KidLit: Recommended Reading on Justice and Understanding

Originally posted at The Writer’s Block

At a time of great unease and injustice, those of us who are parents of children have a challenge ahead of us. Most of our kids will be exposed to the happenings of the world, and well they should. At the same time, what books can we read to them that will help them understand, and provide tools they will need to survive, thrive, and engage? We reached out to several Minnesota writers with children to compile this list of suggestions. This is by no means definitive, nor complete.

This list was compiled by Kurtis Scaletta, Shannon Gibney, Lana Barkawi, Kathryn Savage, Molly Beth Griffin, Sarah Park Dahlen, Bao Phi, and Lorena Duarte Armstrong.

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What’s Hiding Behind the Feel-Good Curtain of Hidden Figures: One Black Feminist’s Take

In a scene in Hidden Figures that is all too familiar for Black women viewers, or really anyone from a historically marginalized group, Taraji P. Henson’s character Katherine Johnson rushes to enter the NASA control room where she has just handed off crucial calculations for astronaut John Glenn’s safe return from orbit, and has the door summarily slammed in her face. The camera lingers on Henson’s profile, as she grapples yet again with the devastating knowledge that although she may be a useful “computer” for spitting out numbers that may make missions successful and even save lives, she is still not seen as fully human in the eyes of her peers and superiors. Indeed, in Henson’s capable hands, viewers ourselves experience the physical and emotional pain of being barred from entering the halls of power for absurd reasons beyond one’s control — in this case, race and gender.

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Can the New Black Canary Fix Arrow’s Problems?

Originally posted at A Latina’s Media Musings

Firstly, as an almost disclaimer of sorts, I’ve never been a fan of Arrow. Even in the show’s heyday of seasons one and two when it was praised and lauded as a great show and comic book adaptation. Though it bares moderate similarities to Green Arrow: Year One overall, it just wasn’t for me. However, I can look back on the show’s beginning seasons and see a clear pattern of character arcs that were leading to a greater picture. A picture that would create an adapted vision of the classic Green Arrow comics mythology.

Needless to say, that from season three onward, Arrow did not only continuously strive away from that proposed picture, but did so almost gleefully. It often felt at times that the show was more interested in using the brand names of “Green Arrow” and the original materials (or should I say Batman’s original materials) for the sake of hollowed out Easter eggs, than truly adapting them in interesting and creative ways. One of the best examples of this is the show’s depiction — and mishandling — of the Black Canary, aka Dinah Laurel Lance.

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SIUniverse Celebrates Lunar New Year at The Met in NYC

A little over two weeks ago, I had the honor of leading a comics workshop with my SIUniverse partner Jerry Ma at the world renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Part of their annual Lunar New Year festival, Jerry and I helped small children and their families use inspiration from the museum’s rooms of Asian art to create their own superhero characters.

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Womyn Warriors of The Great Wall

The Great Wall was, as the movie posters implied, about how we should all say #ThankYouMattDamon. Yes, he comes up with the brilliant plans that the Chinese hadn’t figured out in the last 2,000 years (even though there was a clue in ancient texts) and all that white savior stuff — fittingly, the movie was written by the same guy who wrote The Last Samurai. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up). But I’m not gonna talk about it because you can find it all over the internet.

You can read about the plot here — or read Valerie’s review here — so you know what I’m going to be talking about, but it’s basically Starship Troopers in ancient China. But there was a theme that made me not want to slit my wrists and go screaming out of the movie theater (which was the case when I saw Kubo and the Two Strings, but that’s for another day). What was it? It was the portrayal of womyn.

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We Need to Talk About Chuck Clayton on Riverdale

Originally posted on Just Add Color

Chuck Clayton has gone down as the first character Riverdale’s penchant for reinvention has revamped in the worst way possible. This is not the way for the show to enter its first Black History Month.

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Forget the DCEU: Warner Brothers Should Embrace the Multiverse

It has not been a great couple of weeks (years?) on the DC Films front.

After Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad failed to live up to most people’s expectations last summer, Warner Brothers looked like it was starting to right the DCEU ship. Triumphant teasers for Wonder Woman and Justice League made DC the talk of San Diego, and fans were stoked for directors like James Wan, Rick Famuyiwa, and Ben Affleck to lend their visions to DC supeheroes. Well, less than a year later, 60% of those directors have been dropped and now, Ben (maybe?) doesn’t even want to be Batman anymore. And in the most WTF move yet, Warner has approached an actual misogynst, anti-semitic racist to helm a movie with the initials S.S.!

But, taking a page from Vulture’s always awesome , maybe Warner Bros. can use the chaos surrounding the DCEU as an opportunity… to blow up the whole damn thing.

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The Great Wall Review: Is It Worth The Watch?

Originally posted at Black Girl Nerds

All that is lacking in substance is made up for with gorgeous imagery in a Zhang Yimou’s new and pointless film, The Great Wall. Whomever his set people are, give them all the awards because they bring their A-game when it comes to costume and set design. But I digress.

I’m not sure what I expected, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the Silk Road version of Edge of Tomorrow featuring giant Komodo Dragons. Shouldn’t a larger budget allow more time to work on perfecting the CGI? How many Adobe-editing programs did they use to get these monsters to look as fake and silly as they do? Zhang Yimou should stick to martial arts dramas because he is out of his element with The Great Wall.

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Color Commentary: Fifty Shades of Grey

 Color Commentary is back and in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re critiquing  the 2015 major motion picture, 50 Shades of Grey. In the tradition of Honest Trailers and Mystery Science Theater 3000, this commentary is done in complete satire, is intended for a mature audience and is meant for entertainment purposes. In other words, if you take any of this seriously, you are a fracking idiot.

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Netflix is 3% Closer, but Still Fighting White Supremacy Saviors

At this point, it’s damn near impossible to keep up with the onslaught of Netflix original programming. Along with all of the film and series content, the tentacles of the entertainment Kraken inevitably started reaching out for more international collaborations. Around Thanksgiving we were treated to the Brazilian series 3%. In terms of originality, it doesn’t score high: another variation on the theme of a future world where young adults do what they have to do to survive.

It does have its points of deviation though from say The Hunger Games and Divergent with a touch of Elysium. Brazil has had a long and appalling history of income inequality, which I’m sure is where the idea of the tagline came from: “In a dystopian future there is a clear divide between the rich and poor, but when a person turns 20, they have the opportunity to cross the divide.” As implied, by free will all the candidates get to try to make it from the miserable mainland to the utopian island Mar Alto; that looks kind of like Recife to Fernando de Noronha on the map. The tests they undergo are less physical and more psychological until they are whittled down to the fabled 3%. The setting, albeit futuristic, feels closer to present as we undergo our own survival in the collapse.

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