When Chappelle’s Show dropped in 2003, never in my history of comedic television viewing had a first episode been so explosive. Clayton Bigsby was the most audacious thing I’ve ever seen. A black white supremacist? I, along with millions of others, was hooked. Until then, Dave Chappelle was a marginal comic presence. He had bit roles in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Blue Streak, Undercover Brother, and other films. Then he became a star with the stoners for the cult classic, 1998’s Half Baked. He was a stand-up whose career consisted of mostly juvenile and scatological humor with flashes of the socially and culturally relevant comedy displayed on the first two seasons of Chappelle’s Show. He was a hard worker. Dude toured and gave it his all. It was fascinating to see him mature from confident performer to a master of crowd control. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Daves, Past and Present”
This has been an amazing ten months for Black cinematic culture. We had Beyoncé’s Lemonade in April 2016. Donald Glover’s Atlanta and Ava Duvernay’s Queen Sugar both premiered on September 6, 2016. Luke Cage’s entire season broke the Internet on September 30. Barry Jenkins’s Best Picture Oscar winning Moonlight dropped October 2016. So did Issa Rae’s Insecure. And then the wicked mind of Jordan Peele unleashed Get Out, this past weekend. There were other films, television shows, videos and the like, but damn. Look at this trajectory. It would be so easy to label this a Black Cinematic Renaissance, but I don’t think I want to be that optimistic.
The way people are reacting (and/or responding) to our current political moment is all over the map. Some are taking the ostrich head in the sand approach: If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Some are happy that the end of the American experiment is closer than we ever thought possible. Some are going full-force with resisting, making sure that what is happening does not become the new default. Some are embracing the newly- burnished hate and division, their fantasies of a fourth and fifth Reich are invading our shared reality. Remember when these people used to be on the fringe? Some say this is the last gasp of a dying ideology. I’m of the mind that it is the first deep breath of a newborn. But what do I know? I’m a born pessimist.
When I heard Abrams was developing a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred I was of two minds. I wasn’t sure if one of the most important books in the history of literature could be accurately represented in the graphic form. Even though I’m a rabid comic book fan, I felt a comic version of the novel would somehow cheapen it. But it was John Jennings and Dr. Damian Duffy, and I trust them implicitly. They have a decade plus relationship and have put out some of the most interesting and innovative comics work during this time.
They’re geniuses, and this isn’t hyperbole. This book here illustrates the genius of their partnership.
This is an excerpt from a book I started in 2008. I wanted to take a more academic approach to afrogeek and afrofuturist culture and cultural artifacts. I felt this section was important in the present, in light of our new political reality. The books is done, but I’m not sure how I feel about publishing an academic text in a time when we need information to be as clear as possible. Continue reading “Butler, Dystopia, Propaganda, and a Way Through?”
This is a guest post from my wife, Janet Christine Mendoza Stickmon. It is a little off from what we usually cover but in these times, it is a very necessary read.
I received a few emails and messages from people who wanted to support the AfroGeeks Unite! summer camp, but didn’t want to wear a shirt with a raygun on it. I completely understand. We’re living in interesting times and the raygun (with the RBG colors) design could be interpreted in a variety of ways… ways some folks may not be comfortable with.
With this in mind, I’ve added two new designs:
This has been a dispiriting couple of weeks. We are facing a new political reality and now, I feel, there is an increased social, political, and creative urgency — something I’ve never felt before. To address this, me and a few local Bay Area creators have decided to launch AfroGeeks Unite! It is a small initiative that aims to get more POC youth (particularly black youth) involved in the speculative fiction (used as a catchall for SF, comics, horror, etc.) community.
The day after the election, I received a message from a frenemy I’ve known since junior high. He has kept close tabs on me and my career, always presenting himself as “devil’s advocate” or “the rational voice of the other side of the argument.” Basically, he’s a book smart troll I didn’t block because of the insidious effects of nostalgia. His message was one line:
“What good is all that science fiction stuff, now that we’ve won?”
Amongst my friends and family, it is no secret that the only holiday I care about is Halloween. No, it isn’t just because the candy is free and flowing — although this is a huge bonus. What I love the most about he holiday is that there is this unbridled demonstration of ingenuity, creativity, and imagination. People get to step a little outside of their mundane lives and step into the realm of the fantastic.
Another thing I love are the costumes. I don’t think I’m alone in this, especially amongst my fellow NOC. While many of us were too busy to dress up, we made sure that our children did.
I would like to present to you the NOC Parade of Costumes: Our Children’s Addition.