Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories

Melany Bell

January 05, 2021 Melany Bell Season 1 Episode 5
Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories
Melany Bell
Show Notes Transcript

Melany Bell is a Seattle based Artist and scientist. The works she does comes thru inner-vented, Holographic learning tech, for Artists and Amateur's. Our connected spaces and where there is negative space for interpretation, finds Shape, finds Sound, Frequencies, frequently found being Us on pages. She teaches and trains recreating, representing, & reflecting the state of a Mind, for the race to BE Human…

Melany Bell is teaching a workshop at Seattle Rep: Find info here!

Mentioned in this Episode:
Black Lives Matter - Seattle King-County
Lorraine Hasberry
Black Farmers Collective
That Brown Girl Cooks
Langston Seattle
Path with Art
NAAM

Take Notice w Melany Bell 



[00:01 – 05:29]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Welcome to 'Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories'. Thank you for listening. I am your host Allison Preisinger-Heggins. To begin we will take a moment to recognize to take notice of the voices that are so often unheard. Land acknowledgement statements are an important part of honoring those whose land we now live and work on. I have chosen to begin each episode this way to spark ideas and keep these conversations in the front of our minds, so that we may learn how to do better. I would like to acknowledge the Atlanta, which I created this recording and the recording of the interview in this episode. I would like to show gratitude to the traditional ancestral land of the Tulalip, Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Sauk-Suiattle, Shoalwater Bay and Chinook tribes, recognizing that these names are not the original names of the peoples of these areas. As I continue to learn how to better acknowledge native people of these lands, I will adjust the wording at the beginning of each episode. 

I encourage listeners to research the land of which you live and are listening right now, recognizing this is just the beginning. Happy New Year! Welcome to 2021. Welcome to new episodes of Take Notice. Thank you for being with us. Hopefully the holidays treated you well, despite the unusual situation we are all in still. So, hopefully you are able to carry on some traditions despite everything and maybe create some new sweet ones as well. I will keep our intro today brief, so that we can get right to the conversation I had with Melany Bell. I look forward to meeting Melany in person one day because we connected in just this really cool way and I just kind of got lost in our conversation, which is not a bad thing at all. She is so interesting; she has a background in so many different things, and is definitely not limited in believing that she can only just focus on one thing in life. So, it is amazing to listen to here. 

And so, I am excited for you to hear our conversation, Melany is an artist and scientist, she says the work she does comes through intervened holographic learning tech, for artists and amateurs, are connected spaces and where there is negative space for interpretation, finds shape, finds sound, frequencies, frequently found being us on pages. She teaches and trains, recreating, representing and reflecting the state of a mind for the race to be human. She is a wonderful human and a creative interesting human that I think you will enjoy listening to. So, please enjoy my conversation with Melany Bell. Take Notice would like to take the time to acknowledge Black owned businesses, organizations and artists. If you have a suggestion of, who we should highlight during our episodes, please find us on social media or visit our website. 

Take Notice invites you to follow, learn from, and support Black Lives Matter Seattle King County or a Chapter near You. Black Lives Matter Seattle King County is a social advocacy organization, fighting for the protection and liberation of Black life through advocacy and direct action. The organization lifts up community voices. In a matter of weeks volunteers raised and granted a quarter million dollars to Black media, Black legal aid and other Black community organizations. They center leadership on Black femmes, women, queer and Tran’s people. Black Lives Matter Seattle King County's fight is collective, urgent and endurant. To learn more and support this organization, please visit Blacklivesseattle.org or find a chapter near you. Good morning, Melany. Thank you for joining me on takes notice, I am so excited to have a conversation with you today and hear your story and I am really glad that we are connected. How are you this morning? 


Melany Bell 

I am good. Thank you for having me. Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely! So, maybe we can start with hearing a bit about where you grew up and who you were surrounded by? 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. Sure. So, I grew up here in Seattle Washington, where I came back in 2008 but I was away for a while, I we started in west Seattle, we went to Olympia lacy, I went to elementary school there, and then junior high school was mostly in Kent Washington, when it was a cow town, and it was all white. So, I do not know, are you familiar with the raisin in the sun, the Lorraine Hansberry story? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I do not know that I am. Tell me about it. 


Melany Bell 

Well, Lorraine Hansberry as I am sure is a pretty famous playwright because she was one, I think the first Black woman on Broadway and the implications of that were rich and deep in my growing up but the play that she wrote was about zoning, you know, some of the same problems we have today with gentrifying neighborhoods. Here in Seattle, we are still going on when I was growing up and she grew up in the 40s and 50s. So, this wonderful play that history done all over the world, really it is been translated in several different languages, is a sort of a basis. The new Jim Crow or the old Jim Crow and Jane crow that Black and Negro and indigenous people, and of course all, to a degree people are going through that sort of trauma of other would… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


[05:30 – 10:07]

Melany Bell 

Marginalized… So, we were going through that in our neighborhood when we were trying to get to the best schools and remember in the 70s that was, they had just killed Dr. King, they had killed Malcolm X, they killed John F Kennedy and Angela Davis was walking around with a bulletproof vest on, being hunted for wanting children to go to school safely. So, I am born during that time period and white folks do not want us in their neighborhoods but we just cannot care anymore. We just have to get to a safer space where they would not invade and lynch us and burn down our home because it is in their neighborhood. So, a lot of people will accuse, I guess the boogie Black folks of running away from the hood, but in fact we knew a little bit of secret that it is really hard to hate the person that is living right next door to you that makes the same money as you, that went to the same university, you have literally no excuse to say they are not equal. 

And we left one another alone in those neighborhoods but we also had the Black church and I went to Bethel Christian Church in the city and faith, deliverance church and that is now out in Benton but it used to be in the city and greatest apostolic temple. I mean these are all Pentecostal churches; these are all from Gulag Chi to the indigenous Cherokee Blackfoot Chippewa, more of the… what we think of as Negro featured indigenous Americans. So that is where I come from, my mother is from New Orleans and so we have all those stories. My father is from the Arkansas migration, from the bell plantation, that is still there today. There is a bell that is like police chief in England Arkansas, where my father grew up until he was around six or seven. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Really? 


Melany Bell 

Yeah, so… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wow! 


Melany Bell 

That is where I come from the Black church was our safety net and where we could hold information from back home, where we were not wanted, we simply just had to be in a safer neighborhood. After 500 years of trying to deal with people that, you know, still today Briana Taylor and George Floyds, it was just a safer bet that they would not burn down the house next to them because we are literally connected. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

So, my parents were very brave, it was not a cop out at all, it was the most terrifying thing that they could possibly think of doing was living in a white neighborhood and allowing those folks to attempt to teach their children, you know. So, that is how I grew up, it was way easier than how my mom and dad grew up I will tell you that. I did not see one lynch body, I did not see one Derek children kneeling for 10 minutes. I did not see that. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Your father, you said grew up in Kansas, was it Kansas? 


Melany Bell 

Arkansas. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Arkansas. 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is where my brain went, I guess. 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Arkansas. How about your mom, where did she grow up? 


Melany Bell 

Louisiana and New Orleans… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, you said that, yes. Okay. What brought your parents out to Washington State? 


Melany Bell 

Well, initially both of my grandparents, maternal and paternal moved to California because it was supposedly where there was more freedom, you know and although, when they moved there, they did not have a television, nobody had a television, just when my parents were growing up, not even a Black and white, they might have accumulated one by the time they were 13, right? And you could go to the pictures, which were still segregated even in the bay area, where they were both back. It is just the sign was not up, Blacks only, you just went to the one in your neighborhoods. You know what I mean? So, they both met at San Francisco state, and my father was a football player, and he got a scholarship to the University of Washington and back then and I am sure, it just recently stopped but the college athletes were really pampered like professional athletes, and they paid your living expenses, it was carte blanche, you got a car, everything. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wow! 


[10:08 – 15:04]

Melany Bell 

So, they were just, this is before the NFL had begun remembered in the 60s or it was just getting started. So, my father was a part of that, first draft for the NFL. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, wow! 


Melany Bell 

And he and OJ Simpson and Marcus Allen and AC, they all grew up together in the same neighborhood and our own. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wow! 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. They moved up here for university, this was one of the only places in the country that they were letting Black folks go to university relatively, easily, if you were a football player. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

But my mother was a concert pianist, she was a dancer, she did ballet, tap, jazz, all of it. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, awesome! 


Melany Bell 

And had planned on being an artist but met this guy that was like hey, you will be my girlfriend; I can get you a full ride to the university of Washington. So, of course I have never been married because nobody is ever watched offered me a pool kind of role. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is a high bar there. 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. It is a high bar. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, goodness! That is great. 


Melany Bell 

But that is their story from the south, you know, and just moved here for more opportunity. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Sure. Yeah and you grew up in the Kent area and what I know about the Kent area now and for listeners who may not know Kent is a little bit south of Seattle. What I know about Kent now is that it is one of the most diverse cities in the states and so that must have been much different when you were growing up if it was majority white. So, did you grow up or were you in Kent through… did you say through high school and then after or did you move away, did you have a comparison of it then to now? 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. My parents were married for 19 years and then split my dad went back to the bay. But, my mom stayed here in Washington, so I finished up high school here in Kent. But again, I had that, you know, real yin yang experience that both and sort of African or indigenous principle, like experience with the Black church in the all-white school. So, by the time I was 18, I was a professional musician, I had been in like three or four choirs, while I was in high school because for me memorizing books of the bible growing up, understanding rhetorical devices and critical thinking from the Black church, all of those basic, you know, mathematic principles like the second law of thermodynamics, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, that is something my father was telling me, who is now a pastor and he said that is you reap what you sow, you know, you plant a seed of corn, you get a big stock of hundreds of get back, because that is how good the universe is at showing you, you are taking care of. 

That abundance is real and so, when you know things like that and you grow up, you know, after they have killed off the guy that says; hey, the chickens are coming home to roost, we really love you, we do not want you to get this back what you are doing to us. You know what I mean? When James Baldwin is pleading in the fire next time, to say hey, this innocent so-called country has set us in ghettos in which in fact it intended, that we should perish, in his letter to his nephew James. We can grow up reading those things from all the Black folks that had left the booker T in the Frederick Douglass debate. They were like we need education, wherever we can get it. We also need to know how white folks think. To be honest, we were terrified and terrorized into being terrified of white folks. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

And we had to drop that, we had made them into the devil itself on earth with all that wicked power. You know what I mean? As if, so our faith had been challenged really by going into the fray, so anyhow but being from the south, you have those roots within you, you are never without your grand sisters, ‘trademark 2019, Melany Bell’, you are never without your ancestors. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I love that. That is great. 


Melany Bell 

You know what I mean? You have always got them in you, just got to listen to that wisdom when your mom and dad say; hey, it is better to not look in that fence next door and think that if the grass is greener, right? And the bible tells you; hey, do not envy your neighbor's wife and stuff and you get out of the house and because you are 18 and you are a professional singer, you do not have to listen, you do not have to go to church, no more, and you have to do none of that, right? But does not it make sense to not be jealous of what somebody else got on their plate? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


[15:05 – 20:26]

Melany Bell 

Because is not there enough food for all of us. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

And so, all those simple lessons, it was like as a rebellious teenager with your own money in your pocket, you sure do want to rebel. But, it stuff goes against common sense, you do so. You know what I mean? So, just that bit of critical thinking of, you is getting comedic wisdom, ancient wisdom from that book, what I call? The KJV version of the bible is the cliff notes to science and philosophy, sociology, history, how to get along and it is written in every culture, in every language, and they apply their own foods to that methodology. But, it is very unique as I go through life and my parents tried to impress that upon me as well, that this story is the truth all over the world. We just speak English, you know. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right and you mentioned going to church in the CD, and I am familiar with the CD area, but others, mean some listeners may not be. So, can you kind of describe that area and what it was like going to church there and…? 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. Have you ever been to Nebraska? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Once, I have been to Nebraska once. 


Melany Bell 

Did you go to Lincoln at all? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I do not think. So, I was in Omaha mostly. 


Melany Bell 

Oh, okay. Yeah. So Omaha is actually kind of a big city compared to how Seattle felt back then, but back then it was just a tiny little town, you know. So, when you were in the central district, it was not anything like it is today. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

Every home there was owned by a Black person, again there was no sign saying you could not live in the neighborhood, you just knew you were not allowed, you had to make an excessive amount of money and have, you know, like my father did a master's degree in the 70s, which may as well have been tenured professorship, you know, for a Black man who had been a football player, you know. So, he grew up with like Bruce Harrell, you know, our old city council president. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, okay. 


Melany Bell 

And like he and my uncle jerry and my mom and their wives, we would explore Seattle together. So, the CD was something where we would find there was a restaurant called Helens, you remember Helen’s soul food? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I do not. I think I am more familiar with the last 10 years of Seattle and then growing up I would pop down there but I grew up north of Seattle, so... 


Melany Bell 

It was before his owls. Go ahead. Sorry! Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, okay. No, go ahead. Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

Well, Helen’s soul food restaurant was fantastic and there was lattice BBQ and there were a couple other barbecues but they were not as good as lattice. But, we had a whole, you know, we had a like a Japanese dentist who had been injured or I call it, what it is, put into concentration camps here in the united states but had come out and become a dentist and lived in our neighborhood. So, it was a real, not super multicultural, it was really Asian and Black, believe it or not and we were very into each other's stuff. You know what I mean? We lived on Spokane Street there for a while right by the entrance to the highway. We were going to the same grocery stores as kids in the ID and we ate ginger like pickled ginger and pickled plums and rice balls and nori and all that stuff, we loved it and because of that, our brain is not the same, we are wired differently, you know, because of the bravery of our parents to come this far from home. You know, as close to Canada. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

As you can get to escape just in case but this idea that it is ever been easy to be indigenous or brown or Black in this country is false and that is what you learn by the living, you know and we are just now in 2020, come and clean about that. So that journey from the south, that great migration that Jacob Lawrence has painted for us and August Wilson, also from Seattle. Or well with the bulk of his career here in Seattle, when he was writing, both of those amazing authors were trying to chronicle our ways of knowing. So, by the time I got to university and I was a professional singer, dancer and actor. By the time I was 18, okay. That is how great our grand sisters are. That in one generation after they murdered Dr. King and had Angela on the run and Tupac’s mother or auntie in jail or her on the run and all of these things are concurrently occurring while… White people have not figured out yet or I should say the systemic racism that keeps capitalism going, has not figured out how to integrate our schools and keep Black kids back at the same time. 

[20:27 – 25:10]

Melany Bell 

So, I did not know, all this time I just tried to take in cooking class, I have a BFA from Suny Purchase College of the arts in New York. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, wow! 


Melany Bell 

I was also a dean's list student at Kent ridge and I went to three different high schools, my parents got divorced while I was in high school. I was freshman class president. I was an overachiever at every level. I had like two required classes by my senior year because I had AP College prepped my way. There I was making ten dollars an hour as a lab assistant for Dr. Jonathan Wright, who wrote why stomach acid is good for you and introduced me to a whole other mindset, like that of which Dr. Sebi would later and Quinoa would later teach me about the human body, how plants work, et cetera… But, it started with carver with my mom saying; you guys like peanut butter, you know, Black men have been at peanut butter, here is his autobiography, you know what I mean. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

So, our parents engaging in their own lives, in that way are continuing to educate themselves. We are the technology in our mind, our consciousness is a technology that creates anything, that is so-called technology, you know, even our idea of money, the pretty paper, we spend on technology, is coming from that source intellect that infinite intelligence, and being taught about that source that infinitely intelligent source that is unconditionally attempting to give you everything that you want. What you really want, right? If you do not learn that that is real, but the universe is not fighting against you, and you cannot win fighting against it. You have to be humble like George Washington Carver and say; god, just show me the peanut, do not tell me anything else that the atom itself is so complex, how can I ask for more than I just learned about this one plant in detail. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

Because of that our ways of knowing, which is actually the title of a class that I took at Seattle central community college and Professor Carl Livingston, I was teaching law and political science in that but from the historic point of view of women and people of color and if you just looked at history and science, you know, from the point of view of women and people of color, who would be living in an entirely different planet with the technology that literally comes out of the wound man. So, anyhow I get very philosophical, stop me please. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I am just in awe of everything that you are saying but also how much you have accomplished. I was looking through some of the materials that you sent over and it is just, you are an artist, a musician, a scientist, a philosopher. So, it is just so interesting to hear the breadth of knowledge that you have and I am personally super interested in having a conversation with you about music because I am a musician as well. But, we can do that another time or that pulls me always, I am like wait, this is not about music, let us… but it is always interesting. Though I would love to hear a little bit about what you did as a singer and then what kind of moved you do to these other pieces or if it was always that you were interested in, it sounds like you were always interested in, in all of the things, so that is kind of informed your path. 


Melany Bell 

If you start studying the infinite, you know, a lot of people have asked me throughout my life, and I am old now, I am a middle-aged woman. But, throughout my life just being interested in the idea that there is an infinite source of intelligence, and I can keep going, I can never be done, taken from this well of information and so, my whole life, I have been so curious about what other people were thinking, you know, reading, doing, who, what, where, when, why, did they choose that? And so, for me the arts were the only place that I could really ask all of those questions. I would not get pigeonholed into just studying law, just studying biology, chemistry, and physics. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

I could pretend on a stage that I was a doctor, right? But I would actually have to research what that person was feeling, why, you know, how does an intellect get like that? And that really curiosity, it did not kill a cat. 

[25:11 – 30:06]

Melany Bell 

You know what curiosity for cats got, they have cat cafes, and people worship cats, literally, okay. Because they are so brilliant, they got us pamper in their butts, like you do not know, you know what I mean? They are large and in charge, cats are brilliant, they do not have nine lives, they have many more and we are paying more. So, curiosity really does pay off and that happens when you have… well, my parents both started off really open-minded, right? In a sense that all is full of love and there is opportunity and things can happen, even if your countrymen say; you are Black and that is the worst thing that ever happened to anybody. Even if the countrymen say that you can still live a good life. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

And in pursuit of just wanting to enjoy their life, they continue to educate themselves, continue to be curious and that is why I am the way I am. Musically, my mother again was a concert pianist and she is in the gospel church when she is pregnant with all of her children. If you have ever learned about like the Kinsey scale of sexuality and looked at, oh I forget Dr. spock, that is his name, that was doing all these studies on children's minds and of course the Nazis. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

So, there are all these different methodologies on how to get optimal behavior out of kids and what my grandmother, my maternal grandmother Mayola Simon, also Davis, did was give my mother the arts and so that language… and you just said music takes over, I will get off on a tangent, what means that we are vibration, we are as defined by Michio Kaku and Neil Degrasse Tyson, living in a holographic universe of strings to a degree of vibrational realities, vibrational pathways, that are creating a lattice, if you will of. Information all around us and I love to think of those old pink panther movies or those super spy movies where a thief is trying to get to the hope diamond or the royal jewels and there is all those lasers and they have to crawl through them and not touch one of them and that is a little bit like life. You are looking for that holy grail of passion that is going to really set you off and make you into a superhero of some kind, whether it is John Coltrane or George Washington Carver, whether it is Nina Simony or Oprah Win Frey, Madame CJ, if it is Zaha Hadid, a great architect. 

It started with an enormous holy grail of passion that just took over you, right? So, how do we get there creatively? What does music have to do with that? What do the arts have to do with that? Why are our stories of knowing so important? And so important to be true to have integrity because that lattice as you are weaving and winding around and trying to stay in your lane and not hit anybody else's lane, their string, their path, trying not to obstruct someone else or force your opinion on others. You are having a clear path because of that and so, when you think of yourself as vibration, as a song in a room and you get the opportunity to be that song that changes the room rather than when it is unnecessary, the really loud death metal, right? You get that opportunity to be that different kind of song, that can ensue, and then it is coming specifically from you from your passion place that is why when you say music will take over, it is because it is everything in this. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

Sort of holographic universe… And it also helps you lighten up, not take things so seriously, enlightened, can levitate feelings away from you in so many ways and bring them on as well. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. I love that image. I have never thought about it that way. 


Melany Bell 

Well, me either, you know, specific people bring things out of you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Oh man! That is such a beautiful image. So, a portion of this project that we are doing, aside from just generally collecting stories, also to hear people's personal encounters with racism, if they are comfortable sharing them. So, if you have a story that you are comfortable sharing now, we could get into that now or we could move on to the next thing. 


Melany Bell 

Yeah. Let us do that. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay. 


[30:07 – 35:22]

Melany Bell 

I think it is important because I have been raised to always reflect on myself as blessed, and it is true. When I look at history, I am really blessed. So, racism in my life has been a theoretical thing in most ways, it is an unusual circumstance, I will tell you that. But again, I had a very yin yang both and life growing up. However, I will just give you the most recent version of what I have lived through and it is because I keep just blowing past it, I just ignore it, like it is pork as the rappers say, it I may be confronted with someone who thinks they are about to be racist for instance. But then I just undeniably changed their mind in whatever ways their mind is changed as while confronted with me. I do not know the specifics of what is done emotionally to them when they are confronted with somebody that does not care like, you know what I mean and they just continue on with their life being right. 

The most recent example I experienced was, I was trying to get my college transcripts, sent to Seattle central, they have a wonderful program, there for culinary arts, and I wanted to take it now. I am a nutritionist. I have two three certifications, one in applied kinesiology, one in neurology or what is called gut and psychology syndrome, and one in basic nutrition and health that applies the anatomy, physiology of the human body, how the body really works, the basic foundations from hydration, digestion and butchering control to mineral have taken a simple fatty acid. So, I am pretty good at school but I love to keep learning and I thought wow, a culinary arts certification from this particular school would just be, you know, the icing on my cake, right? But, I currently have over 2000 pieces of fine art that I have been developing over the last couple years while proving the efficacy of my work, the nutrition protocol that I have created. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay. 


Melany Bell 

So, I am wanting to take this class and I have all these certifications and I have a BFA and I have a high school diploma, all great grades, you know what I mean? I am expecting this to be really easy to get into this class with my visual art presentation and my nutrition certification and the fact that I actually teach cooking as a nutritionist. I think I am a slam dunk for this class. They say you are, except for you need to take math 087 or have your transcripts with your bachelor's on it. I said; okay, try to get my transcript then since march I have been trying to have my transcript sent to Seattle central and I cannot get them set. That is what I found out when I called the 87th time. I am over exaggerating, I called like 10 times. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

But the 87 millionth time, you know, what I called for my transcript, I got a young man tell me that my transcripts were incomplete, my 4.2 GPA BFA that I graduated with honors on the dean's list, early in my senior year with a contract to the Oregon Shakespeare festival. The largest rotating repertory theater in the country but I was an extraordinary student and I accelerated in every way, not only could I not get my transcripts sent because they were incomplete in every way, but I was told by Suny Purchase, I was going to have to reapply to the school, pay them again to get them to give me the BFA that I already earned with a 4.2. Now before you say anything about that, as far as did you ever see scandal that shows scandal? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yes. Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

I am sure you remember the scenes when she said; we have to be five times as good or we have to be twice as big, right? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

While I was getting my 4.3, after I graduated high school with divorced parents who… and a single mom who was raising six kids, literally on her own without a diamond support with one state job. After I graduated with honors from high school and could not get my high school transcripts to Seattle central. I graduated with a 4.2 emphasis list with honors and a contract to a major theater, you would think after 30 years of being a professional artist with a start like that on the dean's list and everything. That school, either my high school or my university would have called me for a job but wait there is more, while I was getting my 4.2 BFA and graduating with honors early in my senior year. I was sexually assaulted three times in college, twice on campus. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay. 


Melany Bell 

So, five times as good does not really cut it for some of us, you know. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

We have to be even better than that and then you know what happens? They would not even give you your BFA, they would not send your transcripts over, that is racism that is sexism that is hidden figures that is more than me that it happened. That is systemic, that is disgusting… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

That is why 700 people in the Suny system and I hate to say stuff like this. But, 700 people in the Suny system, right now got COVID and they had to shut the Suny system down. Energy, second law of thermodynamics, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, so that see, you will get back what is coming to you in equal measure without judgment, you will get back what do you have put out in equal measure… 

[35:23 – 40:31]

Melany Bell 

How did that affect my life? I could not get into the evergreen state college a PhD program, I did not know why. I should have been able to because it is a different kind of school and I can prove out my masters as I do my PhD when you have that kind of BFA behind you but I did not have that. This could have affected every single job I applied for. When they asked for my credential… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

And all they had to do as a professional is ask if I had graduated, they do not even have to see my transcripts which are only sent to college. But, as far as I knew for the last three years, I was a BFA honor student, who got their invitation, sent their graduation, all that stuff sent. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

Was not even concerned with the sheet of paper, it is in there somewhere. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

It is literally impossible for me not to have a BFA in my estimation but because of systemic racism and trying to hold people back and movies like the hidden figures and Henrietta lacks. I am sure you are familiar with. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

But because the United States has done this, that is why in less than 250 years, they have collapsed the economy 10, 15 times, that is worse than Rome. They have been trying to sneak slavery into every portion of everything they do, this whole time, they keep collapsing their economy, and they have to cheat their kids through college and by the, I mean the wealthy elite that thinks slavery works energetically, just mathematically, it does not, you cannot beat yourself to death to make yourself work harder and get something out of it. You know what I mean? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


Melany Bell 

You are just going to flip on yourself and turn into Harriet Tubman. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wow! Yeah and that whole time in the time between you did not realize that was the case. 


Melany Bell 

No, so blessed and highly favored. I am not studying some universities piece of paper, I am studying actual information. No one would even look up my credential, I have gotten got called my entire life for work. Okay? I never stopped working. Alright! It did not do anything, I am just saying, it could have… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, yeah. Totally! Yeah, thank you for sharing that. Oh, man I could chat with you forever. But I should probably ask you my questions that I read each guest… we will just have to set up another interview, I mean. But, I am curious to hear your answer to these questions. So what brings joy or fun into your life? 


Melany Bell 

Well, that is art, that is a relief and joy, you know and now that I am a little older, I have several different forms, I am an instrumentalist, I am a vocalist, I write a fiction, I am a painter, I draw, I even consider my yoga practice a part of my art. So, that is what brings me joy and that is just my personal joy. If I am talking about true elation, I mean acquire people that thought they could not sing. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

That for me is just the ultimate. I have directed a few choirs in my life for non-pros and that is incredible feeling! Lots of joy! Yeah, music and art… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. That is great. I love that. My next question is what would make you feel genuinely equal? 


Melany Bell 

Oh, I feel, see that is the problem that, so that question is such a good question. It is a fantastic question really and from my point of view, I have always felt equal, you know what I mean? When I was three years old and my daddy was yelling at me, I was like you do not have a right to tell me what. I knew my rights, in my mind, you know what I mean? And as it pertains to living in the world and functioning in that way, I have always been equal, I have never allowed for anyone else to let me feel that way, unequal to them. I would laugh in your face.


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

The first thing to make me think we are not equal. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

It is true. 


Melany Bell 

You think we are not. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

So, in the comparison to like systemic racism and systemic misogyny, I am like wow! I am not exactly equal to that. I have gotten better than that. So, philosophically in that sense, if you know people that are racist and misogynist, you are like oh wow! I am technically, mathematically, energetically better than you, I am just more open, I am able to process more information, and it is like if I am a hydroelectric organic computing machine, I am just… I am way more bandwidth than you. I am a better computer. You know what I mean? I just understand more stuff. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

What would truly make me feel equal? I do not know. I think that is a question for others that do not think that yet because I already do, right? And so, the business of America to like ‘stops pretending’; which is one of my favorite phrases. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Can you say that one more time? 


[40:32 – 45:01]

Melany Bell 

‘Stop pretending’. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yes. 


Melany Bell 

Right. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I appreciate that answer to that question. I appreciate your answer to that so much. And, you know, because I actually, it is so interesting that that is your answer because just this week, I was looking at that question and going well that is kind of an assumptive some, it is kind of an assumption, you know. So, yeah, it is interesting. 


Melany Bell 

That is why it is such a great question. I love as an interviewer. I think it is a brilliant question. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I appreciate that. I literally I could talk to you forever but I should probably wrap up. I would love to hear where listeners can find your work and find your book and all these things, but also if you have any businesses or organizations that you would like to share, I would love to hear those too. 


Melany Bell 

I do. You can contact me directly at [email protected] A couple of organizations that I really want to shout out to are; of course LinkedIn who is performing arts center, I was awarded a grant from the hero pandemic, just for being a great artist and I love that organization, they are amazing. Obviously one of my favorite poets would be Langston Hughes, but also one of my favorite caterers here in Seattle that has inspired me in so many ways, not only does she do like allergen free cooking but  that brown girl can cook, she caters. I think they have a standalone restaurant now, it is a family, Black owned business and they are brilliant, they are… I eat their food everywhere, I go, it seems like everybody is using it around. Niama, the North American museum of art and I am fortunate enough to be able to help write the grant for that new mural that Melvin freeman put up there. I do not know the water, well that was the theme essentially and there is this beautiful gorgeous girl, like putting a wave of information out onto the wall, it is just this beautiful piece that Melvin and a few fabricators get. 

And I wrote the grant for that and coached it on how to get that job. But, it is also an amazing organization that I require. I am a part of the Black farmer's collective as well, which is, right now where Niama has nurturing roots, we have got Rehash farm and then the Africa town grow, which is at the… what is it Columbia city location for Africa town and a couple other gardens amongst the 900 and some non-Black-owned gardens in Seattle. So, I am a part of that collective and food is first, does have a food bank and I supply food to other pantries and to the homeless and all kinds of things around the city and give nutrition lectures to low-income folks. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is great. 


Melany Bell 

So, those are the organizations… oh yes path of art, path of art, I also mentor and teach there, right now there is a… I have my creative mornings lecture on YouTube and a few other things. I was a part of the band sand blue for many years and our music is still on radio spotify blah… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, great! 


Melany Bell 

But beyond that those are the people I want to shout out and give love to. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Lovely! Thank you. Awesome! We will definitely post those folks on our website and where the podcast is and everything, so people can find them easily, hopefully. So, thank you for sharing that. I cannot thank you enough for joining me, and I am so glad that you found us and those we got connected, thank you so much for being on Take Notice, I really appreciate it. 


Melany Bell 

Thank you. Can I give you one more thing? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


Melany Bell 

There was a professor Dr. Tanya Pettiford, wait… that was at Seattle central that was so important, as far as our ways of knowing that I think you would be really interested in studying with as well. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, perfect. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Great! Thank you, Melany. 


Melany Bell 

Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Thank you for joining us for 'Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories'. Please subscribe and follow us on social media, we are at Take Notice podcast; it would really help us out if you could take a couple of minutes to review our podcast. Thank you for your support. 'Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories' is produced, hosted and edited by Allison Preisinger-Heggins, co-produced by Amanda Rae, music by Version Big Fi featuring Darius Heggins. Thank you for being with us and thank you for taking notice.