Tag Archives: Black LGBTQ

Modern Griots Reviews: Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape

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What is your hustle?

Colored Girls Hustle featuring founder Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris released their first official mixtape, Colored Girls Hustle Hard, a 19-track compilation reimagining the conventional ideas of what it means to hustle and giving positive encouragement and education in their lyrics with fun, danceable tracks for and about black women, black girls and other women of color. For Colored Girls Hustle, hustling is not about getting money and material items at the expense of others, but about forging communities and movements, seeking justice, creating safe spaces for black women and girls to be who they are and love who they are completely in mind, body and spirit, and world-building and creating futures.  In their description of the mixtape, they reinforce these ideas that are clear in their music, “using powerful beats and powerful words to catalyze audacious self-expression and authentic living. We speak from our lived experiences as Black women to affirm, honor and celebrate how our communities hustle hard for justice, creativity, and wellness….This is the groundwork for our vision of hustle: doing passion-filled and purpose–driven work.”

Continue reading Modern Griots Reviews: Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape


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

*Please DONATE to my blog at the side of my blog to fund trademarking and future merchandising, and to continue my ability to attend future events. Doing this costs money!!! Anything helps!!! Thank you!!!!

*New Submission Guidelines on Contact and Submissions Page.

Update: *Unnamed Press announced the NYC launch of PEN Fellow Deji Bryce Olukotun’s book Nigerians in Space. He will be in a conversation with Joel Whitney of Guernica and Al Jazeera at Word Brooklyn on February 26th at 7pm. For more information click here.


*The Clutch’s “Calling All Nerds, Geeks, Afro-Punks and Other Such Off-Beat Black Folks…” list

*Saul Williams and Sanford Biggers will be in conversation at the Studio Museum on Thursday, February 2 at 7pm. They will explore “the sonic, visual and textual in their practices in the context of Afrofuturist aesthetics.” The day after, Columbia University along with the Studio Museum will be presenting John Akomfrah’s film about Stuart Hall, who recently passed away. Buy tickets for the Williams and Biggers talk here.

*Frances Bodomo’s Afronauts will be part of The Film Society at Lincoln Center and MOMA’s New Directors/New Films festival in March. Tickets for general audiences go on sale March 10.

*Che Grayson and Sharon De La Cruz’s Rigamo Film and Comic Book project. The project is about a Kera Moore, “a young girl who accidentally stumbles upon a secret ability: her tears bring people back to life. However, there is one caveat: when she brings someone back to life, she ages by multiple years.”

*Wax Poetics’ “Not Just Knee Deep:  Deep in conversation with Shock G” of Digital Underground talks about his influences, like George Clinton in this interview: Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3.

*Bitch Magazine’s “Black to the Future:” Women in Afrofuturism featuring Janelle Monae, Missy Elliot, THEESatisfaction, Ebony Bones and Martine Syms.

*Shadow and Act’s “Interview: Exploring the Unseen with M. Asli Dukan (Director of ‘Invisible Universe’)

*Fantastic Four Reboot Casting: Is It Progressive?

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

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

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


*On this blog for this month will be “Black Retrofuturism Month,” so I will be posting throughout the month afrofuturistic cultural productions from the past in a series called, “Rewind.”

*BUTCH DIVA, the Brooklyn-based fashion haus that I have featured before on my blog, has a new collaboration with Jamaican-bred artist Robin Clare. They teamed up to create a series of posters that combine Clare’s signature dancehall dancers motif and BUTCH DIVA’s most famous silhouettes. The “BD x RC graphic art collaboration” features a collection of six 16″ x 20″ colored art posters designed by Clare. These various illustrations are inspired by the 90’s pop-deco BUTCH DIVA summer 2013 collection, resulting in full page patterns created with Robin’s signature dancehall inspired gyals in motion wearing classic Butch Diva creations. The posters can be purchased on BUTCH DIVA’s online store.

*Two upcoming events at the Studio Museum:

Black Aqautic and Afrofuturism on February 6

Man from Tomorrow film screening on February 12: “A collaborative effort between French filmmaker Jacqueline Caux and Detroit Techno icon Jeff Mills that aims to extend the boundaries of the traditional filmic portrait through a non-narrative approach, combining aesthetically unconventional images and Mills’s unreleased original music for the soundtrack. Part of the film uses voice-over excerpts from conversations with Mills about the topics that inspire him when he composes music, such as his preoccupation with the future of mankind and his interest in both space and time travel.”

*”Afrofuturism in Short Films” at Goethe Institut Washington on February 3rd, featuring Pumzi, Drexciya and Hydra Decapita.

*Summer Program for Queer and Trans Youth of Color- “Get Free: A Summer Project for QT Youth of Color:” “Black Girl Dangerous presents a week-long artistic, intellectual, emotional and practical project for queer and trans* youth of color that focuses on the inner work it takes to Get Free in a world where, for us—people who experience oppression based on race and queerness or trans*ness—just surviving is a feat. Through writing, dreaming, screaming, owning up, and facing who we are, who we have been, and who we might become, we aim to start an emotional r/evolution that will reverberate throughout our lives and our communities.”

*”Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Space Cadet From A Black Feminist Future:” “Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ bio immediately initiates you into her mysteries. So it begins: “Alexis is a self-identified queer black trouble maker, love evangelist and space cadet. So, that means time and space manifest in prolific and polyphonic ways.” And it’s a good place to start naming all her galactic variety–after all, some of her projects include the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind and Mobile Homecoming, respectively. Brilliance and beauty, always unspooling. Spilling. There is no end to this love.

*”What Octavia Butler Means to Me:” Walidah Imarisha writes about why Octavia Butler is important.

*”20 Black Women in Horror Writing

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

Modern Griots Reviews: Birth of a Dark Nation

Imagine seeing the journey of the Black Atlantic through the memories of a centuries-old vampiric human. A DC IT specialist working at an HIV organization Justin Kena is privileged with this information when he falls for one named Dante. As he falls in love, he learns of the ancient indigenous Yoruba group, the Razadi, who are vampiric and witnesses to pre-, during, and post-slavery times in Rashid Darden‘s Birth of a Dark Nation.

Birth of a Dark Nation flips the script on traditional vampire tales from its shifting narration to its inclusion of slave narration and cultural rituals to non-Western views of the vampire to it as a same-gender loving story that confronts those who say it is a recent Western phenomenon. Darden’s previous work, Lazarus, Covenant, and Epiphany has centered on black LGBT experiences, and now he has taken that and extended it to black speculative fiction.

The story begins with a Razadi receiving orders from an elder to watch over Justin because he is considered the “key,” similar to Neo in the Matrix or any messiah-like character. Later, we are introduced to Dante, a street hustler, who Justin randomly notices and to whom he has an instant attraction. When Dante finally reveals who he is to Justin, Justin begins his transformation from the computer guy at a dead-end job to part of the Razadi family and leader in his community.

Continue reading Modern Griots Reviews: Birth of a Dark Nation

Modern Griots: M. Jacqui Alexander

Black feminist lesbian writer, scholar, activist and conjurer M. Jacqui Alexander on the web series, Signified. She speaks about the connections between spirituality and social revolution in that they allow one to envision new worlds, to understand one’s purpose in life and to connect with others.

Starlite,Star bright, Support This with All Your Might…

The Starlite Project is a feature-length documentary film titled Starlite and an interactive website based on the making and the taking of the historic Starlite Lounge- the oldest black-owned gay bar in Brooklyn. The goals of the Project are to preserve the historic memory of the Starlite and to counteract the forces which contributed to its closing. See how we are engaging with the community to identify critical issues at play in Starlite in this excerpt from a recent rough cut screening and discussion at the Guggenheim Lab. We are also committed to working with the Starlite owners to throw the first Starlite Reunion and Benefit Extravaganza which we invite you to be a part of…details to come…

Why should you join the effort?

The Starlite is the legacy of visionaires in the community. We are thankful to those individuals such as founder Mackie Harris and previous owner William King a.k.a. DJ Butch, who worked tirelessly leading the way to provide safe, non-discriminating, and supportive spaces (with kick-ass parties) for the LGBTQ community, and its allies. This film is dedicated to them.

The film has already started a provocative conversation about place, race, sexuality and gentrification. And perhaps the film asks as many questions as it answers, but we believe that these conversations should continue in our communities to better prepare folks for the onslaught of development dollars, and to continue to challenge the powers that will have places like the Starlite be no more. We also believe that the film has a long life to live in the classroom as the education sector begins to treat seriously LGBTQ history in America.

It is possible to bring the Starlite back to the Crown Heights neighborhood and this film has the potential to activate that process. The community was disempowered by the taking of the Starlite. Our Project seeks to retool that energy by reflecting the Starlite back the community through the process of filmmaking.

In reaching concrete fundraising goals for the film through community and network support we will activate our collective power. That’s why Kickstarter is such a great place for us to fundraise. Also, as support for the film grows so does the support for the re-establishment of the Starlite in Crown Heights. And we are working diligently with the owners towards this goal.

The Starlite is emblematic of resisting physical and historical displacement, and crossing boundaries to build strength. So let’s do this together. Help us spread the word.

The incentives for the pledges are to get folks excited about the Project and raise money for the film but we see the supportive community as a family-style network. We are asking you to pledge but we are also asking you to participate in the community. And that’s why we are extending an invitation to our contributors to attend the Fall Starlite Reunion & Benefit Party.

If you’ve never been to the Starlite in Crown Heights, Brooklyn then we may have a harder time convincing you that a place like the Starlite is worth the effort and money it takes to make a documentary. But if you put your faith in us, and help us get this film made, we will deliver on our promise that it is a very special place which deserves its legacy in film.

Synopsis of the film and The Starlite Project

Starlite the documentary (previously We Came to Sweat): SYNOPSIS

Just a decade prior to Manhattan’s Stonewall riots, across the bridge in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Mackie Harris had a vision for his neighborhood. He wanted to create a safe non-discriminating establishment for him and his gay Black community. Opening its doors in 1959, the same decade as Brown vs. Board of Education, Harris became one of New York’s first gay black business owners and is credited with starting a safe space that would endure for generations.

Founded on a principle of non-discrimination, the Starlite Lounge was a cherished meeting place for people of all walks of life and famous for being the oldest Black-owned bar in the heart of Brooklyn. Throughout enormous social change over five decades from civil rights to gay liberation to AIDS activism, the Starlite Lounge has been a fixture and central space in these movements. Just as the Starlite community has been deeply affected by these waves of change, the bar has also felt the impact of rapid gentrification in central Brooklyn.

But last summer his bold experiment came to an end. Hundreds of fans from eras past gathered in an all night celebration to bid their final farewell. How does an institution like the Stonewall survive, but the Starlite cannot? Who decides what cultural and historic landmarks are preserved and what memories can be erased? By following the eviction of Brooklyn’s oldest black owned non-discriminating establishment, Starlite illustrates the importance of social spaces in marginalized communities, examines the complexities of gentrification, and demands that the needs and desires of these communities are represented in the redevelopment of their neighborhoods.

Starlite follows Linda and Dennis, the bar owners, and their cousin, longtime community activist, Debbie, as they mobilize support for the bar to remain in their current location. Though the impending displacement weighs heavy, life inside the bar continues as usual. In the face of controversy, the bar continues to provide a vibrant and celebratory social space for a diverse community. During the day, the old-timers, straight and gay, spend their days sipping drinks and socializing with friends both old and new. In the evening as the old timers slip out, the bar transforms night by night into multi-racial crowds at karaoke, intergenerational drag shows, or packed gay house parties sweating it out on the dance floor.

Starlite explores the intersections of race, sexuality, and gentrification through the documentation of a historic and cultural institution on the verge of disappearance. The closing of the Starlite Lounge means not only the loss of a neighborhood meeting place. For patrons city-wide the Starlite is a family, a legacy, a safe haven, and a living history of the LGBTQ community.

The Starlite Project seeks to remobilize the existing community through a documentary film and interactive website. While creating a participatory living history of one of America’s most important and overlooked landmarks the Project also creates enormous potential for social change by mobilizing, expanding a diversifying the Starlite Social Network. Actionable user generated content and documentary film vignettes will encourage users to comment, share and discuss the multiple issues at play in their community, which led to the closure of their beloved meeting place, such as institutionalized homophobia and racism, and a lack of representation in urban development. By engaging the community in identifying their own issues the Project advances its objective to empower the people.

The Starlite community is a network characterized by trust, love and intimacy, composed of patrons, employees, friends and family. In the language of social networking these connections are called strong ties. While these are crucial for mobilization and identifying issues, weak ties- friends of friends, visitors and strangers- are best at focusing on those issues, such as educating small business owners on how to monitor urban planning bodies, and finding the most innovative ways to prepare them for when the rush of “redevelopment” dollars floods their community.

The Starlite Project is a networking strategy which joins the dense Starlite Network with weak-ties to produce the coordinated action that leads to social change. As the tertius iungens (or “third who joins”), The Starlite Project throws a bridge over the river from the Starlite’s strong-tie network to crucial weak-ties by facilitating network expansion. In unlocking this potential online, it becomes possible to build a more engaged and active movement to defend and expand non-discriminating institutions offline, advancing a more just and tolerant society.”

For more information, go to their kickstarter page and give your support.