Category Archives: Rewind

Rewind: Looking Back to Go Forward


For the last Rewind post for this month, here  is an episode from the Black History Month episode of Sister, Sister “I Have a Dream,” where Tamera is struggling with life changes and moving forward. She has a dream where she travels through the past meeting different well-known black figures who made a change in the world, and discovers that while change and the future can be scary, she is not alone because those who came before had to overcome the same fears to clear the path to a better future. The last scene we see that someone travels from the future to her to let her know that there are people who depend on her in the future, just as we did with our ancestors. Sankofa!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Rewind: Retrofuturism of SteamFunk, DieselFunk, Rococoa, Black Medieval, and Black Westerns


When it comes to depictions of black people in history from the Medieval era to the 20th century, the tendency is to show us only as slaves or to downplay stories outside of that narrative. But black people have existed in various forms throughout these periods of time within and outside the narrow scope of slave narratives. Many contemporary creatives have explored and are exploring these times to reconstruct and highlight those histories. Through speculative and historical revision stories in steamfunk, dieselfunk, rococoa/black medieval, and black westerns, they are showing us in a broader light, opening the door for everyone to revisit those times to include more of our faces and stories. Below are a few examples and resources to learn about and enjoy:

SteamFunk/DieselFunk

Panel discussion featuring Kevin Sipp (David Walker Blackstone), Balogun Ojetade (Chronicles of Harriet and Rite of Passage film), Milton Davis and Mark Curtis at the Alien Encounters IV Atlanta 2013 conference:

Steamfunk & Rococoa: A Black Victorian Fantasy

Continue reading Rewind: Retrofuturism of SteamFunk, DieselFunk, Rococoa, Black Medieval, and Black Westerns

Rewind: Dapper Ladies


Currently, when we think of a black woman artist who showcases an androgynous or gender-bending look, we think of Janelle Monae. But, before Monae, other black women have challenged gender coding and in less accepting times, and possibly with less conventionally attractive features. Black women doing gender-bending often received less attention than when it is black men who do it, but it is just as important to highlight it as one way black women confront a world that can be sexist, misogynistic, misogynoiristic, and LGBTQ-phobic. This is a way of showing your womanhood and black female sexuality through a traditionally masculine mask, even as society already declares you as too masculine to be feminine or attractive. These woman were groundbreaking in their own right and paved the way for artists like Monae to do her thing. Let’s take a look at other ladies who have broke the mold in the past:

1) Gladys Bentley: If you study deeply into the Harlem Renaissance, you will come across that several of the major creative people were not heterosexual, like Langston Hughes, but that is often suppressed. One known figure was Gladys Bentley, a lesbian, cross-dressing singer and pianist of the 1920s. She was out and proud as a lesbian, known as the bulldagger of the Harlem Renaissance, and was known for her top hats, coat tails and suits.

However, during the McCarthy Era, she feared for her life and family, so she forced “back into the closet,” so to speak, and supposedly fabricated a story of being cured of lesbianism, returning to the church, and marrying a man. Still today, she is celebrated for her bravery in an era that was not comfortable with black women (or woman in general_ expressing themselves in such a manner. Ms. Magazine did a piece comparing her to Monae. Several people have paid tribute to her:

*Rapper and poet Shirlette Ammons dedicated an album to her, Twilight for Gladys Bentley, which you can listen to below.

Continue reading Rewind: Dapper Ladies

Rewind: “Cry of Jazz” and Restrictions on Black Excellence


Watching Ed Bland‘s short film, Cry of Jazz, this morning reinforced how times have not changed much.

The 1958 controversial documentary-styled film sets on a discussion after a jazz club meeting and the discussions and arguments literally feel like deja vu – white dismissals of black cultural contributions, black suffering, black knowledge and black excellence while ignorantly appropriating (“taking away our souls”) productions of our cultures. This is viewed again as a form of progress, using a color-blindness and individualism approach as defenses.

Other important points from the film:

Continue reading Rewind: “Cry of Jazz” and Restrictions on Black Excellence

Rewind: My Interview with Jane Odartey


A while ago I interview my friend Jane Odartey on this blog, and since then her accessory and clothing shop, Mawusi, has grown a lot, so here is an updated version of the interview I did with her:

Jane Odartey is one of my friends from college. She is also a photographer, poet, and funny, too. Here is my interview I did with her:

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks so much for featuring me on your wonderful blog, Reese!

Home used to be Ghana, then I moved to NY because my Ma had made it her new home. I value simple things, like strong laughter, good friends who would tell you about the spinach between your teeth, and people who would laugh with you even when the crowd around you look down their noses at your “lack of civilization.” I love life only because of the people I love. I also find that icecreams and tall glasses of milkshakes are a necessity.

2) When and why did you become interested in poetry and photography?

I used to write poetry when I was bad. I wrote it as an apology to my mother. It felt proper because I came to know poetry in a sandwich of fear; my sixth
grade teacher made sure of that. In my junior year of college I met Prof. Grace Schulman. She convinced me that I ought to give poetry a chance.

Growing up, we took pictures, like, once a year. There was always a need to look perfect for the pictures. It was a real fuss. When I got my very first camera in high school, I wanted to take pictures of things that didn’t matter. I wanted them as they were without any preening. It was, however, in college that I realized my love for the art. I was working on majoring in Business Management and all that calculus was weighing me down so I thought a semester of Basic Photography, would be some sort of therapy; it proved to me more than that.

Read the rest here!

Otherworldly Videos: Kina Sky + Ain’t Nothing But a She Thing


Sorry everyone that I have been gone so long. I kind of was distracted for a bit. But I am back! In light of some of the recent internet controversies that happened last week, including one involving Harriet Tubman (shame on you Russell!), here is a some uplifting videos: 1) Kina Sky from Jamaican filmmaker Corretta Singer (found her film on caribBEING) 2) and an oldie but goodie — Salt n Pepa’s “Ain’t Nothing But a She Thing.” Enjoy!

“Kina Sky is a short sci-fi digitally animated fantasy film… The lead character, who the movie is named after, is a cyborg who takes to flight and must overcome obstacles along the way.”

Continue reading Otherworldly Videos: Kina Sky + Ain’t Nothing But a She Thing