Sea Us Now & Black Beach Culture

Photo from Sea Us Now

As a Virgo Sun and Taurus Rising, my astrology is deep into the earth. That may explain why I love my plant babies so much!

But some of the best times in my life take place near water. Not long ago, I learned that I’m a Scorpio Moon, which adds some water to my chart. Growing up on the East Coast may have a lot to do with it too. Living in Quincy, Massachusetts, I’m just a couple of miles from the beach. When I open the windows in the summer and the wind blows just right, I can smell the salty air — one of my favorite scents.

There was a pool in the apartment complex where I grew up, so I swam a lot. I loved doing handstands under water and playing Marco Polo. I lounged by the pool almost everyday during the summers and played ping-pong in the cabana. As children, my brother and I took swimming lessons at the local college. Our parents brought us to the beach for picnics and lots of swim time on the Cape. As a young teenager, I even went to marine science camp.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized many considered it unusual for African Americans to swim. When you think about movies showing beach culture, often focused on surfing, someone like me usually isn’t there. But things are changing.

On Instagram, I found a group of Black women surfers calling themselves Textured Waves. Their website describes who they are and their goal.

Textured Waves [w]as created to propagate the culture and sport of women[‘]s surfing towards women of color and underrepresented demographics through representation, community and sisterly camaraderie. We value integrity, inclusion and advocating diversity in the water.

In the early summer, Textured Waves premiered a short film called Sea Us Now, which was created in collaboration with Seea, a progressive women’s surf brand. The film itself is extremely short, but the conversation around it is fascinating and worth watching.

It reminded me of the importance of creating something for the future. Documenting that yes, Black women surfers are out there enjoying life right now. Their existence shows a roadmap for the next generation. The conversation alludes to the precarious history of African Americans and water. Our African ancestors were brought to this country in ships. Many suffered horrifying deaths at sea and those who lived witnessed it. There is also a strong history of racial discrimination at public swimming pools in this country. If we look at the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, even our drinking water is harmful. African Americans have ancestral and current trauma involving water that needs healing.

The joy of Sea Us Now starts that aquatic healing. It feels like a daydream. The women of Textured Waves in colorful bathing suits catching the waves. The sound of moving water, peaceful music and driving in a vintage car by the seashore. Carrying their surfboards. Palm trees and ice cream. Short vignettes of style, beauty and warm weather. Flowering trees blowing in the breeze along with their natural hair. Sisterhood. A carefree afternoon. Time for reflection and dreaming. The gift of exercise on the beach. Black health and wellness.

They describe the film as “a re-imagining of our history with the coastline and the sea” and “a love letter to our past and our future.”

If you want to skip right to the film, it starts a little after 25 minutes and goes until almost 30 minutes. But I do hope you watch the conversation.

It’s quite striking that the timing of the film’s release was in the midst of the protests after George Floyd’s death. Watching the video of his murder made me physically hurt. This film is like a balm for the body and soul. In the midst of everything, we can still find happiness and peace. We always have. That’s how we’ve survived.

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Screenshot: YouTube

Ocean Spray All In On The Dreams Challenge

 

Ocean Spray Dreams Challenge

By now you’ve probably seen the viral video by @Doggface208, where he peacefully glides along on his longboard, singing Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, while joyfully chugging down a big jug of Ocean Spray Cran·Raspberry juice.

What’s not to love? Great song. Happy guy. Delicious and healthy juice. Plus I love the local connection with Ocean Spray. Their corporate headquarters are in southeastern Massachusetts, fairly close to where I grew up. I remember visiting cranberry bogs as a kid. But I digress.

So anyway, sales and streams of the song skyrocket. Fleetwood Mac gives their nod of approval on Twitter. Then Mick Fleetwood makes his own video doing the same.  A new meme is born – Cranberry Dreams or Dreams Challenge.

The man behind @Doggface208 is named Nathan Apodaca. A recent profile of him in the Los Angeles Times shares that he buys the large jugs of juice to save money and drinks about one a day. “The colder, the better.” According to the article, his car battery had died the day he recorded the now famous video and he was on his way to work.

Since he was having problems with his car, Ocean Spray surprised him with a brand new truck! A video was posted a couple of hours ago on their Instagram feed. Of course the truck is filled with more than enough juice to last for a little bit. Ocean Spray CEO, Tom Hayes even did his own version of the Dreams Challenge.

I wonder who’s next!? Does this thing have momentum? Stay tuned.

*Updated 10/8/2020* The answer to the question about momentum is absolutely yes! Have you seen the fly from Pence’s head during the debate? Take a look at this hilarious video with the sound on.

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Screenshot: Ocean Spray Instagram

Quote of the Week: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined US Supreme Court August 1993

Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.’ But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.    ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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I took this picture of the steps of the United States Supreme Court in August 1993. At the time, I was applying to law schools and visiting different campuses. This trip to Washington, D.C. was a personal pilgrimage of sorts. I felt that I should see the seat of government in person before becoming a lawyer. I love a good ritual and traveling too, so it was perfect for me.

Before the trip, I got a visitor’s pass to the House of Representatives and sat in while they were in session. It was a free for all and the behavior reminded me of a bunch of kindergartners. The representatives were walking all over the place, shouting and talking over each other. The gavel was repeatedly pounded and many requests were made to come to order. I remember feeling disappointed and dismayed. No wonder the country had so many problems!

It was harder to get a pass to visit the Senate, so I wasn’t able to see the behavior. The Senate is supposed to be more dignified. Maybe then. But the way things are now, I know better.

While I was there, I took a short tour of the public parts of the Supreme Court, but did not see the Court in session. I’m not sure what day in August 1993 I was there, but on August 10th, Ruth Bader Ginsburg took her seat. I never thought about it before, but I was there at a very historical time.

The United States is a better place because she served. Her death last night was such a blow. RBG held on for as long as she could. I hope that she is at peace.

Fruits & Vegetables: USPS Forever Stamps

At no other time have I been more concerned about the USPS. The Postmaster General is seemingly trying to destroy it from within and the timing is especially harmful. The pandemic isn’t going away any time soon and the most important election of our lives is just weeks away. Reliable mail delivery is paramount.

I certainly can’t save the Postal Service on my own. None of us can individually. But each of us can support it in tiny ways. How? Make a few purchases from the post office.

When you really think about it, it’s so cool that we have a choice of different stamps. They’re colorful and pretty and whimsical. They don’t need to be. A stamp could be quite utilitarian. But we’re provided choices of new ones on a regular basis — practical pieces of art celebrating American culture.

Back in 2014, the Celebrity Chef stamps were a favorite of mine, along with the Farmers Markets stamps. Now, you can purchase USPS Farmers Markets Notecards, which include the stamps. They’re a nice gift for yourself or someone else.

I’ve never bought notecards from the Post Office, but I will in the future. However, I did recently purchase two books of the new Fruits and Vegetables stamps. They’re so pretty!

The stamp designs that we’ve known and loved over the years were created under the direction of USPS art director Derry Noyes. Noyes was interviewed for an article on Artsy, where she explains the process.

It all begins with the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC)—a 12-person panel composed of historians, educators, designers, and others who determine the subjects for each year’s crop of stamps. (Noyes actually served on the committee herself for several years, before transitioning to art direction in the early 1980s.) Their goal, she said, is ‘to pick a broad spectrum that reflects American history, pop culture, people, events—to try to get a good balance for each year.’ …

The stamp-making process typically lasts between two and four years, Noyes said, though it can go on for much longer—particularly if legal issues arise. During this time, the four USPS art directors meet monthly to discuss their ongoing projects and critique one another’s work. Eventually, they share their work with the CSAC to see if they like the direction. The committee eventually votes to approve the final stamp designs, which then must be approved by the postmaster general before they can be released. ‘Unlike a fine artist working for him or herself, doing whatever they feel like, this is a real team effort,’ Noyes said.

While most of us don’t send as much mail as we used to, we still do every once in a while. So buy some stamps that light you up, so the next time you send some snail mail, you’ll spark some joy in the simplest of ways.

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Photo Credit: USPS