Tag Archives: Global Afro Women

Carlita Victoria a Rising Star!

I know Carlita Victoria through her mother, Cathey, with whom I met when working at the City of Raleigh. She was involved with Community Services and youth programs. Cathey spoke about her daughter dancing, then spoke about her being on Broadway! I loved dancing and lived in New York. That was an exciting time, now Carlita Victoria has taken that by a storm! She has established her presence as part of the internet baby generation. Though I have not met her. I’ve heard her energetic voice over the phone. Her beginnings may have been in Raleigh, but her world is New York City. Her array of talent is obvious from her carlitavictoria.com website and Facebook page. She is a star though she may not have imagined that when fulfilling her dreams in New York and around the Globe performing in far off places like Ghana, West Africa and Seoul Korea. Her field is based on having and bringing talent forward to audiences. One must project a note, a feeling, an expression that is understood by a variety of audiences. That is very demanding including the logistics of practice, preparation, and performance. Carlita Victoria must love what she does. Her video shows her as a teacher and performer. She is the full package to be a Broadway performer, a member of dance troupes, traveling Broadway plays and performances in local venues.

Carlita Victoria is also a comedian, one of my favorite talents after dancing.  I have yet to see this side and pray our local clubs finds a way to include her in their programming selection. Meanwhile this prolific young artist has recently tackled something that overwhelmed her immense artistic expression, a mental health breakdown. When the body and mind is so fully engaged it may be hard to accept something is wrong and find yourself face to face with a desire to end it all. Unthinkable would be the outside and uninformed impression, yet it can happen to our best and brightest. That is when it is stunning and challenging to reimagine this person and their struggle. As in Carlita’s life she was surrounded by family and friends so that decisive moment was not acted upon. Emerging from this reality inspired a passion to create a play that addressed her experience for others to learn from and seek help knowing they are not alone.

Her most recent work is probably her most original. It may also have cast her in a new role as playwright and producer. The play was introduced at the African American Cultural Festival as ‘Darkness Rising Project‘. This is her story and testimony to the world. Given the African American history with the health industry we have tended to shy away and be dependent on our limited community resources. With a shortage of mental health professionals from our race, there are better trained health resources to support us. The Affordable Care Act offers us access to care options and given that it is a biological illness and very treatable. Many of us suffer while it can turn our lives upside down. African Americans contribute to being 40% of our homeless population. The work that Carlita Victoria has developed is a gift to our awareness and subsequent solutions to mental health challenges.

Before this mental break and afterwards, we have Carlita Victoria, an amazing talent, to enjoy and appreciate for years to come. Now is the time to pay attention to her message and wish her the best. She is a star and our protagonist.

Art and article by Lillian L Thompson of Lillianonline.us

Rissi Palmer, Artist Musician

One evening a friend and I went to the Pour House in downtown Raleigh to listen to music. The brick alley way entry reminded me of clubs in New York and DC. We were pleasantly surprised to hear the level and quality of music from the first act jazz singer and pianist. Then there was a break. We read about the next act being a country singer. Not knowing what to expect and intrigued at the same time, we awaited our introduction to a new singer, a woman who had a voice, style, talent and unique sound, Rissi Palmer. It was a shock that Rissi was a local. She seemed too polished. This may have been about four years ago. Her claiming country music was unique for an African American woman. In that show we learned that Rissi had begun her career with a top ten chart for a country single and later left the Nashville scene to start a family. At the Pour House we learned shows relaunching her career.

Rissi is an instagram sensation. Here is where she successfully weaves her public persona as a musician with her private life. Rissi Palmer’s story is well documented on her website, and online including an interview on an NPR show which was a treat. At five years old under the influence of her mother she was exposed to American singer Patty Kline and R&B Soul. Her passions took her from high school straight into a music career. Her instrument of choice is the guitar which compliments her voice.

After that first performance, I have been tracking Rissi with my friend enjoying her unique style of music. Since then she has continued to reinvent herself as a ‘Southern Music Singer’ which continues to include Country. What I could discern from her first hit anyone could be country in the USA and I agree with that! It is fitting that her music genres at a 2017 Year’s Eve popular spot in downtown Raleigh expanded to include R&B and POP.

It could be difficult to get to know public figures like Rissi, who began her career on the road like Taylor Swift going from town to town to do radio interviews as part of the Country music scene.  Yet she is very open to meeting and connecting with her fans. I was fortunate when she, her husband and daughter visited my first art show in downtown Raleigh. You would think that was the time to take photos but not one, just talking and sharing. It was a fantastic moment. I could sense her openness for people, patience, humility and awareness. Perhaps these personality traits helped drum up her strong opinions on societal wrongs.

I’ve spent time while in New York going to jazz clubs around town. At  ‘Slugs’ in the east village, I heard all time greats like Pharoah Saunders, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, former members of John Coltrane’s band. I saw Carmen McCray in New York’s West Village, and Miles Davis and Arthur Prysock in Harlem. Midtown dinner clubs hosted Joe Williams, and Johnny Hartman. Great singers included a moment at Howard University in DC singing Christmas carols with the amazing voice of Donny Hathaway. Rissi is a special singer on the rise with a unique message. By musician standards she is still very young in her evolution. Her passion and voice extended to youth under the umbrella of her non-profit, WeAreSeeds.net, ‘focused on “raising happy, healthy, socially conscious, intellectual, and spiritually strong children in the ‘Post-Truth’ Resistance Era”’. This site and initiative is a reflective of her worldview!

Rissi Palmer’s new ‘Seed’ Album, inspired by the name of her non-profit, hits the market on October 15, 2018 according to her Instagram post. I also noticed she had been working on a socially conscious video. You may keep up with this unique song bird on Instagram, when lucky sometimes, even live around Raleigh!

Art and article by Lillian L. Thompson of Lillianonline.

Mixed Meghan Markle: Activist, Actress, and now Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle Duchess of Sussex ,  Member of British Royal Family

African American men did not think that Obama would win the presidency. While women of the same race were bent on him succeeding. Obama’s American mother and African father by definition makes him Kenyan

American. His heritage, American born with a dad straight out of African makes him a racially controversial figure. Obama embraced the African-America experience, as a result of being bombarded about his physical features. When you are a child of an American with one drop of black blood (assuming African), you are Black. This did not preclude you from passing for white, which for some was an option.

The racial divide in the USA was based on the usefulness of tagging and casting people convenient to a system of slavery. European academic publication argued for racial superiority further complicating the natural state of being human. Obama’s heritage was not of slavery nor of Jim Crow oppression, nor legal battles to integrate. He came integrated! His marriage into an African American family and culture, via Michelle, grounded his identity. A mixed-race husband escaped the pathos of so many direct descendants of slavery.

One could consider jealousy of Obama benefitting from our racial divide (in it but not of it). So it is ironic that black professionals blamed him for losing their high paying jobs, and him getting slammed for not doing enough for black folks. On the other racial side, his presidential predecessor is on a mission to discredit him and his accomplishments. As Obama reflects on his timing and legacy, there is no doubt that the baby boomer wave he rode in on is still coming ashore. 

Allot of  companies  have sprung up recently promoting tests for DNA. Everybody is questioning their true heritage. It is well known in the African American community, where there are stories upon stories about children of mixed parentage. Black men sought white women to improve chances for their children. Light skinned girls are treated better. They got more attention.  They are dad’s favorite. Men and people in general select them over their darker skinned peers.

Another irony is when one parent is white (historically privileged)  and the other is black (historically underprivileged). This could make you ‘mixed’ up! Obama’s presence is like a mirror reminding us of our predicament. His achievements showed our potential. On the other hand, that very same potential challenges a ‘historical mindset’ which displaces ‘superiority’ as a dying notion. It appears being racially mixed, in and of itself, is a dilemma for many people.

Our next high profile person just joined the royal family, Meghan Markle. The idea of a Hollywood actress marrying into royalty was defined by Grace Kelly. She was blond and pretty. This made America proud. A commoner selected to be queen. She was not the only one to become queen. A past King of Jordan selected a wealthy American woman to make his queen. Nothing unusual about selecting women from good families or with high profile images to become royalty. As long as they were ‘white’ women.

In times of Trump many Americans are looking for a break from daily barrages of tweet storms. Many tuned in to the marriage of Prince Harry. If Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, had one more baby, making Prince Harry seventh in line, instead of sixth, he would not have had to ask for approval from the Queen Elizabeth for Meghan’s hand in marriage. Then again,  controversy surrounding Prince’s Charles affection for divorced commoner Camilla Parker Bowles before divorcing his wife, Lady Diana Spencer is royal history. Meghan Markle was married briefly and divorced at age 32. Her mother Doria Ragland was a much younger bride at 21, though her photos show a much younger woman (almost childlike) marrying a Hollywood lighting designer eleven years her senior. This was his second which  included two children. Their marriage lasted until Meghan was six. Her relationship with her father, Thomas Markle, was very close. Her grandmother played an important role as care giver. Meghan was encouraged  to pursue her dreams. Her mother and grandmother fortified  belief in self.

Meghan’s time on Hollywood sets, with her father, inspired her to become an actress. She is a graduate of Northwestern University in theatre and international studies. Instead of waitressing, her income came from calligraphy. Meghan’s acting career’s most notable role, ‘Rachel’ an attorney, for seven years on the TV show ‘Suits’. She handled her life and career with grace and dignity.

She learned early that speaking up for what is right has tremendous impact. Her response to an ‘Ivory soap’  ad by Proctor and Gamble, after her male classmates affirmed their ad idea , that women belonged at home in the kitchen. A letter writing campaign pursued  influential women to protest. She selected power figures including First Lady Hillary Clinton.  Within a month the ad was changed from ‘Women all over America… to People all over America…’ establishing her as an advocate and activist for women causes.

Prince Harry age 33 the younger son of Diana, Princess of Wales, upon meeting Meghan Markle age 36  knew ‘she was the one’. While Meghan was aware of him, she knew little and inquired as to his kindness. Prince Harry picked up the mantel of work done by his mother including HIV, leprosy, land mines  and work in Botswana. He dated. His reputation was one of a bad boy. Past girlfriends described him as needy. None wanted the burden of attention that media brought to his royalty. He, in turn,  could not have them leaning on him either, he wanted that for himself!

Meghan, the actress, was not familiar with being hounded by paparazzi.  Prince Harry’s mother, Diana was chased to a tragic death. His challenge was choosing someone with the ‘fortitude’ to deal with his lifestyle. Meghan and Prince Harry wed on May 19, 2018, seen by tens of millions around the world.  Recent articles ponder her history of activist to shift into the royal family with their non-political posture. Afro British citizens stand by to judge her actions. Some are inspired. British media, sought to exploit her mixed race as controversial have been put in check by the royal family.  Meghan became a British citizen before her nuptials, baptized, before becoming a member of the royal family. The Duchess of Sussex no longer has to mentally debate which box to check in identifying her race. Voted as one of the most influential women in 2018, she is my protagonist!

Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson for Lillianonline.us

Naomi Wadler Future of Youth Activism!

Naomi 11 years old activist against gun violence.

Naomi Wadler, at eleven years old, sparked the imagination of many around the world. This adopted Ethiopian-American youth was asked, by her elected official representing Alexandria, Virginia, to speak at the Parkland inspired ‘Gun Against Violence’ national demonstration in March 2018.  She volunteered to give voice honoring African American teenage girls murdered by gun violence. Naomi has added another level of awareness to the reality of gun violence within the nation’s capital black community along side school shootings.

Naomi is not new to activism. She organized a walk out at her school against gun violence. Her participation in this event with the Parkland students, has given her national recognition as a measured speaker with youthful wisdom in delivering a message to an engaged and spell bound equally youthful audience. That loss of 17 lives, in the close nit community,  including three teachers was a national tragedy sparking a global student protest movement, yielding some legislative successes and beginning a nationwide voter registration drive. 

Naomi’s passion came earlier then her eleven years. Her clarity about what is right with fearlessness to challenge those around her. This ‘Global Afro Youth’ captures confidence, awareness, presence, and resolve in delivering a message for little girls like herself who can think and make wise decisions against what they see as wrong. She represents our future and knowing this makes her an important voice as our protagonist. We encourage her success!

Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson of www.lillianonline.us