‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Puts Black Joy on Full Display

The reviews for LeBron James’ and SpringHill Entertainment’s Space Jam: A New Legacy are rolling in and they paint a considerably dismal picture of the imagination critics go to the movies with today. For some context, Steven Spielberg’s 2018 IP extravaganza Ready Player One sits with a decent aggregate rating of 72% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, particularly because of the way the film sets up its action sequences and because it is a Spielberg flick. A New Legacy, however, is already down to 32% from critics and that’s mainly because there are “too many IPs,” and the film doesn’t make algorithms function the way they should in the real world.

Continue reading “‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Puts Black Joy on Full Display”

Los Angeles Theatre Review: ‘An Octoroon’

During intermission while watching An Octoroon (written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Judith Moreland) at the Fountain Theatre, an old white woman randomly came up to me and asked what I found so amusing in this play. First, I had to get over the shock that a live human being was touching me (without permission) and getting up in my face to ask this question because after all, this was my first time watching a play with a live audience (albeit in an outdoor theater) in 16 months. Second, what WAS I and primarily all the other POC audience members laughing about?

Continue reading “Los Angeles Theatre Review: ‘An Octoroon’”

Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield Lead Dynamite Cast in ‘The Harder They Fall’

Between Westworld, Red Dead Online, and Lil Nas X, there has never been a better time to be a Black cowboy than now, and with the upcoming release of The Harder They Fall on Netflix, I’m going to need to get fitted for my frock coat immediately. Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, and Idris Elba lead a brilliant cast of some of Hollywood’s most dynamic actors in this Jeymes Samuel (They Die by Dawn and JAY-Z: Legacy) epic, new-school Western.

Continue reading “Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield Lead Dynamite Cast in ‘The Harder They Fall’”

‘Grown-ish’ Returns for Senior Year This Thursday

It’s senior year for the Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) at Cal U.

Freeform’s Grown-ish finally returns this Thursday! After taking some time off school to focus on being a stylist, Zoey is back to finish her final year with her friends and finally graduate. With Aaron and Zoey finally together after three years of “will they, won’t they,” the couple are trying to make it work.

Continue reading “‘Grown-ish’ Returns for Senior Year This Thursday”

Appreciating the Diversity of Late-Generation ‘Pokémon’

When I first caught sight of Pokémon Neo Genesis cards being sold on the Home Shopping Network as a kid, I almost took my mother’s credit card and picked up the phone to put in a few hundred orders. I remember on one such occasion using the spare change from a trip to the gas station to buy a single booster pack. I came home with a gallon of milk and yet another holographic Machamp, all while receiving the admonition I knew was waiting for me at home.

Continue reading “Appreciating the Diversity of Late-Generation ‘Pokémon’”

Nyambi Nyambi Avoids Black Trauma in ‘The Good Fight’

Nyambi Nyambi’s character Jay Dipersia has been through a lot the past four seasons of The Good Fight. From facing deportation to fighting pay gap disparities, Jay has been given difficult circumstances to overcome. But, in the fifth season of The Good Fight, which premiered yesterday on Paramount+, Jay is given multiple obstacles that he must deal with — the aftermath of COVID, Black Lives Matter Marches, and losing three of his colleagues — two have moved (Cush Jumbo and Delroy Lindo left in the season five premiere episode) and his fellow investigator Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele) has decided to study law.

Continue reading “Nyambi Nyambi Avoids Black Trauma in ‘The Good Fight’”

ATX Festival 2021: Black TV Creatives Discuss What Still Needs to Be Done in the Industry

Celebrating all things television, the ATX festival was virtual again this year with a lineup filled with wonderful television series as well as discussions by leaders in television. One of the many panel conversations had a very serious conversation about race discussions in television called Television in an Era of Racial Reckoning, hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Continue reading “ATX Festival 2021: Black TV Creatives Discuss What Still Needs to Be Done in the Industry”

‘Timewasters’ Creator Daniel Lawrence Taylor on His New Series and Time-Traveling While Black

When you think of time-traveling films or television series, the first ones you think of mainly consist of white casts. If someone asked you to name a predominantly black, indigenous or people of color (BIPOC) led time-traveling series, it may take a little bit to come up with one, if any. Thankfully, that’s where IMDbTV’s Timewasters comes in to change the game

Continue reading “‘Timewasters’ Creator Daniel Lawrence Taylor on His New Series and Time-Traveling While Black”

Death Row Records Celebrates ‘Above the Rim’ Deluxe Soundtrack with Exclusive Merch

When we all saw Tupac Shakur in Juice in the ‘90s, not only did we pray to never run into someone like Bishop in our own lives, but we learned the range Pac had outside of the studio. ‘90s and early 2000s Black cinema was marked by a particular era of gangster-laden, hip-hop fueled narratives that sometimes hit the mark, with films like Do the Right Thing, Boyz N the Hood, and New Jack City lending various insights into the cinematic representation of Black Consciousness as it was in the ‘90s and later.

Continue reading “Death Row Records Celebrates ‘Above the Rim’ Deluxe Soundtrack with Exclusive Merch”

A ‘Gaze’ into the Soul of ‘The Underground Railroad’

by Barry Jenkins | Originally published on Vimeo

In my years of doing interviews and roundtables and Q&A’s for the various films we’ve made, there is one question that recurs. No matter the length of the piece or the tone of the room, eventually, inevitably, I am asked about the white gaze. It wasn’t until a very particular interview regarding The Underground Railroad that the blindspot inherent in that questioning became clear to me: never, in all my years of working or questioning, had I been set upon about the Black gaze; or the gaze distilled.

Continue reading “A ‘Gaze’ into the Soul of ‘The Underground Railroad’”

‘Box of Bones,’ An Endorsement

I am a new convert to horror. I was firmly in my comics, SF, SpecFic, fantasy bag for decades until I read Tananarive Due’s My Soul to Keep. After that, I was all in… on horror literature. However, so-called ‘horror comics’ weren’t scary to me. Not even a little. And as a comic fan, it was disappointing. That was then. Now, there are tons of wonderful horror books that speak to my cultural and aesthetic specificity. There’s Image’s Killadelphia and Bitter Root, which just had a huge announcement. And Vault Comics is doing it big.

Continue reading “‘Box of Bones,’ An Endorsement”

‘Yasuke’ is a Beautiful and Bloody Love Letter to the First Black Samurai

Yasuke. A real life folktale. Not so much in the sense that he never existed. It’s more like there isn’t much known about his mysterious life, aside from how challenging it must have been.

All that’s known about history’s first Black samurai is that he was likely born around 1540 in Africa, around the Mozambique area. At some point in his life he came in contact with Oda Nobunaga, a feudal lord of Japan, and became a member of his samurai guard.

Continue reading “‘Yasuke’ is a Beautiful and Bloody Love Letter to the First Black Samurai”

I Am Captain America: Get Used to It

by Thaddeus Howze

While Marvel Comics has never allowed Sam Wilson to remain Captain America, it is good to see they have decided to allow him to hold the title in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the comics, they engineered an excuse for him to become Captain America and when they were done with the story arc, Steve Rogers reclaimed his title and his shield.

Continue reading “I Am Captain America: Get Used to It”

An Endorsement: Tim Fielder’s ‘Infinitum’

Afrofuturism is having a moment. First posited by journalist Mark Dery in the early 1990s, Afrofuturism is now a full-blown social, cultural, psychological, technological, and aesthetic movement. And never has this movement, this moment, been more fully realized than in Tim Fielder’s magnum opus, Infinitum. To call it a graphic novel would be to undercut it’s value. It is an enterprise of speculative cultural cartography.

Continue reading “An Endorsement: Tim Fielder’s ‘Infinitum’”

Southern Fried Asian: Dr. David Surratt

On a new episode of Southern Fried Asian, Keith is joined by Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students at the University of Oklahoma Dr. David Surratt to talk about growing up Black and Korean in Tulsa.

Continue reading “Southern Fried Asian: Dr. David Surratt”

Give Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield Their Roses for ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

With regard to director Shaka King’s masterpiece, the aforementioned sentiment goes double for Kaluuya’s fellow cast members Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith, Dominique Thorne, and Jesse Plemons. Judas and the Black Messiah follows the life and times, and tragic end, of Fred Hampton (played by Kaluuya), the Black Panther Party Chairman of the Illinois chapter in the late 1960s. Most importantly, the film lays bare the attempts of the FBI to infiltrate and destabilize Hampton’s civil rights campaigns through the aid of petty criminal William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) after applying enough pressure on O’Neal to force him into working as their informant.

Continue reading “Give Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield Their Roses for ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’”

Ava DuVernay’s Collection of Work is Necessary Viewing for Students and Educators Alike

Six years ago, I was student teaching in Durham under the graduate MAT program at Duke University and was well on my way to perhaps the most fulfilling, demanding, and emotionally draining career path in my life. I like to think I accidentally ended up at the front of the classroom — senior year of high school saw my required community service hours stack up until I could go nowhere else last minute, aside from my neighborhood mosque. As presumptuous as it was, the imam still agreed to have me on board teaching elementary Arabic.

Continue reading “Ava DuVernay’s Collection of Work is Necessary Viewing for Students and Educators Alike”

No More Mrs. Frozone: Black Women Characters in Pixar’s ‘Soul’

Black adult women aren’t often depicted in animation. Most of the Black female characters are kids or teens or little-seen moms. Some notable central characters include: Storm. Trudy Proud and Big Mama. Donna Tubbs. Uhm, the Muses? There aren’t very many. It’s the Mrs. Frozone problem, off-screen and never developed. (Pixar could stand to improve upon that problem in particular.)

Continue reading “No More Mrs. Frozone: Black Women Characters in Pixar’s ‘Soul’”

NOC Interview: Chris Redd of ‘Saturday Night Live’

Chris Redd is humbled by the company he shares, being only one of 20 other Black players in SNL’s storied history. What he hopes to leave behind at the end of his career, though, is beyond comedy. The Chicago native has been deeply involved in giving back to the Chicago community, helping raise millions for charities like the The Anthony Rizzo Laugh Off For Cancer, The Chris Redd & Friends Charity Concert, and also through the Covid-19 Protestor’s relief fund that he founded. Chris also serves on the board of directors of Poverty Alleviation Chicago.

Continue reading “NOC Interview: Chris Redd of ‘Saturday Night Live’”

Cartoonist Keith Knight on ‘Woke,’ Politics, and the Power of Comics

Keith Knight is the creator of three popular comic strips: the Knight Life, (th)ink, and the K Chronicles. He has appeared in various publications worldwide, including the Washington Post, Daily KOS, San Francisco Chronicle, Medium.com, Ebony, ESPN the Magazine, L.A. Weekly, MAD Magazine, and the Funny Times. I sat down with Keith to talk his new show, Woke, now on Hulu, as well as politics, the craziness of 2020 and also the impact of animation and cartoon drawing by artists of color.

Continue reading “Cartoonist Keith Knight on ‘Woke,’ Politics, and the Power of Comics”

DC FanDome: How ‘Watchmen’ Explores the Issues of Corrupt Power and Systemic Racism

“When the police masked [in the events of the show], it raised the question of accountability, because at some point, [it becomes a question of] who’s the good guy/who’s the bad guy” — Christal Henry, Supervising Producer of Watchmen (2019)

This quote, which kicked off the most fascinating panel/segment in the DC FanDome for Watchmen: Unmasked, embodies more than just what was going on in the narrative of the show. It’s a quote that fully embodies what we’re seeing in our society today. When you replace the metaphor of a mask with a badge, we understand that Watchmen is, as the graphic novel was too, an absolute reflection of the sins of society told through the lenses of both the empowered and the powerless. And therein is why Watchmen is perhaps one of the best television events in the past decade.

Continue reading “DC FanDome: How ‘Watchmen’ Explores the Issues of Corrupt Power and Systemic Racism”

Chadwick Boseman Was a Source of Light in My Understanding of a Black Hero

In the Bantu language Xhosa, Ulwimi olunye alwanelanga tu means “One language is never enough.” In the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s passing, there is an inconceivable grief rippling across language barriers and cascading through communities and countries. The letters on my keyboard look like a jumbled mess — trying to use language to communicate this loss is an act I am unfamiliar with.

Continue reading “Chadwick Boseman Was a Source of Light in My Understanding of a Black Hero”