by Anthony R. Green
It is June 30th, which means it is the end of Pride month AND Black Music Month. This Pride was especially important as it marked the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. As identity and recognition conversations increase in passion and quantity, this particular anniversary has also brought a surge in comments about and celebrations of Marsha P. Johnson, and other trans women of color who were instrumental in starting the riots AS WELL AS fighting for LGBTQI+ rights, despite many cis white gay men rejecting their presence in the 70s. To my eyes, this Pride has also seemed to transcend issues of sexuality and gender expression, perhaps because of the correlation between the 2016 presidential elections and the exponential increase in hate crimes across the US, coupled with the increase of otherism across the world as right wing populism strengthens. Many people during this Pride Month have expressed pride in their differences, whether it be skin color, ability, physical size, cultural background, and more. There have also been overwhelming expressions of support from straight allies, encouraging the world to accept differences for the sake of the concept of the human family. As recent economic situations are polarizing the rich and the poor, similar social changes are polarizing the left and the right. But this has not stopped a small bit of justice from coming to play this year.
Above find a picture of the late Sam Cooke and his wife Barbara. This year, Cooke's famous song A Change Is Gonna Come was sang during Castle of our Skins's Negra Sum Sed Formosa project, and taught in one of the community sing events of I AM A MAN 2019. This year, Sam Cooke received an apology for the racist events that inspired that song, which ended up becoming popular during the civil rights movement. This apology comes 56 years after the incident happened, and it was delivered by the Black mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, Mayor Adrian Perkins, who also posthumously awarded Cooke a key to the city. The ceremony and apology occured at an event where Cooke's daughter Carla was performing, and she was moved by the belated gesture.
Both the Negra Sum ... and the I AM A MAN 2019 projects which featured Cooke's anthem involved in their own unique ways the concept of pride - pride in being Black, pride in fighting for what is right, and pride in being beautiful in spite of the popular definitions of beauty. While this was not a conscious decision on COOS's behalf, I am glad that COOS contributed to the transcending Pride celebrations this June, this year, and throughout its existence, all while celebrating Black Music Month not just in June, but all year round.
Happy Pride and Happy Black Music Month, all!
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