Blessed Love! JJB was in attendance at the graffiti and spokenword event at the Jocob Center, hosted by artist in residence, Gil Soto. Shout out to Gil and his lovely family. During the event we shared storytelling alongside other great storytellers, shared our books and enjoyed the diverse array of poets and painters doing their thing. One artist in particular stood out and left me, as well as others, in awe as she stylishly graced the microphone with a poem entitled, Morning Orange Juice and a Jay. When Monet' name was called to share her works, she glided onstage with her Angela Davis afro, oversized overalls and vans--almost in tribute to 90's fashionista T'Boz--thick coke bottle bifocals that only magnified her beautiful eyes that much more, and a truly genuine smile that symbolized her true zest for life.
After she recited her piece, which was the best out of the poets in my opinion, I approached her in hopes of creating dialogue around publishing her poetry--which still is a goal of mine BTW. However, after mildly obsessing over her unique artist abstractions on her social media sites, I had another plan for our collaboration all together. I was mesmerized by her collages. that seemed to take me through the looking glass of a Pro-Black/Sister's Liberation kaleidoscope.
Prior to meeting Monet, I had been looking for the right illustrator for a very important children's book, written with a focus on young African-American girls, entitled, Miss Shanikwa Mack. Miss Shanikwa Mack is about a cute little Black girl from Compton, who's on a mission to get fifty-cents so she can buy an ice cream from the Paletero Man, for her and her sweet giant pit bull with a pink spiked collar. Miss Mack is written with the same musical cadence as the old handclap song, Miss Mary Mack.
As a kid, I remember all of the little girls around my neighborhood playing either Chinese jump rope, or rhythmically clapping hands together and singing Miss Mary Mack. My goal was to use the same familiar musicality but to put it plain and simple, make it Black. Not only that, I wanted it have a certain "urbanesque" quality that anyone from Black, Brown, Yellow or White, who reside in the hood can identify with . I wanted Miss Mack to have a certain Ebony realness, a particular urban Black girl edge, a rather authentic joy only experienced by a Black woman, who was once a girl, who was able to sift through the decay of the hood, and focus on the deliciousness of an ice cream on a hot summer day with her pup.
Monet was the perfect Sister crafted by the Almighty for the job. I am truly thankful and honored to work with such an amazing artist. Miss Shanikwa Mack is scheduled for release this Fall. Check out our site for updates.
Learn more about Monet at: