peng, sent me an email with the good news from her dying cell phone at 11PM last night) the Best Documentary Film Award from Tribeca Film Festival’s “Our City, My Story” program!
The film–a result of a collaboration with MDC, Harlem Hospital Center, the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Operation Harlem SNUG, and Harlem Mothers SAVE, called the Circle of Safety Initiative–main goal is to be shown to gun-shot victims before they leave the hospital.
I interviewed one of the film’s co-producers, the ever-thoughtful Alejandro Rosario, earlier this week about the film and the impact he hopes the film will have.
There’s a problematic remark or two in this video–and the language is mildly NSFW–but overall…
By Arturo R. García
Over the past month, this video, “It Did Not Start With Stonewall,” has been picking up steam online – we first saw it on Elixher – which is curious, given that it was originally uploaded in 2007. In the clip, a group of black women offers perspectives on life in the LGBT community in New York City in the era surrounding the seminal Stonewall Rebellion of 1969.
But it cuts off just after the three-minute mark, leaving people wondering where it came from – and whether there are more interviews like these out there. Racialicious contacted the person who uploaded the video Wednesday night, so we hope to have an update soon. In the meantime, the transcript to the video is under the cut.
By Guest Contributor Fiqah, originally published at Possum Stew
Some background: for most of my adult life, I have been a fugitive from religion, the monotheistic “Big Three”, anyway. (Sorry, any faith doctrine that includes an interventionist, anthropomorphic, masculine god/godhead is prolly gonna earn some side-eye from me.) Because my sociopolitical views and general life philosophy are widely regarded as “radical,” the decision to not participate in often conservative organized religion was a sensible and organic one. The Bébé Fiqah trauma that led to my adult decision to be an unrepentant heathen/sinner/whateverthehell is all a very loooooong story that nobody wants to hear, so I’ll sum up by saying that until recently outside of weddings, baptisms, mitzvahs, and funerals, Grown-Up Fiqah rarely darkened the doorstep of any house of worship.
However, when one of my elderly neighbors, a very dapper Georgia born-and-bred gentleman, invited me to come to his Southern Baptist church here in Harlem last fall, I accepted. I was going through a particularly difficult time emotionally, and while the choir was sorta weak (sorry, I’m Southern, and we have standards for this kinda thing), I found the service overall to be very spiritually uplifting and healing. I was delighted by the sermon, as well as the inclusive spirit of the congregation. (”All are welcome” is the credo of just about every Southern Baptist church, but in many places, certain”children of God” – non-Christians, LGBTIQ people – are most emphatically NOT welcomed.) I decided that maybe dropping in to Church every now and again wouldn’t be so terrible.
This morning, I attended services at another Southern Baptist church here in Harlem with my buddy J. who never misses a Sunday. In spite of the late summer swelter, I happily donned my Sunday best, pearls and good heels and headed on over to Church. In retrospect, I should have said some kinda prayer asking for patience and composure before I stepped out of the door. Because what awaited me at church would have tested even the most forgiving soul.
You see, J. and I were seated in one of the balcony pews, along with several Italian tourists. European and Asian tour groups and buses are a common sight on Sundays in Harlem. As annoying and ubiquitous as they are, for the most part, church tourists are ignorable. Well, this group must have been especially rude, because several members of the group spent much of the service talking. Talking. In spite of being shot admonishing looks by several parishioners and being approached by one of the ushers, the conversation, though lowered to murmuring, continued. The only time it seemed to stop was when the choir led the church in a song, when the tourists watched the choir and the other attendees with that peculiar mixture of fascination, fear and envy that White people in spaces of color often seem to have. As they watched us, my friend and I watched them, swaying all wrong, clapping off beat and basically turning what was a joyful but sacred experience into a spectacle for their entertainment.
I did my very best to remain silent and non-responsive. And I was good. I really was.
I had just bowed my head, closed my eyes, and was just about to connect one-on-One with the Lord…when the cell phone of the woman sitting behind me went off.
And she answered.
“Oh, I don’t even believe THIS shit!” I said. J.’s eyes flew open, and she covered her startled gasp with her hand.