Like Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor of Georgia has inspired and mobilized most African Americans, so too, the “early” Ntozake Shange of the 1970’s-80’s, especially inspired and mobilized most blackwimmin. So when i heard the
“Ntozake is gone.” announcement in a FB post, by Pamela Sneed, on Oct. 27, my fingers spasmed “what?” then (sobbing) i rocked myself with arms wrapped around myself wanting to vomit this pain, this no no no not Ntozake at age 70 too early my brain hiccuped. This is personal.
An outpouring of love on social media followed the news of Ntozake Shange’s passing on October 27, 2018. A pioneering poet, playwright and novelist, who broke the rules of conventional theatre with her critically acclaimed forcoloredgirlswho have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Shange continues to inspire generations of women writers who come after her.
Election day is here and I can’t help but stress the significance of voting. My parents instilled in me the importance of voting at a young age. My earliest memory of voting is walking to my neighborhood polling station with my parents and filling out my pretend ballot. The highlight of my day would be receiving the “I Voted” sticker from the poll volunteers. I view voting as my civic duty and my right—-a right that was established for Black men through the 15 amendment and later on for women through the 19 amendment. However, Blacks were not able to freely vote due to voter suppression. Blacks were required to take literacy tests, which were purposely created for them to fail. It was not till the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed that Blacks could freely vote, which would not have been signed if it was not for the marches from Selma to Montgomery. Unfortunately, this election cycle exposed contemporary examples of voter suppression in North Dakota, Kansas, and Georgia.(more…)
I have often wondered why I like watching horror movies and reading horror fiction. I do not like violence. In fact, quite the opposite. I can barely stand to watch blood and guts. Psychological distress, too, is hard for me to bear. Still, I soldier on, watching most of the newest horror releases in theaters and on streaming services, buying novels new and old with words like “terror” and “vampire” in the titles. Sometimes even their covers say “blood and bone”.
I enjoy the supernatural and the preternatural, things which are either obvious or just outside the bounds of explanation. But this is not why—at least not all of the reason why—I’m interested in horror. It is only part of the story.
Angie Thomas’ novel turned screenplay, The Hate U Give (THUG), is a tragically mimetic story that highlights a Black girl’s coming of age while navigating trauma-induced anger and growing up in two disparate communities. As a New York Times Best Seller, National Book Award Long List winner, and with a current box office total of over 18 million dollars, the novel’s success illustrates the current climate’s contributions to popular culture. Thomas’ work and its film adaptation emphasizes the exigency of Black rage and the results of absorbed and inherited collective traumas. Starr Carter, the protagonist, grapples with warring identities that inform her responses to the conditions around her. Garden Heights Starr (Starr at home) and Williamson Starr (Starr at her predominantly white prep school) must never intersect. At Williamson, Starr feels as though she cannot do anything that will make her look “ghetto” or “angry.” The two versions of Starr complicate her journey to identity development, but as her worlds coalesce, Starr learns to harness her rage and resist systems rather than her anger. Ultimately, she aligns with the movie taglines of “Find your voice” and “Change the world.”
Monday, October 22, 2018, was a special day in the year-long celebration of three hundred years of history in New Orleans, because we had the privilege of seeing a remarkable instance of black film in the history of cinema in the United States of America. We saw Horace Jenkins’s Cane River (1982), a major feature of the 29th New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) at the Contemporary Arts Center.(more…)
In mid-August, BlacKkKlansman was released in theaters. Its subject is the “crazy, outrageous, incredible, true story” of Ron Stallworth’s undercover work as the first Black member of the Ku Klux Klan. The film linked racist imagery in early American films to a detective case from the 1970’s and news coverage of racial violence today. The work that this film does in order to give its audience a glimpse into history and a brief education in mediated imagery resonates with W. E. B. DuBois’s statement in his 1926 essay, “Criterion of Negro Art”, that “all art is propaganda and ever must be.” The part of DuBois’s statement that insists art be fundamentally obligated to continue as propaganda speaks not only to the nature of art as culturally influenced and influential. It also speaks to the work that Black artists have done intentionally or unintentionally to disrupt or reinforce dominant imaginations.