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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Black Masculinity as Performed in Japanese Visual Media

by Kendall Bazemore

Japan has long produced visual media that has captivated readers and viewers for decades. Manga and anime are two classic mediums through which fantastical worlds and profound characters come to life. Of all the hundreds of thousands of characters that exist in these worlds, there are a handful that share a close resemblance to African Americans. Though these characters are not always explicitly identified as black, they are heavily coded as black or Afro-descended. The aesthetic of black coded characters in anime and manga reflect the same ideologies of black males in U.S media and society. Popular series like Naruto and Samurai Champloo both use tropes of black males and demonstrate common ideas about their masculinity and how they are read by others. Hip hop is the vehicle through which Japan understands American blackness which manifests itself in various ways in Japanese media.

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My Thoughts on Dope

[I wanted to write this reflection the weekend of its release. I decided that I needed a little more time because the film hit home in too many ways and I needed some space from it to get a better handle on how I wanted to approach it. This will not be a typical review, nor will it be an endorsement — despite my endorsing the film whole-heartedly. I have no idea what this is, but I needed to get it out.]

Hip-hop is fandom. While it may not be explicitly geek/nerd culture, it is fandom of the highest order. If anyone chooses to refute this, they aren’t being intellectually or culturally honest. Never has this connection been so blatantly displayed than in Rick Famuyiwa’s 2015 gem of a film, Dope. [I have a lot more to say about this. Watch this space in the next month or two]

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