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Miami Book Fair International

Topics include Haitian art, hip-hop culture and a personal memoir

D. Kevin McNeir | 11/14/2013, 9 a.m.

Jones posits that while the color line has been erased, at least on paper, it has been replaced by another line — the one between the suburbs and inner cities.

“In 1968, the Kerner Commission said we were moving towards two societies — one Black and one white — and that if we didn’t deal with it we would have a real problem in the future,” he said. “That time has now come and our inner cities our places of desperate social isolation.”

Jones illustrates how hip-hop culture is representative of ghetto spaces and believes the culture war against hip-hop not only condemns the music but also the youth who produce it.

“Where Blacks once faced stigma and were feared by the wider society — that is whites — now the fear and stigma are aimed at Black youth in urban areas, especially those who wear sagging pants and hoodies,” he said.

“Why can we have a Black man from Harvard in a Brooks Brothers suit become president while a Black youth in Sanford is shot to death because he was wearing a hoodie? Jones asked. “That’s the paradox I am seeking to understand.”

The beauty of Haitian art

Candice Russell, a veteran journalist from South Florida, has traveled to Haiti dozens of times over the past 20 years and has been curating Haitian art shows since the late 1980s.

Her coffee table, conversation piece, “Masterpieces of Haitian Art,” has been described as one of the most important books on the subject in 25 years. She says she’s proud that it is the first to deal with Haitian life since the 2010 earthquake that “tragically destroyed many invaluable works of arts and killed many artists.”

“It took me about 15 months to complete this work and it was a process informed by everything I have read, seen and shown about Haitian art,” she said. “The hardest thing was choosing who was in and who was out because there’s so much great art out there.

But one of the things to which I was committed was featuring underrepresented, unsung artists.

This is more like an introduction to artists that most people know very little about — it’s not a rehashing of the same celebrated artists.”

With 308 color images and 265 pages, the art represents everything from local private collections based in South Florida, to New Jersey’s Ramapo College and the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Iowa — the largest holding of Haitian art in the U.S. — all “beautiful works that speak to the Haitian culture.”