What Happened, Miss Simone?

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Many days, I have listened to the soulful tune of Nina Simone. Nina Simone the musical legend. Nina Simone the activist. This past Friday, I FINALLY got the chance to catch the documentary titled What Happened, Miss Simone. For several months I had been urged to watch the film on Netflix. However, I never had the time to fully dedicate my attention to the documentary until this weekend.

A new fan of her work, I was very interested to learn more about her. Like many people my age, I had heard her name and a few songs or two but it wasn’t until this past spring that I really began to dive into her music and learn more about her.

What happened, Miss Simone, is a beautifully put together documentary about Nina. The film was composed of interviews from Nina and those who knew her, as well as, pictures and journal entries. It was a perfect dive into the mind of young Nina Simone. The film brought attention to the loneliness of many gifted artists and the struggle to face reality and their creativity.

More than learning about the ingenious of Nina Simone and what made her tick creatively. The film discussed in detail the symptoms of mental illness. Nina Simone was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and had battles with depression her entire life. In the film, it was said that people had notice her mood changes and sometimes erratic behavior but it wasn’t until later in life that an actual diagnoses was made. The black community even now has difficulty acknowledging mental illness and the seriousness of it. It is still a taboo subject that is often ignored or downplayed. The film does well to acknowledge he illness without discrediting her as an artist or activist. There are some who have stated that, male artist are rarely menaced with the state of the minds after passing. I find this to be true, however, the need to discuss mental illness in the black community was outweighed this point for me.

This documentary is well worth the time. It gives a glimpse into who Nina was in her own words and through the words of those who experienced her.   It also brought much needed attention to mental illness and how to deal with those who are affected by it.

If you have seen the film, what are your thoughts on it?

-Imani

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Thoughts on The Damon Dash Interview and Business in the Black Community

I think it is easy for people to get comfortable where they are.  We get complacent.  We stop setting new goals because it is easy to stay where we are.  Recently, I was listening to the Damon Dash interview on the Breakfast Club.  By now this interview is famous and has sparked the twitter hashtag #TweetLikeDameDash.  While I disagree with a large majority of what Damon Dash said and how he said it, I do agree that more people need to invest in themselves and learn how to conduct their own businesses.  I think it is important to set up a strong foundation for your children and community to build off of and business and property ownership is a powerful way to do that.  It is imperative that we teach our youth and ourselves that we can be “Bosses” and that being stagnant in the workplace is not mandatory.

The black community, in particular, is a group that is in need of ownership in both business and capital.  There are so many people growing up who have never left their community.  They are not taught to dream big and they are not taught that they are a BRAND.

You are your own brand!  Build upon that brand and invest in yourself! Invest in your community!

I think it is important to teach people that there is power in their brand.  The better educated you are, the more opportunities that are open to you.  Let me note, that when I say educated I do not necessarily mean school. I literally mean the amount of knowledge you have acquired (books, Youtube, Documentaries, Word of mouth, lectures, etc).  We have to use what we know to fulfill a need.

We need to carry ourselves for the jobs and ventures we want, not the ones we have.  Dress to impress, speak eloquently, stay organized and always work to improve.

I am always planning, not because my plans always pan out but because it keeps me on my toes.  It keeps me organized and it keeps me aware.  Sometimes, great opportunities magically appear, but most don’t.  You have to create the opportunities.  You have to network and you have to speak to strangers as if they could be the next partners in a business.

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During the 1900s Black Wall Street flourished.  The black dollar was only spent in black communities.  That money stayed within the community.  This allowed black people great power and independence.  Today, the black dollar is not reinvested in black communities and it’s apparent in our school systems and our neighborhoods and black homes.  The constant struggles and disadvantages are proof of this. The growth of black businesses is essential to the development of black communities. Click the link to learn more about Black Wall Street… http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/02/greenwood_oklahoma_from_the_black_wall_street_to_the_tulsa_race_riot.html 

Damon Dash had a point in setting up a foundation for his son to build upon.  Historically, many ethnic groups in America have not had a foundation for their children.  Slavery left blacks dependent on white slave owners long after the abolition of slavery.  Native Americans (indigenous) were forced off of the best land and given the crappiest land to live on.  People of Color in America have historically had to start over from generation to generation.  It is now engraved in the mind of many that this is the way it will always be.

As black people, we have grown up knowing that we have to work twice as hard to get to the same place as our white counterparts. Don’t settle for what society has decided is good for you.  Do not accept average.  Always go for the superior option.   By breaking down the barrier in your own life, you break down barriers for the people in your community and family.  Building yourself up as a brand and becoming a boss are not selfish goal.  By putting yourself in a position of power, you create an environment conducive to aiding others. You create an environment the breaks down the inequity that has disadvantaged people of color in America.

I could go on forever discussing branding and business development in the black community but I won’t bore you with my rambling.  I leave you with this; Never stop improving, Never stop wanting more and Never stop building a solid foundation for yourself and those who will come after you.

Damon Dash Interview:

Dr. Boyce Watkins Interview:

-Imani