Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Book Bridge Project and "The House at Sugar Beach"

Two years ago I inherited a project at the college where I teach. The brainchild of my former colleague, Mary Brown, the project is a precursor to many state, county, city, and library programs that attempt to bridge the literacy gap in the community by selecting a book for an entire community to read.  The project at my college is "The Book Bridge Project."

This academic year we will be reading The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper.  This is an intriguing story that connects those Africans who left the United States for Liberia with their most recent trials and tribulations during and following the last coup in Liberia.  Cooper's memoir is of a girl and woman of the privileged class; however, it will help some U.S. Africans understand the tensions inherent between former enslaved and free U.S. Africans returning to the continent and indigenous Africans.

Tune in to this blog or go to Book Bridge Book Bridge on Facebook for a list of events this fall.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Laurence Fishburne in "Thurgood" and Late Spring and Reprieve

The taste of late spring on the skin is better than homemade, hand churned ice cream or a cupcake from Buzz Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia. Spring is delicious this year, even when the air becomes heavy with pollution and the weathermen remind us that it is code orange, which is a euphemism for if you are a breathing human, don't go outside without grave consequences to your respiratory system. Although the weathermen only warn the young, elderly, and persons already suffering from respiratory ailments to avoid prolonged exposure to the air outside, code orange days can affect anyone. So tell me why do I see folks jogging on these days in the middle of the afternoon with the heat index at 95 degrees or higher?

Who ever thought that we, supposedly as the most advanced and intelligent species on Earth, would create hazardous conditions where we live. Even primitive woman, I believe, knew better than to defecate near her food source. Yet, we continue to defile the Earth, defecate in our own home, and pray that somehow the Earth will heal itself.

As my poet friend reminds me, this is a nutty place, like "Blade Runner" revisited. It is a nutty place, but I don't recall a time in my life when it wasn't: from the paint factory that blew up near my home when I was four or five sending my baby sister sailing off the dining room table to the floor (I think she was perched on the table because either my father or mother was tying her shoes) to the film of black soot that used to settle on the car whenever I ventured to southwest Detroit, a neighborhood that was a toxic wasteland when I was a child.

Environmental racism, pollution, defilement of the Earth--humans, being all too human. But we defile our bodies too with all kinds of toxic substances, thus can we really expect humans to honor the Earth when we will not honor our bodies? Hum!

Anyway it is a lovely late spring night in metro DC. The air is crisp and cool, the slugs are as thick and long as my middle finger, and the sunflowers on my dining room table are wondering why someone cut them from their stalks to be sold in the local grocery store.

Laurence Fishburne is phenomenal in "Thurgood" at the Kennedy Center. While the script could have been more engaging, Fishburne's ability to stay in character for 90 minutes reminds me why I have always regarded him as an incredible stage actor, remembering the times when I saw him perform in Atlanta when the town sported one or two repertory theaters.  Check out Juan Williams book on Marshall.

Just received my brochure for the 2010-2011 lineup at the Arena Stage in DC. Of interest to me, and perhaps to some of you, are the stagings of "Every Tongue Confess" by Marcus Gardley and directed by Kenny Leon, "Let Me Down Easy" by Anna Deavere Smith, and "Ruined" by Lynn Nottage. Check out the complete season line up at

See you at the theater next season.