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Diary of a Mad Black DJ 214: Black August- the Renaissance Edition

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

Black August is arguably my 3rd favorite time of year. The joy of celebrating black culture, black future and black history (beyond the same 5 people that we would discuss in school during February) was always exciting for me. Not only that, Black August contains August 11- the birth of Hip Hop; several black icons were born in August (Obama & Michael are on this list for context), and lastly, Black August was the one time of year that one could openly and freely celebrate the Black Liberation movement (which was very different from the Civil Rights Movement)!

For six years, I threw a Black August celebration via my jam session imprint The Sifer Harlem (with the blessing of my homie Lalit from the Malcolm X Grassroots, Brooklyn Chapter). When I first moved to NYC, I would celebrate Black August by attending their events which included everything from food drives to concerts with some of the biggest hip hop artists at the time. Once Lalit started to settle down in his family life; he moved on to bigger and better things. I asked if he would mind if I continued the celebration via my jam session.

I booked everyone from the legendary DJ Evil Dee to the up and coming Brooklyn new school icon LATASHA to my Def Poet and Trap Karaoke aficionado soror Shanelle Gabriel to Tanya Morgan to Kesed! The band was always popping, the crowd was unapologetically black and beautiful, Asian and blazing, Latinx and in the building to impress...multi-cultured from France to the Congo...and vested in safe space.

Everyone from The Beatnuts to Homeboy Sandman popped in...Broadway actors would visit on the regular; even films stars like Chaz Lamar (Set It Off) and D-Black (Orange Is the New Black) stopped in here and there to share some poetry/vocals. Other homies from other jams would show was a vibe.

People loved it- for 6 full years. I ran the event with no budget- paying musicians, featured artists fees and staff out of my own pocket (I loosely say "staff" because some slow nights Kim and Carla would look at the crowd and be like "nah sis, just give it to the band". Big brother Tamir would be working overtime.).

Til' this day, people would ask "how did you book so and so" or "how did you set up this event for free". I would try to put them on game- but most were haters- so they wouldn't receive it. Ultimately, I was extremely lucky to work with good people...and good people make good sh!t.

But that's not why I wanted to write this blog- Obviously, I've had Queen Bey's album on repeat. And I am overjoyed to say that while for many Black August celebrations I've felt proud to be black. This is the first time that I've felt proud to be BLACK and QUEER!!! Rarely do black folks celebrate our OWN queer culture; so what Beyonce' did with her album is greatly appreciated and valued for someone like me.

I feel so seen- and heard- and while we always had so many "diva allies", I don't think there has ever been a time when a Diva has dedicated an ENTIRE project to OUR culture.

Thank you Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. (And thank you to her Uncle Johnny for inspiring her as well.)

Y'all know I had to do a of many. lol.

Until next week, y'all stay Black. Prayers up for Brittney Griner (I'm boycotting everything Russian til she come home).

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