Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Grand Master Tony Watts


Tony Duane Watts was born and raised in White Plains NY. Raised in a single parent household he w/ the guidance of an uncle who was a black belt he began studying martial arts at at a young age. One of the early forms was Karate and then he moved on to Kung Fu. Because he grew up without his father he has said his Sifu's (teachers) in martial arts were like his fathers. Grand Master Watts, Sifu, Moy Wu (honorable son) has been studying martial arts for over 50 years and teaching for over 40 of those years. He has degrees in Karate, JuJitsu, Aikido, Gung Fu, Sanucs Ryu, Wing Chun, boxing and he served in the US military. With many of these arts he has high ranking degrees, and he has the 10th level (Qi-Gong) in Gung Fu. Beyond teaching martial arts (all over the world in White Plains) Master Watts has been an active member of his local community mentoring young people away from senseless violence and drugs. He is a father to 9 children, and 7 grand children. 

I found a video of Master Watts while researching another martial artist years ago and could feel that he takes his art form seriously and is very disciplined and principled. More over, you can tell he has respect for his teachers, honor, and he carries on traditions that were developed over 400 years ago. He is not just a student, but a disciple. 

Sources: Black Taoist, Total Wing Chun, West COPNY

Did you see the painting of martial artist Steve Muhammad?
The last painting before this one in 2021 is Denise Oliver-Velez

Original photo ref: Nay Marie


Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Denise Oliver-Velez

There is a ton of research out there about there about her so I'll keep this brief. Denise is a Black woman who was one of the most prominent members of the Young Lords Party and the Black Panther Party in NY. Her activism did not start there though. She grew up in a radical family and has been immersed in political work her whole life. This includes her time as a student at Hunter College, Howard University, and Old Westbury. It involves work in civil rights, the HIV/Aids epidemic, teaching, and her time in the Party. She also fought to cut the macho bullshit and sexism that women experience within movements by advocating for the Lords to have equality in rank and in writing for the Palante newspaper. She very humbly stated that she and her comrades  came up with their ideology and plans from seeking out information from hella different sources, synthesizing what was relevant, and then making it work as they grew. I invite you to look up her interviews, follow her on twitter. Yes, she's still alive (72 yrs young) and still working; teaching the next generation in colleges. In addition to her work with Iris Morales to build equality for women, I was struck by her talking about confronting racism not only against Puerto Ricans but self-hatred and racism within Boricuas. It was also inspiring to hear about the solidarity between different groups and coming together for common cases.  

 This piece is to honor Ms Denise Oliver-Velez and the work she has done for the people. One of the things I dug the most when researching is her refreshing willingness to say to younger activists "look at our mistakes" as much as you do the victories. I dig that she's not about celebrity activism, inserting an almighty political ideology on the people, or overly academic or political language either. Salute Ms Oliver-Velez! I'd seen her in pictures many times but didn't know delve into her background until I heard Ericka Huggins mention her on Hard Knock Radio!!!

I'd like to note that some of the victories she helped win for the people was greater access to medical care and study during the AIDS/HIV epidemic which hit Black and Brown communities particularly hard. Sound familiar? Some thing else is making sure women were at least half of the writers in the Palante newspaper, and a patients bill of rights that widely used now in hospitals in the US. 

Sources: Black Women Radicals, Tell a Friend w/ Bryan Knight

Did you catch the piece about Claudia Jones?

The previous post was about The Transgender District


Children's Portrait 62 - Emme


Heres a portrait of a little girl named Emme that I did recently. Check out some process below.

Did you catch the last children's portrait of #61? See it HERE

If you would like to commission a portrait of a child or children please reach out and cop one from my store. Thanks so much for supporting one of a kind, unique, handmade art and for supporting an artist vs a corporation. 

Children's Portrait 61 - P

Here is the 61st portrait. The mama asked me to keep her name private but check her out. 

Did you catch the last children's portrait of Brice? See it HERE

If you would like to commission a portrait of a child or children please reach out and cop one from my store. Thanks so much for supporting one of a kind, unique, handmade art and for supporting an artist vs a corporation.

Video-Stories In Place


Stories in Place: Harriett's Bookshop from Raishad Momar on Vimeo.

Stories in Place: STUDIO-SOLE® from Amandla Baraka on Vimeo.

Yo, these are some really well shot videos about Black owned businesses in the US, UK, Kenya, and more. Nice inspiration for the whole year.


Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Transgender Cultural Center


I'm listening to Alicia Garza's podcast "Lady Don't Take No" when she mentioned the Compton Cultural District. Then I found about these three ladies. Janetta Johnson (54)- who is the executive director of an organization called TGIJP or the "Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project". Honey Mahogany (35)-An artist, activist, social worker, and candidate for office in SF. And Aria Sa'id (29)-Former program director at St James Infirmary, current founder of Kween Culture, and the executive director of the Transgender Cultural District. 

Each of these women have worked in some capacity as advocates for the Trans community. They came together to help found the Transgender Cultural District which is now the worlds first cultural district in a city that honors transgender people. Its 6 city blocks of the Tenderloin neighborhood located in San Francisco California. And it is one of the places trans people come to when they first enter the city.

The story is, a developer wanted to build a new condo, the community pushed back because it was not lifting up the people who live there currently and it did not preserve the local history such as the Compton Cafeteria riot of 1966 which is one of the first documented times the queer community fought back against police harassment (Stonewall 1969). A coalition of activists fought to preserve the history and got Jane Kim (Dist 6 supervisor) to make it happen at the city level. This cultural district has plans to help Trans folks with tenant rights, jobs, space for arts & culture, historical preservation, and cultural competency. 

Sources: TransgenderDistrictSF.com, Forbes, Out Magazine, NPR

Did you catch the ptg of Miss Major?
The last one before this was Wilhelmina Godfrey


Black Is Beautiful 2021 - Wilhelmina Godfrey


Wilhelmina Godfrey was born in 1914 in Philadelphia and moved to Buffalo NY. A life long artist she was always making art. She attended Albright Art School , the art institute of Buffalo, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Wilhelmina was a sculptor, weaver, printmaker, and a painter. I chose the images behind her in this portrait because of her more abstract painting style. Shout out to Florida A&M who posted about her. Besides being an artist she also advocated for the arts by teaching, organizing a weaving program, and co-founding the Langston Hughes Center with Jim Pappas, Clarence Scott, and Allie Anderson (a space for youth arts). In her lifetime she exhibited her art, sold paintings, and was awarded a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts. She passed away in 94, but I hope to find more information about her and that people become aware of her work.

Sources: FAMU 79' Impact Afro American Women Artists, Buffalo News, Uncrowned Community Builders

Did you see the painting of Lois Mailou Jones?
The last one before her this year is Leola King

Panel discussion-Tandem

Excited to take part in this discussion with these fine folks as part of Tandem Early Learning. If you'd like to watch, listen, ask questions, and or participate please register here.


Reading This Sunday-Afro Latinx Festival


This coming Sunday I'll be speaking with Gabriela from the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach about kids books. This is a story time for the little ones so please invite them and families to attend, listen, and ask questions. More information on how to register  HERE