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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Laurie Cooper's Black Man in America

Between my mother and my Tante Mona,I have been exposed to a lot of art and artists. But yesterday, while looking for images for a card project I came across Laurie Cooper’s painting Black Man in America. For the first time, a painting made me pause, reflect and begin to consider some things. I am thinking and seeing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Silence is Acceptance

My family has about three or four containers which are placed throughout our home. We use these containers to hold our pennies for UNICEF( United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund). At the end of a month or two, we go to our local market which has a COINSTAR machine. We dump the coins into the machine, the machine tells us how much we have and we can donate that amount directly to UNICEF from the COINSTAR machine, which also gives us a receipt.

I love UNICEF and the work that it does with children. I am especially moved by its work with children who are sexually exploited. The slogan Silence is Acceptance is powerful and a call for us to open our eyes and hearts and take a stand. Please view this photo essay and save your pennies and give them to

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Pennsylvania Ballet’s La Slyphide

Reviewed by Sojourner Ahebee
June 12, 2009

You may think your average T.V. teen drama has lots of love intrigue, but so do most ballets. Yesterday evening, I attended the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of La Sylphide at The Academy of Music. La Sylphide, a ballet set in Scotland, is a wonderfully choreographed and composed ballet. It is also a ballet that challenges you to consider what should be followed-one’s heart or a promise made out of a sense of duty. La Sylphide tells the story of a man named James who will soon be married to his fiancĂ© Effy. But, in the process of their wedding date, James starts falling in love with a sylph, which is a forest fairy.

One day, Effy and her friends beg Madge the witch to tell Effy’s fortune for her wedding day. The witch informs them that James loves someone else and Effy will get married to Gurn, James’ best friend. Effy is upset by this fortune, but James reassures her that is not the truth.

On the day of James’ wedding, he is about to put the ring on Effy’s hand, but the sylph enters the room, grabs the ring, and runs into the forest with the ring in her hand. James then runs after the sylph in the forest, and Effy starts crying in her mother’s arms, thinking James has abandoned her and the wedding.

Deep in the forest, Madge and her companion witches dance around a cauldron. They add all sorts of filthy ingredients to the brew. When the cauldron starts to glow, Madge pulls out a magical scarf from the bottom of the cauldron. The witches then scatter.

While the sylph shows James her charming, woodland home, wedding guests search the woodland for James. They then enter the glade. Gurn finds James' hat, but Madge urges him to say nothing. She then urges Gurn to propose to Effy, which he does, Effy then accepts the proposal. The wedding party then leaves the woodlands and James enters. He is met by Madge who tosses him the scarf. Madge instructs James to put this around the sylph so she can not runaway anymore. He is delighted by this idea! He sees the sylph and she lets him wrap the scarf around her. He then hugs her, her wings fall off, she shudders, and then dies in his arms. Her sisters then enter and lift her dead body off the ground.

Suddenly, a joyful wedding crosses the glade, lead by Gurn and Effy. James is surprised. He then collapses. Madge rejoices over James’ lost. . Evil has won.

The personality of each main character was magically conveyed by the dancers’ skills, sense of drama and the costumes. The scenery was amazing. I felt I had been transported deep into the Scottish forest. La Sylphide wasn’t too long or too short time wise, which makes it easier for a young person to attend this ballet and still enjoy it. La Sylphide will be at the Academy of music until Sunday. Everyone should go see it!

Also, you can go to the Pennsylvania Ballet website and see what ballets will be performed next season. Plan, now, to go. Also on this site is the Outreach and Education section. Click on Kids, Parents and Teachers. You’ll learn a lot about ballet in a fun way.
It’s up to us –young people, to become informed about our cultural institutions like the Pennsylvania Ballet and to support them. I was so impressed during last night’s performance when a couple was recognized for their huge support for the Pennsylvania Ballet. See you at the ballet.

La Sylphide
The Pennsylvania Ballet
June 5-13, 2009
The Academy of Music
Broad and Locust Streets
Philadelphia, PA

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We're Cool Like That-Africa

Here is a poem I recently wrote for my school’s Diversity Day. I want people to know the beauty and wonder and confidence of Africa, too.

We’re Cool Like That
By Sojourner Ahebee

I’m cool like that, I’m proud like that and I’m African like that.

Not a bloated stomach, not a face encircled by flies, not a beggar’s hand
I am part of a billion people, with a million dances and thousands of tongues
to tell not only stories of tears, to play not only in the mourning band
I have a direct link to the origin of all humanity and shout this fact with my lungs
filled with the sands of the Sahara and the Kalahari.

I’m cool like that, I’m proud like that and I’m African like that.

You place me in your books and newspapers as one mass face
of AIDS and Malaria and T.B. –always the loser of the human race
I am one piece of a mosaic of 53 countries full of resources and grace
I dream, when you come to arm the hungry and take our wealth out of its place
that the Mediterranean and Rea Seas, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans would give chase
to drown your greed and let the waters be its burial place.

I’m cool like that, I’m proud like and I’m African like that.

You dare to rescue Africa with aging rock stars and uninspired actors
with agendas that do not include using us as our own benefactors
Listen to our voices filled with wisdom and experience and not be only our detractors
Listen to Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai, Wole Soyiknka, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Listen to Africa.

Because we’re cool like that, we’re proud like that and we’re part of humanity like that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Things of Dry Hours at the New York Theatre Workshop

Reviewed By Sojourner Ahebee
June 9,2009

Last summer I took a great writing course with Valerie Harris, who founded and runs the Teen Writing Academy. What was most enlightening about the course I took was that it was held in Paul Robeson’s house, in West Philadelphia. The house was actually owned by his sister, but this was the house where Paul Robeson spent his last years-1966-1976 and the house is now officially a historical landmark. I was in his house everyday for two weeks around his things and his history.
Learning about Mr. Robeson was my first introduction to the ideas of Communism and how it was an idea and system that made many Americans, especially those in power very nervous. I learned that many African-Americans, in the early and middle parts of the 1900s,were attracted to the ideals of Communism because of the racism and poverty that marked their lives. Paul Robeson was one who had once placed much hope in Communism and he paid a great price for putting his hope there.
It is with this little background knowledge that made me excited about seeing the play Things of Dry Hours by Naomi Wallace. This play, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson(writer of Lakawanna Blues) and starring Delroy Lindo, Roslyn Ruff and Garret Dillahunt, is now playing at the New York Theatre Workshop until June 28, 2009. I like the play because I learned about a period in American history when the Communist Party had more of an appeal and the support of rural, Southern, African-American workers more than the N.A.A.C.P. did.
The setting of Things of Dry Hours is the 1930s, in Birmingham, Alabama. There are three characters in the play. Delro Lindo plays Tice Hogan, who lives with his adult daughter, Cali, in a shack. Tice, who is a widower, is also a Sunday school teacher and a Communist activist. His two guiding books are the Bible and the Communist Manifesto. Roslyn Ruff plays Cali, who is a widow and washes clothes to support herself and Tice. Tice is constantly preaching the doctrines of the Communist Manifesto to Cali, who doesn’t seem to be too swayed by her father’s ideas. Then comes along Corbin Teel, played by Garret Dillahunt. He is a young, white man supposedly on the run from the police and he needs a place to hide. When he comes to the home of Tice and Cali, he threatens to tell the authorities of Tice’s Communist activities if Tice doesn’t allow Corbin to stay with them.
The essence of the play is what happens between one Black man searching for his dignity through seemingly opposite philosophies-the Bible and Communism-,a white, illiterate man who comes to the Hogan home( but for what reason?) and is taught by Tice the tenets of Communism and Cali, the young, Black woman, who thought she had forgotten how to love.
I especially loved the language of this play, which is very lyrical. I recommend this play for my readers 13 and above. The New York theatre scene is so EXCITING. Tell your parents they don’t have to worry about driving to New York. You guys can take the bus or train together. There are so many travel deals. And you can get discounted theatre tickets from Theatre Mania

Go see Things of Dry Hours at the New York Theatre Workshop
79 East 4th Street, New York, New York. For more information contact 212-460-5475 or

The title of this play is taken from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem. Here it is.

kitchenette building
By Gwendolyn Brooks

We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” makes a giddy sound, not strong
Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.”

But could a dream send up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms

Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.