This year has been packed with a lot of ups and downs, but it has also open a few unexpected doors for me that I cannot wait to see come into form next year. So here is a list of my favorite posts I did this year, so you can look back too before we head into the New Year. Thanks for joining me on this ride.
If you have been following the news, you most likely have heard about Azealia Banks’ interview on Hot 97, in which she gave an honest critique of appropriation of the cultural forms that originated in black cultures: “I feel, just in this country, whenever it comes to our things, like Black issues, or Black politics, or Black music or whatever there’s always this under current of a ‘Fuck you.’ Like ‘Fuck y’all niggas. Y’all don’t really own shit. Y’all don’t have shit…Like you’re trying to smudge out…it’s like a cultural smudging is what I see. And when they give these Grammys out all it says to White kids is ‘You’re great, you’re amazing, you can do whatever you put your mind to.’ And it says to Black kids, ‘You don’t have shit, you don’t own shit, not even the shit you created for yourself.’ And it makes me upset in that way (Source: Madam Noire.).
She continued: “What bothers me is when you have the media [which] is really evil. I told you that undercurrent of like “fuck you” and the sensationalization that comes around it. There was this time in the summer where I picked up the New York Post, and the cover was ‘Hip Hop Is White.’ They do that on purpose. They’re trying to erase us. They’re trying to erase all of our books and scripture. Everything that we’re supposed to know about ourselves is gone. Completely fucking gone. Never to be seen again.
The fact that metallurgy was started in Africa – agriculture, all those things that created the world are ours. It’s really upsetting when you read your social studies textbook and all you see is stories of you under some White person’s foot or you failing… I don’t wanna share [Hip Hop] with y’all. I’m sorry I don’t…This little thing called Hip Hop that I created for myself, that I’m holding on to with my dear fucking life – I feel like it’s being snatched away from me. It’s not, but they do that just to fuck with you. Why y’all trying to fuck with me?” (Source: All Hip Hop).
But as others have said before, this is nothing new. We have had to confront cultural exploitation for a while now. The only issue I had with what Banks said is I wanted her to continue putting it in a larger context of the twinning of white supremacy and capitalism not give personal attacks. White supremacy favors whiteness over everything and everybody else, and with capitalism, it can suck dry the cultural traditions and productions of local cultures like an invasive species, breaking them from their origins and deeper meanings for empty shell trends to sell to the highest bidder. It is through these erasures of origins and decontextualization of cultural art forms that we have difficulty claiming our cultural traditions, that they were cultivated in our communities. The mainstream will quickly disregard our right to claim and benefit from them for their own greedy, personal gain. As Greg Tate said “black culture matters” and so does black contributions.
The Azealia Banks interview fit well with a recent panel I attended about our communities moving forward our presence into the future, whether it is our art forms, our rituals, our values, or our institutions, and below is the recap from the event:
Futuring the Presence of the Blackness in Arts by the Renegade Performance Group
I met Janluk Stanislas at a recent Caribbeing event and found out about his 2005 Caribbean futuristic short film, Trafik d’Info. As someone of Afro-Caribbean descent, I am always looking for speculative works from the Caribbean and so this excited me. Trafik d’Info, known as the first science fiction film from the Caribbean, centers on a 20th century organization of rebels who are illegally trading information despite censorship from authorities. One of the agents of the organization, Jouwa, hunted the militia, is attempting to save important information so that people in his generation and future generations can receive it. Later in the film we see the effects of the efforts of this organization in the future. Below is my interview with Stanislas about the film:
1) Tell us a little about your background and how it influenced you to be a filmmaker.
I’m French Caribbean, born on the island of Guadeloupe. I’m part of that generation that grew up with the values that our parents and grandparents instilled, but also grew up with the beginning of advanced technology. My parents had a TV when I was one, and I remember going to the movies with my father later on every weekend. My mother influenced both my brother and I to play the piano and always found a way to document the family. I guess that the essence of my art form today was always surrounding me since my young age.
During the past few week after witnessing the no indictments of Darren Wilson,for the killing of Mike Brown and Daniel Pantaleo for the killing of Eric Garner, in addition to the numerous cases of police violence, brutality and negligence acted upon black people before and after the two incidents, I have wondered how do we move forward and find hope and refuge in the face of so much destruction.
The one thought that came to mind over the past few weeks has been that we need to value ourselves and our own stuff with more force. I have seen efforts such as #NotOneDime, #BlackoutBlackFriday, #BlackonBlackFriday and #BlackDecember. I have seen several posts on The Anti-Intellect Blog about how we don’t as a whole value our own schools, like HBCUs, and our own awards and recognitions. I was watching News One Now and Roland Martin was having a similar discussion with Cornel West with Roland mentioning that someone had told him that they needed to get him a “real show” on a “real network.” Saturday I attended the Afrikan Poetry Theater’s Buy Black Market. But it wasn’t until Sunday at J.P. Howard’s Women Writers in Bloom Salon where poet Amber Atiya led the workshop and introduced June Jordan’s essay, “Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the Future Life of Willie Jordan” that it clicked fully in my head.
*For the next six months, most of my time will be invested in a big project, so I will be cutting back on posting here to probably once or twice a week, or a few times a month. But if you would like to be a guest blogger or help moderate this blog, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Wonder why there is a perception that black people experience less pain or why Darren Wilson described Mike Brown the way he did? Well, one reason may be the Magical Negro stereotype. According to a recent study, many white people have a “superhumanization bias,” where they think black people have superhuman abilities. While some may think that is positive, it actually works against us as I mentioned before Wilson described Brown like he was The Hulk.
*Media Diversified’s “Inside Afrofuturism: This movement is not for co-opting:” “Afrofuturism is a topic that we have addressed on numerous occasions on Media Diversified. Now, it makes its way to the BFI. Film critic, journalist, and film programmer, Ashley Clark has curated Inside Afrofuturism; a short season of movies, brought together under the afrofuturism rubric. I spoke with him about his inspiration for the programme, and afrofuturism’s place in the cultural firmament.”
*The Toast’s “Wave My Freak Flag High: Afrofuturism, Imagination, and Impostor Syndrome:” “I’ve only been familiar with the term afrofuturism for the past few years. It didn’t exist for me when I first read Octavia Butler more than a decade ago, or when I read the first Dark Matter anthology while I was still an undergrad in the late ’90s. Somewhere along the way, I saw the short film anthology Cosmic Slop, bought a copy of Sun Ra’s Space Is the Place on DVD, and noted that music videos from the likes of Tupac and Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes included post-apocalyptic, space, and robotic themes and elements. In hindsight, I can apply an axiom about porn to afrofuturism: I know it when I see it.”
*The Link Newspaper’s “Re-Remembering The Future:” “Alisha B. Wormsley Brings a Mythical Perspective to the Narratives of the African Diaspora”