I have to say, it’s pretty different and decidedly neat to be on the other side of an interview and article - as the subject instead of the writer. The magazine showed a lot of love to yours truly, plus I was able to get my lions in the photo, even if you can only see their claws. Check out the article appearing in the February 2008 issue by clicking here or on the photos above or below to see a PDF of the page.
(Click on the photo of the magazine cover above or here to see a PDF copy of the article.)
Thanks for the support,
Soul Searching with Daphne S. Valerius
A conversation with the filmmaker behind the documentary, “The Souls of Black Girls”
Interviewed by RezaRitesRi.com Guest Correspondent, Camila Crews. Music by Zawadi, Iyeoka, and Riders Against the Storm. Podcast produced by Reza Corinne Clifton.
(From left to right, Filmmaker Daphne Valerius finds a moment to smile during a February 24 post-screening discussion with special guest, Chuck D (from seminal hip hop group, Public Enemy); Valerius poses with Chuck D. after presenting him with a special gift of framed stills from the movie. Click on the photo or here to listen to an audio podcast of Valerius talking about her documentary. )
PROVIDENCE, RI - The Souls of Black Girls is a provocative news documentary that raises the question of whether or not women of color may be suffering from a self-image disorder as a result of trying to attain the standards of beauty celebrated in images of the mass media. The documentary features candid interviews with young women discussing their self-image and social commentary from Rapper Chuck D, Actresses Regina King and Jada Pinkett Smith, Washington Week Moderator (PBS) Gwen Ifill and Cultural Critic Michaela Angela Davis, among others.
Busy booking and screening showings nationally and internationally, Varlerius stopped back in one place that she calls home, Rhode Island, for screenings at the Providence Black Repertory Company and the University of Rhode Island. She also made time for dinner at the Providence restaurant, Cuban Revolution, and a word with RezaRitesRi.com guest correspondent, Camila Crews. As informative, intelligent, and stimulating as the Byron Hurts documentary, “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” is, Valerius’s movie is a must-see. Click on the photo above or here to hear what the scholar, filmmaker, and beautiful aspiring actress had to say about intra-racial color tensions, working with celebrities, and redefining beauty.
Peep the Film at the February 27 screening at the University of Rhode Island
URI, Kingston Campus
At the Ballroom of the Memorial Union
For more information about the screening at URI, go the University’s Multicultural Center Black History month calendar by visiting www.uri.edu/mcc/BlackHistoryMonth/2008/index.html or contact Ana Barraza at URI’s Center for Student Leadership Development, 401.874.2561, or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
A Black History Month tribute
By Marcus P. Mitchell
(Photo courtesy of Marcus P. Mitchell. An attendee of the OV Catto memorial program positions himself to watch the Civil War reenactment soldiers standing in formation.)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - Every year during Black History month, the Philadelphia-based organization, The Catto Society, sponsors a memorial program to recognize the forgotten hero, Octavius Valentine Catto. Promoting O.V. Catto’s concepts of superior education, civil involvement, and equal rights, the annual event features lectures with historians, civil war re-enactments, and recognition of Buffalo Soldiers. Another significant part of the program is a wreath-laying at the site of the voting station Catto was working on the day he was killed during riots in the second election where blacks were allowed to vote.
The Catto society gives lectures, promotes education, and has a record of successfully lobbying historical groups and the federal government for recognition of Catto’s civic contributions. Why? Because Catto was a nineteenth-century African American renaissance man who fought and died for equal-rights for blacks. He was the Martin Luther King of his day, with contemporaries such as Frederick Douglass, William Still, and Thadeus Stevens.
Catto was born in Charleston S.C. in 1839, but shortly afterwards, his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he was raised. His father was a prominent Presbyterian minister and a leader in the Black church who worked across denominations. Catto was educated at the prestigious Institute for Colored Youth (which evolved into Cheney University, one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges / Universities) and mentored by Yale-educated Ebenezer Bassett, a black intellectual and ambassador to Haiti.
(Photo Courtesy of Marcus P. Mitchell. Mitchell appears directly behind the wreath between Philadelphia politicians and officials posing near the Civil War reenactment soldiers attending the February 23, 2008 event.)
Catto, who was classically educated in several languages and skilled in mathematics, became a professor at the Institute. He founded the Banneker Library Institute and was inducted into science society’s Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, against the protest of several white scientists of the period. Catto was also an accomplished athlete as captain and MVP of the champion all Negro Pythian baseball club.
Catto was extremely active and dedicated to equal-rights for Blacks as a national spokesman during the 1860’s until his murder in 1871. He and Frederick Douglas founded the National Equal Rights League in New York (the precursor to organizations like the NAACP and Urban League); he was a staunch supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s Administration; he was a Major in the Civil War where he organized 11 black regiments for soldiers to fight; and he was instrumental in the ratification of the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allowing African Americans the right to vote in October 1870. He also organized boycotts and protests to successfully de-segregate the public trolley system 100 years before Rosa Parks’ protest.
On Election Day, October 10, 1871, Catto was working to organize 5000 blacks to vote in a block. Violent riots erupted with white Democrats killing and intimidating blacks away from the voting stations. Catto, an officer in the National Guard, was called to duty to help quell the riots. After leaving the polling station to get his uniform, he was shot through the heart 20 feet from his home by a political henchman. Catto’s funeral was attended by 5000 attendees, equal to the number for Abraham Lincoln. He was a national figure admired by blacks and whites alike.
(Photo Courtesy of Marcus P. Mitchell, who is pictured here speaking to attendees of the February 23rd event.)
Marcus P. Mitchell is president and founder of the Catto Society, an organization dedicated to promoting the memory and ideals of Octavius Valentine Catto, a forgotten hero.
By Reza Corinne Clifton
(Photo courtesy of Urban Influence Magazine, an Offical Publication of the National Urban League. Click on on the photo or here to see a PDF version of page 54, where an article by me, Reza Rites, appears)
PROVIDENCE, RI - Before it’s too late, check out the January/February edition of Urban Influence Magazine, an Official Publication of the National Urban League. Besides articles from or about part-time TV personalities Dr. Ian Smith from VH-1, BET’s Jeff Johnson, and NBC’s Laila Ali, there’s a piece by me, Reza Rites.
Last year, as Vice President of the RI Young Professionals (RIYP) – an auxiliary of the Urban League of RI and a chapter of the National Urban League Young Professionals – I helped to usher in a Speakers Bureau and Career Panel Series. Impressed with the response of RIYP members and from the community at large, I submitted a piece about our efforts to the national magazine. Check out page 54 in the print edition, click on the photo above, or click here to see a PDF of the page containing the article.
Urban Influence Magazine is designed to extend the message of the National Urban League throughout its membership and beyond, while addressing relevant issues of emerging urban influencers. In RI, it is for sale at Borders Books and Music in Providence and it is made available to members of RI Young Professionals at meetings and events. For more information about the magazine, visit www.urbaninfluencemagazine.com. For more about RIYP, click on the link on the panel to the left or visit www.riyp.org
THE SOULS OF BLACK GIRLS
A documentary by Daphne S. Valerius
THE PROVIDENCE PREMIERE
Sunday February 24, 2008
The Providence Black Repertory Theater
276 Westminster Street
Doors Open @ 8pm; Cost:$20.00. Followed by a Q&A session with Director/Producer Daphne Valerius AND Rapper/political activist Chuck D.
NOT GOING, BUT WANT TO LEARN MORE? Click on the photo above or here to listen to an audio podcast of RezaRitesRi.com guest correspondent, Camila Crews, interviewing filmmaker, Daphne S. Valerius.
The Souls of Black Girls is a provocative news documentary that raises the question of whether or not women of color may be suffering from a self-image disorder as a result of trying to attain the standards of beauty celebrated in images of the mass media. The documentary features candid interviews with young women discussing their self-image and social commentary from Rapper Chuck D, Actresses Regina King and Jada Pinkett Smith, Washington Week Moderator (PBS) Gwen Ifill and Cultural Critic Michaela Angela Davis, among others.
Black History Month should not only Celebrate the Past:
A conversation with Queen Ifrica, Part 2
Scroll down or click here to hear Part 1
Music by Queen Ifrica provided by Flames Production. Podcast produced by Reza Corinne Clifton. Scroll down or click here to hear Part 1
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I’ve been making a lot of updates to my Podcasts page. Why should you ‘peep the podcasts page?’ From the music video, “Speak the Truth” by RI hip hop group RAS, to commentary on Obama, Clinton, and others from an early debate in this campaign cycle, the podcasts page offers an audio (and in some cases video) alternative to reading for those with less time or with multiple tasks. Look for the link above or on the left hand panel. Or click here to be taken there right away.
Sunshine and laughter,
(Queen Ifrica stops to consider a note, melody, harmony, accompaniment, rhythm…during a rehearsal in Boston the night before her July 17, 2007 headlining performance at Sound Session, the annual, “genre-defying” Pan-African music festival that takes place in “downcity” Providence. The event is a collaboration between the Providence Black Repertory Company, the City of Providence and the Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism, and many other corporate, community, and media participants. Click on the photo or here to listen to an audio podcast of some thoughts Queen Ifrica shared with RezaRitesRi.com.)
PROVIDENCE, RI - It is February 20, 2008 - 7 months after I first had the chance to talk for an extended period with the talented, refreshing and inspiring recording artist, Ventrice Morgan, a.k.a. Queen Ifrica. She was in Providence last summer at Sound Session 07, during a stop which sat wedged in-between reggae festivals happening in Canada, Africa, and home - Jamaica for her. Like the show in Providence perfectly demonstrates, The Flames Production artist has seen success that comes in many shades: performances all over the world, consecutive weeks as number one on Jamaican music charts, and collaborations with other popular reggae artists like contemporary singer Tarrus Riley. But Queen Ifrica has a lot on her mind aside from music. Click here to listen to the audio podcast of this prolific singer talking about violence in music, uplifting youth, and performing for love not money.
(Queen Ifrica, pictured here fifth in from the left in a white dress and black head-wrap, poses alongside members of the boston-based band, Zili Misik. During Sound Session 07, Queen Ifrica performed at the Providence Black Repertory Company as the headlining act alongside the Boston-based band, Zilik Misik, a multicultural, all-female, powerhouse group, that plays pan-Caribbean and international melodies and rhythms. The night of their performance, Queen Ifrica shared some thoughts with her permanent and temporary bandmates and with RezaRitesRi.com. Click here or on the phototo listen to the podcast.)
To learn more about Queen Ifrica, click here to read my October 2007 article entitled Love for Humanity and Self-Awareness Takes Female Reggae Artist to the Top or visit www.myspace.com/queenifrica. To learn more about Zili Misik, visit www.myspace.com/zilimisik. Click here to read Providence Music Festival Also Serves as a Model, an article about Sound Session from the RezaRitesRi.com archives.
Top Female Reggae Artist Talks Race, Rastas, and Revolutions
A conversation with Queen Ifrica Part 1
October 2, 2007
PROVIDENCE, RI - Jamaican Reggae singer and “dj” Ventrice Morgan, aka Queen Ifrica, is the daughter of a well-known Jamaican musician and a Rastafarian who lives “in the deep hills in Jamaica.” These influences are clear in Ifrica’s music; yet her voice and her essence are distinctly hers. And these are qualities that have been well-received lately.
Queen Ifrica has been touring for months now, to hungry and appreciative crowds internationally - from Holland to Chicago; Canada to France; Jamaica to Rhode Island. Another sign of her talent and success was her feat making it to number one last month on various Jamaican charts for her song, “Below the Waist,” a tune speaking to overcoming the hardships in marriages and relationships.
Reggae singer Queen Ifrica “is the number 1 female artist in Jamaica” right now, the second female artist this year to reach number one on various charts on the island. Her song “Below The Waist” has spent many weeks as number one in Jamaica, with the song currently “taking over the dances, sessions, parties, and radio.” However, she has two more songs starting to “mash up” the place too - “‘Mi Nah Rub” about skin bleaching and “Daddy dont touch me there” about incest and child abuse. Others may recall another song, “Burn some herbs,” which had a recent rotation on a variety of local radio shows.
I had a chance to talk with this immensely talented yet refreshingly humble star over the summer, during a stop she made in Providence in between attending reggae festivals in Canada, in Montreal (The Montreal Reggae Festival) and in Toronto (Caribana). During Sound Session 07, Queen Ifrica performed at the Providence Black Repertory Company as the headlining act alongside the boston-based band, Zilik Misik, a multicultural, all-female, powerhouse group, that plays pan-Caribbean and international melodies and rhythms. Click on any the photos above or here to listen to an audio podcast of the first in a series of excerpts from our conversations, dealing with topics from Rastas to revolutions, from performances to politics, and from violence to vegetarianism.
To learn more about Queen Ifrica, click here to read my October 2007 article entitled Love for Humanity and Self-Awareness Takes Female Reggae Artist to the Top or visit www.myspace.com/queenifrica. To link to the photos page to see pictures from the July 17 performance at Black Rep and from the Queen Ifrica-Zili Misik rehearsal night, click here. For more information about Sound Session, click here to read Providence Music Festival Also Serves as a Model , an article about Sound Session from the RezaRitesRi.com archives. To learn more about Zili Misik, visit www.myspace.com/zilimisik.
WAS NAS RIGHT? IS HIP HOP DEAD?
(originally posted February 21, 2008)
“Let me just back up a minute and say this: hip hop is morphic – by its very nature. Hip hop is morphic. So what we see in hip hop is – hip hop takes whatever’s going on – as Black people can do like back in the day with chitt’lins…But just as easy as it is to make that fabulous soup, its also easy to start adding in too much pepper, and too much hot sauce, and too much this and too much that. And so when you have a society’s that’s becoming unbalanced, if hip hop has been a representation of that society – it’s a mirror of that society – and you have a group of polyphonic voices that are getting limited to only one avenue and one voice being heard by the powers that be, then that’s where the balance starts to go astray and you’re only going to get one message. What you see as far as Gansterism is not from Thuglife; it’s from Godfather 1, 2,and 3.” - Kalyana Champlain, January 28, 2008.
Thursday, February 21ST
The University of Rhode Island, Edwards Auditorium
THE NAACP (URI college chapter) INVITES YOU TO JOIN KALYANA CHAMPLAIN AS SHE EXPLORES THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS THAT CREATED HIP HOP AND HOW THEY ARE NOW TAKING ITS VOICE AWAY. THE PRESENTATION WILL BE FOLLOWED BY BATTLE OF THE BEATS! A true night of hip hop…SAY WORD!
Kalyana Champlain is a Communication Studies major at the University of RI – graduating in May 2008 with honors – and she is a writer and spoken word artist. She is currently working on a thesis entitled “Hip Hop is Dead? The Rhetoric of Hip Hop,” discussing the social conditions that have lead to this art form’s rhetoric and how they are now causing its decline. To reach her, please feel free to email email@example.com.
PROVIDENCE, RI - It is Black History Month and this is RezaRitesRi.com, so as you can imagine, there are a lot of updates being made to the Listings pages. Check out the “From Reza Rites” listings to see all the latest additions including media conferences, community events, national internships, and other tidbits just for RezaRitesRi readers. Also check out “From RIYP” to see the local and national information being compiled by the Rhode Island Young Professionals, the nationally-affiliated organization I was vice-president of last year.
What’s an example of something coming up? Well for one thing, I’ll be hosting and producing the music show, Voices of Women, this Saturday morning February 16 on WRIU, 90.3 FM. The show airs from 9-11 and I’ll being doing the whole thing! Imagine Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Amel Larrieux, Janet Jackson, Dee-Lite and Celia Cruz. The station is based out of the University of RI, so if you’re having trouble getting it - or you’re not in RI at all - listen in online at www.wriu.org.
There are more events, more articles, and more updates coming to the site. Keep checking back in, keep sending me information, and keep sending the info or links to a friend. We’ll make this happen together!
Sunshine and Laughter,
A quick note in case you missed it - because I know I unfortunately did:
Social activist and educator Angela Davis was at Brown earlier this month on Feb. 7 delivering the university’s 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, titled “Recognizing Racism in the Era of Neo-Liberalism.”
Davis has spent the last 15 years at the University of California–Santa Cruz, where she is professor of history of consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, and professor of feminist studies. Her teaching career has also included positions at San Francisco State University, Mills College, UC–Berkeley, UCLA, Vassar, the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford University. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early 1970s as a person who spent 18 months in jail and on trial after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” To check out the rest of the post, go to The Black Notes Blog: A Forum for the Providence Black Repertory Company Community, at blackrep.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/angela-davis-to-speak-at-brown/
A day later, another powerful, radical, and dedicated Black woman dropped into Providence. Mama Charlotte O’Neal, former Black Panther Party member stopped at the MET BLACK BOX THEATER on Feb. 8 to show the documentary, “A Panther In Africa,” and to share her personal story/poetry. The film is a powerful re-telling of her husband, Pete O’Neal’s, journey from the heart of the Black Power movement in Kansas City during the 1960’s, to political exile in East Africa.
Facing gun charges in Kansas City in 1970, O’Neal fled to Algeria, where he joined other Panther exiles. Unlike the others, however, O’Neal never found his way back to America. He moved on to Tanzania, where for over 30 years he has struggled to continue his life of social activism - and to hold on to his identity as an African(American). The event was presented by the RI Family Life Center and Just a Step Productions.
Below is an excerpt of postings in the Listings Section for events coming up soon:
Tonight, Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 - 7:30 PM at The Providence Public Library (Central), 150 Empire Street in Lippit Hall, WRNI (RI’s NPR station) and and the Providence Public Library Present: A Conversation about Iraq with NPR Correspondent Tom Bowman. Recently stationed in Iraq, Bowman will mainly be talking about his ground experience in the country and about media coverage of the war. The program is FREE and open to the public. For more information, visit www.provlib.org/calendar.asp?id=71596, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Rita Cidre at 402-351-0203 or Lisa Miller at 401-455-8057.
Also tonight, Wednesday February 13, RIYP hosts it’s monthly “Rewind Wednesdays” Networking Mixer at Blaze (on Thayer), 272 Thayer St. in Providence from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is held in association with the Alumni Chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Rewind Wednesdays are held the second Wednesday of each month. For more info, contact email@example.com.
On February 14 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., artist Simone Spruce-Torres hosts a reception for “Reflections,” her new exhibit about 13 women of color reflecting on living in another era. The work is on display February 1 - February 29, 2008 at the Warwick Public Library, 600 Sandy Lane, Warwick, RI 02889. The reception includes musical selections by Nisha Purushotham, Cheryl Albright, Idianna Jennings and Ghislaine Mahone.
The Community Access Challenge coming up February 20 - February 21 HAS BEEN POSTPONED. The Challenge was an educational program designed to educate nondisabled people about the importance of handicap accessibility in public places - through hands on experience! For more information contact Dana Wright of Making Access by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 401.499.6459.
Later this month, on February 24, the Black Rep hosts the Providence Premiere of the award-winning film, The Souls of Black Girls, a documentary by local filmmaker, Daphne Valerius. Scroll down or click here to read the press release or check out the Listings page for all the event details.
Happening Outside of RI:
Don’t forget that the Deadline is approaching Internships at the Whitehouse. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age on or before the first day of the internship, enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at a college or university, or graduated the previous semester, and a United States citizen. A White House Internship provides an opportunity for current students and recent graduates to experience everyday life at the White House while working with high-level officials on a variety of tasks and projects. Beyond experiencing the day-to-day operations of the White House, interns participate in a speaker series, tours, community service projects, and various White House events.
NASA hosts an Ice Cream Social for News, Documentary, and Television Producers, Filmmakers, and Journalists on Tuesday, February 19, 6:30pm-9pm at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD 20771. It is a professional event for those in the news and media industries as well as film/journalism students where attendees can expect to learn how to obtain HD footage and animations from NASA, find out how to schedule interviews with leading scientists, and meet contacts within NASA and hear about possible multi-media job openings. For more info about Goddard Multimedia, visit www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/multimedia.
The 2008 Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism at Harvard University: Storytelling in Many Voices, Many Media, happening the weekend of March 14-16 at the Sheraton Boston, 39 Dalton Street, Boston, MA 02199. The Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism is the premier annual event for narrative journalists eager to enhance their powers of observation, sharpen their reporting skills, and write with literary flair. Reflecting the many formats in which we tell true stories today, our traditional award-winning cast of writers and editors working in print, film, broadcasting, and publishing will be complemented by bloggers, podcasters, and other multimedia pioneers. To register or to see the schedule, a list of speakers, a list of the workshops, and other information, visit www.nieman.harvard.edu/events/conferences/narrative2008.
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For Immediate Release
Award winning documentary The Souls of Black Girls to host Providence premiere with special guest Rapper Chuck D at Providence Black Repertory Theater, Feb 24th
PROVIDENCE, RI—The Souls of Black Girls, a provocative news documentary written, edited and produced by Daphne S. Valerius, will have its Providence premiere on Sunday February 24th at The Providence Black Repertory Theater Company (276 Westminster Street). The premiere screening of the award-winning documentary will take begin at 8pm with a special appearance by Rapper & Political Activist Chuck D who is also featured in the piece. A Q&A session with Ms. Valerius and Chuck D will follow.
The name of the documentary film derives from the seminal W.E.B. Dubois book The Souls of Black Folks and examines the relationship between historical and current media images of women of color. The film explores the possibility of whether or not Black women today are suffering from a self-image disorder and features candid interviews with young women discussing their self-image. The documentary also features commentary from actresses Regina King and Jada Pinkett Smith, PBS Washington Week Moderator Gwen Ifill and cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis, among others.
Valerius produced the documentary as a fulfillment of the broadcast journalism graduate program she completed at Emerson College in 2006. It builds upon her undergraduate research as a Ronald McNair Scholar at St. John’s University titled Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence: The Effects of Mass Media on Women of Color…Forgotten.
While the film was made prior to the infamous Don Imus incident, The Souls of Black Girls addresses many of the issues being raised in the current national discussion of racism and sexism in the media arising from the inflammatory, on-air remarks by the former talk-jock concerning the young women of the Rutgers University basketball team.
The Providence premiere is being sponsored by the Neighborhood Health Plan of RI & SoulMade Ice Cream in association with the Providence Black Repertory Theater Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI and Rhode Island Young Professionals.
Valerius said growing up as a young Black girl, she felt “very much like an ugly duckling compared to my peers as a result of not looking a certain way, much like Pecola Breedlove of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Putting together this documentary allowed me to uncover and examine why I, along with many other women of color, feel the need to manipulate our physical appearances.
The Souls of Black Girls recently garnered the support of the “Godmother of the Women’s Movement” and Social Activist Dr. Dorothy Height. “Too often our girls do not rise to their full potential because they are so affected by the image that others project of them. It’s good to have something that helps us understand what’s happening to our girls,” says Dr. Dorothy Height, Chair of the National Council of Negro Women. “This film is the answer to a prayer”.
For advance tickets to the premiere or for more information about The Souls of Black Girls and screening updates, contact Ronnie Young at 401 829-0528 or visit the official websites- www.soulsofblackgirls.com or www.myspace.com/soulsofblackgirls.