Apparently all the cool kids hang out in jail.

Apparently all the cool kids hang out in jail.


There are songs in the oeuvre of Nina Simone with the power to paralyze. It’s prudent to use some caution, plan ahead, before you listen. Just press play like this was some airy ‘entertainment’ and they can render you useless for the day. The rapturous redemption of My Sweet Lord could evoke the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa in the most diehard of agnostics. There’s that part on the studio version of What More Can I Say? when in the throes of a devastating falsetto she messes up a line, but thank heavens kept the take. And then the battle cry at the denouement of Four Women, a brutal invocation in song of four hundred years through the lives of four Black women — “My name is… Peaches.” The very incongruity of it, the unlikeliness that those four words could possess such power, only amplify its thunder. The song ends. And just try to go about your day after that one. “My name is Peaches,” like a lightning bolt through your spine, and you’re left to pick up the pieces. How to tend to the minutiae of a day after that one? But when the lights go out tonight, especially tonight, we’ll listen. Happy 80th birthday, High Priestess.

There are songs in the oeuvre of Nina Simone with the power to paralyze. It’s prudent to use some caution, plan ahead, before you listen. Just press play like this was some airy ‘entertainment’ and they can render you useless for the day. The rapturous redemption of My Sweet Lord could evoke the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa in the most diehard of agnostics. There’s that part on the studio version of What More Can I Say? when in the throes of a devastating falsetto she messes up a line, but thank heavens kept the take. And then the battle cry at the denouement of Four Women, a brutal invocation in song of four hundred years through the lives of four Black women — “My name is… Peaches.” The very incongruity of it, the unlikeliness that those four words could possess such power, only amplify its thunder. The song ends. And just try to go about your day after that one. “My name is Peaches,” like a lightning bolt through your spine, and you’re left to pick up the pieces. How to tend to the minutiae of a day after that one? But when the lights go out tonight, especially tonight, we’ll listen. Happy 80th birthday, High Priestess.


Bayard Rustin — debating here with Malcom X — was one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest confidantes. A passionate and earnest speaker and a very sharp mind, he was also queer as a three dollar bill, and became a somewhat bifurcated icon of two occasionally divergent movements that ultimately sought — and seek — a common goal: a humanity so free that our eyes nearly ache with the brightness of the horizon. He was one of the fiercest and most adored champions of that vision — and we honor him in celebration of Black History Month. Find a way to watch Brother Outsider — you will be glad you did.

Stay tuned for more about some of our African American icons this month. In the meantime, let’s go be free, and remember our political ancestors.


Powered by Tumblr