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 

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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

A Look at Selma and Black Liberation in the New Year and Beyond

We are fortunate in the United States that Selma is being released nationwide in theaters across the country. It’s been a long time coming, and a deeper look into the lives of Corretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was passed due. This film comes at a time, just like the Selma marches, when African Americans are questioning our citizenship and worth in this country.

I have been anticipating the movie’s release – knowing that it could come on the heals of the #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe movements. It’s ironic and much needed that such a film would come at a time when these movements are still picking up steam, and when young African-Americans are seeking the kind of respect and dignity from law enforcement and politicians like the people in Selma, Birmingham, and many other places fought and died for. Selma comes at a time when race relations need to be re-examined and re-addressed.

I am disappointed about the critique of the movie – how the director Ava DuVernay has been challenged about the historical content of the film. It’s not surprising, but why can’t we just sit back and enjoy her efforts and revisit an ugly part of this country’s history to continue to dialog about how far we have come, and how far we have to go, in regards to race relations and racial equality in the United States?

She is defending herself well in recent interviews I have seen, however.

Regardless, she brings forth a piece of our history that I have learned some new things from. Such as when the marchers were attempting to get to Birmingham, they were chased all the way back to their churches. This history is important and I hope that our young people are learning this history through this new film. I hope they are taking their newly acquired knowledge back to their schools and classrooms.

Black Liberation is important after such a hard year. 2014 found us right back in the thick of racism, police brutality, and an increased military presence in our cities and states. That military presence existed on that bridge in Selma as marchers were heading to Birmingham for voter rights years ago. The present meets the past and past meets the present. We are still dealing with some of the same issues our ancestors dealt with in their pursuit of freedom and liberation.

What will be different as we enter 2015? What can we use from what we are learning from the past to help us get even further to achieve real liberation in the United States?

These are big questions. Dr. King wanted equality right now back in the 60s. If we asked for that now, what would our equality look like? Ending poverty, inadequate education, mass incarceration, and police brutality in our communities, would be achieving equality and liberation for African Americans.

This country is changing. It is getting browner. I believe that the more we make strides in our collective communities and continue to fight together with our allies, we may see some of that liberation and equality sooner, rather than later.

Copyright Christopher D. Sims
January 8, 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.

A Reflection: Participating in New York City’s “Day of Anger” March for Millions

This was the third march that I attended this year in regards to the injustices that have been done unto Black women and men in the United States. As I marched for blocks and blocks in the most racially diverse city on the planet, it made me proud to continue to be a part of a movement that feels old and new.

I say old and new because we have been marching for years in this country. The 1960s were pivotal times that influence and guide what is going on today here in the United States. We are marching in St. Louis, New York City, Rockford, Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, Portland, Oregon, and all across the land with a connection to earlier movements that were ripe with injustice and racial tension.

Thousands and thousands of people are fighting against a system that has not ended like we want it to, like we need it to. Even in the cold in New York City I felt just as connected to this modern-day civil rights movement as I did at the “a Weekend of Resistance” march that took place in St. Louis in October. The urge is there. We shout “shut it down” and “hands up don’t shoot”with urgency that is not going anywhere any time soon. I have a feeling that just like the marches in the 1960s, these current marches will help bring about a change that is desperately needed. Institutional racism should have been on its way out years and years ago.

We will need laws to change in order for a drastic change to take place, however. Laws will have to change that honestly protect black and brown people in a way that will be effective for years to come. We will need to start on the grassroots level focusing on local laws that have given the police the power to do what they have done to countless innocent people. Those laws being changed can come through the energy and urgency of these marches and protests we are participating in. If you know of any laws that are being written or worked on to help protect innocent people from dying at the hands of law enforcement, please let me know.

We are connected and marching, making new friends, and making improvements in the way activists, organizers, and planners have done things over the years to help make these marches and protests happen.

Social media a great tool just the same. I find myself being not only a person that is showing up at marches, protects and vigils, but also being an “arm-chair activist.”

New York City’s “Day of Anger” march definitely contained justifiable anger as we loudly protested against law enforcement. It felt strange as we marched those long New York City blocks saying things like “Hey hey, Ho ho! Those racist police have got to go!” They were on every corner watching us watching them. They looked comfortable in their positions and unmoved by rhetoric aimed directly at them. That’s the way things will be as we make it known all across the United States that we’re tired of what’s going on, and they are some of the biggest reasons why.

I heard drums and I saw children marching with their parents. Just like in Ferguson I saw the youth being the loudest and most determined in the NYC “Day of Anger” march. I felt moved and I participated in call and response, just like I did in St. Louis. I hope we continue to organize these marches and protests and be heard in the United States and across the globe.

A friend of mine who lives in London told me the world is watching. With those eyes on us, we can lead the change in regards to mass incarceration and the senseless deaths of black and brown people. The world needs to see us do so.

We have much work to do and some catching up to do when it comes to equality and justice. Let us be angry enough to continue to march, protest, and plan for more actions that will create the kind of country where we will no longer mourn for young people of color who died at the hands of the police.