What to Say About Michael Brown? – Ferguson, MO

by Joy W. Simone

Tcourtesy Facebookhis is not a roll call of the senseless deaths that occurred over the last month or year, the unjust acts that have left numerous, nameless young African American boys in graves. This is not a roll call of the senseless beatings, attacks and abuse suffered by African American girls across the country who have suffered in silence. Our missing children go without a searchlight, without nationwide acknowledgement, without fair treatment. Yet, parents, neighbors, friends, classmates, and families grieve. There’s a poem by Langston Hughes called Democracy that has special meaning to me because I once won an oratorical contest based on my delivery. At the age of 15, however, I did not fully comprehend its meaning, its weight, its implications.


Democracy will not comeWSJ.com
Today, this year
  Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
 To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

     Is a strong seed
     In a great need.

     I live here, too.
     I want freedom
     Just as you. – Langston Hughes

(See more at: http://allpoetry.com/poem/8495453-Democracy-by-Langston-Hughes#sthash.PXlSzoLO.dpuf)

In the last stanza, Hughes says:

I live here, too. I want freedom. Just as you.

Michael Brown, undoubtedly, horrifically discovered the meaning of these words. 

If our country and constitution are based on the words stated in the Declaration of Independence…

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

…then why do we not see this reflected in our society and culture at this time? Who among us deserves less than this?

The President’s official comment about the murder of Michael Brown reflects the sentiments.

“I know emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened, but let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family, we are united in common values and that includes the belief in equality under the law, respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protests.” – President Obama

Today versus 1950s – 1960s

It is disheartening to see such parallels between what occurred nearly a century ago – African American lives being threatened, snuffed out on the brink of overcoming, achieving, excelling. And still it should be no less disheartening to have any life taken too soon in an unjust manner at the whim of someone’s prerogative, sense of fear, personal sense of justice, or an incomprehensible justification. 

Perhaps a renewed focus on the past would help bring things into perspective. Yet, images of cruelty and protest could fuel opposing forces and bring more peril. One-on-one, individually, neighbor to neighbor, we’ve got to share some collective responsibility for change. 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

#ferguson #nmos14

Read more on Michael Brown #ferguson:

Essence.com – http://www.essence.com/2014/08/15/ferguson-police-release-officer-name-michael-brown-shooting

Poem – http://blogthisrock.blogspot.com/2014/08/poem-of-week-danez-smith.html?m=1

WSJ.com – http://online.wsj.com/articles/joseph-epstein-whats-missing-in-ferguson-mo-1407885042

Washingtonpost.com – http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/15/ferguson-police-releasing-name-of-officer-who-shot-michael-brown/


BlackStar Film Festival 2014 – Philly’s Finest Deliver “Music is the Weapon”

BSFF Citypaper credit Mark Stehle

by Joy Simone

For the third year, the annual BlackStar Film Festival has emerged on the campus of Univ. of Penn and the surrounding Philadelphia area. I had the pleasure of participating last year, and I’m excited to be involved again. This year’s theme, “Music is the Weapon,” brings together filmmakers and musicians to highlight the ways these mediums converge to create and powerfully impact lives. Two industry panels will take place, “The Crossover: Film and Music Industries” and “Composing for Film.” They will both explore the “intersections of the two creative industries with participation from composers, producers, directors, and executives.

Two film shorts, Til Infinity: Souls of Mischief and Time is Illmatic will premiere during at the festival. 

Time Is Illmatic is a feature-length documentary that delves deep into the making of Nas’ 1994 debut album, Illmatic, and the social conditions that influenced its creation. Twenty years after its release,Illmatic has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the socio-political outlook, enduring spirit, and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America.

The BlackStar Film Festival was created to provide a platform for independent black filmmakers. Founder and Producing Artistic Director Maori Karmael Holmes says, “We are super excited about the third installment of the festival. We now know that the festival is an intimate
space where filmmakers get to interact with one another, dream, connect, and foster
new ideas and new projects, and we expect that family reunion vibe again this year.”

I will have more on the festival and topics covered tomorrow. In the meantime, you can check the schedule and get more info here: http://blackstarfest.org/schedule/

BlackStar opens Thursday, July 31 and runs through Sunday, August 3. The festival will primarily take place at International House (3701 Chestnut Street). Other venues include: Scribe Video Center (4212 Chestnut Street), Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia (118 South 26th Street), the Annenberg School for Communication (3620 Walnut Street), and World Café
Live (3025 Walnut Street).

CNN IReport Spotlight – Author Joy Simone: A Woman Addressing Challenges, Offers Solutions

book signingPlaywright, Songwriter, Journalist Charron Monaye’s interview highlights my passions and purpose, my writing process and inspiration.

Here’s a bit below. Visit the site to see more. 

Joy Simone is an author, SEO Analyst, and Adjunct English Lit. Professor at Rowan College. She has a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University and a Master’s of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. Ms. Simone blogs about relationships, dating, family, careers, and current events. She serves as Director of Communications for Women’s EDGE Mentoring Program, and conducts creative writing and self-publishing workshops locally.

She is passionate about writing, history, literature, education and family. The proliferation of single-parent households and the stereotypes of African American women led to her debut work, The Wedding Plan: A Collection of Short Stories. Through these stories, Simone highlights the challenges faced by African American women in relationships, marriage, careers and life, while exposing the diversity within the African American community, including male characters who are unique and offer a different perspective.


Your book “The Wedding Plan: A Collection of Short Stories” discusses the challenges faced by African American women in relationships, marriage, careers and life. What challenges do you feel we as African American women face the most, and what ideas do you have to help eliminate those challenges.

Some of the challenges African American women face is glass ceilings in the workplace, income disparities, joblessness, being among the “working poor”, and so on. One of the statistics that disturbed me most was the lower average of children born to the most educated women in our population. It seemed that by fighting to defy the “baby mama” stereotype, we were forfeiting motherhood. I know not all women want to be mothers, but there a lot who, rightfully, delay childbirth until marriage, but end up never marrying or marrying past the key childbearing years.

Other issues I see that are prevalent… Read More