Race, Intersectionality, and the End of the World: The Problem with The Handmaid’s Tale

by Shannon Gibney and Lori Askeland

Hulu’s reboot of The Handmaid’s Tale opens with a car chase: the protagonist (Elisabeth Moss), who will later be called “Offred,” is racing with her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) and daughter Hannah (Jordana Blake) in their faded, old model Volvo through a frozen landscape, sirens of their invisible pursuers wailing.

The decision to introduce us to Offred as a member of an interracial family revealed an obvious break from the overwhelmingly white world of the novel and 1990 movie. Many reviewers construed that fact — and the powerful presence of Samira Wiley in the role of Offred’s badass lesbian friend, Moira — as undeniable evidence that the series would be more intersectional in its approach to feminist themes than the novel had been.  (“There’s intersectionality, too, with Moira, a lesbian, played by a black actress, Ms. Wiley,” was the breezy quip of the New York Times’ Katrina Onstad.) But sadly, bodies of color alone do not a liberatory racial narrative make. Indeed, a deeper look at the series shows the uncomplicated, and therefore, problematic effects of this “colorblind” casting.

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CTRL+ALT: A Culture Lab on Imagined Futures, This Weekend in New York City

Like the rest of the nation, I woke up this morning to an unfathomable reality. Despite our best efforts, the country has chosen hate and division. Those dystopian science-fiction novels don’t feel so far off anymore. Still, we at The Nerds of Color must soldier on. I’m doing that by participating in CTRL+ALT, the Smithsonian’s pop-up Culture Lab on imagined futures this weekend in New York City. Though, to be honest, I’m having a difficult time imagining the present, much the less the future.

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Moonlight Shines a Light on Black Masculinity and Sexual Identity

Originally published at Just Add Color

The buzz right now is for a film named Moonlight. The film, the second for writer-director Barry Jenkins, tells a haunting tale of a boy named Chiron whose battle throughout life is coming to terms with his identity as a gay black man. That identity is complicated by merciless taunts at school and a home life surrounded by drugs and hard drug dealers.

The film looks like it’ll become one of the most important films of the latter half of 2016 and into 2017, and rightfully so. When popular culture thinks of black men, they often think of them as how they are presented in Moonlight; as gangbangers and drug dealers. But in Moonlight, even those characters — including the main character, who later becomes a drug dealer himself in Atlanta because that’s all he’s known and that’s probably how he feels he can best hide himself and fit in — have a tenderness and humanity that is often denied them by society and, consequently, by other forms of media.

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#CrossLines Takes Over the Smithsonian This Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend, the historic Arts & Industries Building at the Smithsonian will be the place to be when over 40 artists and scholars participate in a pop-up culture lab on intersectionality called CrossLines. And The Nerds of Color will be there all weekend conducting podcast interviews (Hard NOC LIVE, if you will) with artists and writers like Shawn Martinbrough, Ellen Oh, and more. And on Sunday evening, bring a sci-fi/fantasy book or graphic novel and join in on the NOC Book Swap.

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BLK x NOC Preview Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

UPDATE: Part 2 of our BvS podcast crossover with BLKBOARD is available here!

We’re now only a few days away from the worldwide launch of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Before the movie comes out, this special edition of Hard NOC Life — also available on iTunes and Soundcloud — invites the founders of the new website and podcast BLKBOARD, Jermaine Dickerson and Michael Tré, to discuss the launch of the DC Cinematic Universe.

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Why Dwayne McDuffie Was Better Than You

One cannot discuss black excellence (specifically in speculative fiction) without discussing one of the most gifted and progressive storytellers, ever to walk this earth, the late Dwayne McDuffie.

As expected, many discussed the amazing work he and his team did with making Milestone Comics a success, others mentioned his phenomenal work with fellow phenom Bruce Timm creating over a decade of superb animated series and films.

Of course people pointed out that McDuffie paved the way for black storytellers in a way too vanilla-centric medium that is the comic book industry.

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