The silence of the night was broken by the rapid exchange of gunfire. It was obvious to the ear that one gun was more powerful than the other by the fullness of the pop-pop-pop, whereas the other was little more than the sound of a heavy-duty firecracker. Yet, it was enough to resonate throughout the neighborhood, as each side held its own.
It is a sad commentary that many continued to sleep through the rumble, but it’s just as well.
After numerous rounds, an eerie stillness prevailed until it was disrupted by young bodies seen scattering in all directions from the scene, much like the spray from the sprinkler that only earlier in the heat of the day had cooled even younger bodies. Now, in the heat of the night, the chase was on.
As the group disappeared into the darkness, one lone young man, oddly enough dressed all in white, stealthily moved from one shadow and to another. Three police officers were quick on his heels. However, weighed down by the artillery they wear around their waists, sprinters they are not, or possibly they were just out of shape. As close as the policemen were to their suspect, he must have escaped because the three officers re-appeared out of the shadows without him.
The night sky suddenly became lit by the glare of the lights of police cars racing to the scene, only to travel in circles, not knowing which way to go, reminiscent of the Keystone Cops. Finally, they all just headed south, both literally and figuratively, away from where the action started. It didn’t take long before people of the night nonchalantly walked past the scene of the crime. It was as though nothing had happened.
The police “bird cage” erected on one corner seemed oblivious to what had just happened on the next. By morning, most residents arose none the wiser, whereas those who by chance were witness to the prior night’s events were left to wonder what finally happened, as shootouts in our hood are no longer media worthy. And so, the beat goes on.
Obviously, I have returned from idyllic Martha’s Vineyard, and after the night’s welcome-back scenario, life on the island is a distant memory. Not a distant memory is Spike Lee, whose latest production, “Chiraq,” timely addresses the topic of Black violence. Lee, who mingled with the crowd at the 2015 Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival, passing out caps with the “Chiraq” logo, was approachable and friendly, a welcomed relief from a topic that is a nightmare. Although I mentioned in an earlier article that a discussion on the film would take place, I didn’t tell you what was discussed. Appearing with Lee, who was co-writer and director of the film, were Nick Cannon, actress Teyonah Parish and social activist Father Michael L. Pfleger from the Faith Community of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in Chicago. The movie, from which a brief excerpt was shown, is Lee’s latest theatrical endeavor. It is based on the play “Lysistrata,” written in 411 B.C. by the ancient Greek dramatist Aristophanes. In the play, the women of Greece sought to make the men stop fighting a war by withholding sex. Lee’s version is a portrayal of the same. Verbally spoken in rhythm (or more colloquially, rap), the movie’s artistry is superb, as the story is conveyed through dance, force and a show of strength and determination.
Lee continues to state how he is committed to Black people and to saving Black lives by any means necessary. Father Pfleger served as spiritual advisor, as his church, which is located in the heart of Chicago’s South Side, continues to find ways to reach out to those who struggle the most. The answer, he states, is to provide the people with outlets and opportunities, such as jobs, education and ways to explore and develop their talents, so that those who think violence is the only way of life can actually explore alternatives. Father Pfleger has been very successful in reaching the South Side population by gathering a group of his church members and hitting the streets, asking people, “What do you want, and how can we work together to make it happen?” Think we can try that here?
Hitting the streets to make things happen is Macy’s, which continues to find ways to support their Dress for Success initiative by engaging the youth. Most recently, 28 local tweens and teens were chosen to model the latest back-to-school looks and fall fashions as they walked across the stage on a platform set up on 135th Street as part of the Harlem Week celebration. Macy’s generously made a gift to each model of the outfits they wore, so they could have a stylish start to the new school year.
The fashion show host was Candice Ward, director of My Stylist@Macy’s, a new fun, fast and free service at select Macy’s stores nationwide, dedicated to finding the perfect personal or professional fashions for every customer. With My Stylist@Macy’s, customers will be able to discover the latest trends and top brands with absolutely no pressure to buy. The service offers expert advice on putting together a look or a wardrobe that is personally designed to ensure customers walk away with exactly what they need. Whether it’s a professional look to make a great first impression at an interview or a new job, a cool and casual ensemble for the weekend or a sophisticated look for a night on the town, the pros at My Stylist@Macy’s carefully select a mix of staple and directional pieces to create a look that is on-trend, flattering and customized to the wearer. For more information about My Stylist@Macy’s and to make an appointment, visit macys.com/mystylist or call, 800-343-0121.
Happy birthday to Lennie Williams, Shirley Cuevas and Paula Down, owner of Ms. P’s Hair Studio, located on 118th Street between Eighth and Saint Nicholas avenues.
Crossing over the Long Island Sound to the East End, the Eighth annual Harlem in the Hamptons took place at the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor, N.Y. Hosted by the Harlem Cultural Archives, the celebration recognized the numerous accomplishments of the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NAACP. Many of the branch’s current and former members, including Harlemites and lifetime members Gladys V. Barnes and Oliver Holder, MD., along with Drs. Dennie Beech and Sam Jones, John and Sylvia Lynch, the Hon. Georgette Gittens, Elaine Shulman, Larry Bosley and Jack Perry, were in attendance.
Festivities began with HCA Co-Executive Director Glenn A. Hunter’s introduction of Judge W. Franc Perry—last summer’s honoree—who served as the master of ceremonies. Perry, an active branch member, eloquently shared some of the branch’s background information and noteworthy contributions with the 90 to 100 attendees.
NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch President Geoffrey E. Eaton accepted proclamations from Rep. Charles B. Rangel, Councilwoman Inez E. Dickens and Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright on behalf of the branch. Also recognized were a group of the branch’s members who traveled from New York City to participate in the event. The audience expressed its sincere appreciation of the Mid-Manhattan Branch’s initiatives as Eaton spoke passionately about the branch’s activism in protecting our civil rights and reaffirmed its commitment to the mission of the NAACP.
Celeste Beatty, CEO of The Harlem Brewing Company, provided samples of the company’s Sugar Hill Golden Ale and Renaissance Witchcraft beers. Adrianna Hart of Black Hawk Imports brought samples of its wines and spirits. A wide variety of culinary treats were prepared by the Jones Effect – Catering of the Hamptons. Henry Maxwell, a well-known radio personality on the East End of Long Island, entertained the crowd with his musical selections.
Until next week … kisses.