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 Imhotep

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black-history_feb-16_copyright-shila-iris-2017A few years ago when one of my good friends was a med student, he changed his online alias to Imhotep. I didn’t inquire about it, but in my heart, I acknowledged the change. Then, I realized that instead of taking the Hippocratic oath that students of medicine are required to recite, perhaps he decided to invoke the spirit of the true Father of Medicine. If you’d like to know about him, I encourage you to research the greatness of Imhotep, the world’s first physician, who laid the foundation for the healing arts. I’ll say this: we are forever connected to the past and to our ancestors, each and every one of us. We value their traditions because it makes us stronger. We stand on their graves and ask for guidance and offer our devotion. Imhotep, I honor You, for I am You. My heart told me to dig deeper, and I found jewels, gold, stories, hidden colors. I went above and beyond mainstream education, to find out who I really am, and now I know my worth. I value history. In this age of information, we can uncover truths faster than ever before. This is necessary, because being Black is tough. This is not rhetoric, it really is. That double consciousness that W.E.B. DuBois taught, that invisible man that Ralph Ellison described, is a part of our everyday realities. It can be exhausting, and it can drive you crazy. But, I learned, through a Master Teacher, not to give up, and settle, and make excuses for my ignorance. I need to be healed. We need healing. My ancestors look over me. I swear by Imhotep. That is my oath. Peace.

Thank you for reading,

Shila Iris

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My Introduction to Judith Jamison

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The first time I saw my sister, Judith, perform a classical dance routine with the Cleveland School of the Arts at Parade the Circle, may have been one of the first times I ever saw such dancing. These teenage girls showed real promise. It wasn’t a talent I possessed, but it was definitely one that I admired. I felt a strong connection to the music and to the movement of the dancers. She was really good at it. My sister did not go on to pursue dancing, but I have always wished she would have. Later, I was in the John Hope & Aurelia Franklin Library on the campus of Fisk University doing research for a paper, and I came across a book with Judith Jamison’s picture. She was standing on one foot, with the other pointed up in the air. Her poise was unforgettable. I have paid close attention to her ever since. She spent time studying dance at my Alma Mater, Fisk, and then went to the Philadelphia Dance Academy. Jamison has danced since the age of six studying ballet, tap, acrobatics, jazz, and primitive dance. She was accepted into the American Dance Theater and soon after became the protégé of Alvin Ailey touring the world with his dance company for fifteen years. She branched out and created her own ballet company, but when Alvin Ailey died in 1989, she merged with his company to keep the legacy alive. Her work fuses African motifs with modern dance. I’ve been blessed to see the Alvin Alvin Ailey Dance Theater perform several times, and each time, I always think about Jamison’s picture in that book in the library. I am pleased to say that the two of them together, are my favorite dancers and are definitely part of my Black History.

Thank you for reading,

In remembrance of Robert Nesta aka Bob Marley, Happy Birthday!

2015

My Introduction to Gordon Parks

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Back in 2007, when I rented my first apartment in a cozy little art district west of Cleveland, a neighborhood called Tremont, I was excited to decorate! I had a vision: I wanted my apartment to be filled with warm colors and African art! I had a growing obsession for African textiles, statues, books- anything that had to do with the culture. Visiting the houses of mentors and professors had sparked this desire. In Nashville, I had gone to my roommates mentor’s house that was filled with things I had never before seen. In Washington, D.C., I once visited a professor’s house that had large pieces of art on any wall that was available. I wanted to try something like this. One day, I was browsing through a book about Gordon Parks, and in his New York apartment, he had large mixed-media paintings splattered with African symbols. There were stacks of books in corners and on window seals, artifacts, photos, plants- there was beauty everywhere. It was indeed a sanctuary adorned with mini altars. It truly felt like I lived there with him. He inspired me to decorate any place that I have ever lived since. I gaze at his photos of Black humanity, then I close my eyes, and travel to the places he has been. He has taken me on wonderful journeys. I am humble. Gordon Parks has some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen. The stories in the eyes of his subjects resonate in my ears. I love his work for it embodies me.

Thank you for reading,

Shila Iris

2015

My Introduction to Malcolm X

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Surfacing…

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Working on the “invisible” me so that the “visible” me can be better. 

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Like the Sun, I rise. poetry… coming soon.

Shila Iris

♥ Beautiful AfriKan E-gYpsy ♥

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I woke up hearing this song and I thought of homelessness and hunger. I thought, “such bullshit! We have food for everyone.” I thought of women with afros. I thought of the Black Panther Party, of Nina Simone. I thought of freedom, I thought of pain, I thought of detachment from the material. I thought of sunshine. I thought of moons. I thought of pride and egos. I thought of humility. I thought of struggle, of dilapidation and decay. I thought of travel. I thought of facades and The Pharcyde. I thought of heartbeats. I thought of people selling their souls. I thought of the things we do for money. I thought of marijuana and mushrooms. I thought of historically Black Colleges and Universities. I thought of children who don’t get enough hugs and kisses and attention. I thought of airplanes soaring through clouds. I thought of religion. I thought of Farrakhan, and then of Obama. I thought of Kush people. I thought of love… and then I turned to him and said, “hey, I thought of You.

We can solve our problems together. Let go. Let love!  I know he’s got my back. He helps me help her. Her, is me, an Egyptian Gypsy. Peace and love to the people who want to get free. For the fearless people who say yes, to the spirit, and no to the flesh. If you want me, prove it. If you love me, show it.

Check out that super dope ankh earring she has on @0.33! Amazing!

♥ Egyptian GYPsy LOVE ♥

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La da dee la dee da!

♥ The lyrics to Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters are very moving! ♥

She wakes up early every morning
Just to do her hair now
Because she cares ya’ll

Her day oh wouldn’t be right
Without her make up
She’s never without her makeup

She’s just like you and me
But she’s homeless, she’s homeless
As she stands there singing for money…

Peace and blessings manifest with every lesson learned,

I am Kush

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