These are from the past two weeks:
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Barbados cultural fact for the day: Since Kara Walker did the Marvelous Sugar Baby sphinx, did you know that sugar cane is an important industry in Barbados. Its coat of arms has a fist of a Barbadian holding two sugar canes that are crossed to resemble St. Andrews Cross.
*Speaking of Kara Walker, there is a lot of discussion and controversy surrounding the work she did (as usual with her work). The intention of her piece at its core is deep and though-provoking, highlighting the exploitation of black people to produce cash crops, like sugar, the sexual exploitation and degradation of black women, but also the simultaneous fascination with and sacredness of black women in the use of the sphinx pose, the exploitation of lower wage workers like those who used to work in the Domino Factory, and the refinement of certain products like sugar (another is vanilla) that mimics the erasure of black and brown people. Hilton Als discusses more in The New Yorker. Still, although I get it, the danger of art is always that other will not because they do not know the historical context and it will become a spectacle. Already many are mentioning how people are taking pictures, smiling and laughing around the artwork instead of contemplating it. It’s a tightrope issue of intention of art and the audiences’ reception of it.
*I was wondering what happened to the HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican’s (The YAMS collective) film showing at The Whitney; it seemed to have disappeared. This is what happened. Mainstream institutions being racially problematic -check!
*Fact Magazine’s “Space is still the place: King Britt re-interprets Sun Ra classic for 100th birthday celebrations:” As part of Dark Matter Coffee’s launch of Astro Black, King Britt released a music mix in honor of Sun Ra’s 100th birthday coming up soon. King Britt will do a special performance in Chicago for Ra’s birthday and the following day, which is his birthday, there will be a 100 Saxophones for Sun Ra event. Also, DJ Hank Shocklee posted “The Cosmic Vibrations Of Sun Ra: Audio Documentary.”
*CCCADI (The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute) will be hosting a series of events starting Thursday with a pop-up exhibition at the 1885 historical landmark firehouse on 125th street that they are renovating as their new space. The event, “The Spirit of El Barrio: Past, Present, and Future,” starts at 11am and will feature artists “Adrian Roman, Edgardo Miranda, Manny Vega, Oliver Rios and Yasmin Hernandez, with a special live painting by guest artist Edgardo Larregui. Some of the works of art will incorporate Augmented Reality technology, providing a small preview to one of the future opening exhibitions of CCCADI.”
Update: Due to a large volume of people wanting to attend, there will be two tours of the popup exhibition. The first will have speakers Marta Moreno Vega, the founder of CCCADI, and Senator Bill Perkins, and the second tour will have New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
I will be there, too!
*Omni Reboot’s feature on Martine Syms and her Mundane Afrofuturism work: “Literature can empower us to write ourselves into the future—but when the future it illustrates takes place a million light-years away, that power is more escapist than it is disruptive.”
*Read Afrofuturism 2.0 editor Reynaldo Anderson’s essay with John Jennings called “Afrofuturism: The Digital Turn and the Visual Art of Kanye West.”
*DSTL Arts’ “Afro-Futurism, Magical Realism, and our Illustrious Diallo Smith:” Luis Antonio Pichardo writes about DSTL Arts mentorship program and their mentee Diallo Smith’s desire to create an archetype and “the greatest story ever told.”
*The Long Hidden Anthology was released recently and go to their website to get a copy.
*The tumblr page for National Museum of African American History and Culture posted picture of the reassembling of Parliament Funkadelic’s Mothership!
*Sidney Fussell’s “Growing up Black and Nerdy:” Basically how racial politics affect interests and perception of those interests.
*Shadow and Act’s “In Development: ‘Octavia: Elegy for a Vampire (or Endless Shards of Jazz for a Brutal World)‘:” Feature on filmmaker Dennis Leroy Moore and his upcoming film. Here is the synopsis:
“Octavia:Elegy for a Vampire (or Endless Shards of Jazz for a Brutal World),” is an experimental film about a 150 year-old black vampire whose suicidal urges, a result of the apathy in the world, have prompted her to find someone who will help her die. Part poem, rock opera, a Brechtian play — this is not a traditional horror/vampire genre film as there is no exploitive nudity or violence. The horror is symbolic and representative of the world’s spiritual paralysis. This is a cubistic portrait of a woman trying to come to terms with the perennial problems of racism, misogyny, apathy, and the startling lack of consciousness in the world. Throughout her spiritual journey, we see various chapters and aspects of her life as an activist, punk rocker, and cleaning woman. This film will be a meditation on colonization and lost love among the malaise of our times and will be highly experimental, formally, more akin to the work of Bill Gunn and Nicolas Roeg and will require extremely disciplined and intellectually adventurous participants.”
*Del tha Funky Homosapien interviews himself in Complex’s Time Alone.
*Kool Keith has a new show on Funny or Die with special guest George Clinton. My only reaction: and 😀
*Howard University Professor Greg Carr responds to Pharrell’s discussion of “The New Black;” basically it is not really that new.
*Shadow and Act’s “Morgan Freeman Puts Adaptation Of Sci-Fi Comic ‘Planetoid’ Into Development:” The comics follows “Silas, an ex-soldier turned space pirate, finds himself stranded on a mysterious planet in alien territory. As he explores the long-abandoned industrial ruins of the planet’s surface, he will have to fend off roving cyborg militias and a hostile alien military with a bounty on his head. Ultimately, Silas will have to build a coalition amongst the planetoid’s nomadic tribes to make a final stand against the larger tyrannical forces that rule over them.”
*Huffington Posts’s “This Artist Swapped Iconic Characters’ Skin Colors In ‘Racebent Disney‘:” “Would it matter if Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” were Indian? Hispanic? What about Middle Eastern? Racebent Disney, a project by artist TT Bret that flips the skin colors and cultures of some of our favorite classic cartoon characters, is posing those questions. The Internet recently embraced Genderbent Disney, a project with a similar concept that changed Disney characters’ genders. Bret, who was part of that project, was inspired to give the original idea a twist and post the outcomes on Tumblr.”
*Kansas City’s “In Nerman Museum exhibit, Ebony Patterson probes beneath the surface of Jamaica’s dancehall culture:” “Gangsters and politicians, macho violence and homophobia, poverty and sexism all occupy a place in these outdoor mass music and dance events. Yet they also serve as a source of empowerment and identity — not to mention a showcase of style — for Jamaica’s economically disadvantaged urban youth. “Dancehall is ultimately a celebration of the disenfranchised selves in post-colonial Jamaica,” writes leading dancehall scholar Sonjah Stanley-Niaah. “Young lives in the Caribbean remain under siege, deprived, devalued and even expendable,” Trinidad-based artist Christopher Cozier writes in an essay about Patterson’s work.”
*The Root’s “The Racist Roots of the Black Comic Book Villain:” “For men of color, it is easy to relate and see how Foxx’s intense portrayal of Electro is indicative of the black male mindset in corporate America. He’s a brother who has been used for his genius by corporate higher-ups but lacks the voice and power to stand up for himself. But as the role is quickly reversed from nerd to twisted, power-hungry villain, the birth of Electro brings him control over life and death. A lambasted black man who is suddenly given a superpower with which he can get even with his former oppressors? Sounds like something straight out of a Tea Party member’s nightmare.”
*Did you know that even hockey is part of black history. The book Black Ice give a history of African-Canadian contribution to hockey.
*Huffington Post’s “16-Year-Old Graduates From High School AND College In Same Week:” Grace Bush received bother her diploma and degree by taking advanced college courses during high school. Go girl!
*This is an older post but still relevent- TED’s “The moon’s path is full of thorns: Fellows Friday with Johnson Urama: Nigerian astronomer gives a history of African astronomical systems.
*Business Insider’s “The 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology.”
*Brain Pickings’ “Visionary Vintage Children’s Book Celebrates Gender Equality, Ethnic Diversity, and Space Exploration:” “For all their immeasurable delight, children’s books also have a serious cultural responsibility — they capture young minds and plant in them the seeds that blossom into beliefs about what is socially acceptable, what is right and wrong, and what is possible. This weight of possibility is both a blessing and a burden, given the terrible track record children’s books have of celebrating diversity — both ethnically and in terms of gender norms. Only 31 percent of children’s books feature female heroines, and even those consistently purvey limiting gender expectations; of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, a mere 93 were about black people. The ones that fully embrace cultural diversity or empower girls are few and far between, to say nothing of those rare specimens that get girls excited about science.
One of the most heartening antidotes to this lamentable state of affairs comes from 1973. Four years after the historic moon landing, as the world was falling in love with space exploration, the education arm of the Xerox Corporation published Blast Off (public library) — an extraordinarily imaginative little book by two women writers, Linda C. Cain and Susan Rosenbaum, illustrated by the legendary duo Leo and Diane Dillon, best-known for illustrating the most popular edition of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.”
*Cosmic Yoruba on This Is Africa’s “Decolonising the mind: The misunderstanding of traditional African beliefs:” “There are few religions as globally misunderstood as African traditional religions. Whether it is being wrongly labelled voodoo, juju or witchcraft, indigenous African faith systems tend to be associated with darkness, animal and human sacrifices, violence and general backwardness.”
*Yagazie Emezi’s “FILM EXCLUSIVE: Lino Brwn’s “Somebody In Nobody” featuring Jodie Smith:” “Lino ‘Brwn’ Asana is a born and raised Cameroonian filmmaker now based in San Francisco. I was excited to receive an exclusive peek into Lino’s world and his current project. For several weeks, I enjoyed our Skype calls back and forth, covering his life and passions. His latest work is a short film titled SOMEBODY IN NOBODY, starring the gorgeous Jodie Smith. I was granted a first look at the trailer and was immediately drawn in by the magical set and surrounding mystery that briefly existed during those seconds of watching. As a result, I just had to ask Lino a couple of questions touching on his life and work in order to understand a bit more of the man behind the beautiful visuals.”
*Colorlines’ “Race, Disability and the School-to-Prison Pipeline:” The intersections between the effect of racial perception on the treatment of students, school discipline, school placement of students into special ed and racial perception’s affect on mental illness, and later its impact on larger societal discipline, like prison, and lack of social benefits.
*Shadow and Act’s “Jada Pinkett Smith Is “Scary, Dangerous, Tough, Cunning” As Fish Mooney In ‘Gotham.'”
*Have you heard that Kanye West and Future have created an objectifying video game inspired by “I Won,” where they throw chains onto women on a beach to claim them like trophies. What is this a sexist horseshoes game! Ugh!
*New music: These two artists and their albums is what I want more of in our mainstream music — music I can feel deeply but also pulls in a vast array of influences, both familiar and strange. If you like Janelle Monae, take a listen.
–Princess Nokia‘s Metallic Butterfly