Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts


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Ras G and The Afrikan Space Program

*”Don’t Blame Science Fiction for Hollywood’s Race Problem:” “And there’s a decent amount of it these days, because the post-millennial resurgence in Afrofuturism has been one of the more fascinating and welcome developments of the last decade or so. This trend been written about a fair amount in relation to music — the most prominent example is Janelle Monáe and her ArchAndroid mythos, but there’s also the hyperspace hip hop of Flying Lotus and Deltron 3030 and the more esoteric work of acts like Ras G and the Afrikan Space Program, whose most recent album, Back On the Planet, was one of the under-appreciated joys of last year.

You hear less about an Afrofuturist revival in film and literature, but if there’s not been a resurgence in other areas of pop culture, it might be because, hey, Afrofuturism never really went away. Octavia Butler was writing right up until her death in 2006, and produced as rich a body of work as any of her white male contemporaries. And once you start digging, there’s a wealth of writing that addresses the future from the perspective of people of color, from the reasonably well-known to the fascinatingly obscure.”

*”Star Wars and the 4 Ways Science Fiction Handles Race:” How science fiction uses metaphor, tokenism, diversity and explicit dealing with racial issues to handle race.

 

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Art of This World: City Trips


Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to see some out of this world art, so I’m sharing some of it.

These are from the Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties exhibition that I saw at Brooklyn Museum:

Barkley L. Hendricks’ “Icon for My Man Superman (Superman never saved any black people—Bobby Seale), 1969

 

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Modern Griots Reviews: Afronauts


Last Saturday, I went to to New Films/New Directors short film showcase, which included Frances Bodomo’s 14-minute film Afronauts. Based on the 1960s Zambian Space Program, which grade school teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso set up and had amongst its crew a 17-year-old girl and two cats. In Bodomo’s film, albino model and actress, Diandra Forrest, stars as the 17-year old Matha Mwamba who is part of the mission to be the first Zambian astronaut. Along with her are the other members of the Zambian Space Academy as well as Auntie Sunday, played by Yolanda Ross.

As said in a post-film discussion, the film has a timeless quality to it. Shot in black and white, the contrasts between the light of such images like the moon and shadows, like in the tent, are particularly striking. Also striking is the desert setting of the film; for a film about a space academy training to be astronauts, the lack of stereotypically futuristic or hi-tech tools replaced by the recycling of waste and scrapped materials, brings to the forefront the characters and why they need to do this. The characters do not seem to want to complete this mission for some commercial or nationalistic glory during the Cold War’s Space Race, but to show the desire of the spirit to overcome what appears to be the insurmountable. Despite her aunt’s fear of the danger or even her own, she is determined to go to the moon. Despite how they appear to others outside of the academy (just look at the original film for the space program above) and it rudimentary technology, they completely believe in the mission. Hoji Fortuna, who plays Nkoloso, tells Matha that she is the “mother of the exiles” and that he sees those in outer space “welcoming [her].” His nickname for her, a play on her name (“powerful woman”), harks back to a universal “mother of the abominations,” the mother of all the outcasts, and the underdogs, like in Revelations riding her beast of a spaceship on her way to usher in a new world.

Afronauts will be showing at NYU’s First Run Film Festival on April 3rd, the  Dallas International Film Festival on April 5th and 6th, and at Sundance London on April 26th and 27th in addition to several others. Also, Bodomo is planning on turning the short into a feature film.

Modern Griots Reviews: Daví


“Got the Seed”

It’s not that often today that I come to witness an artist who reminds me of some of my favorite musical artists and excites me because of the force of the creativity that they bring to their performance and musical work. One of them is artist, choreographer and DJ, Daví

I first saw him at a Brooklyn Museum Off The Wall tribute to Wangechi Mutu’s Fantastic Journey exhibition, where he put together a multi-media performance incorporating Mutu’s short film, The End of eating Everything. His performance, The Beginning of Everything eating, is an inverted extension to the spiraling cycle of metamorphosis giving a musical and poetic voice to Mutu’s work about self-destruction and self-indulgence turning into transformation and hope.

Dressed in an angelic outfit and unicorn-like headdress, the performance involved throughout the narrator (Joyce LeeAnn) who acts as an archivist/writer introducing each scene of the show with her words that expand on the opening lines from Mutu’s film, “Hungry, Alone and Together.” With each scene, Daví, along with LeeAnn, his accompanying background vocalists (Julie Brown and Jasmine Burems), Go: Organic Choir, background dancers (Crystal Craigen and Ernest Baker), and animated videos, goes on a Orphic journey of a spirit descending and striving to survive in the madness of physical/social tyranny around them until they find an opening for transcendence. Daví glued together the entire performance with his dynamic moves and soulful covers of well-known songs like “Mothership Connection,” “Space Oddity,” and Fela Kuti’s “Gentleman,” in addition to his own, like “Great Beyond.”

 

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Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts


*Please DONATE to my blog by clicking on the donate button at the side panel or send funds to my email svfreebird87@gmail.com. Any amount is appreciated! Thank you!

*Feature about Dr. Sheena C. Howard on Black Girl Nerds: “Dr. Howard is author of the book Black Queer Identity Matrix (2014) and first author of the book, Black Comics: Politics of Representation. She has featured as a guest speaker at various workshops, universities and high schools including, but not limited to: Penn State University, West Chester University and West Catholic High School, due to her work around intercultural communication, diversity, service to the community and leadership.

Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson originated from Howard’s graduate school dissertation on Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks comic strip. Howard’s dissertation examined gender dynamics, African American Vernacular English and Black hegemonic masculinity within the language and aesthetic of the comic strip. While writing her dissertation Dr. Howard was alarmed at the lack of books which featured or even mentioned the names of Black cartoonists. From there, Howard decided to create a baseline of literature around the historical and present-day contributions of Black cartoonists.

* Yes, Comics Can Empower Black Girlson Zetta Elliot’s Blog: “The twenty titles discussed below are just a start, especially now that the comic book publishers are paying more attention to girls and young adult women as marketing demographics. And while not all the comics I cite are created by black women, events like the recent panel on “Black Women in Comics” at the Schomburg Center’s 2nd Annual Black Comic Book Day make clear that black women have long been a part of the industry as avid consumers and creators. The dynamic work of Afua Richardson and C. Spike Trotman, along with this list of over 50 black women comics artists and writers from the Jackie Ormes Society models the kind of creative freedom that can empower any girl who picks up a comic.”

*Ytasha L. Womack’s “RAYLA 2212, the complete galactic love saga of Rayla Illmatic debuts at the Chicago Comic Con, April 25-27.

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Modern Griots Reviews: A Dream to Fly – The Bessie Coleman Story


Source: Madeline McCray

This is for all the Diesel Funk fans out there and for Women’s History Month!

What legacy are we leaving for others when we dare to dream our special dreams, despite all the limitations that face us or all the naysayers? That is what Madeline McCray aims to answer in her one-woman performance, A Dream to Fly, at the Schomburg Center last Friday, taking on the voice of the first Black women licensed aviatrix, Bessie Coleman.

Beginning with a radio announcement reporting the death of Coleman at the age of 34 from a tragic airplane accident and a eulogy from Ida B. Wells, Coleman is in a limbo state shocked by the untimeliness of her death and wanting to tell her story before she goes. The radio turns into a kind of God-head allowing her to tell it but reminding her that it is time for her to go. McCray inhabits and brings to life Coleman, showing all the facets of her — her strong, independent will and bold personality and the doubtful, lonely side of her that fears she is making a mistake going after this dream so outside of her reality, a daughter of a sharecropper in Texas.

But even with that McCray still gives Coleman in the writing and performance a magnetic charm and hope that you know Coleman will overcome because her spirit searches for something more, to grasp that bright shining star as she says. No person could hold her back search for her dream, not her drunken veteran brother who laughed at the possibility of her being a pilot as she worked as a manicurist in a barbershop, not the lover of her life, Freddie, who wanted to marry her but only if she gave up her dream of flying, not the homesickness she felt as she went to France to become a licensed pilot, and not society who told her to conform to conventions and that her goals did not fit the stereotypes of what a black women should be, that she needed a man, was a man or was an uppity negro because of them. Coleman even declined to filmmakers trying to put her in a box by wanting to make a film, Shadow and Sunshine, which would degrade black people more, and took the backlash when she did. She stood up to all the people who looked at her funny at airplane shows. Coleman always chose the sky, that is where her passion and power lay.

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Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts


*Please DONATE to my blog! Any amount is appreciated! You can click the paypal button at the side panel or send it to my email svfreebird87@gmail.com through paypal. I was not able to do this post last week because my computer malfunctioned, so this is a combined post for the past two weeks.

*If you haven’t seen it already, the trailer for Oya: Rise of the Orisha premiered this week!
It looks like the film will be epic! Inspired by the Yoruba religion of West African and its goddess/warrior-spirit of winds, storms, fertility, magic and guardian of the underworld, Oya, the synopsis of the story follows Ade “one of the few people with a connection to one of the gods, Oya. She has been tasked with the job of protecting the innocent and that means keeping the door to the gods shut. If the doorway to the gods is opened, they will wreak chaos upon us as retribution for our abandonment of them. To keep the door shut, she must find ‘the key,’ a young girl with the potential to open the doorway, and keep her safe.

The adventure unfolds with a host of memorable characters and a string of unexpected twists, Ade, goes in search of the key, battling against those who wish to open portal and unleashing a horde of forgotten gods and goddesses into the world, with powers and skills beyond our comprehensive and supernatural gifts which will change the course of history for mankind, forever.”

Take a look at Black Girls Code Episode 2:

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