Ancestor Tones Art for Social Justice

Gracie Berry
Ancestor Tones, February 2021 
Mixed-media on cardboard, 7×7

I was commissioned by Music for Everyone to create original artwork that will be paired inside the sleeve of a record that will feature a speech by Frederick Douglass titled, The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, for their Songs for Justice project.

Thoughts on the speech: I interpret Frederick Douglass’ speech, The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, as a battle roar that ironically mirrors too many experiences faced on a global level by Black communities today. However, the biggest lie taught in our worlds history that must be unlearned is the delusion of white superiority and being afraid of the dark. These times may be many things, but certainly not dark.

About the piece: I named the piece, Ancestor Tones because I want to pay homage to melanin. All shades of Black skin are vibrant, biological reflections of nature and the universe. In fact, the very cosmology of enslaved Afrikan people and their descendants is a form of universal wealth. It’s an unspoken truth and inherent birth right, no matter how one was born into it. Ancestor Tones explores themes of Afro-futurism connecting past, present and future. I think of Frederick Douglass as an Afro-futurist because he paved the way as a community educator and revolutionary for the Black people of his time. Not to mention he was the most photographed human-being of the era. He embodied what reimagining a Black future looked like by the way he controlled the narrative of his Afro-diasporic experience of the day. And continues to inspire generations in modern times. Take Amanda Gorman for instance, the youngest Black inaugural poet in American history. She credits Frederick Douglass with teaching her how to use technology for social justice. She reminds us of how intentional he was about capturing a counter-image to the Black American stereotypes at the time and how important that message is in her own work. You’ll notice hints of red and gold, a symbol for Amanda Gorman on Inauguration Day. The glow of her young, gifted and Black spirit, shining so much bigger than her body. Center to deep, Black, shadowy cowrie shells, wool and cotton, symbols of the million and one ancestral spirits surrounding her, journeying with her as she reclaims her humanity. 

—TheeAmazingGrace ♥️

Being of Melanin is a Gift from God

Kale is not healthier than collard greens. Decolonize your plate! —Dr. Kera Nyemb-Diop

And being of melanin is a gift from God (excerpt from my poem Life Before the Boat). A beautiful Black history to you all!🔺◾️🟢

—TheeAmazingGrace

Watermelon LIVE

I wrote this after George Floyd was taken from here. All his motherly ancestors channeled me to write. All the mothers conjured up through. Cause even in death he called on his mother. The power in wailing her name was battle cry that had to be answered by every motherly energy that ever was. Thank God for his breath, his last words stained into the fabric of the universe. He didn’t give those cowards the power they were seeking. And that’s why I always say we don’t have to acquiesce, even in death. Watermelon is a poem to my people for my people. Break dem gotdamn curses. And stay in the struggle.

Ase—O 🖤🍉

—TheeAmazingGrace ♥️

🙏🏾 @pavaagallery crew
🎥 @marioncococoleman
🎶 @gerrimccrittycreations @teetosmusic

afrikanface #ancestorsspeak #blackpoems #blacklivesmatter #blackpeopleareancient #eternallove #girlrillavintage #griot #healblack #lancasteramtrak #shadowkeepersandroothealers #shadowkeepersandroothealerstheoriginalogs #smudgetalk #ripgeorgefloyd #theeamazinggrace #truthspeaker #watermelon #watermelonRedBlackandGreen #watermelonworthlesswithouttheblackseeds #watermelonpoem #westafrican

Purpose in the disEASE

There is nothing in vain about 2020. We’ve become so fragile that we forget the strength and purpose we were born with. We descended and “made it”. Makin’ it. We forget our telepathic relationship with Mother Earth, like how we know damn well this pandemic ain’t over just ‘cause we’re over it. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
Remembering Chadwick Boseman fondly although we’d never met. How he lived his remarkable life, so FULL & PLENTY. ⁣This year is nothing short of a miracle. This year is forcing our divine power into action. It’s a returning. A redemption. A laying down of our bare bones, those of us on this side of spirit and those ancestors alike. It’s an honor to exist. We’re not in vain.⁣

There is purpose in the disEASE of the present moment. My friend @tyshanalakre taught me that. ⁣
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And I don’t know everything. That is all.

—TheeAmazingGrace ✊🏾♥️

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#afrikanface #alchemy #ancestorsspeak #ancestorsknowmorethaneverything #ascending #digdeeper #girlrillavintage #live #liveinthemoment #ripchadwick #shadowkeepersandroothealers #smudgetalk #2020isnotcancelled

Being Black is not exhausting. Racism is.

Being Black is not exhausting. Racism is. Don’t ever tell your beautiful Black self that you are exhausting.

Yes, we get tired and are exhausted and must be diligent about taking our rest, setting healthy boundaries.

But our experience is nothing less than a miracle AND we manage to energize everything we touch no matter what. Nobody asks the sun to shine, it just does. That’s us. WE the sun. Shine! ♥️♥️♥️⁣

#afrikanface #afrikanbornin #blacklife #blackisafrican #getyourrest #girlrillavintage #iloveyall #ourblacklivesmatter #racismisexhausting #racismisavirus #stayinthestruggle #theeamazinggrace #wecomefromsomeplace

 

Black people should be tax exempt: A case for reparations

Been having heavy conversations with friends lately about what justifiable reparations looks like for us surviving descendants of enslaved Afrikan Americans. ⁣

To me it looks like black people being tax exempt for at least 400 years. Also, the government fully funding the purchase of a home or land to build whatever we want on it. That way we have an opportunity to build our own economic wealth in this country. That resonates for me. ⁣

What does #reparations look like to you?⁣ ✊🏾✊🏿✊🏾

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#afrikanface #blackliberation #blacklivesmatter #blackpower #caseforreparations #girlrillavintage #reparations #reparationsnow #reparationsforslavery #reparations2020 #taxexempt #theeamazinggrace #thetimeisnow

What has protesting accomplished?

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List via @msreid27 on Instagram. 🙏🏾

(Fact checked links in my bio)

👉🏾Within 10 days of sustained protests:⁣⁣⁣ Minneapolis bans use of choke holds.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾Charges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his accomplices are arrested and charged.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾Dallas adopts a “duty to intervene” rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾Los Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging state lawmakers to enact 911 “Amy Cooper” False Accusation Bill.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾NYC Mayor announcement to defund police and to reallocate those funds to community programs and social services.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾 Minneapolis City Council announced they were seeking to dismantle the city’s police department.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾 New York is seeking to reform Civil Rights Law 50-a-disclosure of police personnel performance & disciplinary records⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾 Denver Colorado banned the use of chokeholds. Officers will also have to report to a supervisor any time they intentionally point a fire on at someone while on the job.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾Monuments celebrating confederates are removed in (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, New Orleans, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia). ⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾Mayor of Washington D.C. renamed the street outside the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾Military forces begin to withdraw from D.C.⁣⁣⁣

👉🏾 American companies have donated millions into the advancement of black communities.⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣⁣Not to mention…⁣⁣⁣

💓 Difficult public and private conversations that are happening about race and privilege.⁣⁣⁣

💓Realizations that some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.⁣⁣ ⁣

Fact check sources:

https://apnews.com/ce3c4c56b683ae47d26bec1045a35fb7

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/03/us/george-floyd-officers-charges/index.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/06/05/870414038/dallas-police-adopts-duty-to-intervene-policy-to-prevent-abuse

https://www.officer.com/command-hq/news/21140879/new-jersey-to-license-police-officers-update-useofforce-policy

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.baltimoresun.com/politics/bs-md-pol-police-accountability-group-20200530-vllpk32dznh4rewovasncz3rda-story.html%3foutputType=amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/deadline.com/2020/06/lapd-funding-city-council-reduce-operating-budget-1202950507/amp/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/people.com/politics/new-york-gov-andrew-cuomo-backs-amy-cooper-false-reporting-bill/%3famp=true

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/07/us/new-york-city-police-funding-social-services/index.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/06/07/us/george-floyd-protests-sunday/index.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-new-york-lawmakers-to-pass-package-of-police-reforms-albany-20200608-dlegw6gj5ngrjlffi2dj5tp2ny-story.html%3foutputType=amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/2020/6/6/21282412/protests-viral-videos-police-violence-disciplinary-action-suspension-firing

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/denver-police-update-policies-to-ban-chokeholds-require-body-cam-use-for-swat-more-reporting-for-officers

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Removal_of_Confederate_monuments_and_memorials#

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Lee_Monument_(New_Orleans,_Louisiana)

https://www.google.com/amp/s/indianexpress.com/article/trending/trending-globally/black-lives-matter-plaza-dc-mayor-viral-videos-photos-reactions-6445528/lite/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/06/07/us/politics/trump-military-troops-protests.amp.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/06/01/corporate-donations-tracker-here-are-the-companies-giving-millions-to-anti-racism-efforts/amp/

⁣⁣⁣#afrikanface #blacklivesmatter #girlrillavintage #therewillbejustice #therewillbepeace #whathasprotestingaccomplished

Soulmission: They dont need eyes to see you

Be encouraged to use this global time out to remove yourself from toxic people (family, friend or foe). A lot of these folks are energy vampires, pulling you away from your souls mission because they’re selfish and don’t want to lose you. Don’t want you to stop fulfilling their needs or working towards their legacy.

Far too long many of us have been “supporting actresses or actors” this whole time and now that we want to step into our full power folks are resenting that. They’re resenting that you no longer want to sit there and clap for just them. They see the opportunities coming your way and there’s a lot of gossip and chatter against your choices. Don’t be distracted. Don’t take it personal. Put yourself first. Everyone can’t come along on your journey. Be at peace with that, knowing you’re in-line with divine purpose. Building your life’s legacy. Remember, they don’t need eyes to see you.

—TheeAmazingGrace ♥️

#bigchanges #elevation #girlrillavintage #harvest #theeamazinggrace

On Harriet

27170270-C65B-482F-9D95-C12BDA09205DObservation on Harriet: After seeing @harrietfilm tonight I liked how @kasi_lemmons attempted to portray mama Harriets acalades toward her revolutionary fight to freedom-something I’m most proud. I cried with joy and pride seeing her in action and imagining my ancestors in the same fight. Also, I was pleased with @cynthiaerivo performance being Nigerian west Afrikan born in England. Also, how I kept seeing @the.sleepngiant face in her face—Y’all likely kinfolk sis lol! Cause after all we all Afrikans scattered all over this place. ⁣

Aside, I do wonder how much of the movie was fact and fiction. And despite how good the freedom fight felt I left troubled. Witnessing the brutal killings of two black folks on screen while racist whites were unscathed, spared, and even comforted by the enslaved Afrikans was unsettling to me.⁣

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I wish Kasi had gone deeper or made more of a statement that wasn’t necessarily a “safe one” to appease white audiences, but one that warranted vigilante justice in retaliation for such unimaginable horror that the slave owner put her and her family through. It would’ve been REVOLUTIONARY AS PHUCK, for mama Harriet to blow his racist ass away on screen when she had the chance. To me it would’ve showed the duality of her undying love for God along with her undying desire to free our people by any means. Especially since history tells us how she wouldn’t think twice about turning her gun on our own people that got in her way, so killing a racist should’ve required no thought.

—TheeAmazingGrace

#afrikanface #aramentaross #harriet #harriettubman #harriettubmanmovie #freedomfighter #girlrillavintage #givemwlibertyorgivemedeath #kasilemmons #mytwocents #revolutionaryaction