Covid and Black Arts & Entertainment (MLK Day 2022)

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.~

My thoughts are continuously on The Arts & Entertainment scene for the Black Community here in Las Vegas and and beyond. So many thoughts and concerns cross my mind and I go around and around on what the challenges that are faced and more so, what are the actions that need to take place to resolve the problems that I have identified.

I have sat on this blog, trying to identify my respectful approach on addressing what my perspective is. This can be a challenge since I am no Black, some know my background but many don’t. I have been apart of the industry from the Indie side, and not living in Las Vegas, I have witnessed the challenges of Black Entertainment.

So on this Martin Luther King Jr Day of 2022, I decided to pray and put my thoughts out there publicly as I reflect on the influence this great man had on my life as a child, young person and seasoned adult that I am now. I was 8 years old when he was assassinated and remember trying put together my simple words of sympathy in the loss of this man’s life in a letter to his bereaved wife and family. Even at this age, I understand the impact this would have in my school, my neighborhood and city.

I don’t honestly know if I can say that MLK was a big influence in how I think and feel about the rights and responsibilities of creative soulz and building a network to support the community of Black Creatives with in their region and beyond. I found that I want to have a say, a voice that people would listen to and could influence them to react in kind. At times there seem to be a strong following of creatives and their fans that mad me feel that I made sense. I had a following in Seattle, across the United States and even pulled an International following. My posts and internet radio shows response along with my numbers showed that what I was saying and trying to build made sense. From call-in’s to my radio show to emails and phone calls that from people who followed me anonymously for a lengthy amount of time, to then reaching out to me to connect due to appreciating my consistently and commitment to support Black Arts & Entertainment.

The Indie Artist Cheerleader, Advocate and Consultant was founded…and I loved it. I found my passion and purpose. It began in my coffee house, Flava in Seattle, branched out in a varieties of around the world and introduced to experienced in this Industry that inspired me and frustrated me.

I try to have conversation to help inspire people to come together and build a scene of real support and a scene that can go beyond the the regular following that attends their events or those that support by purchasing product. The conversations about building a solid and identifiable brand to promoting and presenting opportunities for people to advertise on my radio shows and website and blogs. No response or reaction…my efforts go unnoticed or not needed…something. More and more I don’t want to be SILENT and want to be apart of the solution to help creative soulz thrive and feel excited about what they do.

“Our lives begin to end the day that we become silent about things that matter. ~Martin Luther King Jr~”

The Power of Communal Voices who Take Action to Build

We are living through this crazy thing called Covid a major Pandemic that has not only effected Las Vegas and the United States, but is has effected people all over the world. Covid and it’s variants do not discriminate by color of your skin, the content of your character, the economic stands, education and where you live…It can attack anyone, at any time and any place….it sneaks up on you and you might thing it’s a cold or the flu and then something tells you that its more.

Here in Vegas Covid shut down all Entertainment…not discriminating, but I was very aware of how it has effected Black Entertainment…The casinos that was the home to many Black Entertainers shutdown and at this point going on 3 years later will not be reopening…the other outskirt casinos and venues shutdown or limited what type of entertainment could take place. In the beginning the the entertainers where able to apply for a special unemployment, some got it while more did not… Some of these talented people were able to find side jobs as they were made available but even that was few and far apart. The struggle was real and depression set it.

I tried to encourage creatives to take this time to master they craft, perfect it, learn new music or techniques, choreography or whatever things that could prepare them for the return and opening of space for them to again be amongst the people and showcase their talents. Indie Artists seemed to continue to work on their crafts…music, books, graphics and such… Vegas just stopped.

When the doors of opportunity reopened not all the way but allowed smaller venues to have patrons to dine in and be entertained….they came back with the same ole same ole. This was when I really realized that it was about the talents, but more so the need to get out and socialize and be seen. The indie scene existed and open mics and such presented the ability to come share your original works. But there isn’t a real Indie scene here in Vegas and it seemed that the Indie Scene Globally was so challenged by this Pandemic.

Towards the middle and end of 2021, there were more and more opportunities for Black Entertainment to be experienced…but more and more the masks came down and not ward the whole time in a venue and social distancing became non existent. Sadly, there have been events where people with Covid were present (possibly not knowing at that time that they were positive for Covid) and from what I can tell, no contract tracing took place or announcement made without names to notify people that they had been present where people have tested positive. Working in the health industry, this was so disappointing to me and so irresponsible.

“The time is always right to do what’s right. ~Martin Luther King Jr~

Some venues has closed again or limiting what is taking place…you can still come out and experience Black Entertainment and Events in January of 2022…but there is not much. For me, with Omicron spreading rapidly in Las Vegas and around the world…I do not know if people will heed to the fact that they can contract this New Covid Variant even if you are vaccinated.

Back home in Seattle, I have been told that the Arts & Entertainment scene for the Black Community is practically nonexistent. That many place require you to show that you are vaccinated to come in. I do not think they will ever do that here in Vegas. It would be a way of limiting the chance of spreading and contracting Covid…but I sense that they do not want the backlash of taking this approach to filling venues and events.

So what’s the right thing to do when it comes to Black Arts & Entertainment? And how can they maintain some form of income coming into their lives so that they can simply survive until the day that this Pandemic lifts?

Today, on Martin Luther King Jr Day 2022…I wonder what he would tell his Black Brothers and Sisters to do? I wonder.

I can recite some of his words, and reflect on others….at times I come across a writing that I had never experienced and I pause…so much wisdom in one man. I wish people could build off of his essence and come together and create they own spaces and standards to keep this Life that I Love, called Black Arts & Entertainment.

Lady Flava of Lady Flava News

I Love Creative SoulZ

I am Lady Flava who Advocates for Creative SoulZ

My Birth place as Lady Flava was at my coffee house, Flava Coffee House 2003-2008. I knew I wanted it to be colorful, embrace the diversity of this community where I lived and to welcome creativity to be supported. I established just that.

I was apart of hosting a Jazz cruise, became a book reviewer of African American Literature of all genres, hosted a national literary conference, hosted open mics and sold creative soulz merchandise.

I dared to dream and I designed her laying on my living room floor. God opened up the doors for me to meet the contractors that helped to bring her to life along with the help of my children and daddy.

I built Flava at the wrong time and I had not a strong business person. The struggle was real and sadly I lost my home that I owned for 17 years behind being a struggling small business owner. In 2008 with the help of 3 trusted Flava Coffee Family Members, I decided to not resign another 5 year lease. The summer of 2008, I closed the doors to Flava Coffee House in North Seattle.

A deep sadness over came me but my family was right there by my side and my daddy let me know I was special and would continue my journey of supporting creative soulz. Some special people helped me with my journey over social media and a different excitement over took my life and soon the doors open to go beyond the doors of Flava Coffee House. I found a strong voice and created a presence to support artists of all genres and art forms.

My passion and purpose was heightened and I woke in the morning plotting and planning. I went to sleep dreaming. Conversations were had locally and nationally… I became apart of a community that connected and found ways to create platforms for Creative SoulZ to be experienced.

In 2009 I was encouraged to become an online radio host by DeWayne Alston of Soul City Radio out of Baltimore. This became a beautiful place for me to show my support to indie music and more locally, nationally and eventually I went strong globally. I had set shows and more often than not, did spontaneous shows.

Arthritis was taking over my legs and it was getting harder to walk and even while being still, the pain became apart of my everyday life. The Power of having a passion, it helped me deal with the severity of the pain.

My daddy was aging and need 24 hr care. I stepped up to be his caregiver with the help of my children. He loved Flava so much and he wholeheartedly supported me with Lady Flava News and was a regular financial sponsor of my needs and projects. We used to go to iHop to have weekly breakfast meetings to talk about Lady Flava News. Daddy told me that this was my ministry to work with a support creative people. He said it would not be easy, but it was the journey that God put me on. I always remind myself of my Daddy’s words. Daddy passed in 2016. That same year I had knee replacements on both of my knees. And I dared to dream of taking my journey in a different direction.

In 2017 with the encouragement of Lillian Rice of Live The Music, Sherry Gordy of Sherry Gordy Presents and Marc VanClaggett of Marlex Records…I moved to Las Vegas with a big dream.

I wanted to take my support of Indie Artists to another level by creating a performance platform call Flava’s Lounge when Creative SoulZ could showcase their craft in Vegas. Plotting and Planning was in the works and I almost had it all put together with a venue and all the elements and people on board. Then a shift happened and I was present with a different option than the original…this involved a large amount I would need to pay to use the venue. I had enough to do possibly 2 shows… What to do? I had an o call job that the hours became not dependable….

I got 2 second job and then a third. I was hustling to just survive and to build a dream. My business partner pulled out and I became a one person show. The people I believed were apart of my Vegas foundation really weren’t so conversations became less and less. People wanted me on there team to help them build their dreams and I did allow myself into it…I realized that I stopped working on and believing my purpose of moving to Vegas. In conversations, watching and attending events…my eyes opened up that Vegas was not open to supporting Original Music. I became so discouraged and I felt lost, craving to Seattle. I resisted helping others with their projects. I stood firm to only supporting what I sincerely liked and was willing to attach my name, my brand to.

The struggle was real and depression set in. I felt stuck in a place that I could not relate to. I became extremely judgmental after experiencing racism, ignorance, tunnel vision. I stopped enjoying being amongst people and listening to the same cover songs over and over, the same show every week and this went on for years.

My life consisted of going to work and coming home. I know my now that my energy was bad, so I became comfortable with solitude. As an Empath this was a safe place for me to live. Then the Pandemic of Covid 19 shut the world down.

The Pandemic took our worlds over, people rapidly became sick with the virus including myself. People were severely sick and hospitalized, adding the death toll to life as we have come to know it.

It feels like The Arts & Entertainment Industry came crashing down. Venues closed, gathering were not allowed or limited. Mandated mask wearing, social distancing … a cultural shock over came the world and of course there were those that went against what was highly encouraged for all people to do, to keep safe and lessen the spread of this deadly virus. Vaccinations, boosters and many people refused to get vaccinated along with people getting this new variant even after being vaccinated. I immediately got my vaccinations and booster without question.

Now it 2022 and we are on a 3 variant of this pandemic. Just as people were beginning to come out again, venues opening for small gatherings for entertainment. The casinos limiting opportunities for Black Entertainment to be experienced. The end of 2021 people came out to enjoy entertainment and to social, letting their guards down. Not always wearing masks, no social distancing and show physical affection. Turning around that people in attendance tested positive with Covid and were sick. No contact tracing done or announcements made to let people know they were in contact with people with Covid. As a person who works in the medical area…I was angry and disappointed.

I Love Creative SoulZ…So what do we do now? Black Arts and Entertainment has been devastated by the beginning of this Pandemic. People out of work with no income to depend on or very little, not even worth mentioning.

I am a firm believer in creating what doesn’t exist or what we need more of. I try to do my part through social media promotions, my radio shows and blogs or YouTube.

I became doing my part, with no acknowledgement shown or appreciation given. I became discouraged again, I can say that I never got over the disappointment of my move to Vegas. Then very little was seen on my social medias when I would see creative soulz promoting. Social Media felt like work than excitement. I am to a point that I have pulled back.

I have never fully walked away from supporting creativity and small businesses…I’m working on me and finding my way to make being a person who supports and advocates for Creative SoulZ. I need it to make sense and feel good to me. I am honoring myself and with God’s Grace I will come back strong with a presence that I can live with to present to those who are meant to pay attention.

I may seem distant, but I am still here. I will get back to my radio shows, as I revamp who I support and my purpose of being on air. I have my blogs and will share my authentic self with no apologies. I have a page on my website that that is called “What’s Happening in Vegas.” I scroll through through a variety of social medias looking for what is taking place in Black Arts and Entertainment in Las Vegas. I may step out from time to time if there is an event taking place that I am draw to attend that I feel I can feel safe.

This turned out to me longer than I intended…but I guess I had a need to share.

LadyFlava of LadyFlavaNews

#ThePowerof60+

#SharingMyThoughts

#DoingMe with You in Mind ♥️

Staffing Shortage Due To Covid

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