A.H. Scott: Limo

poetry limo
Limo. By A.H. Scott. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2021

Poetry by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2021

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Limo

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Dark windows shield the actions we hide within

As the driver opened the door to let me in

I winked at him as I entered the back seat of your ride

Long limousines have the privacy we both need

You, for who you are a public face in the media’s molten eye,

And, me who is seemingly somewhat polite and shy

Oh, who are we kidding?

We enjoy the danger

Possibility of those windows cracking turns us on

Down the avenue of wealth and comfort

You unzip my violet dress, to reveal my black bra, panties and garter

I push you away slightly and purr

As I touch myself for a short bit and am moist for sure

Soft breasts of milky white with nipples alive

Not to mention my thighs and lips quivering beneath black

You are a man of industry, who has a life in high society

Me, as the woman who works in the small art gallery

A nice ride with you is always a pleasant affair

You dive into my folds moist and pink

I sigh with ecstasy, as your laser is targeted on my point

Some bumps along the road, make our bodies bounce about

And, that’s when the real fun starts

Tailored gray suit made of finest fabric is worn by you

Was I going to be nude in that limo alone?

Oh, of course not

I held your head in place for a few more seconds

And, then it would be your time of reckoning

Pulling myself upwards, I push you onto the backseat

You chuckled and nod in approval

Getting you out of your jacket, shirt, and pants

I become a tigress and pull you by the tie

Whispering in your ear, “Let’s do it so hard, that we both cry”

Those words were all you needed and lust’s taming was not heeded

You left on that tie and had me work on your asset

Then, I bent over that backseat and you took my buns to task

A smack here and a slippery slot invaded by you

All as the limo continued down the avenue

You in your white briefs with flesh sliding in and out was divine

In the back of my mind, as we continued to grind

Was the fact that your driver knew the activities going on in the back seat

“I’m glad you pay him quite well, my seducer” ,I licked my lips as you banged me harder

You laughed and pushed further and further, “I know that treating staff well is just a price of privacy”

As the car drove through the city, I gazed out that back window with your meat inside me

When you finished doing your thing, I could hear the church bells of the Cathedral ring

Seven bells and desire was completed for both of us

I was breathless, as I laid my head on your bare chest

Hearing your heart beating so fast against my ear

I actually started to tear

You sighed and said, “So, now am I to cry, too?”

I rubbed the tear rolling down my cheek and said to you,

“Never shall I wish to weaken you, my man of mystery”

Limo rolled in front of a chosen location and we both were clothed again

As we kissed each other farewell for the night

The driver exited the car and walked to the passenger door

It was a ride I’ll never forget, just like the ones we’ve done before

Door opened and driver held my hand for departure

I craned my head downward and looked back at you

And, you gave me that wink of lust

Until we ride again………

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/what-is-it-about-a-man/

 

Milan Burnett: I Am That I Am

portrait of beautiful black model
Milan Burnett. Photo: Tony Ward. Copyright 2021

Text by Milan Burnett, Copyright 2021

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I Am That I Am

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Looking back, outside of the mundane gossip and remedial conversation, there were two things that I hated to hear most while in school – “Milan, why are you so nice all the time?”, and the lackluster attempt of a so-called compliment, “You’re really pretty for a black girl!”. Being asked why am I so nice all the time always guaranteed for a quick, sarcastic remark such as, “So would you rather me be an asshole?!”. Simply because, well, who doesn’t like nice people? As for the latter, the best I could conjure up was an awkward, “Thanks, I guess?”. For any young girl growing into her teens, being called pretty by a cute boy in school was like an invisible badge of honor, one that could instantly put a pep in her step for the rest of the day. However, when being complimented gets limited to just “for a black girl”, unfortunately, that badge of honor does not wear the same.

I never labeled myself as the “pretty” or “popular” girl in school. I always wore glasses, and nothing special stood out about me. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens, early 20’s, that I realized the standard, regurgitated, concept of beauty, was just that – Standard. After tons of self reflection, and learning more about my indegineous background, I realized just how exclusive I truly was. Of course, eventually growing into my hips and womanly figure helped with that, as well. From the shape of my eyes, to the coils of my hair, to the complexion of my skin – I am exclusive – Regardless of who may feel otherwise.

Gaining knowledge of self has changed my thought process completely, making it easy for me to be comfortable in the skin I was blessed with. Once timid, shy and self conscious, I now wake up with an everlasting pep in my step, radiating an abundance of self-love and confidence. I am beautiful as I am. I am fierce. I am strong. I am a luminous etheric being, manifested in the physical form. I am Milan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Milan is currently an administrative healthcare professional, originally from New York, now residing in Philadelphia. Aspiring model and real estate broker. Free thinker. Humanitarian by nature. Spiritual revolutionary in the making. This is Milan’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.

Bob Shell: On Photography

Photo by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2021

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On Photography

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Someone asked me recently why I wasn’t posting much about photography anymore. Before my conviction in August of 2007, I was ‘a renowned photographer with a long-established reputation,’ to quote Federal Judge Glenn Conrad. I’d been doing photography/cinematography since my teens in the early 1960s, following in the footsteps of my father, who was an avid photographer/cinematographer. He had numerous cameras and lenses, still and 16 mm movie cameras, and a nice darkroom in the basement of our house in Roanoke, Virginia. 

The first time I saw an image I’d photographed magically appear on a blank sheet of photo paper when I dunked it into the developer, I was hooked. 

People today who grow up using digital photography on smartphones never experience that magic moment. I find that sad. 

Over the years I’ve been in prison I’ve watched traditional photography die. First one, then another, then one by one, all of the photography magazines have died. At its peak, there were dozens of photography magazines. I’d get seven or eight a month. Popular Photography had over a million subscribers at its peak. 

Today, I get two photography magazines, Nature Photographer (www.naturephotographermag.com) and Professional Photographer, the magazine of the Professional Photographers of America, to which I belonged for many years. If others have survived as print magazines, I’m not aware of them. 

Even Digital Camera, the magazine I worked for after Shutterbug, is now gone. My favorite of all, and one I wrote many articles for, Rangefinder, is history. 

I also get Digital Imaging Reporter, today’s incarnation of Photo Industry Reporter, a trade publication I used to write for, but it’s published erratically these days. 

Of course, there are some Internet photography magazines, but, so far as I know, nobody has been able to make any real money from an Internet photography magazine, and if a magazine can’t make real money, it can’t attract, pay, and keep good editors and writers, who have to support themselves and their families. 

The once-popular hobby of photography has seriously declined. Any hobbyist who wants to own the finest film cameras ever made can do so for pennies on the dollar, although if they need service, finding someone who can repair them may not be easy. Friends of mine have bought Hasselblad, Mamiya, Bronica, Rollei, Contax, Leica, Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, etc., outfits very cheaply. Darkroom equipment is even cheaper. 

Although the selection is limited, film is still readily available, but you may be unable to buy it locally. In fact, increased demand has even induced Kodak to put one version of Ektachrome back into production. 

I’ve tried to keep up with photographic technology, despite the fact that I haven’t so much as touched a camera in over fourteen years, and have yet to even see one of the mirrorless cameras that are fast taking over for SLRs. 

My cameras, lenses, and other photographic equipment is all in storage, and will remain until my release. Hopefully I won’t be too decrepit by then to rebuild my studio and life as a photographer. 

I used many different cameras over my years in photography. During two different periods I owned camera shops, first for several years in the 1970s, then from 1980 until 1990. The cameras that were my workhorses in 35 mm were Canon, and continued to be until my career was ended in 2007. I wrote several books about Canon, including ‘Canon Compendium,’ the official history of the Canon Camera Company. 

In medium format, I used Bronica S2a cameras with their superb Nikkor lenses before switching to Rollei SL66 in the mid-1970s. I continued with Rollei, using their advanced 6000 series up to my last Rollei, the 6008i, an amazingly capable camera. 

In large format I used a Toyo 4 X 5 monorail view camera with several Schneider-Kreuznach lenses in my studio, and a Zone VI field camera outdoors with those same lenses. 

In the rare instances when a client wanted 8 X 10, I had an old Eastman 2D camera made in 1918 that I used. It still worked fine. I fitted it with a Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 300 mm lens in a Compur Electronic shutter, matching old to new. 

When Polaroid made 8 X 10 film, I shot quite a bit of it in that camera using a borrowed Polaroid processor. 

I was an early adopter of digital photography, though, and was doing most of my work with Canon and Nikon digital SLRs by 2002, but the speed at which traditional photography collapsed was a total surprise, and shock, to me and most of the industry. Luckily, I was able to sell most of my medium format pro cameras before the bottom completely dropped out of the market, using the money to pay lawyers, several of whom said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll never spend a day in prison.’ Here I sit, fourteen years later, still in prison for something that never happened. It is ridiculously difficult to get a false conviction overturned in today’s American legal system.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/hidden-truth_ufos-pentagon/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Brittany Goldberg: Heavy Metal Hair Salon

Interview by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2021

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Brittany Goldberg: Heavy Metal Hair Salon

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Uncovering interesting women entrepreneurs that are down to earth, smart, witty, and pretty in Philadelphia is really a fun thing. It is hard enough to find decent women friends in general as we get older.  Finding women who want more for themselves outside of their homes not confined to 9-5 is refreshing!

 Women that know who they are, and have known for quite sometime seem to be the ones who make it. To me that is the key to success in anything you do. If you can not see your own vision, a set business plan, and a determination to win, it is just not going to work for you. 

I came across Brittany from her now husband, Jason Goldberg. Jason has been tattooing me at Olde City Tattoo for about five years. This was before the shut down. I had just started a sleeve and was sitting in the chair telling my  girlfriend who happened to come with me that I wanted pink hair. Jason let me know his soon to be wife was opening a salon that did bold color. Now, if you have seen my tattoos you would know If I can trust someone to permanently put bold color on my body; Jason just might have had a great suggestion. 

Needless to say, I made an appointment with Brittany. 

Upon arriving at the Heavy Metal Hair Salon, I knew I was in the right spot!

 A bright pink and black colored interior, funky Heavy Metal art around, and the nicest girls working there. There is no elitist attitude like in some salons.  My favorite piece of art happened to be the gold Kiss head. Brittany could not have been more informative. I thought it would take forever to get the color I wanted. She let me know it would be done that day.

Looking around everyone had perfect hair. There was nothing to be worried about. Not only was Brittany informative, she was personable. Talking to her I felt like I knew her for a while. You always end up talking to your hairstylist. Oftentimes I find myself feeling awkward in really high end salons unless it is for a wedding, or a glam event. I also do not live a normal lifestyle that does not leave me with much to say to a lot of people in general. When I feel comfortable in my surroundings; I am sure there are plenty of people who wished my gift of gab was not so great haha!

When I feel someone’s zest for life and a different vibe; that is what leaves me wanting to know more about the person behind the business. I watched as Brittany took my drab COVID hair to a vibrant dark to light pink. I was so happy to feel Alive again. It’s amazing what a little hair color can do for your soul. 

It felt like COVID continued forever…

When restrictions were lifted I  went back to have my tattoo worked on. I asked how Brittany was doing opening the salon in the pandemic. Jason said she is doing amazing!

I knew then I should interview her. 

Anyone that opened a new business in COVID, a female entrepreneur, and  living an alternative lifestyle that she loves should be on Tony Ward’s platform.

Tony also agreed, and used Brittany as this month’s cover photo.

The photo shoot was a fun day. I always love seeing Tony in his element, and getting to take my own behind the scenes shots as my piece comes together.

Brittany did an amazing job! There is no wonder why Heavy Metal Hair is doing so well. 

She is a pleasure to work with!

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Interview as follows:

Full name:  Brittany Goldberg

Age: 32

Hometown: Abington PA

Present Residence: Philadelphia 

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KK– As a child what activities were you involved with? 

BG– I played a lot of sports growing up (basketball, track, cheerleading, volleyball) and did attend acting and modeling school as well!

KK– What was your family dynamic like?

BG– I’m the second youngest of 5 kids, so things were chaotic at times. We’re all close in age though so it was fun having people to hang out with all the time.

KK– At what point in your life did you realize normalcy was not for you ?

BG– I don’t know that I’ve ever been normal haha!

KK– What was the first bold color you dyed your hair, and how old were you? 

BG– The first color I ever had put in my hair was by my sister while she was coloring her hair fuchsia. It was just a little streak in the underneath of my hair. I was probably 12ish.

KK– If it was much younger was your family pleased?

BG– I think my mom was pretty pissed when she saw but was always supportive of me coloring my hair at a young age after that. As long as it was done by a professional.

KK– When you started being more true to who you are now; were you met with any opposition from your parents, friends,  previous employers, or in relationships ?

BG– I’ve pretty much  been this way as long as I can remember, and I definitely struggled finding a solid group of friends until I was a teen, but my family was always accepting of who I was. I have been turned down jobs though for looking “too extreme” in the past.

KK– Were all of your tattoos and piercings accepted as well ? 

BG– Tattoos yes! My parents took me to my cousin’s shop (Kadillac Tattoo in Manayunk ) for my first tattoo and my mom got one with me. Piercings were sometimes an issue though but to be honest I did go a little overboard with those.

KK– At what age did you start doing those ? 

BG– Other than my ears, my belly button was my first piercing at I think 15?

 My first tattoo was 17

KK– What is your favorite piece on your body? 

BG– The next one 😉

KK– At what point did you realize bold alternative cosmetology was for you?

BG– I always loved doing hair, so when my counselor in high school mentioned tech school as an option, I was sold immediately. When I was a teen, bold hair wasn’t that common especially where I grew up. I wanted to be able to color my hair how I wanted. Beauty school was where I was going to learn the basics. I started tech school at the age of 16 and went every morning for two years straight. I was basically ready to graduate the same time I was graduating high school 

KK– Were your career choices accepted as you got older having an alternative to a 9-5? 

BG-Yes! My parents were always super supportive of me doing hair.

KK– What other career paths were you on before you found what truly made you happy?

 BG– None! Although, when I moved to the Bay Area I thought maybe I didn’t want to do hair forever, so I tried a few different jobs out there. After moving home it was right back to hair.

KK– Being married to a tattoo artist makes you both quite the creative duo. I noticed on your Heavy Metal Mom IG page you were married at the Bates Motel? 

How did that concept come about? The photo of you in the dress and the frayed leather jacket was amazing! The spiked crown just made it perfect. 

BG– Yes! We originally had our wedding planned for August 2020 in Vegas. Unfortunately, due to COVID we had to cancel. We were pretty upset about that and hoped to keep it in Vegas, but weren’t sure what the future would hold for travel. We made a decision to just get married here on Halloween (our favorite holiday). 

While looking for the right venue, I got an ad for Bates Motel haunted house and thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if we could have our wedding there. They got back to us right away and we’re willing to let us use the space! It actually worked out pretty perfectly!

 I ended up buying the first dress I found which was just a simple hi-low black dress. I saw a dress posted in an Instagram post a month or so later and debated it but it seemed too over the top for our outdoor DIY wedding. A week before the wedding I caved and emailed the designer of the dress and asked if she could have it shipped from Germany by the wedding. She sent it out that night and it showed up 2 days before the wedding. I didn’t even open the box until I was at my friend’s house getting ready the morning of our wedding. I brought both dresses, but once we opened the box we knew I had to wear that one, so that whole look came together in about an hour before the wedding!

KK– Did you have someone help plan the wedding, or did you come up with all the little details on your own? 

BG– We DIY’d the whole thing! We couldn’t have done any of it without the help of our friends and family though. 

KK– Being a mother, were you ever judged for your lifestyle and working a lot ? If so, was the judgment more from other mothers, or men? Were you able to overcome it?

BG– Yes, I know people judge me (other moms for sure) but I really don’t care haha. As long as my son is happy, and taken care of that is all that matters.

KK– what are your hobbies outside of your job? 

BG– I love going on adventures with my family. Going to see live music and wrestling, and playing slots. 

KK– How old is your son? Does he think he has a pretty cool mom?

BG– He’s about to turn 7. I like to think he thinks I’m cool!

KK– What kind of personality is he growing into? One of a more normal standard, or taking after his edgy mother ?

BG– He’s so funny and incredibly smart! I don’t know if he’ll follow the edgy lifestyle, but who knows.

KK– Do you have any other certifications, or academic achievements that helped you along the way? 

BG– I did go back to school a few years back to become an educator, but my son got sick, and being a single parent working, schooling, and caring for a sick child proved to be too much of a challenge so I took a temporary drop. Not sure I’ll go back and finish the hours though now that the salon is up and running.

KK– How old were you when you discovered your talent for bold color hair? 

BG– It took a while for me to really take hair seriously. I think before I had my son, it was more just a job. It wasn’t until I got a little older, and more mature that I really stepped up my game and furthered my education. I left my job at Supercuts and went to a more high end salon. It was definitely out of my comfort  zone, but really allowed me to find my place in the beauty industry.

KK– What are your favorite products for keeping bold colored hair vibrant?

BG– Definitely the Brazilian bond builder line (especially the color lock) R+CO gemstone shampoo & conditioner. And if you’re feeling confident, the Celeb Luxury Viral Colorwash & Bondfix Conditioner 

KK– What are some common misconceptions clients have when they come in wanting bold colors ? 

BG– Thinking I’m a magician haha! No, a lot of the time I think they’ve either had a bad lightening experience, or no experience with lightener. They’re convinced their hair will be “fried” if we need to lighten it. Products have come a long way though, and I think it’s important to educate our clients before we start any services so they know what to expect.

KK– What kind of training do you send your employees to as far as continuing education on color ? 

BG-Classes have been sparse since COVID. We all keep up on new trends and show each other new tricks. We take advantage of online classes as well.

KK– When did you decide you wanted to be an entrepreneur, and open your own salon? 

BG– I wasn’t happy where I was, and Jason and I had kicked the idea around for a while. I saw a commercial property pop up on Passyunk Avenue.  We figured we would  at least  check it out. Unfortunately, it needed too much work so we passed. The property manager let us know about a salon who’s lease was up in a few weeks though. We signed the lease on that one just a few days later. It all happened really fast! Two weeks after the lease was signed the city shut down, so we had plenty of time to get everything together. 

KK– What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome opening being we live in Philadelphia?

BG– Luckily it was already a salon so we really only had to do cosmetic work. During COVID it was really hard getting the equipment and color I needed. I was hesitating even buying the bigger equipment considering there was no end in sight with COVID, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to open. State board still came out to inspect which I was really grateful for, and that gave me the motivation to actually furnish the area. Then get it ready to open once they gave us the green light.

KK– Was the city accepting of your eighties themed alternative salon? 

BG– Yes! The other businesses on The Ave were super welcoming!

KK– How did you come up with the theme?

BG– I really just had a vision for what I always wanted my salon to look like, so it was really awesome seeing it come to life! Some things I had how I wanted but then decided I didn’t love it so it’s still evolving each day.

KK– Do you find respect is an easy thing to achieve in your area(s) of work? 

BG– Sometimes. I think a lot of people think hairstylists just, “play with hair” all day. That’s not the case at all, and I think stylists deserve so much more! We truly do it all. 

KK– Recently you had the first post COVID event at the shop. How did the Sick66 Jewelry pop up go? 

BG– The pop up was a pretty big success!  We had a really nice turnout and everyone had an awesome time! I’d like to start doing pop ups every couple months or so. 

 KK– What do you do to overcome stress?

 BG– I’m a huge advocate for self care. I take time alone whenever I can to just unwind from the day. 

KK– Do you have a wellness routine? 

BG– I go to my favorite spa in the city every month for a massage and some me time. My job really takes a toll on my body, so it’s so important to take care of myself physically and mentally.

KK– What is it like trying to balance being a mother, wife, and now running a successful new business? 

BG– Very challenging haha. I’m still figuring everything out, but we’re getting there!

KK– Have you had many mishaps when trying to achieve these bold colors on other people? 

BG– Sure have! I think we’d all be lying if we said we haven’t. I think transparency is key. If I’m not happy with something, my clients know I’ll say something right away and do what I need to get it right. 

KK– Are your friends supportive of you not having much free time now?

BG– Yes! It’s hard, but I’ve been making it a priority to make time for friends now that things are starting to be a bit more steady. 

KK– Are you currently happy with your endeavors?

BG-Happier than I could explain, and so grateful everyday.

KK– What tips would you give women just starting on their road to entrepreneurship?

BG– I’m still figuring things out myself, but I guess if I could give any advice, it would be to stay true to yourself and always do what you think will be best for your business. You might piss some people off along the way, but at the end of the day, no one will care more about your business than you. 

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Learning more about Brittany made me  respect mothers that go after it all even more so than I did before. Otherwise, how are we really fulfilled living through someone else ?

The days of having to choose family or career are over.

Brittany has her son, an awesome new husband, got married in COVID, had a DIY wedding that was gorgeously the right amount of Halloween & class combined into one, and a flourishing new alternative color hair business.  If you think for one second as a woman in 2021 you have to stay stuck in your situation; it might be time to dig deeper. 

 I suggest you start talking to women like Brittany. 

She might just give you that inspiration to START your own dream.

Look out for more upcoming events at the Heavy Metal Hair Salon

Heavy Metal Hair Salon

1604 E Passyunk Ave 1st Floor

Philadelphia, Pa 19147

(215)-467-1757

www.Theheavymetalhairsalon.com

IG- @heavymetalhairsalon_

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About The Author: Katie Kerl is a Philadelphia based veteran contributor to Tony Ward Studio.

E- Mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

Instagram: @kerlupwithkate 

For additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-philly-reloaded-life-after-lockdown/

Juneteenth: Long Time Coming (But, Is It Too Late?)

Artwork by Thomcat23, Copyright 2021

Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2021

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Juneteenth: Long Time Coming (But, Is It Too Late?)

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“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history, and celebrate progress, and grapple with the distance we’ve come but the distance we have to travel.” – President Joseph R. Biden signing The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act at The White House, June 17th, 2021 [1]

At the June 17th, 2021 White House bill signing ceremony making Juneteenth [2] a federal holiday, President Joseph R. Biden and Vice-President Kamala D. Harris, as well as members of both houses of Congress were joined by an elegant elder dressed in white sitting in attendance upon the front row for this event.  

Known as Grandmother of the Juneteenth Movement, Texas native Opal Lee [3] has been on a long quest to get the federal recognition for getting Juneteenth made a national holiday. As part of galvanizing a national campaign to get Juneteenth to become a national holiday, this passionate and persistent woman organized a walk from her home state of Texas to Washington, D.C. to ring the mighty bell of freedom on the events of over 150 years ago. 

“I’m hoping that Juneteenth will not just be about festivals, but that it will be about uplifting each other.” – Opal Lee [4] educator and activist

Opal Lee’s focused mission on keeping the flame of the promise and premise of honoring Juneteenth’s meaning for all Americans came to a fruitful destination on her journey over these many years to be among the luminaries at the White House signing ceremony. 

“To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that promise because we’ve not gotten there yet. The Vice President and I and our entire administration and all of you in this room are committed to doing just that.” – President Joseph R. Biden signing The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act at The White House, June 17th, 2021 

We can take in the events of celebrating Juneteenth from sea to shining sea and see it as a laudable moment of unity. And, yes, the banner of sisterhood, brotherhood, and human-hood flourishes beneath a blue sky and glistening sun. 

President Biden’s words and actions are symbols of good faith in placing an olive branch out to his fellow Americans for unity. Yet, we live in the Divided Territories of Amnesia; where reality of the present and reckoning with the past are in a tug of war with the future. 

Happy Juneteenth! Hallelujah!

Now, what?

A new national holiday has been placed onto the books and all is well and as it should be in America. Or, is it?

A piece of paper is a piece of paper, is a piece of paper. Be it the Emancipation Proclamation [5], the 1965 Voting Rights Act, or even the Constitution of The United States Of America. Inked signature upon finest parchment is meaningless without implementation or enforcement backing up the ideals and goals laid out in any of those documents.

On June 19th, 1865 when 2,000 Union troops entered Galveston Bay, Texas; the implementation of the words written in the Emancipation Proclamation by enforcement were the action that freed the slaves. A proclamation [6] by General Gordon Granger of the Union Army enforced General Order No. 3. 

It wasn’t just a piece of paper that freed those human beings in Texas in 1865, but the physical presence of over 2,000 armed Union soldiers to make damn sure that insidious institution would crumble beneath the weight of their boots as they marched. 

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.[7] 

Martin Luther King Jr. has said time and time again that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. For those of us who concur with that, should continue to beat the drum of justice and march our tired soles on that arc to help the bend of that arc to remain justified and righteous. Without vigilance of raising our voices and moving towards a more perfect union, that arc can become ragged and diminished beneath the dust of dismissal and derision. 

Don’t stop! Won’t stop! March on! March strong! 

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [8]

Quilt of history has many patches woven into it; one thread is Juneteenth, another is Tulsa, and third is a throwback of today. 

Some want to forget history, or even rewrite it as it is happening in the moment. Whether it be from a level of duplicitous amnesia; which a certain clique of persons play the game of pretending things are not as they seem. Or, an oblivious amnesia; which is like the ‘Lily Belle’ or ‘Beauregard’ kind. As to this pair, I’ll get back to explaining them a little bit further on in this article.

Another thread in that quilt of America’s history is the Tulsa Massacre, which took place one hundred years ago to this exact year. I didn’t learn about this bit of history from history books in school, but from exploring past history on my own. 

In the early 1900’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the black community of Greenwood was known as ‘Black Wall Street’, due to the level of self sustainability by the citizens who owned businesses, lived and raised their families there.

One gem in the Greenwood district of Tulsa was the Stradford Hotel, owned by J.B. Stradford [9], who was the son of a Kentucky slave. Mr. Stradford, an Indiana University law graduate used his keen vision in real estate development with purchasing several land vacancies in Greenwood.  

As well as Mr. Stradford’s namesake establishment were a plethora of other African-American attorneys, doctors, tailors, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs of varied professions who called that community their home.

May 30th until June 1st, 2021, the prosperity and serenity of Greenwood were set aflame and destroyed by rumors, resentment, racist rage, and insidious inhumanity which targeted the black citizens whose ‘American dream’ descended into a terror which seemed unending. 

From the horror of 1921 to the present of 2021, only three souls have survived to speak witness to what they endured in testimony before a Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing in Congress on May 19th, 2021.

“I am seeking justice. “I am here asking my country to acknowledge what happened in Tulsa in 1921.” – Viola Fletcher, 107 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre [10] of May 1921 

Newsmakers of many stripes can commiserate and commemorate in locations of racism’s touchstones around the United States of America such as Tulsa, Oklahoma, never seeming to  respond with anything more than just powerful prose when the call for allowing survivors of the massacre of ‘Black Wall Street’ located in the Greenwood district to be made in some teensy way whole.

“We were laid refugees in our own country.” – Hughes Van Ellis, 100 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre [11] of May 1921, brother of Viola Fletcher, veteran of the United States Army

There are those who speak about a notion of uber-patriotism and how much they supposedly love this country more than any other person. They ramble on and on about their own figments of courageous intent. But, their chest thumping has such a hollow affect to it, when a man who served his country in an all-Black unit in the United States Army in defense of this country in World War II speaks on the reality of feeling to have to battle on two fronts when being a black man in America. It is an aspect which the black soldier has internally existed with from the seedlings of the American military to present. Now, I could take another avenue of getting into the segregationist history in the American military and that itself would lead me onto a long and lonesome highway all on its’ own. 

“I have waited so long for justice.” – Lessie Beddingfield Randle, 106 year old survivor of Tulsa Massacre [12] of May 1921

Those who survived the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 deserve far more than just wonderful words [13]  spoken by thoughtful people in high positions; as I along with others begin to nod our heads and applaud in unison of cheering in a respectful response to each of them, “Yeah! Yeah! You give good speech!”  

But, can any of you cut a check for the last three LIVING survivors of the Tulsa Massacre and place it in the palm of their hands before they are DEAD. Well, of course, after they are gone from this mortal earth, these same people in high positions can rely on this trio not being around anymore by saying, “Why bring up reparations now, when there are no survivors of the Tulsa Massacre?” 

NO check! But, YES speech!

Justice too late can be justice denied, for what remains may be less than that which is implied. In this case of a newly minted holiday, it might be a day of acknowledgement that leads not very far ahead. But, a few steps beyond where we have been. 

In this moment of reckoning with history, there should be some sort of blueprint for an accurate tallying of history.

“It seems that justice in America is always so slow, or not possible, for Black people. And we are made to feel crazy just for asking for things to be made right.” – Lessie Beddingfield Randle, 106 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre [14] of May 1921 

Some can obscure the reality lived by their fellow Americans of a different hue of humanity by just closing their eyes, closing their ears and burying their conscience in the bone-yard of manufactured persecution. 

Once Viola Fletcher, Hughes Van Ellis and Lessie Beddingfield Randle are no longer around, then maybe a fig leaf of gathering together a multi-year study on reparations for the descendants of those massacre victims might have an airing out. But, then again, when things are a long time coming, they usually don’t come along at all. 

Sparkle of amnesia flares up.

With the hullabaloo that is coming from opponents of critical race theory, it seems to me how obvious their problem is truly with ONLY one of those words. If it was critical WAR theory, then they’d be cool with that. 

In fact, every pre-schooler in America could be given their WAR cookies and milk right before naptime in class. Hmmm. 

Okay, enough of my snarkiness about the fake outrage from people who are just whipping up hysteria about something they can’t even explain when talking about it. But, it makes me shake my head whenever I hear the conspiracy theorists who howl and moan that they are trying to save their children from the ‘horrors’ of learning about something outside of their own comfort zones. 

Critical race theory is an academic discipline, which means unless you are a five or six year old going for your Master Degree, your underage self can’t even comprehend the breadth and depth of history that takes an analytical look at the social and structural elements of racism in the United States of America.

Being blunt, I think it might just be a touch of Shakespeare’s axiom of ‘doth protest too much’ is the reason people are acting like Critical Race Theory is beyond a reasonable instrument in showing the vast complexity of past and present events in this country. 

This demonizing of the academic theory has even been drawn into the halls of Congress by Republicans during a military budget hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on June 23rd, 2021. 

To see a frat-boy Congressman who is under investigation for under-age sex trafficking preen and denounce a twisting aspect of what he thinks Critical Race Theory means when questioning two men who have served this country is the height of bizarreness.  

The only tour Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida has served so far is one of a whole lotta doody (not duty) when he’s pretending to be this super-patriot saving America from the scourge of what he calls ‘the liberal left’. 

As for his future, well maybe he’ll be serving another kind of duty in cleaning toilets with a toothbrush when he’s under the state’s lock and key. 

Republicans are quick to do the warrior spiel and tout their love of country and freedom when that C-Span camera is rolling. But, the camera can also capture the eloquent clap-back from the most unlikely sources. 

“So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive [15] that we are accusing the United States military, general officers, commissioned and noncommissioned officers of being quote ‘woke,’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.” – General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, United States of America

Seated at the table with General Milley was the first African-American serving as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who also responded to the thinly veiled besmirching of the military from Gaetz and other Republican members of the Armed Services Committee. 

“I trust my leadership from top to bottom that they will give me fair and balanced and unvarnished [16] input” – Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin

I wonder if Secretary Austin wasn’t so, hmm, how can I describe him…tall? Would that be the real reason why Gaetz was such a grouch to him? Maybe, it’s just a shade of cynicism I’m recognizing. 

With egg on his face, Rep. Matt ‘Florida Man’ [17] Gaetz had to sit there and take the answer that both men unapologetically gave him. 

“So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn [18] the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out.” – General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, United States of America

Instead of Rep. Matt Gaetz being so inflamed over one type of theory, he should shut his trap and do some reading. For one, I suggest he read Carl von Clausewitz’ “On War”, which comprehensively analyzes the nature, strategy, theory [19], and socio-political phenomenon of the decision of war. Furthermore, anyone worth their salt of respecting history has read and absorbed the 4th century masterpiece [20] written by Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”. I seriously doubt he would do a deep dive into either of these works, for there aren’t any glossy pages for him to drool over in either of these books.

Cunning and conniving their way through the political bloodstream are the hoaxsters and hucksters who are pumping the big lie filled with venomous, repercussions that will reverberate for many a day and coming year in the future.

Now, the snake’s tongue drips with equating [21] the scholarly research of critical race theory to the cross-burning, hate-filled, terror of the Klu Klux Klan. 

Just pump the lie like a bellow and toss in anything about race into the mix and boy, oh boy the backlash gets going full steam. 

And, of course those who want to believe or want to hide from the truth will just continue to drink that narcotic cocktail of amnesia and anesthetic. 

Is it compliance or is it just happenstance?

Duplicitous amnesia is the kind that is a putrid half and half. One part is being a well used instrument for self benefit with the second part of becoming pied pipers of leading lemmings, who crave direction; no matter how bat-crap crazy it is. 

In some ways, those who are dredged in duplicity aren’t as pernicious as persons who are whistling with clueless abandon. 

Oblivious amnesia comes from those who think history is just one of those things. You know, just happenstance that has been going on around them for all these years. 

Say a polite and gentle howdy to ‘Lily Belle’ and ‘Beauregard’.

With the way things are in the current time, I the name for her could have be ‘Karen’, but, I decided to go old school (or should I say Old South) with ‘Lily Belle’. As for his name, well, ‘Beauregard’ just fits past, present and future. 

It seems to me that every ‘Lily Belle’ and “Beauregard’ is under the consistent illusion that all is fine, bleached and right in this country. Of course, for them it is, as it always has been and remains. For them, no matter what happens, they’ll come out smelling like a rose. Maybe even a yellow rose of Texas. 

For every law which expands, there are the subsequent actions in law and practice which are constrictive. For every action, there is reaction.

Past is present as present is past. As for what comes in the future, we hold that in our hearts and hands. If we truly want to honor that which is from years ago, we have to be honest. Or, should I say ‘critical’. 

My history! Your history! American history is OUR history!  

Republicans are going around flapping their gums in saying that the ‘Left’ are not talking enough about America progressing forward from the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the racist past is pitiful.

My retort to them is that progress is not blindness to the sometimes fouled nature and history of this country. Oh yes, we have come far from the past. Of course, that is true. But, the United States of America is not whole in the present moment. 

“I fought for freedom abroad even though it was ripped away from me at home.” – Hughes Van Ellis, 100 year old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre of May 1921 and brother of Viola Fletcher

So, when a puissant politico who pays for his jollies via Venmo [22] spews his insurrectionist, conspiracy concocted bile over an academic theory he wouldn’t know if it bit him on his ‘Beauregard’ backside dares to lead with a glass jaw on the issue of racial truths in this country; he should be more concerned about having a good criminal lawyer on speed dial and checking how the color orange will look on him in the days to come. 

But, oh no, I can’t stop yet and end just on critical race theory and how it’s being bastardized by those of a certain ideology to their clawing for power. As there is another thread which connects all the patches of the American quilt together – voting rights.

The story of America is on a constant continuum, as is the perception and reality of equality and justice. 

One citizen’s free and fair election is another citizens’ submersion into a twisted quagmire of bamboo [23] fibers and table-spinning of ballots in an ass-backward carnival of a so called ‘audit’. 

Taint of the big lie didn’t cease the moment a new hand took an oath. The repercussions of what was done before, during and after the election cycle of 2020 is one which will haunt this nation for longer than this author and readers of this article shall exist.

In the present, along with a flurry of bills [24] attempting to restrict voting rights across the country, there are two pieces of legislation to strengthen voting rights that under debate in the Congress. First bill [25] is the For The People Act, which is a comprehensive bill to pre-empt various state voting and election laws. Second bill [26] is The John Lewis Voting Rights act which focuses solely on restoring and reinforcing the 1965 Civil Rights Act.

The first of the two bills has hit a roadblock to a speedy passage to becoming a law, because of a single-focused reverence of an obsolete senatorial procedure. And, the thing about it is, is that the lines of ideology are not even what this hold-up is in getting those two laws passed in the United States Senate.

Some people are clinging to the filibuster as if it were handed down from the mountaintop and treated as if it were some religious artifact or orthodoxy. To love a technical procedure which isn’t even in the Constitution over a human right reflects on a politician’s arrogant affection for their elected moniker of the moment. 

To those with the D after their name in the political class that have manifested the filibuster [27] as their lord and master, they better know that life is beyond the hallowed halls of the Congress and the stuffy backrooms of political contributors. Nobody and nothing happens in a vacuum. And, maybe just maybe when they come a’ callin’ to be re-elected those on the left might have amnesia of checking the box for them to stay in power. 

One needs to clear their mind of that cobweb of contradiction and get a perspective in the fresh air of seeing what is going on around them in this country. 

Just like Republicans, there are Democrats who are in the lane of ‘Lily Belle’ and ‘Beauregard’ who are the types of people who will always be fine; no matter if their constituents will be disenfranchised and diminished in the legal arena, as they too can preen for the spotlight with a smirk of similarity on their faces just like ‘Florida Man’. 

These men and women must choose which do they respect more; a technical procedure which has an odious lineage behind it or the blood, sweat, tears, and triumphant stride of citizens. Affection for an institution should not have more of a standing than the events that are occurring simultaneously to undermine voting rights protections. 

Yet, that distasteful brew of amnesia and anesthesia is churned again and again by the (once) Grand Old Party in need of proving their fidelity to a person no longer in the house of white. Yet, to me, sadly it seems because of that color’s classification and the perception all which it entails in the social order of political standing and power in this country, may be the last gasp of building an impenetrable wall of judicial and elected officials set in place as umpires of inequality based solely on a supremacist ideology. 

“Talk of brotherhood and “tolerance” (are we merely to “tolerate” one another?) might once have had a cooling effect, but increasingly it grates on the nerves. It evokes contempt not because the values of brotherhood are wrong–they are more important than ever–but because it just does not correspond to the reality [28] we see around us. And such talk does nothing to eliminate the inequalities that breed resentment and deep discontent.” – Bayard Rustin, civil and human rights activist

In fact, some who stand in the way of moving forward try to numb us into silence over the words and actions they take. I find this as an anesthetic effect. You know, it becomes a kind of fuselage of tossing so much stuff at the American citizens that at some point those in positions of power cross their fingers and hope they’ll slide through unscathed from scrutiny. 

Take for example something that should be a moment of unity in bringing us all together in recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. 

As the Juneteenth bill’s passage was on the verge of not getting unanimous consent in the United States Senate, one person who has been a hawker of the big lie and cradler of whacked out conspiracies finally gave his tepid blessing for it to be sent off for signing into federal law by President Biden. 

He is Republican Ron Johnson, Senator from Wisconsin. His amnesiac act over the insurrection of January 6th 2021 being recounted as the mob madness being just an overblown media story by the left-wing seems not out of the ordinary for him. But, his anesthetic arrogance over being on hand for this year’s Juneteenth celebration [29] in Wisconsin, as if the people’s senses have dulled and their memories were wiped clean, truly takes the rotten cake of this right-wing Senator.   

As I was doing the research for this article, one thing that I could not avoid was the thing about timing. Timing of history. Timing of action. Timing of reaction. Timing of injustice. Timing of recognition. Timing of justice. Timing of reckoning. History never stops, nor does the timing or vastness of the interconnections of the people of this country. 

“We need to advocate for an accurate history.” – Opal Lee, Grandmother Of The Juneteenth Movement 

Juneteenth 1865 (156 years ago)

Tulsa 1921 (100 years ago)

Emmett Till (65 years ago)

Medgar Evers (58 years ago)

Michael Schwerner,   James Chaney, Andrew Goodman (57 years ago)

George Floyd (1 year ago)

Juneteenth is a moment to celebrate, commemorate and give honor to the determination of the long journey to national recognition. But, as the years will pass by, my hope is that it doesn’t become transformed from a history learning exercise into some sort of diluted, advertising gimmick a la “Get Your Juneteenth Mattress On Sale at Manny’s Furniture Hideaway!” 

Happy Juneteenth! Remember it beyond a single day on a calendar.

***

“Juneteenth: Long Time Coming (But, Is It Too Late?)”- Footnotes

(1)White House Briefing Room (Juneteenth National Independence Act) –

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/06/17/remarks-by-president-biden-at-signing-of-the-juneteenth-national-independence-day-act/

(2)Smithsonian Institution (Historical Legacy of Juneteenth) –

https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/historical-legacy-juneteenth

(3)Opal’s Walk to DC (Opal Lee) – 

https://www.opalswalk2dc.com/

(4)Shondaland (Ms. Opal Lee’s Juneteenth Dream) – 

https://www.shondaland.com/inspire/a21292179/ms-opal-lees-juneteenth-dream

(5)National Archives (Emancipation Proclamation) – 

https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals_iv/sections/preliminary_emancipation_proclamation.html#

(6)Smithsonian Institution (General Order 3) –

https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/historical-legacy-juneteenth

(7)University of Richmond (Arc of Justice) –  

https://as.richmond.edu/about-school/programs/conscience/arc-of-justice/index.html

(8)The King Institute (Drum Major Instinct) –

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/drum-major-instinct

(9)Black Wall Street (J.B. Stradford) –

http://blackwallstreet.org/jbstradford

(10)The Guardian (Viola Fletcher Speaks) – 

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/19/viola-fletcher-tulsa-race-massacre-congress-oldest-survivor

(11)People Magazine (Tulsa Massacre Survivors): Hughes Van Ellis) –

https://people.com/human-interest/tulsa-race-massacre-survivors-in-their-own-words-100th-anniversary/

(12)The Guardian (Lessie Beddingfield Randle Testimony) –

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/19/viola-fletcher-tulsa-race-massacre-congress-oldest-survivor

(13)White House Briefing Room (Tulsa Anniversary) –

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/06/02/remarks-by-president-biden-commemorating-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-tulsa-race-massacre/

(14)Journal Record (Congressional Testimony of Tulsa Massacre Survivors) – 

Congress hears dramatic testimony from massacre survivors

(15)Military Times (Top Officer Schools Congressmen) –

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2021/06/23/the-militarys-top-officer-schools-congressmen-on-critical-race-theory-white-rage-and-communism/

(16)Salon (Defense Secretary Rips Matt Gaetz) – 

https://www.salon.com/2021/06/23/defense-secretary-rips-matt-gaetz-over-spurious-critical-race-theory-claims_partner/

(17)WESH (Matt Gaetz/Marjorie Taylor Greene America First Tour) –

https://www.wesh.com/article/congressman-matt-gaetz-makes-stop-in-the-villages-for-america-first-tour/36370250

(18)NPR (General Defends Studying Critical Race Theory) –

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/23/1009592838/top-general-defends-studying-critical-race-theory-in-the-military

(19)Strategic Studies (Carl Von Clausewitz) –

https://strategicstudiesteaching.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/cos-professional-reading-list-2011.pdf

(20)Foreign Policy (West Point Military Classics) –

Reading lists: The West Point history dept. selects its top 10 military classics

(21)Newsweek (Cruz Says Critical Race Theory Is Every Bit Racist As Klansmen In White Sheets) –

https://www.newsweek.com/ted-cruz-says-critical-race-theory-every-bit-racist-klansmen-white-sheets-1602105

(22)Teen Vogue (Matt Gaetz Frat Culture) –

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/matt-gaetz-scandal-frat-culture

(23)AP News (Arizona Election Recounts) –

https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-arizona-business-technology-election-recounts-c5948f1d2ecdff9e93d4aa27ba0c1315

(24)Brennan Center For Justice (Voting Laws Roundup) – 

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-may-2021

(25)U.S. Congress (For The People Act) –

https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1

(26)U.S. Congress (John Lewis Voting Rights Act) –

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/4263

(27)NY Magazine (John Lewis Voting Rights Act) –

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/06/what-would-the-john-lewis-voting-rights-act-actually-do.html

(28)Black History Month (Bayard Rustin) – 

https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/civil-rights-movement/bayard-rustin-gay-man-in-the-civil-rights-movement/

(29)Business Insider (Ron Johnson Heckled) –

https://www.businessinsider.com/senator-ron-johnson-heckled-during-juneteenth-speech-in-wisconsin-2021-6

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/dont_stop_the_dance/