My Introduction to David Banner

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black-history_feb-19_copyright-shila-iris-2017Transformation is possible. He used to be vulgar, ruled by his lower self- arrogant, over-sexed, chasing money, starved for attention, allowing Black life to be dictated to him by non-Black people at his record company. He did this until he knew better. “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, he is taking a different approach to African consciousness and to Black life.

David Banner is using his charm to resuscitate Black History, and he is striving to help Black people wake up. Willing to meet people where they are, he uses his own life as an example to inspire change. When you have knowledge of self, small distractions like technology, sex, and material possessions fade. Banner doesn’t hide from his past. He acknowledges his own humanity, and takes responsibility for his actions, reminding people to be humble and honest. When you bring up any of his mistakes, he smiles, laughs, and continues on in his evolution. This level of maturity is necessary on the path to transcendence. I have not known about this man for very long, but I am happy to see him boldly taking action. It’s so easy to get caught up in worldliness that weakens the spirit, but at some point we all have to lay our egos to rest so that we can survive. Always in search of good music, I listened to his latest album, The God Box. I love it. I am sending him good vibrations on his journey to push Black people into consciousness.

“I don’t care what you think of me, I just want you to think!”

Thank you for reading,

2015

Shila Iris

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My Introduction to Susan Taylor

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black-history_feb-18_copyright-shila-iris-2017The first time I picked up an issue of Essence magazine, I noticed Susan Taylor’s picture. She looked like a statue of an ancient African goddess, sort of that Grace Jones bold look, but with clothes. I read her “letter from the editor” and it became my favorite part of the magazine. Throughout the years, I have seen her with various writers, artists, activists, and its easy to see that she is loved. Taylor served as Editor-in-Chief of Essence from 1981-2000, but worked for the magazine since its conception in 1970. That’s commendable. As a woman who writes, and aspires to publish a book, I really admire Susan, and I think that she is one of the most influential women in journalism.

“Thoughts have power; thoughts have energy. And you can make your world or break it by your own thinking.” -Susan Taylor

Thank you for reading,

Shila Iris

My Introduction to James Baldwin

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black-history_feb-9_copyright-shila-iris-2017As a child, when tough times fell on my family, I became an avid reader. At the age of 8, I was visiting the library, checking out the thickest and heaviest novels I could carry. I would read just about anything, as long as it kept me occupied. Browsing the shelves of the African-American Literature section, I often saw James Baldwin’s name, but for some reason, I avoided his books. I did this for a long time, and didn’t take an interest in his writing until I was in my 30s. I kept hearing his name in the art community, both locally and nationally- it turned out, he inspired many people.

One day, I was visiting my oldest sister and she had a copy of one of his books in her purse. I inquired and she said that he is her favorite writer. I said, well that’s enough. I am going to have to read one of the three Baldwin books I have at home! Yes, I had gone as far as purchasing his books, but still never read them. Giovanni’s Room was my choice. I was pleased. I will read many others. The way he brings the Black experience to life, and the way he isn’t afraid to discuss what conformists think are the “darkest” parts of our existence, is what makes his writing so attractive. He is the voice inside of our heads.
And, that’s all I have to say!

Thank you for coming here,

Shila Iris

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My Introduction to Bob Marley

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The transformative power of Robert Nesta has touched many souls. It touched me. I didn’t know much about the music of Bob Marley until I was around 23 years old. I heard the song, “Who the Cap Fit.” It was this song that transformed my understanding of human relationships. The lyrics described the level of consciousness that I was reaching. There were people all around me, but I knew that I’d only be able to trust a few. So when I heard Marley say:

“Your worst enemy could be your best friend And your best friend your worst enemy… Some will eat and drink with you Then behind them su-su ‘pon you Only your friend know your secrets So only he could reveal it…”

I said, “wow, that makes sense.” The one’s closest to you, are the one’s that reveal your secrets! That hurt to hear, but it has proven to be true time and time again, Then he said:

“Some will hate you, pretend they love you now Then behind they try to eliminate you But who Jah bless, no one curse Thank God We’re past the worse … Hypocrites and parasites Will come up and take a bite And if your night should turn to day A lot of people would run away..”

From one Aquarius to another, Bob was speaking a truth that I would have to revisit often, to remind myself, not to take things so personal and to love me first. So, I step back from people with undefined intentions. I let go of those that ran away when my night turned to day, and I leave those behind that find it hard to say, “I choose you.” I’m having to realize, even now, in my 132nd season, that I am not perfect, and that I have to keep going back to this proverbial wisdom to find my power. Sometimes, in the absence of parenting or mentorship, I turn to this good music to give me strength and to help me heal. Bob is the one who helped me realize that I require a high level of loyalty in friendships and in love; and it taught me how to read between the lines of what people say. It doesn’t stop at this song! He has a catalog of at least 200 songs that I find to be revolutionary.

Thanks for reading,

Shila Iris

2015

My Introduction to Olayami Dabls

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I like to take weekend trips to get away. So, a close friend and I got in the car and drove to Detroit, which is about two hours away from where we lived. As we approached the city from the highway, we saw an unusual house. It was brightly decorated with color and what appeared to be jewels. We hit the exit ramp to explore. As we got closer, we became more excited. It looked like rogue, graffiti painted on two abandoned houses. However, we quickly realized that it was much too sophisticated and elaborate to be guerilla art. There were symbols and what I knew as African rock art, carefully arranged as if they were communicating a message. These messages were punctuated with broken mirrors. We parked the car, and walked through the yard. There were gigantic human forms made out of recycled metals and scraps. It was beautiful! As we walked further into this maze, Olayami Dabls came to greet us. By this time, we were high! He was happy to share his story. Afterwards, we hugged and took pictures like we were long lost relatives. He took us inside of the museum. It was a treasure chest of beads and jewelry from all over the continent of Africa. He was well- versed and in tune with our history and he told us stories about how he acquired his talent, and how he created this project. He also talked about our ancestors and explained the messages in his work. We were reluctant to leave, but thanked our Creator for bringing us upon this thirst-quenching experience. The knowledge this elder gave, was priceless. If you ever get a chance, you must visit this wonderful place and speak to this wonderful man. It’s called Dabls African Bead Gallery and MBAD Museum. He is African History.

Thanks for reading,

Shila Iris

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