Her name is Loretta Hawkins. The People of Extraordinary Talent, to which she is a member, and Chicago’s poetry scene know her as FIREKEEPER. Tonight I have the honor of capturing her event that will surely be a photo experience.
I met Loretta Hawkins 2 years ago when she joined the P.O.E.T family. Her voice is second to none. She holds her own weight, embodying the spirit of Harriett Tubman in “These Shoes”. Her voice, hard, subtle, strong, melodious, and powerful. She doesn’t have to work at grabbing the attention of any audience, it’s simply a gift that comes with her anointing. She is a retired teacher but she has never stopped educating.
Tonight, at Gallery Guichard, located 436 E. 47th Street in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community, she will have a 3 Genres Book Signing. This is a culminating event for her recent A Taste of Theater Award for her play “Of Quiet Birds”.
Loretta Hawkins is determined to utilize her remaining time on this earth to release books, poetry, plays, and inspire a young generation to embrace their heritage, their ancestry, their melanin, their history and their future. Chicago’s best kept secret is no more and her work here is not done. Today we celebrate a legend and I am honored to know that a fire of passion for life brews in all of us and FireKeeper is part of that Great Flame!
Photocred goes to the producer of the flyer for Loretta Hawkins.
What is Kapernick Syndrome? It’s when you decide to speak up for the rights of your people in protest and suffer life changing, career-ending backlash by your employer, conservatives, and yes, white people. To be fair, I ain’t with you on the no voting thing, but I get it.
The quickest way to rile up Republicans, conversations, and white Christians is to to paint the illusion of disrespecting veterans. Tomi, not worth saying her last name, is such an individual what would try to pimp her biased journalism by using veterans to draw emotion. Well, take some notes Tomi about your foolish discussions on the anthem thing since that’s your platform:
- Kapernick wasn’t protesting the anthem or flag, he stated what he was protesting. Apparently you never understood that.
- My people have fought for this country. We were put out in the cold so German prisoners of war could ride in luxury.
- We stood for the anthem during the olympics and Jesse Owens couldn’t come home and eat in a restaurant at a white establishment.
- We stood for the anthem while the government was injecting black men with syphilis.
- We stood for the anthem when black men were only allowed to be cooks and could only sit down in 8 while white soldiers filled the galley hall.
- We pledged allegiance to the flag in school while learning from the same books from generation to generation.
- We stood for the flag when American’s murdered Martin, Malcolm, Medgar, Rebb, JFK, Bobby K.
Veterans can speak for themselves Tomi, all of us. We don’t need your help or your speaking from a place of privilege. After all, many women stood for the anthem for the one you voted in office. We are not the land of the free, we are the land of %*ssy grabbers. Hope you are wearing a chastity belt because Fox News is allegedly known for being about the %*ssy grabbing.END…A Veteran Speaks
First, I give it up to ABC7Chicago.com for keeping Chicagoans informed. I also want to give credit to Illinois Policy. Their Facebook Page is my primary go-to for information regarding policies and politics that affects the good citizens, any not go good citizens, of Illinois.
I’m not going to list all of the new laws that initiate today. I extracted the ones I felt pertinent after a review of the bills listed by ABC. I’m also included links to each of those bills that will coincide with my initial thoughts. A direct link to all Bill numbers searchable on ilga.gov can be found by clicking here.
- HB 5913: This will largely have an impact on small business owners who for years ran a business as plumbers and outsourced and trained people to work with them who were capable of doing the work and worked in conjunction with this since they are licensed and bonded. For those in the construction field, more than likely, their general contracting corporations will provide the training for them but this may not be so cut and dry for the little man as it may prohibit the execution of training options for those who are gifted and simply looking for work.
- HB 4517: You’ll have to dig through this 58 page law in order to gather it’s full meaning. You will see some previous parts of the law restricted (meaning they have lines drawn through certain paragraphs) that does eliminate the Center for Comprehensive Health Planning (links to a surface indication of what the CCHP was intended for but it’s fairly dated). It looks like it removes bureaucracy but those in the health care creation, planning and evaluation would be able to provide more insight. The governor, with senate approval appoints the members from various demographics including doctors, nurses, business community on for and non profit sectors. I do like that fact that a member has to be a regular citizen over 60. Elderly healthcare and concerns should be noted.
- SB 1120. Return rental equipment or pay the price for thievery. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Bottom line is people can’t afford to be lax when returning rented items. This is more than likely a protection for SBO (Small Business Owners), that have little means of quickly replacing what customers have stolen. Don’t get a felony and fine people. Rent it, return it!
- SB 2900: APN’s and PA’s will finally get a seat at the table. Highly qualified and often unregarded work of those that work hand and hand with physicians on a daily basis have more authority to be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of the physicians they serve and the patients they work for. I am banking this will lead to an increase in the field and a governing organization that will drive more roles and responsibilities for these great people.
- HB3239: If this gives our students more power to have an active voice on Local School Councils then I am all for it. They should be able to engage their future and the future of their piers by being at the table.
- SB 2777: This is a win for Juvenile Justice Advocates. I hope there are more restorative efforts for young people in the inner-city as most rural juvenile offenses go unreported or privately dealt with when it’s public knowledge. Hopefully the young people that find themselves on the opposite side of the law see this (and it should be publicized) as a second chance opportunity.
- HB 6006: We need not lose any more State Troopers or citizens for failure to change lanes. “Move trick, get out the way”. Sorry, I had a hip hop moment. Change lanes people. Simple as that. Beware of traps though, I can see the state using this even when it’s innocent and cars won’t permit you to pass. After all, people can be rude.
Now, Bills I don’t care for and I’ll get dinged on this.
HB 4264: This is an arrogance of legislature that baffles me. It’s as arrogant as the governor mandating students be taught how to engage police officers. Even with training, there is nothing under the law to protect cosmetologist, aestheticians, barbers, etc. from retaliation from families. It’s a requirement that will subjectively, and one again, put pressure on the small business owners. It would seem that the one area that is effectively staunch in the Black community is coming under indirect fire an assault of the legislature. It has absolutely nothing to do with their profession. It’s almost like making an account doing family taxes a mandated reported, or a construction worker repairing a house that notices a bruise and has to become a mandated reporter.
I’m off my rant people, get educated, stay informed. If you ready any of these bills one statement will resonate:
We can ill-afford to vote for people without knowing. If they are making laws on our behalf, let’s ensure we are informed.
Happy New Year. May 2017 be a year of information and community!
Illinois taxes break my back – Cook County taxes break my neck
Chicago taxes break my wallet – Federal taxes break my bank
These murders break my heart, not sure where to start
We are a fragile people, pimped by politicians – Puppeteered by pulpits
Enslaved by an element of social depravity – Trapped by gangs, cornered by guns
Deafened by screams, painted by blood
Entrapped by brutal slave masters that etched their self-destructive will on a people
That refuse to take responsibility for their own house
Because the laws changed and we are arrested for disciplining our children
While slave overseers in blue uniforms unload with merciless execution in broad daylight
How can I hope, believe, dream or conquer if it has been deferred; we are sick
As a people, not black, not white, not Buddhist, not Christian, not Muslim, but as humanity
We have forgotten what binds us to settle for what holds us bound, it is not a fault of religion, it is a fault of us
We stand by silently, blaming, finger-pointing, shrugging shoulders like it won’t happen to…
Interrupted post from a billion dollar industry of metal that has unleashed unrestrained, uncontrollable, unmerciful, uncompromising damage on society
Home from college, winter-break, not going back, I am staying here, in Chicago, in a coffin, under the earth from which bore and birthed this vessel from the beginning of time
Taxed to death, shot to death, a tale of a city that has so much to celebrate, yet so much to admonish
We are on break from election season, no political phone calls for they don’t need us at this moment
No cries from the people for we don’t need them at this moment
Only cries from the fallen that are not with us for grandma died from a broken heart when realtors bought the taxes she could not pay and they took her home
A tale of a city
And more than bullets, we bleed from silence…
Vondale Singleton is a soul on a mission. He is an associate minister at an active church on the south side of Chicago and has his hands embedded in the community. He is an assistant principal of operations and community relations at a major charter school network in Chicago. I meet him four years ago on a school visit as he was making his transition from Oklahoma to ChiTown. He is a stellar husband and a glowing father of two, but his fatherhood extends way beyond his home. Many of the young men he mentors in the city of Chicago look to him for guidance and instruction. Whether he’s recruiting students for Gary Comer College Prep, A Noble Network Charter school and 2015 Broad Prize recipient, or running the C.H.A.M.P.S (Culturally Helping and Making Positive Success) Male Mentoring Program Vondale is committed to changing the culture of Chicago. He’s beyond someone you should know. He’s a man this city should invest in. A few weeks ago he received what he perceived as a prank call. It was king of the crossover, Chicago’s own Tim Hardaway. “I heard what you’re doing and I want to help in anyway that I can.” I asked my brother some very poised questions about what he envisions for Chicago.
- You spent a great deal of time in Oklahoma working for KIPP, a great position building and solidifying their network infrastructure at the school you were located, why did you come back to your native Chicago? Although, I had a wonderful opportunity serving the city of Tulsa, and working at a great organization at KIPP Tulsa for 5 years, I was always called to come back to Chicago, because I always knew that my destiny was in my hometown. When I would come back home to visit family and friends, I would hear of the gun-violence and stories about how the youth were off-the-chain, and I knew that God apprehended me to go back and be a light in the dark world of the inner-city of Chicago.
- Mr. Singleton, you have spent an inhumane amount of hours with grieving families impacted by the violence in Chicago, what do you say to them? It is appalling to know that we are leading the nation in murders. Furthermore, we see the majority of murders are from school-aged Black and Latino Males and often males without fathers in the home. The thing that grieves me the most is instantaneous lost of 2 lives though 1 incident. The victim and the murderer. The victim’s family has to prepare a funeral, and the murderer family has to now visit them in prison. These are both lose-lose situations, but the biggest lost is when a family has to deal with the reality of not getting their loved one back. I realize that at any point it could be me or my family in this situation, so I never become desensitized to the fact of a family grieving and want them to know that they have me in their corner and I am willing to walk with them through this tumultuous process of bereavement.
- The CHAMPS Male Mentoring Program has received national acclaim with being honored as a 2015 White House Film Festival awardee. Kelly Wright of Fox News also came out and interviewed several students and staff members, why is this type of media coverage significant for Chicago? I want to dispel the narrative that all Black and Brown boys are gang-members, thugs, and cynical. I decided that though the CHAMPS 3 E’s; Education, Empowerment, and Exposure, we wanted to show that through our own positive media, that we can compete with any people group anywhere on the planet in any academic arena, and that we have something great to offer the world. Our young men deserve to turn on the TV and see themselves as important, powerful, and celebrated.
- Why is the June 4, Born 2 Win conference so important? I believe that this conference will help kick our summer off the right way, by involving the young men that it need the most. This should be something that the whole world is behind. I figured that if we can get 500 young men that will go into there respective communities, schools, and groups of influence then we can help empower a movement that will spark a necessary change our city and this nation needs.
- It’s not summer, Chicago has experienced more deaths than days of the year at current, how can hope be brought to the hopeless? There are three things I share with our young men. When we have facilities, resources, and finances then we are able to empower our community with a sense of hope. We realize that part of the hopelessness is the institutionalized systems of racism and poverty. When a man has a legal job, and is able to provide for his family it lessens the need to have to rob another man, it also occupies his time so that he isn’t left be the idle mind that bends towards evil. We need more men stepping into the roles of fathers, and modeling how to overcome the negative influences of the streets, by capitalizing on opportunities. Education is the greatest equalizer, with it you can go in any room and compete.
Chicago is my kind of town. When it’s violent we hear of the west or south sides of the city. When it’s celebratory we hear of downtown. Vondale is not only committed to changing the culture, he’s committed to changing the perception of African-American and Latino American students. He’s more than someone we should know, he’s someone we should be.
If you’d like to make a contribution to the C.H.A.M.P.S Born 2 Win conference, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Noble Network website to make a donation electronically and reference Born2Win-2016.
He is an activist, writer, poet, artist, motivator, coach, entrepreneur, and father. De’Andre Hawthorne, known as Blaq Ice, has been on the arts scene in Chicago since rapping and entertaining in his early days as a student at Simeon High School located on the south side of Chicago. He is the founder of the award-winning International Spoken Word group named P.O.E.T (People of Extraordinary Talent). Founded in 1990, P.O.E.T does various community service projects throughout the city and external of Chicago including chapters in Minneapolis, Detroit, Michigan City, and Las Vegas. P.O.E.T visits battered-women shelters, public schools, hospitals, parades, community rallies, and various other community events as part of their call to heal the world “one word at a time.” Their membership includes people from all walks of life and religious beliefs. Their focus on community, mentoring, and social equity drives them.
Under his leadership, many poets and spoken word artist have become published authors, have released music, and gained local notoriety. The annual A.C.E Tech High School sleep over held on May 14, 2016, was a major success. But as always with recognition comes trials, ups, and down. I chopped it up with the P.O.E.T CEO, entrepreneur, and community activist this morning to engage the mind of one of Chicago’s own.
1. Why is P.O.E.T so important to Chicago and beyond?
As you know, over the years, Chicago has increased in gun violence, so much so that we have as many murders as of May 2016 as there are days in the year so far. What P.O.E.T brings to the table inspires teens to make positive choices and decisions. Not only have are mentorship programs been effective in Chicago, but all across this nation. When you see those whom we have mentored become mentors, at that moment our mission and motto become complete. Our Motto is “Changing The World, One Heart, One Mind, One Word At A Time.”
2. There seemed a time in 2012-2015 there was a lot of tensions amongst poets and groups with a lot of that social media hostility directed towards you. How were and are you able to maintain, still be you, and not retaliate?
I war not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. There will always be those who hate what they don’t understand. Jesus had haters so you know I’m not exempt. However, in order to be a leader you have to love those whom you lead more than they hate themselves. I don’t retaliate because as a leader I have to be the example, besides, my city (Chicago) has a problem, so my fight and my war is against the violence on my people by my people.
3. What do you think is lacking from African-Americans with all the violence in our communities?
My people are destroyed by lack of knowledge. The knowledge of God and our true identity (Israel) has caused so-called African-Americans to carry the label of MADE IN AMERICA. God created us, but America made niggers. So as many young people as we can reach and teach the truth to, it will enable us to help to save the future generations to come.
4. I have seen you on Fox News often addressing some of the issues with violence. Why is local community activism a must narrative for African-Americans?
People are tired of talk, that’s why activism is important. The root of the word activism is ACT and actions speak louder than words. Our youth wants to know that they are loved and appreciated. Spending time, sharing what connects us (our stories) with them, allows them to feel comfortable opening up, releasing that buried hurt and pain. Once they release, we can replace the hurt and dirt with positive spirits.
5. 30 years, 19 albums, 4 published volumes of poetry, business owner; what’s next for Blaq Ice?
I love art, entertainment, and poetry. If my existence on this earth doesn’t help change or save lives, then my living is in vain. Yes, I will release more albums and books, but the entertainment platform allows me to use a bigger stage to reach more people. It’s all about developing programs that will continue to exist beyond our own existence.
We are already seeing other poetry groups follow our lead, doing the very things that P.O.E.T was once criticized about in arts, entertainment, and social activism. We have already inspired others who are recreating what we are doing and have done. I believe the programs I have created such as the P.O.E T, the A.C.T.I.O.N Mentorship program, P.O.E.T RADIO, The TYRONE HAWTHORNE CANCER Scholarship, The P.O.E.T TEEN IDOL, Stand Up, and The Legends of Chicago Hip Hop will continue to exist in some form or fashion even after I’m gone.
Surely Chicago will see more of one of its greatest entertainers. To reach out to P.O.E.T and learn more about the organization please visit their website.
Happy New Year Chicago,
I plan to do a better job this year of blogging. This will require making time for me and less time for the regular job in the wee hours of the night. One thing I will focus on heavily is 1st Congressional candidates in the State of Illinois. I waited too late to put my hat in the arena (my wife is ever grateful of this oversight). We are in for a wild ride with non-contested tax increases by our wonderful mayor and Cook County Board President.
As we unwrap 2016 there’s a lot each of us desire to accomplish. I’ve already spoken about my Mastermind 2015 session that helped me do one primary thing and that is to learn to believe in me. I was charged to walk in the “Faith” that I say I believe which also put in the forefront of my walk with the Lord. Yes, I’m a Christian, one of the obvious traits many people who know me respect and also challenge when I get into “Hulk Smash” mode. This year I will embark on a Landmark journey, thanks to my gracious and awesome boss (he hates being called that).
So, accountability for 2016, I’ll put myself out there:
- Get the book done. I’ve been editing a lot before sending it up the chain and I’ll continue to do so.
- Learn something new in technology. No more “I’m too old to grasp this or that…math is beyond my scope of reach….” I’m in get it done mode. As a brother in the faith described…push your capacity (Dr. Allmon)
- Laugh Laugh Laugh. I am often criticized for being overly serious. What can I say; it’s true.
- I’m not sure on the pursuit of a bachelors degree. It’s still on the table and need to master a serious plan for life-balance as I look at my vision board and update it.
- Discuss the hard stuff. My friend Desiree is a master of this technique. There are certain conversations I avoided in social media but after the recent ruling on the “Tamir Rice” – Wiki Quote case in Ohio, silence about social issues, white privilege, black on black crime and politics is no longer an option.
- Be the voice of the people as a poetic-revolution and dynamic mentor.
- Know more about my history, my ancestral background, and all things of African descent. This is more of a Black History 365 and a full time life journey.
Well, that’s all for now. Let me know what you’d like to talk about. I will do my best to be informed on all issues I bring to the table and I’m sure you’ll rip me a new one if I’m not. Let’s take the block, then the community, then the city, then the state, then the country and then the world and I’ll try not to use “then” so consecutively.
Happy New Year
I had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot for Connie Jones (I dare call her that in public). Her Spoken Word name, or life name, is Mz. Conception. She has been on the activist side of Chicago for quite some time but more recently I had the honor of marching with The People of Extraordinary Talent organization (P.O.E.T) for civil protest against police brutality, economic empowerment, and African-American on African-American crime. As we gathered at 87th and Cottage Grove Mz. Conception grabbed the microphone and went into a piece I will describe later. After the shoot we sat down (of course now realizing I didn’t off the queen any water or food (smh)) and I wanted to have a better understanding of the Spoken Word Activist Mz. Conception.
END: So, how long have you been writing?
mzC: Since I was six, so for 31 years.
END: Why do you always start your poem with “Peace and Love”.
mzC: We all need peace and we definitely all need love!
Wow, that was quick. She’s short on words and doesn’t believe in wasting time. For her, life is precious and valuable. Long before the evidence surfaced about the LaQuan McDonald shooting in Chicago and definitely prior to the hashtag #16shots, Mz. Conception had already comprised a piece by that name. She said it was a gift and concept that came to her and didn’t realize the evolution it would take. As she stood on the corner of 87th and Cottage Grove, she reached a place in her recitation of 16 Shots where the crowd joined in and roared
“16 shots, 16 shots, 16 shots…”
I can’t imagine the emotional weight of a piece that was given to her prior to the escalation of police cover-ups, political abuse of power, and aldermanic back-peddling, and protest that have sparked protest and marches that have drawn serious backlash for inconveniencing a few shoppers for the holidays.
Mz. Conception is not without personal challenges but I won’t share those. I will share that I’m humbled by her presence, her resolve, her tenacity, and her love for all people but especially for her fellow African-American brothers and sisters. Her gift extends color boundaries, her insight transcends traditional religious allegiances, and her words, be them on the “pump the Black Fist” or “sweet, sexy, sultry, and tempting”, the National Poet of the Year Winner – 2015, Mz. Conception is a force to reckon with and some you should know on the Chicago Poetry Scene.
Peace and Love!
The weekend of August 28 in Chicago was great. The Cubs pitched a no-hitter and it was front line news. On another note one of my students was killed. End story…
I have forced myself to watch this Systematic Lynching a few times. The alarming media coverage of citizens being murdered by law enforcement is becoming staggering. Body cameras are still not protecting citizens. The Boston Bomber was given a fair trial. The Fort Hood terrorist was given a fair trial. African-Americans are given Judge Dredd style trial-by-cop execution on the streets. We want to police Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, China, Russia, Cuba….but when it comes to real conversations about justice in the U.S. we dance over it like it doesn’t exist. When will the world court take us to trial for the most imprisoned population on the planet. When will the world court finally say, “Get the $(& out of our business America and take care of your own”. President George Bush called Iran “The Axis of Evil”, but clearly he was looking in the wrong mirror.
In my community a former Alderman called to question the relationship a police officer had with a known drug dealer and the next day he was approached and told “tread carefully old man, I have ears everywhere”. Hence the problem when I speak to young incarcerated black and Latino teenagers. Hope deferred has made them sick. A few bad, trigger happy, socially untrained police officers have made it bad for the great police officers that serve and protect. Maybe I could empathize with law enforcement if these deaths were all thugged out idiots with gang ties that would rival any terrorist cell. I could even empathize if they recovered a gun at the scene of some of these blatant massacres. Yet, the Oscar Grant’s, the Jeremiah Mearday’s, and countless of others continue to fall at the hands of law enforcement. And since they are paid by taxpayer dollars we are technically funding licensed killers.
NWA tried to raise awareness but were chalked up as thugs and eventually turned an ignorant generation of adults against hip-hop as a whole. The message is the same it has been for years but now access to media has put it in the forefront. When you have to shoot and choke unarmed citizens, when you are supported by racially motivated and judicially backed institutions of systematic racism, when district attorney’s turn a blind eye, when the officer who shot Rekia Boyd gets to walk away free, when Howard Morgan can take more than 28 bullets to his body and be convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 40 years (Clemency granted by Quinn), and when 17 year old Deven Guilford, shot 7 times after being pulled over for…what for it…flashing his lights to let an officer know his high beams where on, there is clearly a problem. I tell young people to SHUTUP and do what the officer says because at the end of the day, and listening to my neighbor in law enforcement, the goal is for everyone is to get home in one piece. I can do that because I am militarily trained. But for African Americans, and teens in particular that have mental health issues, anger issues, and broken home issues, it’s not so cut and dry. Sandra Bland has now made the list of immortals that will hopefully begin to change the walls of injustice that incapsulate us in America. A wall that once hailed Black Panthers as terrorist and the Ku Klux Klan as patriots. A wall that has every African American in fear when they see blue death-lights flashing behind them. A wall that will not be overcome until we put our elected officials to the task. When we march on one path as a people then surely we will see a modern day Jericho.
The blood of Able cries out from the ground. Some police officers are no longer their brothers keeper but their brothers reaper.
|The Endurer on Frozen|
|Gary Barnard Dotson on Frozen|
|The Endurer on 7 Years…Part I|
|Gary Barnard Dotson on 7 Years…Part I|
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