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Image of Straight Line Stitch Band

Straight Line Stitch band Image from Google Search

The first time I saw the band Straight Line Stitch, I had an almost visceral, emotional reaction. I don’t quite remember what it was that I was searching for when the band’s single Conversion popped up on my laptop, but I do remember wanting to jump up out of my seat and hop around the room, eyes welled up with tears, while the beautiful sounds of the band’s music came barreling out of the speakers. It was an emotional reaction predicated on the simple fact that, I felt, I had finally found a representation in music that fit me.

I didn’t grow up in the ghetto; I grew up in lower class, white suburbia. I was a reject to most of the black kids growing up, seemingly because I didn’t have the monolithic, hivemind-like mentality to just blindly enjoy anything labeled “urban” or Black by mainstream society. I was shunned for being smart, for talking “proper” and for not knowing things that were supposedly common knowledge among black folk from experiences in the ghetto. I wasn’t “black” to a lot of them.

On the flipside, while I was embraced by my white friends, I learned quickly that I wasn’t fully part of the family. I was the guy everyone went to for advice on everything Black:
“If I say____, is it racist?”
“Do you know who sings this rap song? This R&B song?”
“What do you mean you can’t dance?”
“What do you mean you can’t play basketball?”
“You speak so well”.
And while the white girls were petrified at the thought of their disapproving fathers catching them dating someone with my skin color; they seemed to not have a care in the world about jumping into the car of the badboy, white kid who smoked, drank, got in fights and occasionally shoplifted.

History class was bittersweet. I was always the one who “…brought race into everything”, corrected the teacher about facts and context all the time. To minimize the pain, I learned to camouflage; to observe and read white people, gauge what to say, when and how to say it. To be diplomatic, to not appear angry or violent; I learned how to deflect questions and how to segue a conversation to a different subject with grace.

I was caught in the middle, a catch-22, for most of my adolescent years. A fire built up in me and needed an outlet; rock and heavy-metal was my medicine. I could let out all the aggression, anger and fire I felt inside and no one would see it as such. Most people concentrated on the fact that I was one of the rare people of color they saw at concerts or listening to the music on headphones. But while all my friends were talking about bands they liked, and finding musicians they personally related to, I was left to live vicariously through them. The closest visual representations to me were hip-hop and rap artists, who I felt, I had nothing in common. The violence, the exploitation of women; I couldn’t bring myself to relate. I fully understood that they were trying to convey life in the ghettos and the horrible conditions that they had to live in; but that didn’t reflect the reality that I was living. The same racism and privilege they were facing; I was facing in a more subdued, under-the-radar- fashion. It was harder to pick-up on and even tougher to fight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=De26XtRUCg4 – “Conversion” by Straight Line Stitch

So after 20-some-odd years, I finally found a band, that looked like me; sang with the same aggression I had and had the lyrics that represented a more universal struggle that all people of color were going through. I loved it and at 35 years old, had that moment of relief that I had been looking for all these years.

How All of This Began

The original idea for MidKnightCreativity was to create a website where people of color could showcase another side to them; a side that wasn’t represented in the mainstream society. The idea I had was to bring a bunch of other people of color; who were like me, and have them share their ideas, stories and thoughts on ways people of color could be more positively represented in mainstream media. I was thinking we could all come together and share our stories.
The idea for sharing stories originally came to mind from a Ted Talk video I saw, an African woman spoke about how important it is for all humans to share their individual stories; as this make the whole greater. I agreed with her so wholeheartedly, I made it my mission to try and produce this in my own way, with the people around me. So, the Midknightcreativity website was born.

However, by November of last year, I began to doubt that building a blog; stating my intentions and then just waiting for people to join, was the best way to go about this. After ruminating for a few months, I’ve come upon the realization that I am one example, of that different representation of people of color that I’m looking to find on mainstream media. By telling my story, my point of view, my experiences, I’m sharing another avenue; another pair of eyes, for people to see the world through. My intention is that by doing this, maybe some other people of color with join me and start sharing their stories and we can show society the kaleidoscope of various types of people that are people of color.

What Can You Expect to Find Here?

The focus of this blog is shifting to explore more of the life and experiences of one, suburban raised, Black American male; me.

I’m a history buff and while I’ve given a snippet of my personal history here, I’ll be dropping more of it as the blog grows with the intention of tying it into current events that are effecting; not only Black America, but also people of color all over. I’ll share my perspective on things here, but also make it clear that I am not the last word on anything for everyone.

I’ll also showcase my art, film and video here. My career intention is to create characters of color that are more well-rounded, nuanced and a complete departure from where most Black film and video seems to be going today. I love shows like Issa Rae’s: Awkward Black Girl; I applaud and champion her efforts to bring more people of color and their stories to the mainstream audience.

Image of ABG Book Cover

Issa Rae Awkward Black Girl Book Cover

http://www.awkwardblackgirl.com/episodes – Awkward Black Girl Episodes

Writing is my heart. Above and beyond writing blog posts about film, video, politics and current events, I also will share some of my fiction writing here. I’m looking to create characters and universes that represent the world as I see it; an array of interesting and different people in situations that I have yet to see explored on film or TV. I’m hoping others will join me in the comment sections and conversations; and add their perspectives.

Here. We. Go!

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Listen up! Nerdy-Looking White Guy’s Opinions on the Economy WILL Affect You Soon.

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Listen up! Nerdy-Looking White Guy’s opinions on the Economy WILL affect you soon.

Since my latest blog post I’m working on is taking a bit longer than anticipated to come out of my head, I figured I’d leave a short blurb about something that’s been holding my attention for the past month.

This is Seth Godin, a public speaker, author and “marketing guru” (he’s even stated he’s not fond of the term ‘guru’), who,…

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Listen up! Nerdy-Looking White Guy’s Opinions on the Economy WILL Affect You Soon.

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Since my latest blog post I’m working on is taking a bit longer than anticipated to come out of my head, I figured I’d leave a short blurb about something that’s been holding my attention for the past month.

This is Seth Godin, a public speaker, author and “marketing guru” (he’s even stated he’s not fond of the term ‘guru’), who, for over the last ten years has talked, very loudly, about his theories about the economy, the marketplace and where it’s headed. Ironically, as time goes on, the more and more his theories are starting to look correct.  The industrial age is dead; having a “9 to 5” job is dead; we are in an idea and “connection” age. This means the gatekeepers (the industry corporate giants; GM, Hollywood, TV Networks, Cable Networks, etc), who used to be the ones that someone had to impress to get ahead, no longer have the power they once had.

Now, they’re scrambling.

The power now lies in the hands of the individual, the average citizen. With an education system that has programmed its people to follow the rules and wait “their turn”, not a lot of people are going to be ready to take advantage of it. It’s the fear of failing, of being criticized, of things not working that holds people back.

Black American culture has been masterful at innovation throughout history. From the days of slavery on up until today, Blacks have continuously found ways to produce and contribute culturally relevant, ground-breaking work to society, in everything from music, to entertainment and sports.

However, as I look around today, knowing the recent events that transpired with Trayvon Martin; Ferguson, MO and the struggles that President Obama’s going through, I don’t see that passion anymore. I don’t see the fire. With the track record we’ve put together in music, Rap and Hip-Hop should be old hat by now. As a community, Blacks should be on to something new and innovative. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like we’re clinging on to an identity that’s been tainted by corporate mass media. But I could just be missing it, not recognizing the look of something new coming up through the ranks of our youth, ready to spread out into the social consciousness.  I’m doubtful though.

If there ever was a perfect time for Black America’s innovation; now would be it. Powerful computers and cell phones; free access to the internet all mean that connecting to a group with a shared interest or idea is just a fingertip away. For the places that don’t have access to these things, there are people in powerful enough places to get resources moving to get them there.

But that’s what worries me. I feel, the Black community doesn’t see the opportunity here. I’m hopeful, the younger generation will open their eyes and listen to what people like Seth Godin are saying. Not because “he’s white, and so, he’s right” or anything like that, but because he is one of many sign posts that show us how the industries are thinking. As they lose more and more money, those industries are starting to listen to him. They will start to change, and they are going to start looking for employees who do more than just “follow instructions”; in fact, they can just build computers to do that, it’s cheaper. Pretty soon, jobs are gonna start expecting their employees to innovate and think on their feet. If an employee is still stuck in the old way of doing things, they will be replaced for someone who will.

School isn’t really the answer either, it’s still built on the old, industrial age system. While the skills are still good to obtain, degrees are going to start meaning less and less; they’ve already started. Corporations are going to start looking for people who are willing to try new things; new directions; new ways of looking at the world, so that they can stay competitive with the people who are out in the world just trying new ideas and seeing if they stick.

So please, give a listen to this short video. Hear what he’s saying, not to follow his directions -he won’t give you any- but to see if you can recognize these events happening in your world around you. That way, you can be ready for when things change and have a better chance of surviving.

Time for a Re-imagining of Self

Pathway at Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA/ Photographer: Brandon Leighe Bunche (c) 2013

Pathway at Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA/ Photographer: Brandon Leighe Bunche (c) 2013

This year has been a whirlwind for me. A moment in my life where I feel things are turning around. I realize it’s been a long while since I last posted here, but some life roadblocks have forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate my perspective. The amazing thing, to me, is that my core values and desires have actually been strengthened; largely due to recent national events like the situation in Ferguson, MO.

Writing and Film will always be my core passions, something that I hope to do long into my elderly years. However, it’s now become more clear to me that a deep-seated urge, to change how people of color are represented in the media, has surfaced and engulfed my thoughts. The more books I read by African-American authors; blogs, video and talks that I see from present day activists of color just fuel my passion to try to make a change.

So, this is where I stand now, with a passion for storytelling and a belly deep, fire-fueled urged to make a difference. One of the recurring thoughts I have when going to the movies is the longing to be able to relate to the characters on-screen; especially African-American characters that remain steeped in stereotypes and in turn push me further away from getting into the story. I’ve never lived in the ghetto, my knowledge of history and current events make it hard for me to buy into the supposed “universal values” that white storytellers try to imbue in all their characters. A radical shift is needed to shake our whole society out of this tacit acceptance of mediocrity in commercial fiction, so that we can explore deeper the complexities that we humans face daily.

I believe every child should have access to media images that show their race/culture in a positive light.

This is one of my center goals in my life now, and it has energized me. You’ll see a bit of a change here in this blog as this becomes more of my focus. I’ll still share writing, film and social justice work, articles and information here.

Stay tuned this ride is about to get real interesting.

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On “Whitewashing” a Korean character

writingwithcolor:

Anonymous said: The MC in my story is a Korean teenage boy living in a apocalyptic sort of world. I’m not sure how to write him considering he’s had almost no interaction with his culture or people of the same ethnicity. I don’t want to white wash him at all. Thanks

On “Whitewashing” a Korean character