Welcome to the ‘Arts and Culture’ Archive

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Revelations: Life

July 12, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Eco-Justice, Intersectionality

Frans Lanting – LIFE: A Journey Through Time

Frans Lanting

Frans Lanting has been hailed as one of the great nature photographers of our time. His influential work appears in books, magazines, and exhibitions around the world. For more than two decades he has documented wildlife and our relationship with nature in environments from the Amazon to Antarctica. He portrays wild creatures as ambassadors for the preservation of complete ecosystems, and his many publications have increased worldwide awareness of endangered ecological treasures in far corners of the earth.

Revelations: #KeepItDown

June 28, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Police State, What People are Doing to Change the World

CI: The Ubiquity, the Banality of Mediated Policing & Punishment

May 27, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Fourth Estate, Media Conglomeration, Prison Industrial Complex

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.


The Ubiquity, the Banality of Mediated Policing & Punishment
by nancy a heitzeg

“Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.”Hannah Arendt

One of the many benefits of rarely watching TV is this: when you do turn it on, you are shocked anew by the uninterrupted routinization of policing and punishment, shook awake from the otherwise somnambulist gaze.

Certainly we have come to expect, with few questions, the demonization of  “criminals”, the fueled fear of crime,  the glorification of police, prosecutors, and prison as “appropriate” punishment. We have come to expect too the racialized framing that deems a 100+ Gun/9 Dead shootout with police in Waco a Kerfuffle, a mere “melee“, while 1 burned CVS amidst Baltimore protests constitutes a riot. This is the overt script for the “news”, the text of “reality” police and prison shows – LockUp, Jail and Cops –  the fodder for the serial glorification of Blue Bloods, Walter White(ness) and Dirty Harry/Die Hard/Mad Max marathons, and the premise of endless incarnations of Law and Order, CSI, and more.

Perhaps most insidiously, policing, punishment and prison pervades as subtext and unexamined backdrop. Our fears are subverted into twisted humor, often as prison rape jokes that float through even children’s programming, and are also used to sell us an array of consumer products. Here, most recently imagine my surprise at this — in the age of #Ferguson/#Baltimore/#Everywhere and any number of untold deaths by Taser – Dollar Shave Club razors.

Beyond the billions in profit churned  –  yes this too is part of the prison industrial complex — this cultural hegemony normalizes policing and prison as part of the everyday landscape. It is routine; it is to be expected. Policing, punishment and prisons are such blatantly recurrent elements of cultural commodfication that they are embedded as normative within our psyches and collective subconscious.

The hyper-visible atrocities  are, in effect, rendered completely invisible. They are so Everywhere that they are Nowhere at all.

And how do you dismantle a system of excessive repression that many can no longer even see?


Revelations: #DecorationDay

May 24, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Sunday Music Flashback

The First Decoration Day

By David W. Blight. 2011.
The People’s History of Memorial Day, Zinn Education Project


 “…War kills people and destroys human creation; but as though mocking war’s devastation, flowers inevitably bloom through its ruins. After a long siege, a prolonged bombardment for months from all around the harbor, and numerous fires, the beautiful port city of Charleston, South Carolina, where the war had begun in April, 1861, lay in ruin by the spring of 1865. The city was largely abandoned by white residents by late February. Among the first troops to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the Twenty First U. S. Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the formal surrender of the city.
1865 view of the Union soldiers graves at Washington Racecourse. Library of Congress

1865 view of the Union soldiers graves at Washington Racecourse. Library of Congress

Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters’ horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some twenty-eight black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Then, black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people on the slaveholders’ race course. The symbolic power of the low-country planter aristocracy’s horse track (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freedpeople. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

At 9 a.m. on May 1, the procession stepped off led by three thousand black schoolchildren carrying arm loads of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathering in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens’ choir sang “We’ll Rally around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture. No record survives of which biblical passages rung out in the warm spring air, but the spirit of Leviticus 25 was surely present at those burial rites: “for it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you… in the year of this jubilee he shall return every man unto his own possession.”

Revelations: “The blues was bleeding the same blood as me”

May 17, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Sunday Music Flashback

Undiscovered Genius Of The Mississippi Delta. Jeam-Michel Basquiat 1983

Undiscovered Genius Of The Mississippi Delta. Jean-Michel Basquiat 1983

B.B. King (1925-2015) American Roots Music, Oral Histories

Revelations: Mama Told Me Not To Come…

May 10, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Sunday Music Flashback

For B ~  Mother’s Day

Revelations: Turn Out the Lights…

May 03, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Eco-Justice, Economic Terrorism, Sunday Music Flashback

“Irreversible Collapse?”

Revelations: Troubadours

April 26, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Arts and Culture, Intersectionality, Sunday Music Flashback, What People are Doing to Change the World

Trumpet by Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1984

Trumpet by Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1984

Minnesota Orchestra to premiere ‘American Nomad’ trumpet concerto

 “The trumpet is a messenger or troubadour. It’s a call and response. It’s an alarm. It brings us together.”  ~ Steve Heitzeg

“Nobel Symphony” excerpt #3 – Steve Heitzeg
Performed by Philip Brunelle and the VocalEssence Chorus with the Minnesota Boychoir and Gustavus Adolphus College Symphony Orchestra. Charles Lazarus, solo trumpet.