Human Rights – a poem by Christopher D. Sims

Our beloved, sacred human rights
take flight the day we are born.

Born into a world of injustices,
harms, hindrances, limitations
People of color are slapped in the face
from nation to nation.

As a universal concept, we all should reject
any notion against any person’s worth, dignity.

We all have voices. We all have minds.
We all know what bigots and dictators are,
especially in these political times.

Your rights are mines, my rights are yours:
a mantra true and righteous forever more.

We dream, we hope, we unite, we fight
For the liberties that come along with
the power of human rights.

From nation to nation, there’s a war
going on. The youth are becoming educated
the elders are getting strong.

We sing a song crafted by the trials in our paths.
Justice is a love word that will always last.

Power to the people in Africa, in Haiti, in Palestine.
Power to all the people who have been in shackles
for lifetimes.

We need compassion, resources, and loving-kindness
shared with the downtrodden. Human potential is
the best weapon against those who have been overlooked,
forgotten.

We collectively, virtually sit by the camp fire
at night. The moon glows brightly despite
what’s happening in communities where
crying is being unheard. We know we’re on
the verge of a huge turnaround, even when
loud tears hit the ground.

The sound and sight of people of all races and classes
coming together, means, human rights will be that much better.

©Christopher D. Sims
February 25, 2017

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Anxiety In America (After the 2016 Presidential Election) -a poem by Christopher D. Sims

There is anxiety in America,
a deep unease after the 2016 presidential
election. The selection of Donald Trump
has many scared, nervous, or down
in the dumps.

America is in a funk; Americans
who are confused are singing a brand
new blues; a blues with heavy woes
as we continue to be divided,
political foes.

Who knows what this new administration
will bring?! As women, immigrants and
people of color sing the saddest of songs.

The division and separation is strong.
Conversations and debates are taking
place about who belongs here – leaving
many in fear.

There is anxiety in America, a deep
unease after the presidential election.
Many are screaming “Not my president!”

Canada is a location where some of us
want to take up residence. Hesitant about
what this new administration will
bring. How will community organizers,
activists, and leaders sing a new song?

How will we react to the coming wrongs
of newly selected political leaders? How
we will fix political wounds that may only
get deeper, and deeper, and deeper?

There is anxiety in America. For this
new administration many of us are
not prepared. Our girls and women
are scared. There is a change that’s
coming and you can feel it in the air.

Daring to travel to DC are a million
women who will march with justice,
equality, and togetherness in their
hearts.

The Arts is in danger, I saw it in
the subject line of an email. I can
only imagine what else, will being in
America feel like we’re living in hell?

There is anxiety in America. What
will your new tune be? Will you choose
to fight harder for the rights of you and
me? How will we make sure the future
of our children is not filled with worry?

Let’s a take a moment to breathe, to be,
to relate, to call to action, to gather, to
meet, to pray, to say what’s on our minds,
to find common ground, to create a new
universal sound that we can all groove to
and benefit from.

The work is just beginning. Our time has
just begun. The work is just beginning. Our
time has just begun. The work is just beginning.
Our time has just begun.

© Christopher D. Sims
January 2, 2017

2016-presidential-election

Words and Water: Katrina Ten Years Later – a poem by Christopher D. Sims

Neighborhoods-Sunrise-9th-Ward1

This poem formed, brewed inside of me
Like you did Katrina before the levees broke
As you rushed forcefully, undeniably
into New Orleans.

This storm of words inside me took
their time. They aligned with thoughts, feelings,
emotions, tears, devastation, loss.

So many lost everything: lost family; lost pets;
lost homes; lost a sense of belonging; lost their
ability to return home.

This is jazz and blues for the displaced; the
people who were called refugees. Easy, no
the rebirth of New Orleans has not been.

Gentrification has pushed the poor out. Young
Black men cannot find jobs. Isn’t it odd
That the people who created the culture, the dance,
the music are not benefiting financially?

Katrina’s wrath can still be felt ten years later.

These words are brewing still. My memory
takes me to images of bodies floating in high
waters, to the eyes of the distressed, the shocked,
to a president’s response that was too little and too late.

I wait.

I wade in rivers of words.

I listen to spirit and sound.

I remember Katrina rushing through the Lower 9th.

It’s been a struggle to arrive at these ten years.
These words are the Mississippi in the form of tears.

© Christopher D. Sims
 August 27, 2015

black churches are burning – a poem by Christopher D. Sims

It’s a hot summer. It’s burning hot in the south. Black churches are burning down in the south. Black connections to African roots are being threatened and uprooted in the Deep South. Even in God’s house. Even where people gather, pray, seek lives of purpose. Black churches are burning. Black people are hurting. Black people are worrying. Black people are not forgetting. We are not forgetting about similar times. We are not forgetting about the same kinds of wicked minds that contain hate. Even in 2015 we can relate. Black churches are burning down. Burning down in old southern towns. Black churches; Black memories; Black gatherings that have happened for centuries. Black people praying and swaying; Swaying and praying. What is this new hate saying? What is it conveying? Black churches burn. Black churches are burning in the Deep South. Yes, even God’s house. They want to burn away our history. They want to burn us into misery. Even when we’ve been a part of this nation since its early beginnings. Will the burnings have an ending? As Black churches burn who is winning? Black churches are burning, burning in the Deep South.

Copyright Christopher D. Sims

July 3rd, 2015 

Black Man Down – A Poem by Christopher D. Sims

Black man down
His blood is spilling out on the ground
The Universe makes another sad sound

The Universe makes another sad sound
His blood is spilling out on the ground
Black man down

Down in the dumps
Down Black man slumps in the ghettos of the States
Black man down, how many of you can relate?

Black man down

Down on his luck
Who will help him?
Who can he trust?

Black man down
Black man isn’t up
When Black man is down
The Black man will erupt, or self destruct.

Black man down
Black man has no job
Black man looks for others to steal from or rob.
Black man has been taught that the dollar is God.

Black man down
His blood is spilling on the ground
The Universe makes another sad sound

Black man down: Trayvon Martin
Black man down: Jordan Davis
Black man down: Eric Garner
Black man down: Michael Brown
Black man down: John Crawford III
Black man down: Tony Robinson

Black man down: Another one just
the other day. His name was Freddie Gray.

Black man down, down, down, down.

© Christopher D. Sims
April 30th, 2015

This art was used for an article written for The New Orleans Times.

This art was used for an article written for The New Orleans Times.

Healing the Waters: Addressing Race, Class, Gender and Immigration Status

From March 13th – 15th, 2015 I participated in an environmental justice conference entitled Healing the Waters:  Decolonizing Our Communities and the Climate Movement that focused on the intersections of race, gender, class, and immigration status in New Orleans, LA.

Focusing on those intersections, we knew as people of faith, and environmental activists and stewards of the earth, that we needed to have a deeper conversation around these national and international issues when it comes to climate change.

Two organizations got together and made this important conference and conversation(s) happen: Diverse, Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) and Allies for Racial Equity (ARE). These two groups are working on creating an anti-racist/anti-oppressive Unitarian Universalism, and also, an anti-racist/anti-oppressive United States.

Keynote speeches and workshops addressed all of these issues creating dialog that lasted until the next workshop or address. The history of the South, including its racism, oppression, and corruption all came together, especially in Colette Pichon Battle’s words. Colette is the Executive Director of the  Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Her address laid out the historical and institutional racist practices that have created the harsh situations experienced by displaced and the impoverished people of New Orleans and its surrounding cities and communities. It was an education that I welcomed because I had only heard of or read about the injustices taking place in New Orleans, and in other southern cities, after Hurricane Katrina. You have to go there and listen to the locals in order to know what is really going on, and how climate change and political corruption has affected the people there.

As a human rights activist, and as an environmental activist, I feel that if we’re going to solve 21st Century issues relating to the climate movement, these intersections must continue to be addressed, discussed, and documented as we deal with a changing world and a changing global climate. The communities that are usually affected by all of this are usually front line communities who have been dealing with and learning about Earth’s climate changes for centuries. Front line communities have the experience, knowledge, and leadership that will help change our situation and develop strategies that will bring us together in the process of creating a healthier planet for generations to come.

Healing the Waters was created with an intentional multicultural focus that allowed us to keep front line communities’s at the center of our work. It also provided us with the opportunity to have a much needed conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement.

UU World writer and nationally known blogger and activist Kenny Wiley and myself led a conversation on the Black Lives Matter movement and discussed our activities within the movement and how Unitarian Universalists can be involved and more engaged in this human rights struggle.

White Unitarian Universalists were looking for better ways to be involved, and were willing to have the tough conversations that happen when we’re discussing racism, police brutality, or mass incarceration here in the United States.

The workshop was very engaging as we decided to sit in a circle and address our concerns, fears, and thoughts about what is taking place with the Black Lives Matter movement. What came out of that dialog was as simple as white (Unitarian Universalists) doing whatever they could on their own level to help with the situation. As long as we’re doing something to save the lives of black women and men, and brown women and men, is helpful to our struggle.

New Orleans was a great setting for this conference. We talked about how we could invite Colette Pichon Battle to help do more of this work with us, and what future workshops and gatherings in our Unitarian Universalist faith movement could look with a lot of what was shared at Healing the Waters: Decolonizing Our Communities and the Climate Movement.

With our upcoming gathering of thousands of Unitarian Universalists in downtown Portland, OR this summer (http://www.uua.org/ga) and our climate movement focus with Commit2Respond (http://www.commit2respond.org) now is the time for a lot of important work to be done to help heal our hurting planet.

To learn more about this conference, visit http://alliesforracialequity.wildapricot.org. To learn more about Diverse, Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries, visit http://www.druumm.org.

Serious Fun – My Newly Released Music Project

Serious Fun is my first ever studio release, outside of 2012’s Ladder to the Sun album The Naturals. Teaming up with Phillip Ryan Block and Independent Ear, Inc. we bring you a project that has a variety of lyrics, thoughts, and concepts.

It’s great to be releasing a new project, especially in the new year! I know that I can speak for other artists who have labored putting together what they hope to be a project that will take their career to the next level, and feed the fans that help keep them going. Completing a new project and anticipating its release is quite the feeling, and something to look forward to as an artist.

I wanted this project to be different. It feels and looks different than my previous projects and compilations. The title serious FUN comes from the idea that there’s a time to be serious and there’s a time to have fun. A balance in life I think we all strive for. Myself, I can often be the serious type. I’m analytic, and a “deep” thinker. With that said, tracks like The Detroit Water Shutoff Crisis, Brown At The Borders, and Ballad For Black Boys And Black Men capture me being analytic and delving into the kind of words and thoughts that brings these things to light. Those of you who know me for my activism will appreciate these songs. They represent the signs of the times, and where we are in this country when it comes to race relations, immigration, and local people fighting for water rights and the like.

The fun side of this album is mostly me flexing my lyrical capabilities and talents. 30 Bars of Lyrical Fun is a tongue-twisting song that finds me rapping at a very fast paced over a track that pushes those energetic words. It was tough, yet fun, completing that track. That’s the fastest I’ve ever rapped in a song!

I reached back into my archives and added two songs – I Am A Poet and Incredible – to show some diversity in my ability as a poet and a lyricist. Those two songs come from an earlier project that I worked on with an old friend, and someone who is sharp at creating the right beats for the right rhymes. I hope you rock out to I Am A Poet and bob your heard to Incredible. They are lyrical and poetic songs I am happy to have a part of this project.

The Sungod Story is a recording that allowed me to remember my times with my crew The Sungods who I met back in college in Mississippi in the early to mid 90s. We represented the culture of hip-hop daily with our thoughts, actions, conversations, and the clothes we were. We became friends, and much like family. The song is an autobiography of those times mentioning some of the names of the people that I still respect and love as brothers this very day. I hope it serves our experiences and our love for the culture of hip-hop well.

Enjoy the album! I had serious fun putting it together and I am glad that Independent Ear, Inc. and I teamed up for it!

Buy the album at these digital music outlets:
iTunes:  http://goo.gl/hfy837
Amazon: http://goo.gl/hkEICh
Google Play:  http://goo.gl/ZRvNzB

Selma the Movie – A Review by Christopher D. Sims

I had the honor and the pleasure of seeing the movie Selma today at a local theater in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois. As much as I’ve heard about the film, the experience was very much worth my time and attention.

I am a movie buff, I will admit that. As much as I love writing, and reading literature, movies have an effect on me that no other art form has. I am also a big fan of history, and a researcher. Having the opportunity to delve into a movie like Selma served my needs and spirit greatly. Selma has helped re-educate me and keeps me connected to the history of the United States and the fascinating and sad stories of its past.

Ava DuVernay, in the second scene, jumps into a very delicate and heartbreaking moment – the bombing of the Alabama church where four young black girls were killed. I jumped in my seat and could only breathe silently as that scene took everyone in the theater back to a time that was horrifying for anyone who was fighting for justice and equality here in the United States.

I have heard Ava DuVernay speak about the scenes in the movie, but that experience was real and shocking. I have known of that piece of our history for some time now. But to experience it through Ava DuVernay’s eyes and connection made it even more impactful. I can only imagine how the young people in the theater felt when they experienced that scene.

Opening up with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. receiving the Nobel Peace Prize was a great way to capture King in his glory as he represented African Americans across the country in his plight to bring equality and justice to our neighborhoods and communities. David Oyelowo played King very well, bringing present day life to a leader whose spirit still can be felt in this country years after his death. Actress Carmon Ejogo did a fine job playing Coretta Scott King. She looked a lot like her in this film which is refreshing.

This movie takes us on a lifelike stroll of the United States in the 60s when race relations were very touchy, tense, and trying for many. The feeling of the movie had the right kind of vibe. Even the costumes and the cars in the film added to the distinct and unique nature of the events that went down in Selma, and other parts of the country. If it were up to me, the costume design person for Selma would win an award! Fantastic job!

I appreciate DuVernay’s willingness to capture of the major players who were on King’s side in that movement for equal and civil rights. Each colleague of Dr. King was depicted well and given their due spotlight – from Ralph Abernathy to Diane Nash to John Conyers to Andrew Young – each were focused on and their roles in making history with Dr. King was amplified in the right ways.

Even the martyrs of those times were depicted in Ava DuVernay’s Selma. She gave attention to James Reeb, who was a Unitarian Universalist minister who was chased down and brutally beaten in the streets of Selma. He later died after the beating he took.

The scenes on the bridge named after former Ku Kluxx Klan leader Edmund Pettus were riveting and some of the most striking in the film. They will make you tense and put you right into the heated action. DuVernay did an amazing job capturing those moments. They will stick with you even after the film.

As much controversy that has taken place with some of the historical accuracy of this film, it is still a must see! I would not let any of that talk keep you from seeing this much needed film. Your pride in Dr. King in his efforts, as well many other civil rights leaders of those times, will increase and may even lead you into some action in your communities.

Enjoy it! And feel free to come back to this blog and let me know what you thought, and what moved you most about the film.

Christopher D. Sims
January 10th, 2015

Social Justice and Creativity: My New Studio Project

I am returning to the music scene with a new album entitled “serious FUN.” There’s a time to be serious and there’s a time to have fun is the album’s concept and meaning. This new project finds me digging back into my roots as a lyrical rapper and leaning on my talent as a spoken word poet. I have teamed up with Independent Ear, Inc. to make this new album a reality.

The new project focuses on social justice issues, such as the water rights fight that took place in Detroit, MI this year. I also focus on the situation of black men in the United States with poetry that is gripping and moving. As a creative person, and someone who focuses on human rights issues, it was a must that I used the platform to talk about the reality of black life here in the United States on my new album.

I wanted this new project to have that feel. I wanted it to have a balance with seriousness and having some fun at the same time. I hope that I have accomplished that with this new project!

I enjoyed getting back to creative wordplay – challenging myself with a fast rapping style that some will be surprised by when they hear the album.

The album contains a lot of great production, such as the lead single we just released with Chicago producer 6th Trumpet. I chose us to start off with his VERY funky mix of what I call “Poetry’s Revolution.” I could not have picked a better producer to work with on such a track that contains a social justice message for many of the issues we are facing here, and beyond. You can listen to the track, and buy it here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/poetrys-revolution-6th-trumpet/id944478036?i=944478101.

The balance of the project works well highlighting what I have done and accomplished over the years as an emcee, poet, and spoken word performer. I believe it will give my listeners and fans something to hold on to for a while until I devise the next project with Independent Ear, Inc.

With this project I will be seeking to continue to educate through my spoken word and show people that I am not limited as an artist, and that we should use all of the gifts and talents we’ve been blessed with.

Have some serious fun with my album which will be released on January 20th, 2015!

Follow this link to keep up with the release of “serious FUN”: http://www.independentear.com/artists/christopher-d-sims/

Thank you for your support!

Peace, love, and blessings in 2015 and beyond.