The thing of it is, we were either stranded or chose to remain where we were at the start of the Covid19- pandemic. Either way, we all had travel restrictions and this was quite unusual for those involved in this in-house panel discussion. Especially during the spring as we normally prepare for our summer travel jaunts.
Philip Ailon was in Athens, Greece complaining that there was thus far no tourist for the upcoming season. James E. Lane was in Fort Pierce, Florida, dealing with not only the preparation of the pandemic but the indescribable atmosphere in America. I (Jerome Fitts), was in between Santo Domingo and Boca Chica missing my love ones in Europa. There were no flights and I was basically stranded in paradise. We were all moaning about the pandemic and how it had altered our normal routine and plans.
I went to my hotel balcony speaking to James and noticed three kids the first hour or so, then maybe ten kids congregating in the rubbish below. My first thought was; “You have to be kidding me?” I proceeded to tell James this, as he barely made it out some 5 days prior and he laughed. Then I laughed. Philp in another message laughed. The mutual laughter came with a shared message of “maybe they are looking for a mask?”
Soon afterwards, I picked up both the companies cameras Sony Raw and Nikon 70D and started filming. After we reviewed the film, there certainly wasn’t any laughter, but a dead silence of embarrassment between all of us. All of a sudden our biggest problems didn’t exist. We knew that our worst days could quite possibly be these kids finer days.
“How Could You” was born. This isn’t a laughing matter. These kids live in this rubbish bin. This isn’t about race, religion and especially politics of who can tell their story first. This reality and is their reality.
The point of this film is: How could we complain when we know someone has it worse than we do? The characters of this film do not complain. They are making the best of what they have and are grateful for their existence on a daily bases. Are we? Maybe they are better humans than we are.
So before you go and post a complaint or ask for “prayers up” then stare into that mirror while taking a photo of yourself pleading for others to like and share- then complain when you recieve rude responses- think of these kids that are at our door steps.
“Next year will be my year!”“Next year will be my year!”For years, I would tell myself over and over again, I was going to the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. The year 2019 was the year. September to be exact.The event was always on my bucket list, but somehow I never made it my priority. Finally, during this past summer after saying I would go so many times I decided to make it happen. I booked plane tickets for late September and started to plan my trip. Being a woman of colour it’s safe to say that I was more than a little hesitant to be going to Germanyalone. After booking the trip anxiety kicked in and I really started to question if this was the right decision for me. All of a sudden every bad article or internet video flashed into my mind. After a slight breakdown, I had to remind myself that you can’t always believe what you read or view online.
This gave me even more of a reason to go rather than my initial Ocktoberfest dream. I needed to put my fears aside and take a leap of faith that everything would turn out alright. I “put one foot in front of the other” and just did it. Upon arriving at the hostel, I immediately made friends with others staying at the hostel who were also attending the well-renowned gathering in Munich.
Oktoberfest turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had. I met so many amazing people and the German people were not as cold as expected but rather the exact opposite. They were inviting, generous and probably the friendliest people I have met thus far in Europe. Oktoberfest was my original motive but the friendships I made and mutual understandings of our different cultures is what it was about- the positive energy was priceless.
Time is the one thing most of us take for granted, even though it is the one thing we possess that is limited and finite. As a dear friend of mine says, “We all have the same 24 hours!” and in my opinion it is the absolute truth! However, with that being said, my thinking of late takes it one step further – “we all don’t have the same amount of sand in the hourglass.”
No one knows how many grains of sand anyone has been blessed with. God Almighty makes this a mystery to man, for all our perceived wisdom and intelligence, no one can know this answer!
“How do we spend this most precious and valuable commodity? With what or whom do we share it with?
Obviously this is a unique question that every individual must decide for themselves. No two answers, in my opinion, would be the same – nor should they. It is something that I have noticed from my journey through life which has been change with time. Many things have made me reevaluate the way I think about time. Marriage, death, my children, my faith and friends are all things that have forced me to examine myself.
Lets face it, within our societies we forget to step back, slow down and think prior to proceeding. Do we ask ourselves if somethings we force our time with causes us to try to extend those twenty-four hours in which we all have? Is it really that important that we cramp certain things within that time frame that makes us forget what is really important and time we cannot get back? What is the point if we miss what is important to us such as time with love ones that we can not replace in the future? We all try to make up the time but in reality its not the same.
I have watched friends, family and colleagues leave this earth far too young. But who am I to say this? Am I God? Certainly not! It is He that holds the hourglass and only He that knows the amount of sand within. In my youth I spent majority of my time chasing other people’s dreams. Things that were laid out before me like a golden road. Following the footsteps of generations before me, it seemed like the obvious and correct path to take. Of course I can only look back and evaluate the past. I cannot change it, but I can learn from it.
I have often wondered, as many have likely done, if I spent my time differently would I or could I have changed anything? Perhaps, but probably not much, because that time spent helped shaped us into the person we are today.
The objective of this piece: WE have to choose how to use the remaining sands of “OUR” hourglass.
Take time for a peaceful walk through the woods or park. Stop and listen to the birds sing. Sit with your family and turn off your phone! Have an ice cream or nice meal them and fellowship! Have a discussion with someone you care about and ask them how they are doing as a human. Actually listen! Tell the people in your life how much you love them, if you do. Because guess what – your last grain of sand could pass before you speak with them again.
Spend the precious commodity of time with the right people, but still reserve some for a stranger you meet at a shop for a short chat.
I hope sharing my insight and opinion will be helpful to maybe begin that process in someone that reads this. Like it or not, time is not a commodity we can hoard in a bank or should be taken for granted as if we are allowed credit. We are forced to spend it as “Father Time” is undefeated. So spend it joyfully and live well!
Here we are some two years later after the “Who Do Think They Are?” post and it seems that although the reaction was positive and there has been over 97K followers that read the article, the truth is, the submissions from DIY artist to the public and within the music industry has gotten worse.
Sure there are the renditions of tapes, CD’s and Vinyl along with the current trend of streaming that keeps the music industry machine going and this is great. However, the approach and the delivery of quality music is still lost in the mix bowl of talent or should we say self entitled talent.
We can blame the discovery of taking pictures in mirrors (selfies) as a perfect example of people who are looking at themselves in mirrors based on what their own delusions are. The facts are the same within the current state of music delivery and some of these artist are delusional. There are some amazing music out there and good music still sells while a great song will live forever. The 7.5 billion census question is:
“Where is it?”
These days you can’t create a social media page or troll your own social media site, most notably Twitter or Facebook, without those selfie musicians demanding you to check out their music or video. But one has to wonder or ask several questions and among those important questions its always: “Whats next? Or even better “Why?” At some point most of the new age artist or selfie artist are demanding you check out their material as if its going to bring them fame. In this day and age where our beloved YouTube has replaced television or music video channels, anyone can buy impressions or views for the videos they upload. If there are a million and one likes or views are we suppose to follow a trend based on the number of views or does this mean that because there are a certain number of views then its quality or like-able material.
First and foremost, if its already out there then someone will “check it out” even if its yourself. Yes that is right, you can pay someone to “get likes” after posting some of the music then celebrate as if you are a star. Imagine someone desperate enough to pay for likes or followers that leave no comments or invite you to play live in their city. Maybe there should be an additional option for the public to choose from based on the statistics that are also displayed such as geographical and demographic analytical views. Then again this would shatter the glass mirror so maybe its better to leave it smoking to fulfill those delusions. Need we say more?
According to Webster Dictionary: The definition of desperate is: (of a person) having a great need or desire for something.In reference to this piece its about demanding likes or followers. Hilarious or not it is without question a cruel reality.
Remember the days when we would sing in the mirror and pose as if you were Paul Stanley from KISS or Madonna then tell your friends or family to come and see. Well its the same isn’t it? In modern times the translation of “check this out” would mean “hey look at me, I think I am sexy or I can sing so follow me!” Funny right. Has anyone wrote an honest and constructive comment on those posts? Was your comment deleted and your profile blocked only for the submitter of the post to destroy you in a response without you being in a position to defend your initial comment. The results is smoking mirrors or selfie music that makes up the body of smoking mirrors. It makes you wonder what independent music is these days if that is the case. One can also wonder why these artist are not asking the public what they think and accepting the response. It seems this would be the logical way of not only building a brand through genuine followers but its also a way to expand their sound. Are these artist are afraid to find out the truth? Is this a new genre being created within this selfish industry? Here we go: Cowards of Selfie Music.
Where did being creative and different go to?
Over the years there has been some exceptions to the growing trend in remarkable artist such as Lindsey Stirling, but we all have to agree that her formula, style and quality of material is above the norm. The result has seen the Los Angeles starlet sell out theaters and arenas around the world yet you wouldn’t find her playing live at an in-house popular music awards. Maybe the judges or panel of such awards are mechanical or machines as they are year after year selecting the same shite music such as Drake, Rihanna and some other copycat self proclaimed pimp or whore. The moral police of music have unfortunately succumbed to supporting the new genre of clown music. Charlie Chaplin and crew have to be in heaven going f**ks sake!
Here we go, the definition of courage in the Webster Dictionary is: Strength in the face of pain or grief. Bravery
In this case its about the artist pouring their heart and soul into their sound by mastering their craft to express themselves. The courageous part of it is, they are leaving it up to the recipient (listener) to chose for themselves.
Does it work? Sure these artist are putting their dreams into motion without feeling the public owes them something. They promote themselves just as much as the professionals does but the successful ones never go rogue. They sweat and win together and those standards are based on a delegated process within each sector of working behind the music. The formula is quite simple, everyone is on the same page.There is music out there that genuine labels and distributors believe in such as Proper Music Distribution that works with large and small booking agencies. The thing of it is that those reputable entities working relationship is based on the belief in the same artist genuine promotion.
For those that are reading this lengthy piece, try it out. When it comes to approaching PR companies, due your due diligence and ask what is the finish line. Have the courage to look past the name dropping some may use to secure your check but look deep into their strategy in regards to your music.
The positive side to hiring professionals, if you take yourself serious enough, you can learn from their mistakes as well as get better along the way.
For the artist that are reading this and will continue to partake in the DIY system, take a deep breath and don’t add to much water into the instant gratification process of your music. You will receive exactly what you put into your music and if you don’t require professionals to handle your music then the reality is you don’t need the public. So.. What is your objective? – Selfie Music. Have fun in your bedroom or kitchen performing to the smoking mirrors.
In closing, good food is like good music, we just eat it and it becomes our favorite food and its what you prefer. When the package or label of the food or music is presented right it looks and smells good and more than likely it will taste good. But if the package and label of the food or music looks cheap and smell like shite, then it probably is!
To close Black History Month, I was asked why the majority of our readers this month were caucasion, instead of those who should celebrate the individuals who drew the blue print for “their opportunities and progression” in our world. – people of color.
Prior to taking the defensive stance, I had to succomb to the embarrassment of the truth. All of a sudden the relevancy of this weeks featured story became more relevant, we choose Harriet Tubman.
Her words; ” I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”- rang out to me.
The WorthJourneys’ blog is a blog based on facts in our attempt for our readers to engage in the information posted and gather more facts for themselves. If one find those facts educational, then please utilize the tools of our brave new world and share it. If by chance the aformention action does take place, then our joint efforts and objectives would have been met.
“The Woman They Call Moses”- Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman, whose original name was Araminta Harriet Ross, was one of nine children born to Harriet “Rit” Green (mother) and Ben Ross (father). Because slaves were not recognized as civilians, historians have estimated Araminta (Harriet) birth was between 1820 and 1825. (ref.1)
In 1844, Arminta (Harriet), married a free slave by the name of John Tubman. To honor her mother, Araminta changed her name to Harriet while carrying the surname of her husband. Harriet and her husband were later seperated by her choice to live a life of being free. Harriet eventually escaped from slavery, while her husband decided to remain in the south.
Abolitionism and The Underground Railroad:
In 1849 Harriet, escaped from slavery fleeing to Philadelphia, using the “Underground Railroad”. (ref.2) Harriet – later returned to free up to her entire family.
The first series of trips is when Harriet, earned the nickname “Moses” for her courage and leadership. Those courageous voyages resulted in the Fugitive Slave Law.
The Fugitive Slave Law stated that escaped slaves in the North could be captured and returned to the south. This led to law enforcement officials in the North aiding slave capturers. – (Hint -12 Years a Slave).
During her courageous escapdes of freeing more slaves Ms. Tubman was qouted as saying;
“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If there is shouting after you, keep going. Dont ever stop! Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”- Harriet Tubman
Harriets response to this law, was to re-route “The Underground Railroad” to Canada – where slavery was prohibited.
During the Civil War, Harriet worked for the Union Army as a cook and a nurse. As the first woman to lead a combat expedition, Harriet was recognized as the leader in the Combahec River Raid.This event liberated more than 700 slaves in the South Carolina.
After the Civil War, Harriet re-married a Civil War veteran by the name of Nelson Davis. The couple, with their adopted daughter Gertie, resided in Auburn, New York.
Harriet, died of pneumonia in 1913, in the home that was named after her : “The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged”
To celebrate Black History Month, we, (WJ), are honored to feature individuals who are people of color, that set examples and standards for our society today. On February 4th, 2015 we are celebrating the life of Hans Massaquoi.
Hans Jurgen Massaquoi was born on January 19, 1926, in Hamburg, Germany and passed away on his birthday in 2013. He was the son of Al-Haj Massaquoi, an African business man from Liberia and Bertha Baetz, a German nurse.
His father (Al-Haj), who was the son of a Liberian consul general, left Germany because of the rise of the Nazi regime.
Unlike other German women at the time who were giving their “Brown Babies” up for adoption, his mother Bertha, decided to raise Hans in Germany alone instead of joining Hans father in Liberia.(2)
In his autobiography Hans mentions being taunted on a daily bases in regards to his colour stating his classmates would say ; “Neger, Neger, Schornsteinfeger!” (*Schornsteinfeger means chimney sweep in English)-Ed
It is highlighted in “In Destined to Witness”, that when Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in 1933 he was fascinated by the uniforms, “goose-stepping” marches and the military might of the Nazi soldiers. Massaquoi recalled the first time Hitler’s motorcade came to Hamburg, and the thrill that he experienced watching the new “Führer” roll past.(1)
“Like everyone around me, I cheered the man whose every waking hour was dedicated to the destruction of ‘inferior non-Aryan people’ like myself.”- Massaqoui
As a 7-year-old boy in Hamburg, Massaquoi noted that his proudest moment was when a baby sitter sewed a swastika on his sweater. He also stated that the disappointment he had because a teacher told him he couldn’t join Hitlers Youth.
“Of course I wanted to join. I was a kid and most of my friends were joining. They had cool uniforms and they did exciting things – camping, parades, playing drums,”- wrote Massaquoi.
During his teenage years Massaqoui and his mother lived in fear because of the Nazi elimination of all non Aryans. He mentions that although he was not deported himself, he credited this to being black. He felt because he was black he was more of a rarity than a threat.
“Unlike Jews, blacks were so few in numbers that they were relegated to low-priority status in the Nazis’ line-up for extermination,” Massaquoi said.
When Massaquoi’s mother lost her job because she had a black son, he boxed as well as played saxophone in a “Swing Jazzband” to support himself and his mother. It should be noted that at the time and yet still today (February 2015), Swing and Jazz music as well as any type of Urban Music is considered “Black Music” in Germany. Massaquoi, who dreamed of immigrating to America as he followed the careers of African American sports heroes Joe Louis and Jesse Owens, boxed to earn extra money but was forbidden by law to take on Aryan opponents in the ring.(1)
He also revealed the kindnesses of German neighbors and friends who helped him and his mother survive during these difficult months. At one point, Massaquoi even attempted to join the Germany Army after recognizing that he was the only young man left in his neighborhood who did not wear a uniform. “This Lieutenant Colonel bawled me out saying how dare I even presume to ask. So that did it for me. That was the real turning point. By then, I had got all the Nazi stuff out of my head, and it was the final insult.”- Massaquoi recounted.
In 1948, Massaquoi left Germany for Liberia and lived with his father. However, he became dissatisfied with the black-on-black racism and applied and received a student visa for America.
While attending aviation mechanics school in Chicago, he received a draft notice to fight in the Korean War, despite having alien status. Massaquoi was stationed in the deep south of America ironically enough during the start of the Civil Rights movements.
After the Korean War, in which he was never deployed to fight in combat, he returned to Chicago to resume his studies. Massaquoi began working at Ebony Magazine in 1957 in as an associate editor. By 1967, ten years after working at the prestigious publication, Massaquoi was awarded the Managing Editors position. He held this position for another 30 years until his retirement in 1967.
Encouraged by the late Alex Haley (Roots), he penned the remarkable “adversity turned triumphed”, autobiography “Destined To Witness; Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany.” (3)
Qouting Hans Massaqoui Jr in loving memory of his late father; “Hans Massaquoi lived to become not just a footnote in history, but a figure of note.” (4)
Hans Massaqoui, The WorthJourney not only celebrate your remarkable life, but we thank you for setting the example of creating and accomplishing your dreams.- J.Fitts
We encourage all of our readers to not only buy the book but read it!
Career: Played saxophone in jazz clubs in Hamburg, mid-1940s; British Military Government, Hamburg, Germany, interpreter, 1945-48; National Association of Educational Broadcasters, Urbana, IL, editor, 1956-57; Jet Magazine, Chicago, IL., associate editor, 1957-58; Ebony Magazine, Chicago, associate editor, 1958-64, assistant managing editor, 1964-67, managing editor, 1967-.
Awards: Overseas Press Club of America citation, 1975, for coverage of Heads of Government Conference in Kingston, Jamaica.