“Stereotypes”| A Duo Raised On Hip-Hop And Classical Has It Both Ways

Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, they don’t expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.

“She’s like, ‘What do you play?’ ” he recalls. “I’m like, ‘I’m a violinist.’ And she was like, ‘Well, obviously you don’t play classical, so what kind of style do you play?’ ”

Sylvester says he explained that while he does have a degree in classical music, he plays all kinds of styles. “She didn’t mean it maliciously,” he says, “but I hope she gets to see us in concert and we can change her perception.”

Moments like this inspired Sylvester and his partner, violist Wilner Baptiste, to call their new album Stereotypes. It’s the latest release by their duo Black Violin, whose seeds were planted years ago when the two met as high school students in Florida.

Both men say that when they were kids, studying stringed instruments wasn’t exactly Plan A. Sylvester was nudged into music classes by his mother in fifth grade, and grew to like the violin despite initially dismissing it as uncool. Baptiste, meanwhile, originally wanted to learn saxophone — but when he signed up for summer band, he was put into a string class with a different teacher accidentally. Or so he thought.

“I didn’t find this out until 2012, that the reason why I got put in his class was because he and the band teacher had a bet,” Baptiste says. “They basically said to themselves, ‘Listen, let’s play golf, and whoever wins gets this kid in their class.’ So it wasn’t an accident — it was actually done on purpose.”


Before they were introduced to the strings, Baptiste and Sylvester were kids who loved hip-hop. They met in their high-school orchestra class, where they began to study classical music and learned to love the great composers.

“It started for me with Bach, ’cause Bach is the equalizer, you know?” Sylvester says. “To me, Bach is the hardest thing you can play, because he exposes everything about you. He exposes your weaknesses and makes you work harder. I always think of Bach as, like, the closest composer to divinity.”

Baptiste and Sylvester say that while classical music and hip-hop may seem worlds apart, both are meant to bring people together….

Read the full story here | NPR Music


Challenging Assumptions, or New Orleans’ Eternal State of Suspended Animation | A Different Visual Point of View on Katrina’s Impact

[“The Rising” features work by 11 photographers, including some who lived in New Orleans before the storm and others who moved here since. While all share a common subject matter in the context of the show, most of their images avoid the kind of visual clichés that have come to characterize a large part of post-Katrina imagery.

“Instead of ‘disaster porn,’ we wanted to show the positive aspects of what’s happened since Katrina,” said Ogden Museum curator Richard McCabe, who organized the show. “This work is more of a metaphor for what’s happened in New Orleans over the last 10 years.”

As a result, “The Rising” challenges certain assumptions of how the storm affected the fabric of life in New Orleans.

And like the New Orleans Museum of Art’s excellent if even more opaque “Ten Years Gone,” running concurrently across town, it confounds expectations of what a “Katrina show” should be.

Sophie Lvoff’s dreamy cityscapes show a New Orleans in an eternal state of suspended animation seemingly untouched by any kind of outside influence, meteorological or otherwise.]

Read the article and see the photographs here | THE NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE



Pretty Much, Yes

12 Native Americans, Among Hundreds of Others, Who are Making a Difference

These Native Americans are standing up to represent their heritage and their culture. Watch some of them taking a stand on Rebel Music: Native America NOW, an MTV Facebook Premiere Exclusive.


Colbert Report’s Stereotype-Smashing Segment on the Openly Gay Mayor of Vicco, Kentucky

“To get your point across, sometimes you just gotta laugh,” Mayor Johnny Cummings told Mother Jones, after the segment aired. “That’s how I look at it. So I thought, OK, The Colbert Report would be perfect.”

“If God makes ’em born gay, then why is he against it?” a Vicco resident asks in the clip’s moving final moments. “I can’t understand that. I’ve tried and tried and tried to understand that, and I can’t.”

People Who Destroy America: Mayor Johnny Cummings

School Says Short-Haired Girl, 8, Needs To Start Acting More Feminine

School Says Short-Haired Girl, 8, Needs To Start Acting More Feminine

This is an article from The Huffington Post

Multilevel approach to coping with stigmas may help relieve many health issues

Multilevel approach to coping with stigmas may help relieve many health issues

Socially stigmatized groups have poorer health than non-stigmatized groups, but a team of researchers believes that more emphasis on two-way and multidisciplinary interventions will have a greater and more successful impact on relieving many health issues. Stigma results when a negative stereotype becomes attached to a particular characteristic in societal consciousness. People with this specific characteristic come to be seen as lower in status than others and therefore separate. Once separate, these groups become a target for discrimination. Stigma can affect interactions, the availability of resources and the way people think and feel, leading to social exclusion — which is associated with an increased risk of mortality. [Penn State | Science Daily]