Ruby Dee, Imagination and History

“Live out your imagination, not your history.”
– Steven Covey

"For Colored Girls" New York Premiere - Outside ArrivalsLike so many others, Ruby Dee has been on my mind all day. She was a woman of great courage, commitment, intelligence and beauty – all of which she used to live out her imagination and thwart history.

In an interview with NPR she said that as a child, she didn’t know any black screen idols,

“It occurred to me that I was not white,” she said. “It occurred to me that being what they call ‘colored,’ being a Negro, was some kind of a disadvantage.”

Yet she dared to live out her imagination – and then some. In a scene from my novel, Provenance, one of my characters says in frustration,

“We are so used to people of color being and doing what other folks say we’re supposed to, that sometimes we can’t see what’s possible. Carrying around the expectations of others is such an unnecessary burden.”

In Provenance, my characters struggle with the same history of racism that has prescribed the lives of black folks for generations. Racism could have deprived us of Ruby Dee’s radiance – thank God her imagination enabled her to see what was possible. Living out your imagination, not your history is what Miss Ruby Dee did. It is how I try to live my life and, it is what my book, Provenance, is about.

(Thank you @AshiLabouisse for tweeting the Stephen Covey quote today.)



Help? Writers Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Help

Help KeyWriters are loners, we just are. Nothing is better than solitude to focus on the inner dialogue that ends up a work of fiction or fact. Trouble is that in order to share our work with others we have to engage – with people. We need help.

Brad Spinelli, author of Killing Williamsburg, shares insight and innovation with seven great reasons writers need to tap and cultivate valuable human resources. Read  7 Things I’ve Learned So Far by Bradley Spinelli on Chuck Sambuchino’s blog. Then go out and get some help.

When Titans Take the Corcoran, The Cost of Studying Art Goes Up

Art WordWith the spoils of the Corcoran Gallery of Art going to already well-endowed institutions like George Washington University (GWU) and The National Gallery of Art, access to the art world just became more inaccessible.

The Washington Post reported that the Corcoran School of Art’s tuition is $16,000 less than GWU $47,000+ tuition and with a $1.56 billion endowment and a history of needs aware admission practices, will the less affluent be further challenged in their desire to study the arts? The National Gallery, as well as the Smithsonian’s, low stipend or unpaid internships already limit access for students without significant  financial resources, food and rent in the DC metro is ridiculous! That reality further compounds the problem of access.

While both institutions may well be appropriate stewards, the decision to divvy up The Corcoran between two Washington titans makes the already insular art world less accessible to students with talent and dreams but without means.