After the Curtain Call

My First Black Carpet Experience.

I’ve had mixed feelings lately about the level of ongoing controversy taking place here in the good ol’ United States of America. It appears that we somehow have entered into some kind of historical retrograde that is having a disturbing impact on society. It’s 2016 and RACISM is back to being a hot topic. Yes, I know-it never went away. But here we are again demanding to be included in a society that CLEARLY thinks very little of people of color…

If it’s not a another black man being shot, beaten or murdered in the street, we are being called terrorists, criminals and threats to society. If we aren’t being stereotyped, we are being bombarded with remakes of slave stories. I’m sad to say, but we are being slammed with an absurd level of disrespect and programming by the media industry right now regarding race now more than ever. Let’s not even get into the three ring circus of a presidential race taking place right now that is being used as one of the biggest platforms to insight racial tension than I have EVER seen.

Despite my disgust and refusal to watch tell-a-vision, I still have to check in from time to time and know that I can’t escape the deception. Heading to the woods has never sounded so good, even in the face of holograms, hover boards and electric cars. The stress and tension in the air is so thick you can chew it. Up to this point we’ve learned to eat it up-even though it smells terrible and leaves a terrible taste in your mouth. Nobody knows when that change we all keep looking for is going to come or if any of this madness we keep seeing and experiencing will ever come to an end. I think the way we have allowed ourselves to be subjected to mainstream media is border line insane. Yet, we continue to plug in. If you go to a restaurant and the service or food is bad, do you keep going back?

I believe however that some how, some way— where controversy ends, change can & will begin. We just have to ride this foolishness out until the wheels fall off; with a trunk full of equipment and supplies, ready to go. When the word finally gets out and it is understood that the revolution will not be televised, we can finally get to steppin’.

I can only speak for myself — but for a while now, I felt like somebody or something has been trying to get my attention. I’ve come to discover that it is my subconscious mind and all of the things that I have taught about what is happening in the world. It’s beginning to eat away at me. So I have to speak.

The whole world has it’s eyes glued to the tell-a-vision right now, wondering what is going to happen next. As the days of endless chatter among the people continue, it’s about time to start having new and real conversation about what is happening around us. Not only do we need to thoroughly discuss it, we need to map out solutions, implement plans and take action — expeditiously. So many people speak of change, but are we really willing to make it? And where do we begin?

We ask ourselves these questions as we sit at bars or in our living rooms watching the game, during or after the live music show, riding in the car listening to the radio, after the movie, when we leave the gallery, before our favorite online streaming video service and as we post about it on social media. Strangely enough, we have completely missed the answer that is literally in our faces. All the while with every planetary alignment, super moon, eclipse, the strange weather patterns and blatant murders-one might begin to suspect that the things we have always been talking about (conspiracy theories or other wise) are actually….happening… Have we been so desensitized , white washed and programmed that we can’t see that the top of the pot is boiling over?

It is no secret that Media and Hollywood controls all. No matter how much I want to believe I can’t be affected by the power of media, I can’t accidentally catch a campaign ad walking through the break room at work without looking around for a camera wondering if I’m being “punked”. It’s like I’m in a bad futuristic film, pre-revolt and it’s making me uncomfortable.

Recently, as I sat in the audience at the Inaugural Black Carpet Celebration on February 28th, 2016 in Columbus, Oh — I realized something.

For the first time EVER — for about 30 minutes (maybe more) I sat in a theater with a couple of my closest friends among several other highly respected friends and associates. Nearly everyone in the room and on the screen looked like me. It was MAGICAL. I wasn’t being told what to buy, how ugly I was, how pretty I was, how good or bad my hair was, which shoes to buy or what what soft drink to drink. There were no liquor ads, no car commercials, no twerking, no subliminal messages about which guy I should date and how I should spend my free time and most important, no one looked at me with my big afro and tribal print coat as if I wasn’t supposed to be there. I got a front row seat to see previews for independent black films by REAL people who’s drive and passion is to make art and send a message. The whole audience got a chance to take a peak behind the scene and under the radar to a world where people of color take the initiative to create & control their own media. I don’t know how that makes you feel inside-but for me, that is a powerful thing.

Not only was I relieved to see positive images of people of color, there were prominent images of our predecessors, living and late legends as well as modern greats that we so rarely see. I was comforted to know that all is not lost and that there are people out in the world — and right across town, that “get it” and have something to say. There are people right here in my home town that understand that it is time for “the people” to show up and speak for themselves. At the same time-I was confronted with the question of-what I am doing to support it?

If you’re not living under a rock or asleep, you know that whoever controls the media, controls society. Everything we eat, drink, see or do is some how or some way controlled by the media. It is media that helps us form our thoughts or opinions about our world, our culture and even ourselves. If we don’t get a handle on the things we are looking at or listening to, we are going to be in a world of trouble. More trouble than we already are…

From your socks to your dish washing liquid, from your cereal to your music — you are being influenced. You have to ask yourself-who am I being influence by, and what are they influencing me to be or do? Now I want you to ask yourself- do I have a choice? If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m here to tell you that YOU DO….Because you have a choice, you should be asking yourself — what am I doing to make sure that my choices become more prevalent and remain available to me?

It should be understood that we as a people have the ability to do AMAZING things. As I sat in the audience watching a collective of amazing women and men sing, speak, dance, drum and celebrate black film, they shined. Everyone was dressed and in their truest expression wearing African garb, cocktail dresses, suits, over coats and a variety of true black carpet attire. It was amazing. It was a tribute to all things that have been and all that is to come. Somewhere along the time line of history-people of color, those of African decent in particular have been portrayed in a way that practically deletes our rich history — ESPECIALLY in America.

As I sat there looking at the big screen I felt at ease. In that moment I had a full on realization that the shift in consciousness that so many have been talking about has already come. This shift isn’t just a mystical, magical or scientific one, it comes by way of awareness that we have the full on ability and capacity to create and control our own media. We have the ability to present our truths, our stories, our gifts and our presence. It’s past due time for us to unplug from what mainstream is spoon feeding us and not because of any grand conspiracies theory formulated to cushion the weight of reality. It is simply because we CAN, we are ALLOWED to and it is inevitable.

So nobody panic….

After leaving the event, I felt a great sense of awareness. Not only did I get the chance to see and witness the premiere of an annual event that I believe will make history thanks to Tamica White, OutFront Productions and a host of amazing contributors. I got the chance to witness a vision being manifested and the confirmation that I, you, us, we — can and will find our place in the world to make our dreams a reality; and it starts with our media.

Every visual artist, photographer, film maker, entrepreneur, designer, musician and creative all across the city, state, country and globe have the power to make a difference. If you can’t tell-I’m pretty inspired right now…I am excited to be alive and even more excited to be present for this movement, consciously making ground with purpose. We all have a part to play and something to contribute. Whether you are buying a ticket, spreading the word, attending an event or putting in work, out front or behind the scenes.

I hope sharing my experience and creating my small piece of positive media inspires you to do the same…Stay awake and stay creative my friends…#thinkfreshfruit

As always — Upendo, Mwanga, Nguvu

Written by: R. Reese of Fresh Fruit Creative. You can follow and learn more about me by visiting www.facebook.com/thinkfreshfruit & follow me on Twitter @thinkfreshfruit. All business and creative inquiries can be sent to info.freshfruitcreative@gmail.com

Inaugural Black Carpet Celebration held at the Arena Grand Theater, Columbus, OH
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