Archives for the month of: February, 2021

I do not know about y’all (I know about some of y’all. But there are things about y’all I do not know), but EYE come from a fairly musical family. I have a sister that sings well, a daughter that umm…SINGS. A son that can sing AND play a bunch of instruments (Hi, Boy!). Cousins that sing and play instruments. And that is just on *MY* side of the family. If you’re wondering about me, if you had me a note Very Gently, and I do mean *VERY GENTLY* I can carry it around for a little bit. But dassit. But I LOVE MUSIC! And probably not just because I’m black. [By the way guys, I definitely do make liberal use of that stereotype/joke BECAUSE *I* CAN. It is up to you to decide if this is a joke you can make. Just remember that freedom of speech =/= freedom from consequence, so choose wisely]

I also listen to a lot of music. All kinds. But also all day. Like, this morning when I was getting dressed for work I listened to Outkast. Because it’s great for getting you UP and moving (and yes there is also dancing at before 7AM while I’m getting dressed/putting on makeup) and then I get to work and listen to Lo-Fi while I’m hard at work procrastinating the fact that I *KNOW* I have a fact that I need to write but also I GOT WORK TO DO because also I HAVE A JOB THAT IS NOT ACTUALLY WRITING YOU JOKERS FACTS EVERY DAY. But. I do it ’cause I love you. Except you. You know who you are. Anyway. I want y’all to know that lo-fi is the perfect music to write to! I love it and yes this very last BHFOTD is a thank you to the late, great J Dilla, Godfather of Lo-Fi hip hop!

James Dewitt Yancey aka J Dilla aka Jay Dee was a record producer and rapper who emerged in the mid-‘90’s hip hop scene in Detroit, Michigan, as 1/3 of the music group Slum Village. He was also a member of the Soulquarians.

Dilla’s family had a musical background. His mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey is a former opera singer and his father Beverly Dewitt Yancey was a jazz bassist AND performed Globetrotters half-time shows for several years (I..I mean okay, but it seems like A LOT). His brother John started making music later as Illa J. Along with a wide range of other musical genres, Jay developed a passion for hip hop music. After transferring to Pershing HS he met classmates T3 and Baatin and became friends with them through their mutual interest in rap battles. The three formed the rap group called Slum Village He also took up beat-making using a simple tape deck as the center of his studio. During these teenage years he “stayed in the basement alone” in order to train himself to produce beats with his growing record collection.

In 1992, he met the Detroit musician Amp Fiddler, who let Jay Dee use his Akai MPC, of which he quickly gained mastery. Fiddler, while playing keyboards with Funkadelic on the group’s slot on the 1994 Lollapalooza tour, met Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, who were also on the lineup. This is where Fiddler introduced Q-Tip to Jay Dee, who gave Q-Tip a Slum Village demo tape. In 1995, Jay Dee and MC Phat Kat formed 1st Down and became the first Detroit hip hop group to sign with a major label. In ’96, Slum Village recorded what would become their debut album Fantastic, Vol 1. The album quickly became a hit on the Detroit hip hop scene. By the mid-90’s Dilla had a string of singles and remix projects for Janet Jackson, The Pharcyde, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip’s solo album and others. Many of these productions were released without his name recognition, being credited to The Ummah, a production collective composed of him, Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, and later Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné!. However, he was given songwriting credit on all of his non-remix productions under The Ummah.

2000 marked the major label debut of Slum Village with Fantastic, Vol. 2, creating a new following for J Dilla as a producer and an MC. He was also a founding member of the production collective known as The Soulquarians . Fun fact! The reason that I know about J Dilla is through Bilal, who was part of the Soulquarians collective. Who sings one of my favorite songs ever, who said this about him: “He had this thing where no matter what he picked up he could bend his will into it. Just because you hear it so strong in your head you can throw the funk in it.”

Dilla was signed to a solo deal with MCA Records in 2002. Although Dilla was known as a producer rather than an MC, he chose to rap on the album and have the music produced by some of his favorite producers, such as Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Supa Dave West, Kanye West, Nottz, Waajeed and others. The album was shelved due to internal changes at the label and MCA.

J Dilla’s illness and medication caused dramatic weight loss in 2003 onwards, forcing him to publicly confirm speculation about his health in 2004. The seriousness of his condition became public in November 2005 when J Dilla toured Europe performing from a wheelchair. J Dilla died on February 10, 2006, at his home in Los Angeles, California, three days after his 32nd birthday and the release of his final album Donuts. [Sorry guys. I know this week has been filled with dead musicians, but it is what it is]

Dilla’s musical legacy, much like The Marathon, continues. At the time of his death, J Dilla had 150 unreleased beats, some of which were featured on Slum Village’s album  “Yes!”, His album Ruff Draft was reissued as a double LP/CD and is considered his 3rd solo album. Yancey Boys, an album by J Dilla’s younger brother Illa J was released in 2008. It’s produced entirely by J Dilla. In 2020, Dres of Black Sheep announced that he would be releasing a collaborative album with J Dilla titled No Words, with unreleased instrumentals of Dilla’s provided with the cooperation of Ma Dukes Yancey. His music is used in various TV programs and commercials. Common’s album Finding Forever is an album entirely dedicated to J Dilla, in which Kanye West cut up the samples in methods that J Dilla used. De La Soul pay tribute to Dilla on the track “La La La” with the line: “Dilla, if you hear me, we are missing you so much.” Y’all. I could go on and on because there are SO MANY ARTISTS that paid tribute. Love is knowing that you’ve touched so many creators that they love on you even after you’ve gone.

In fact, if I planned this out better, I coulda gave y’all this fact on Dilla Day (February 6th) The annual celebration of Dilla’s music and spirit in various cities complete with concerts and lectures and more (oh my!) MAYBE NEXT YEAR.

ANYWAY. That’s my time! Hope you enjoyed this years random facts about Black people, and Black people things! If you did, I accept well wishes, hugs and tips. If you didn’t, it’s because you’re terrible and don’t know culture when you see it! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR. Or…yannow. Whenever.

[Also yes. ONE of those song links is a Slum Village song. NO. I’m not going to tell you which one.]

We are stuck in this pappardelle (with an end in sight I guess, but SH!T. CAN EVERYBODY JUST GET VACCINATED ALREADY? DAMN.) which means I have NOT been going to get my hair did, so praise all things holy that I just be out here wearing my hair raw because can you imagine if I was straightening my hair? I am also unable to braid my own hair or wear a wig that doesn’t make me look like I belong in a Tyler Perry movie (to be fair, the only wig I own is purple, so really I’d just be out here looking like a disco queen which is not as bad a look on me as you’d think). But in a REGULAR colored wig I’d look a whole ass mess. Mostly though that’d be because I’m incompetent at doing my own hair, because thanks to Naomi Sims, I wouldn’t have to wear a wig that looked like I slapped on some white woman’s hair and tried to pass it off as A LEWK (and I would and I would also dare a white person to make any kinda comment about what my hair was looking like too but not the point of this story)

The point is that Naomi Sims, first Black Woman to appear on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal (in 1968. For reference, LHJ was first published in 1883), who is ALSO as being the first Black supermodel knew even then that The Beauty Industry does not*, I mean, did not care enough about Black people to know what to do with Black People Hair EVEN as they styled them to perfection to sell their clothes to People With Money, EVEN if they happened to be Black. “I was driven to a distraction in terms of how to vary my hairstyle”, Naomi said.

She new that wearing wigs was an option, but what was not an option was being out there wearing wigs that made her look like she just grabbed a hat with some hair on it. Can you imagine? Walking down the runway in a dress that costs thousands, in a wig that looked like it costs $5? Naomi was not pleased with the wig options available to her. They had smooth, straight fibers that looked nothing like Black hair. BUT SHE HAD AN IDEA: She took the best-selling fiber wig for white women, wet the fiber down and put it in the oven. The result was a curlier, coarser fiber and a new business idea.

After approaching several wig manufacturers, she finally inked a deal with Metropa Company, a small import-export firm that sold a line of wigs for Black women. The company agreed to put up some money, and make its research laboratories available to Sims. The company developed a lightweight wig fiber that  looked like straightened Black hair, and did not have to be set. The fiber was patented and trademarked under the name Presselle, and the first line of the Naomi Sims Collection went into production.

For the first three years, Sims designed all the wig styles herself. “Basically, we duplicated the styles that were popular–what Black women in the street were wearing, and combined that with my fashion sense,” Sims told Black Enterprise. She also wrote and designed the advertisements, and traveled around the country promoting her wigs. Initially store buyers who were most assuredly Not Black were skeptical about the need for Naomi’s product, but in the first year of sales reached $5 million dollars, proving them wrong.

By the early ‘80’s Sims gradually expanded her business interests to include perfume, skin care products and cosmetics for Black women. Four years later, she founded her own company, Naomi Sims Beauty Products, Ltd. By 1989, Naomi Sims Beauty Products was grossing $5 million, and its products were distributed not only across the United States, but also in Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada. By the late 1980s, however, Sims’s firm was being challenged by larger, white-owned firms, who wanted a share of the Black cosmetics market while continuing not to care about the Black women who bought it.

Sims has been criticized by people who accused her of making money from women’s fears about their own attractiveness. She had this to say: “I am sure I have my share of Black female critics and enemies,” she was quoted as saying in Black Business Leaders. “It doesn’t matter. I adore women and I know I am a woman’s woman….I would be nowhere if it weren’t for Black women.”

Whew. Can I get an amen?

Anyway! That’s today’s fact boys and girls and everyone in between. Hope you enjoyed it. You got one more day and then I go back into ignoring Lex’s request for Black History Facts until next year. Or if I feel like talking sh!t about current things that for some reason sound like history things because people that uphold white supremacy NEVER EVER learn from the past and I can ALWAYS find something to connect a thing today with a thing from yesteryear. Or if I just wanna say hi. Okay. Bye!

A couple years ago, back when people went outside and I went to festivals. I was outside and I went to a festival. Coachella, to be exact. With The Boy. The best thing about having kids early is HAVING GROWN KIDS. Please don’t let anybody tell you different. ANYWAY. We went to Coachella and you guys, EYE was in charge of stuff! Which if you know me at all, you know you should be amazed because that meant that I made DECISIONS and PLANNED THINGS. I wanted to have all the big stuff out of the way (lodging, food, DID I PACK THAT THING I WAS MAYBE NOT GOING TO NEED, BUT MAYBE I WAS?) so that I could spend Coachella the way you are supposed to spend Coachella: Not Sober™. AND. AND I also managed to not get (too) lost because honestly I get distracted by shiny things and things that look interesting but also I still managed to lose everyone ordering food and PLEASE NOTE: it really takes a singular dedication to getting lost if you can do it while you’re standing in line ordering sweet potato fries (that were AMAZING, by the by). ALSO I only lost The Boy a couple times, but one of those times was definitely His Fault, but also he’s grown and he knew where the locker was and knew we’d end up there at the end of the night because he is truly his mother’s child. But this isn’t about a time he got lost it is about a time we were together!

So! I’m not sure where everyone else was, but Coachella had this Dome thing that had bean bag chairs and a digital show with Flying Lotus as the soundtrack and we decided to go to it. It was hot though because it was The Desert in April and while we were standing in line this girl in front of us overheated and passed out and this person who seemed to have medical training of some sort was standing next to us checked this girl out blah blah blah she was fine just needed some air, they took her into the Dome to cool off because it was air conditioned. Everyone is VERY IMPRESSED. There’s clapping and cheering and then he turned around and…y’all. That dudes pupils were as big as the moon. I don’t think Captain Save a Ho was sober. At all. But according to sources who were Not Me, that is the way you were intended to see this show. Tripping out on psychedelics while listening to experimental electronica of Alice Coltrane’s grand-nephew. Which is awesome because look at Flying Lotus following in the family business!

Alice McLeod grew up in a musical household. Her mother was a member of the church choir and her brother, Ernest Farrow was a jazz bassist. With the encouragement of her father, Alice McLeod pursued music and started performing around Detroit until she moved to Paris is the late 1950’s. There she studied classical music and jazz, where she worked as the intermission pianist at the Blue Note Jazz Club in the 60’s. It was there were she got hitched to Kenny “Pancho” Hagood, then divorced and moved back to Detroit with her daughter. She continued playing jazz as a professional with her own trio, and as a duo with vibraphonist Terry Pollard. In 1962-3, she played with Terry Gibbs’ quartet where she met some dude named John Coltrane*. Alice and John’s growing involvement in spirituality influenced some of John’s compositions and projects, such as A Love Supreme. In January 1966, Alice Coltrane replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist with John Coltrane’s group and subsequently recorded with him and continued playing with the band until John’s death on July 17, 1967. After her husband’s death, she continued to forward the musical and spiritual vision, and started to release records as a composer and bandleader. Her first album, A Monastic Trio, was recorded in 1967. From 1968 to 1977, she released thirteen full-length records. As the years passed, her musical direction moved further from standard jazz into the more cosmic, spiritual, psychedelic world.

The 1990’s saw a renewed interest in her work, which led to her return to the stage for three US appearances in the fall, including a concert at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium presented by University Musical Society of the University of Michigan on September 23, which would have been John Coltrane’s 80th birthday, and culminating on November 4 with a concert for the San Francisco Jazz Festival with her son Ravi, drummer Roy Haynes, and bassist Charlie Haden.

Alice Coltrane died of respiratory failure at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles in 2007, aged 69 (nice!) She is buried alongside John Coltrane in Pinelawn Memorial Park, Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York.

Her music and legacy live on. Paul Weller dedicated his song “Song for Alice”, from his 2008 album 22 Dreams, to Coltrane; the track entitled “Alice” on Sunn O’s 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions was similarly inspired. Electronic musician Flying Lotus is the grand-nephew of Alice Coltrane. The song “That Alice” on Laura Veirs’ album Warp and Weft is about Coltrane. Orange Cake Mix included a song entitled “Alice Coltrane” on their 1997 LP Silver Lining Underwater. Poet giovanni singleton’s book Ascension includes 49 poems written daily after Alice Coltrane’s death.

*I guess it’s worth mentioning that John Coltrane is also considered one of the inspirations for psychedelic rock. The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” is often considered the first psych rock song. The group said that they loved his innovative playing including “all those funny little notes and fast stuff at the bottom of the range”. Apparently JOHN Coltrane inspired musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa and is sampled all over hip hop songs. And I think he also had a jazz following. I’m not really sure.

USUALLY when I do deathiversaries they are WAY less…sad? I mean they’re SAD ‘cause generally these people die of unnatural causes but the fact is really about their lives and what we learned from them while they were here and this one is…well. Not That. So with that warning let’s get into today’s HFOTD**

After the 1896 Presidential election, the (Republican) William McKinley administration appointed hundreds of Black People to postmasterships during his remaining tenure, as part of patronage jobs to build local networks.  And OF COURSE white people were like WHAT. THEE. F*CK. Because a) how DARE this outgoing administration appoint a bunch of people on their way out (AAAHAHAHAHAHAHA *cough*) and more importantly b) they claimed to have economic anxiety fear increased political power of Black postmasters would embolden them to proposition white women.

Anyway. Frazier Baker, a 40 year old married schoolteacher, father of six(!) kids, was appointed postmaster of Lake City in S. Carolina in 1897. White folks initiated a boycott and circulated petitions calling for Baker’s dismissal. One complaint was that Baker had cut mail delivery from 3x/day to one after threats against his life were made. I guess…he didn’t care for death threats? A postal inspector investigated and recommended the post office be closed, and in response a white mob burned it down with the expectation people gave a damn what some backwards country hicks thought about having a Black postmaster. The government obtained space on the outskirts of town because y’all still want mail don’tcha? A lessening of racial tension led Baker to send for his family in February 1898. A LESSENING. Baker still received death threats and he let his superiors in Washington know people were still mad.

At 1 am, February 22nd, the Baker family woke to find their house (which also served as the post office) on fire. Upon realizing he wasn’t gonna be able to put out the fire, Baker sent his son to get help, but as soon as he opened the door, he was met with gunfire. Saying that they “might as well die running as standing still”, Frazier Baker headed to the door, but before he could open it, a bullet struck his youngest daughter, killing her. Baker threw open the door and was cut down in a hail of gunfire. Baker’s wife, Lavinia, wounded by the bullet that killed her daughter, managed to escape the burning house and hide until the flames and gunfire subsided.

The lynching was met with widespread condemnation, including in the South. But the S. Carolina Senator who was an elected official whose job it was supposed to be to serve ALL the constituents in the state, said “The very fine proud people of Lake City refused to receive their mail from a HARD R [look at me, getting my work filter the runaround]”. Journalist Ida B Wells noted this mob ain’t even bother to make up an excuse for murdering Baker, the way they usually did, and told President McKinley this was a federal matter, since he died “at his post of duty in defense of his country’s honor, as truly as did ever a soldier on the field of battle”

A grand jury was convened but surprising nobody at all, it failed to return any indictments. The McKinley administration conducted a robust investigation, including offering at $1,500 reward ($46,098 today) for the arrest and conviction of members of the mob. Thirteen men were ultimately indicted in US Circuit Court on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, assault and destruction of mail after 2 men turned state’s evidence in exchange for their charges being dropped. An all-white jury deliberated for 24 hours before declaring a mistrial. The jury was deadlocked in reaching a verdict 5-5 and the case was never retried. [Here is where I’d normally post links to ALL of the lynching perpetuated by police of Black people but there are so many that my mind cannot just think of one so Imma just invite YOU to think of one, then think of how the cops in questions just…kept on being cops. Also please note that they are generally called “officer involved” something or other instead of their proper name: LYNCHING]

Moving on! In 1918, the St. James AME Church was constructed on the site of Baker’s burned post office and house and on October 5, NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE, the church was burned down. Locals suspected arson by white supremacists angry at the activism of Minister Joseph DeLaine during the Civil Rights Movement on behalf of the NAACP. He’d been warned that he lived “where the Black postmaster was shot to death”.  In 2003, the state General Assembly passed a resolution installing a South Carolina historical marker about the lynching and house fire. That marker was unveiled in October 2013 on the previous location of the post office and Baker’s home.

**Yes. I am aware I left off the B in BHFOTD; HOWEVER, I’d like to point out that really it’s just for form any damn way since Black people built this country AND Black History *IS IN FACT* The History of The United States™

Anyway Happy Monday! Hope you had a good day, see you tomorrow for who knows what kinda fact Imma pull out my ass!

My mother loves to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, which means that if I want to sit in the same room with her I ALSO will be watching Jeopardy and the Wheel of Fortune. Last night I was exhausted per usual because I’VE HAD A STRESSFUL PANDEMIC YEAR AND THIS MFER IS STILL GOING AND I AM HITTING A WALL OKAY, but I still decided to watch some Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, or at least be in the room on my phone while it was happening.

Anyway. Yesterday there was a Black Person™ on Jeopardy I am always surprised when there’s a random Black Person on Jeopardy because let’s just be honest and say there just isn’t a lot of Black folks on that show for WHATEVER THE REASON. Which is also kinda like the fact that Jeopardy questions about Black People (Places, Things)™ are ALSO pretty scarce on that show, and whenever there ARE questions, everyone looks like fucking deer caught in the headlights and I wonder why it is that people are supposed to know about Thorton Wilder but not today’s BHFOTD who was in the SAME DAMN CATEGORY. It’s on the tip of my tongue but I just can’t qu(wh)ite put my finger on it.

I wasn’t really paying attention but heard the question to the answer was “Who is KENDRICK LAMAR*?”

Me, not looking up: Who answered that?

Her: The Black man. The other two people didn’t even PRETEND to go for the buzzer.

The answer: Here he is after leaving the luncheon after accepting his 2018 Pulitzer Prize, for his album Damn. The recording was the first musical work not in the jazz or classical genres to win the prize.

Ta-da! It is possible to keep things short and sweet (like me) BUT I DON’T because dragging these out and making you trying to figure out WTF I’m hiding the damn fact is part of the fun!

Happy Friday! Hope you’re gonna do something relaxing like not stress over the Wheel of Fortune answers because honestly sometimes I really wonder WTF do they come up with their People, Places and Things and WHY do they give you standard letters for the puzzle and then not use any of those mfers in the puzzle.

See you next week for the last installment of Black People™ Doing Stuff, and Being Places.

*ALSO: K-Dot was a previous answer to a Jeopardy question and Damn..

and since all I do is eat hot chip and lie walk on the beach and sit on my couch, I was thinking about watching some old movies with Spanky. We talked about it at the end of the year, but between watching Girlfriends and re-watching Grey’s, we’ve only watched a few older movies (Christmas ones: It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. I feel like most of the old Christmas movies are white, but I digress.). And because I like to keep it funky, I made her and her cousin watch Player’s Club. Also! Since this weekend is going to look just like the other ones, I was thinking of other movies that we could watch, and after this fact is done Imma look to see if The Last Dragon is playing anywhere. Because I love it. I mean yes. We could watch Mahogany, or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? And we will, eventually. But who doesn’t wanna watch a black karate movie that stars Vanity of Vanity 6? Nobody. Or at least not me. And, I say this a lot about a lot of things, SHARING IS CARING. Nothing says I LOVE YOU more than me sharing some of my ridiculous with you. YOU’RE WELCOME IN ADVANCE.

Anyway. If you’re trying to figure out WTF this has to do with a BHFOTD, lemme tell you: While I was sitting here thinking of a way to torture share something with my millennial, I thought to myself WHY does this picture of Sho’ Nuff (The Shogun of Harlem) look…familiar? And the answer is because today’s BHFOTD is about Yasuke, the first black samurai who I’m fairly certain does not PURPOSEFULLY look like Sho’Nuff. I’m sure it’s just because they’re both black, but let’s go with it for the sake of continuity, hm?

*cracks knuckles and opens wikipedia*

Yasuke was a samurai of African origin who served as a retainer under the Sengoku period Japanese daimyō Oda Nobunaga. In 1579 Yasuke arrived in Japan in the service of Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano, Visitor of Missions in the Indies, in India. Yasuke is thought by some to have been the first African that Nobunaga had ever seen and he was one of the many Africans to have come with the Portuguese to Japan during the Nanban trade. When Yasuke was presented to Oda Nobunaga, the Japanese Daimyō thought that his skin must have been coloured with black ink. When Nobunaga realized that the African’s skin was indeed black, he took an interest in him.

The Lord Nobunaga Chronicle describes the meeting thus: “On the 23rd of the 2nd month [23 March 1581], a black page came from the Christian countries. The man was healthy with a good demeanor and Nobunaga praised Yasuke’s strength. Nobunaga’s nephew gave him a sum of money at this first meeting. On 14 May, Yasuke departed for Echizen Province with Fróis and the other Christians. During this trip, they met local warlords such as Shibata Katsutoyo, Hashiba Hidekatsu, and Shibata Katsuie. They returned to Kyoto on 30 May. At some point, although when is not clear, Yasuke entered Nobunaga’s service.

It’s likely that Yasuke could speak or was taught Japanese, perhaps due to Valignano’s efforts to ensure his missionaries adapted well to the local culture. Nobunaga enjoyed talking with him (there is no indication that Nobunaga spoke Portuguese). He was perhaps the only non-Japanese retainer that Nobunaga had in his service. Yasuke was mentioned in the archives of the Maeda clan. According to this, the black man named Yasuke  was given his own residence and a short, ceremonial katana by Nobunaga. Nobunaga also assigned him the duty of weapon bearer.

In June 1582, Nobunaga was attacked and forced to commit seppuku in Honnō-ji in Kyoto by the army of Akechi Mitsuhide. Immediately after Nobunaga’s death, Yasuke went to join Nobunaga’s heir Oda Nobutada who was trying to rally the Oda forces at Nijō Castle. Yasuke fought alongside the Nobutada forces but was eventually captured. When Yasuke was presented to Akechi, the warlord allegedly said that the black man was an animal as well as not Japanese and should thus not be killed, but taken to the Christian church in Kyoto. There is some doubt regarding the credibility of this fate/ It’s possible they’re trying to not like terrible people but also calling a black man an animal is pretty plausible and definitely happens in the year two thousand and twenty-one so who knows.

There is no further written information about him after this.

There’s also no confirmed portraits of Yasuke drawn by a contemporary, HOWEVER, there’s representation in other media:

  • A book written in 1968 called Kurosuke.
  • Japanese period dramas (and they called J-dramas?), and manga, including a manga called The Man Who Killed Nobunaga
  • Video games produced in 2017 & 2020 featuring a portrayal of Yasuke
  • And an anime coming out this year called Yasuke
  • There was GOING to be a LIVE action film with Chadwick Boseman portraying Yasuke, but the chance for that has expired. (No? Too soon?)

*closes tab*

And there you have it! Today’s BHFOTD! And also because I mentioned it here’s a side by side. Like, they only have serious photos of the fake Yasuke, but maybe if he let his hair down and smiled more? No?

I FINALLY started watching The Mandelorian. Yes. I know. It’s about time ( – for those of you who are into Star Wars. I don’t care to those of you who aren’t. I write the facts, which means I also write the lead ins). Because I am an old, I have been watching Star Wars for a Long Time. The first one premiered when I was but a wee lass, and I loved them every since. Speaking of, y’all remember when people, who were racist, went completely apesh*t, over John Boyega being a Black Storm Trooper. Because “hOw cAN a bLaCk bE in sPaCE?”. And it always reminds me of this moment in Psych which, was one of my favorite shows:

Which I’m sure makes you think this fact is about Dule Hill, but it’s not. It’s about Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry. That is all one person. He’s better known by the stage name Stephin Fetchit. He was an American vaudevillian, comedian, and film actor who is considered to be the first Black actor to have been billed in a movie AND the first Black actor to have a successful film career.

In his teens, Perry became a comic character actor. By the age of 20, Perry had become a vaudeville artist and the manager of a traveling carnival show. His stage name was a contraction of “step and fetch it”. His accounts of how he adopted the name varied, but generally he claimed that it originated when he performed a vaudeville act with a partner. Perry won money betting on a racehorse named “Step and Fetch It”, and his partner and he decided to adopt the names “Step” and “Fetchit” for their act. When Perry became a solo act, he combined the two names, which later became his professional name*.

Perry played comic-relief roles in a number of films, all based on his character known as the “Laziest Man in the World” (whew. THE WAY MY EYEBALLS ROLLED AROUND IN MY HEAD. He signed a five-year studio contract following his performance in the film, In Old Kentucky (1927). The film’s plot included a romantic connection between Perry and actress Carolynne Snowden, a subplot that was a rarity for Black actors appearing in a White film during this era.Perry also starred in Hearts in Dixie (1929), one of the first studio productions to boast a predominantly Black cast. By the mid-30’s, Perry was the first Black actor to become a millionaire, and appeared in 44 films between 1927 and 1939. Chile they was workin’ him like…you know what? Nevermind.

Anyway. In 1940, he stopped appearing in films because he could not get equal pay and billing with his white costars. He returned in 1945 ‘cause bills bills bills, but ended up declaring bankruptcy in 1947. After 1953, Perry appeared in cameos in TV shows and feature films but found himself in conflict with civil rights leaders who criticized him for film roles that he portrayed/was offered because Hollywood LOVES a stereotype. In more recent years though, his character was re-evaluated by scholars who viewed his character as the embodiment of the trickster stereotype.

So there you go! A fact about a man whose stage name was literally just a phrase for “shuckin’ and jivin’ for the white man” and they just…went with it.

*type of stereotypical black roles in Hollywood.

Because I work in a hospital and it is what it is, and SOMETIMES I talk about death because my friends are weirdos and ask for facts about people’s death anniversaries and I will oblige my friends because I AM ALSO A WEIRDO, and sometimes I talk about death because I’m black* and black people like to know stuff about dead folks. Like for instance “Who all going? (this really does apply to just about any gathering)” and “Who did the body?” Important questions ‘cause after all you don’t wanna be scaring people on your way home do you? Oh. Also, funerals are sometimes called homegoings. Because you’re going HOME. AND. Since I guess I’m tellin’ y’all stuff that if you’ve been paying any kind of attention to Black people at all these last few years you woulda noticed, when beloved celebrities pass, WE LOVE A GOOD HOMEGOING SERVICE. Like. LOVE. When Aretha Franklin had her homegoing, it was broadcast on several channels and of COURSE I WAS AT WORK BECAUSE AREN’T I ALWAYS?! But please believe I really did sit here at work and watch an EIGHT. HOUR. SERVICE. I am a multitasking mother fucker. And I know I was not alone because The Brat was also watching from work. And texting me. I watched people show up in their finery and big hats ‘cause old church ladies LOVE a big church hat.

But the service was eight hours and so at some point I had to break for lunch and since outside was open back then, I WENT to lunch and prayed that if they were gonna sing Eye On the Sparrow it was gonna be while I was at lunch, because I woulda been laid out at work and issa bad look when you’re supposed to be a Professional At Work™. Luckily/unluckily, it was 2018 and the internet is forever so even if I missed something super important I coulda just googled it up online because that IS what the internet is for (not for the other thing). Can you imagine the olden days of having to videotape things? Setting your VCR, making sure you had enough tape to get the whole damn thing, which how could you have because WTF thought anybody would have an EIGHT. HOUR. FUNERAL?!

I certainly woulda missed taping at least some of it. But I am not today’s BHFOTD, Marion Stokes, a Philadelphia access television producer, civil rights demonstrator, activist, librarian and prolific archivist, who amassed hundreds of thousands of hours of TV news footage spanning 35 years – from 1977 until her death at age 83.

She was convinced that there was a lot of detail in the news at risk of disappearing forever (and she was right ‘cause networks had been disposing their archives for decades), and so she began recording television 24 hours a day. The collection consisted of 24/7 coverage of MSNBC, C-SPAN, CNBC, CNN and Fox. (Do you remember the time when Fox had actual news on it?) It was recorded on 8 separate VCRs all over her house. She and her entire family planned outings around the length of a VHS tape, including cutting  short so they could make it home to switch out tapes every six hours. So I guess she woulda had to book it back home for Ms. ‘Retha’s homegoing too.

It started in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which was the beginning of the 24 hour news cycle and ended December 14, 2012 while the Sandy Hook massacre played on TV as Marion passed on. All told she’d recorded 40,000 plus VHS/Betamax that were stacked in her home and apartments she’d rented just to store them. Her collection was donated to the Internet Archive on year after her death. It was the largest collection they had ever received. I feel like there’s a joke in there somewhere but also I feel like it’s probably inappropriate to make but also CIRCLE OF LIFE.

ANYWAY. That’s it folks! That’s all the facts I got for you next week. See you on Tuesday because while USUALLY I’m at work, I took a day off  ‘cause  I DO WHAT I WANT. Stay tuned for week three of BLACK PEOPLE DID WHAT?! Have a good weekend. Don’t forget to tip your server on your way out!


Since we’re in a panorama, I mostly do not go anywhere. Except work. And the market. And the beach. That is my one concession to being inside all the time. I get up VERY early and walk a few miles on the water. At 7am, it’s mostly just surfers, swimmers and a few other people. There’s a boardwalk, but there are definitely more people there than at the water. But this weekend, I got in my car and instead of going where I normally go, I ended up at Venice Beach. I think maybe I was just itching for a change in scenery and it’s been a long while since I’ve done some wandering that way. So I double masked, took out my phone and snapped some pictures of the street art I happened by.

Like this beauty.

I really do love street art you guys.

And this:

And also. THIS:

This was at the very end of my walk. The dude who created this came up to me, waves at the pictures on the panels behind me and hands me a pair of 3D glasses which I did not put on because THERE IS A POLYNOMIAL OUTSIDE SIR. YOU THINK I’M ‘BOUT TO PUT THESE COOTIE COVERED 3D PAPER GLASSES ON MY FACE?! I *DID* however, hold them out in front me to get a better look at this picture and you guys. Valerie Thomas did not create 3D for some jackass to create a 3D painting of Beavis & Butthead. (Or Snow White smoking a pipe while in compromising positions with the some dwarves. WHY are people like this?! It’s rhetorical. I know)

Look at me getting to the BHFOTD! Valerie Thomas became interested in science as a child after watching her dad tinker with the TV and seeing the mechanical parts inside. At 8 years old, she read The Boys First Book of Electronics because obviously only BOYS could be interested in electronics. At the all-girls school she attended, she was not encouraged to pursue science or math, she did manage to take a physics class. Which, she parlayed into majoring in physics at Morgan State University (shout out to HBCUs!). In 1964, Valerie began working at NASA as a data analyst, developing real-time computer data systems to support satellite operations control centers and oversaw the creation of the Landsat program (which is the longest-running enterprise for acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth.) becoming an international expert in Landsat data products.

Then, In 1976 she attended a scientific seminar where she viewed an exhibit that demonstrated an illusion. The exhibit used concave mirrors to fool the viewer into believing that a light bulb was glowing even after it had been unscrewed from its socket. She was so amazed by what she saw at this seminar that she wanted to start creating this on her own. Later that year she would begin to experiment with flat and concave mirrors. The flat mirrors would have a reflection on a certain object that would seem to be behind the glass. The concave mirror would have a reflection that would actually be in front of the glass, producing a three-dimensional illusion. She patented the illusion transmitter in 1980, which is basically early 3D technology that is STILL used by NASA today.

Valerie, who was both Black AND a woman, worked her way up to associate chief of the Space Science Data Operations at NASA. She also participated in projects related to Halley’s Comet, ozone research, satellite technology and the Voyager spacecraft.

At the end of August 1995, she retired from NASA and her positions of associate chief of NASA’s Space Science Data Operations Office, manager of the NASA Automated Systems Incident Response Capability, and as chair of the Space Science Data Operations Office Education Committee. Whew. That’s a whole lotta jobs.

Post-retirement, Valerie Thomas served as an associate at the UMBC Center for Multicore Hybrid Productivity Research. She continued to serve as a mentor for youth through the Science Mathematics Aerospace Research and Technology and National Technical Association. Thomas’s invention was depicted in a children’s fictional book, television, and video games.

I’d say I’m sorry for violating your eyes with that last photo, but those of you who know me, know better. And those who don’t know me? Consider this last photo my apology.

But I don’t today ‘cause I didn’t watch it.

It’s 2021 though. So even though I did not watch the Super Spreader Event Bowl, I heard about it:

  • Amanda Gorman first poet to perform there (which I already told you about), and
  • H.E.R. performed (quick note that this is a H.E.R stan account. She is young and gifted. You know the rest, right?)

I also heard they had an ICU nurse manager did the coin toss and girl, I guess. I mean if people wanna act like we’re  not in the middle of a whole pandemonium because science is not going to get in the way of people getting together to watch a sport that is prioritizing profits over people that’s cool and I’m sorry that your team lost because I’m just assuming that NOBODY IS ROOTING TO TOM BRADY EVER, even though he’s no longer a NE Patriot and that you watched the game AT HOME with people who live in your house and nobody else. (Not sorry if you thought I was going to say something else. I work in a damn hospital for f*ck’s sake.) I’m SURE that in 10-14 days we’ll hear about a COVID surge in Tallahassee. OR WILL WE?

ANYWAY. The Brat has me re-watching Grey’s Anatomy. Which I stopped watching because WHO HAS THE TIME?! But it turns out I do, because what else am I doing in the middle of a palindrome? Certainly not planning out a fact like I said I would JUST THIS PAST FRIDAY. Nope. I am still vibing my way through Black History Month. BUT! Luckily, I just got finished watching an episode of Grey’s where the former Chief of Surgery, Charles Webber (who is former ‘cause he stepped down ‘cause this is a TV show, after all) did a lecture talmbout when he was a young warthog intern. He was the very first black surgical intern, and boy oh boy was his attending racist something. During this same Lecture series, Amanda Bailey, an Attending Physician, talked about her experience when she first came to Seattle Grace as an intern and how she went off on her attending because she’d figured out what was wrong with the patient and Dr. Webber (the CURRENT Chief) pulled her into his office and told her to look scared while he pretended to fuss at her to make the attending feel better and *RIGHT THEN* it clicked that that was the point that he probably decided to mentor this very short, black woman intern who finally stopped being afraid to speak up because in a WAYYY earlier episode he told her that the plan was always for HER to take his place as the Chief of Surgery when he stepped down. And so it goes. The “First Black” anything, helps usher in the next Black. And even though ALL of this is a world of make-believe, Doctor Harold Amos is a real person who inspired  hundreds of Black people to become doctors.

Harold Amos, born in 1918 to a mother who was adopted and educated by a Quaker family. And because of this, the Amos family always received a lot of books, including a biography of Louis Pasteur. He graduated in 1936 at the top of his High School class and went on to attend Springfield College in Massachusetts on a full academic scholarship, which was damn near unheard of for an African American. He graduated in 1941 with a degree in chemistry. Then was drafted into the army and was eventually discharged in 1946. That fall, he enrolled in Biological Sciences program at Harvard medical School earning his Master’s degree and in 1952, earned his PhD. And in 1954, Amos joined Harvard Medical School Faculty as a teacher and the first Black microbiologist and went on to become the first Black Chair of the bacteriology in 1968. Harold made various high profile discoveries in his discipline including the finding of the 5-methylcytosine in the E. coli RNA and spearheading research into the use of bacterial RNA to program the synthesis of higher cell proteins, insulin etc.

***An aside: isn’t it interesting how science also tends to build on things? For instance, Dr Amos researched the use of bacterial RNA to program the synthesis of higher cell proteins and then Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black virologist, helped develop an mRNA vaccine (Moderna) that tricks your body into  triggering an immune response so that your body produces antibodies for an infection it never had! If we were talking about Black History…and we are…I’d say this is exactly what it’s about: Your work inspiring someone else to go farther.

So back to my fact: Harold was a well-respected educator and often cited teaching as one of his many passions. He was well known as an inviting and welcoming mentor to both students and junior faculty members, and went on to receive many awards throughout his career including: the first Charles Drew World Medical Prize from Harvard University in 1989, an Honoris Causa doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1996, the National Academy of Science’ highest honor, the Public Welfare Medal in 1995, and a diversity award at Harvard named after him.

And here we are. Some fake doctors mixed in with some real doctors AND A VERY REAL, SAFE VACCINE. Okay. I’m climbing down off my soapbox. FOR NOW.