Author: Danielle Pacifico-Cogan

I could study the nuances and intersections of American history, music, art, and culture for the rest of my life and never get bored.

The Last Time

There are so many days this year that are the anniversaries of the last time we did something in 2020.

These pictures were taken on March 6, 2020, at the Oakland Museum of California on my last visit to a museum. The Bay Area shelter in place order took effect eleven days later.

Ruth Asawa. Untitled, 1959.

Philip Lindsay Mason. Family Scape.

Dorothea Lange. Gas station. Kern County, California. 1938.

Carmen Lomas Garza. Felino’s Breakdancers, 1988.

Richard Diebenkorn. Figure on a Porch, 1959.

5 Songs For The End of The Week

Grand Dame Queenie. Amy Sherald, 2012.

Smooth as silk. Sweet like honey. Made for the moonlight. Brighter than sunshine. There is no voice like Ms. Dionne Warwick’s. If you haven’t already dipped into her catalogue of hits, it’s time to get into it. Here are five of my favorites for the end of the week.

Congressman John Lewis was a joyful warrior. In celebration of his birthday, here is the essay he wrote to be published on the day of his funeral. Every word of this essay is worth reading. It is a call to action and a reminder that even in times of great despair there is hope.

“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”

-John Lewis

Thinking of Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

-Audre Lorde

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence.”

-Toni Morrison

Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison gave us so much. Their words wind through hearts and minds giving solace and stoking imagination. With exquisite precision and unyielding brilliance, they crafted hearty vocabularies capable of holding and expressing the universalism of their own experiences. What Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison wrote were truths Black women and Black people knew in their bones, but rarely saw in print. They eviscerated the intellectual and moral smallness of the American cultural imagination that relegated Blackness and specifically Black women to the margins.

We have been blessed by their inextinguishable light. Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison’s words are talismans, full of magic and protection. They hold up our wholeness in the face of a system designed to smash every facet of our humanity. To be Black in America is to be too much and never enough. To be Black in the words of Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison is to be complete in the complexity of ourselves, and that has always been enough.

Nina Simone “Feeling Good”

The Only Way Through This is Together- Facing COVID-19 in 2021

2021 is going to require a collective change of consciousness and new ways of operating in the world. That change is possible and it will be hard. Who will be the helpers and the shepherds to share the vision of who we can be and keep the momentum going for better days for all of us? Some of them are already out in the world doing the work. Some of us may be among them. It’s time to look for the helpers, help them, and join them.

“The pandemic will end not with a declaration, but with a long, protracted exhalation. Even if everything goes according to plan, which is a significant if, the horrors of 2020 will leave lasting legacies. A pummeled health-care system will be reeling, short-staffed, and facing new surges of people with long-haul symptoms or mental-health problems. Social gaps that were widened will be further torn apart. Grief will turn into trauma. And a nation that has begun to return to normal will have to decide whether to remember that normal led to this. “We’re trying to get through this with a vaccine without truly exploring our soul,” said Mike Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.”

Where The Pandemic Will Take America in 2021

“Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible.”

— Angela Davis