“What is this helping?” is one of the first sentences uttered by a white restaurant patron unsettled in Unapologetic’s first scene, where protestors express the reality of the recent deaths of Black residents in their community to unsuspecting people eating brunch at restaurants. The scene perfectly encompasses the themes and motives of this documentary: a large and triumphant call to arms to make a more honest and equal world while people sit quietly trying to ignore not only the performance, but the actual knowledge of those who are destroyed and subjugated by these injustices.
The former superhero takes a villainous turn as Justin Hartley is being added to the talented cast of the feature film, A Lot of Nothing, which already includes Y’lan Noel, Cleopatra Coleman, Lex Scott Davis, and Shamier Anderson. The film is the directorial debut of the acclaimed actor, Mo McRae from a screenplay he co-wrote with Sarah Kelly Kaplan. McRae also produces A Lot of Nothing with Inny Clemons and Jason Tamasco. An Anonymous Content, Scalable Content, and Traction production, the film is Executive Produced by Kim Hodgert, David Oyelowo, and Zak Kristofek.
With his bold and multifaceted Small Axe anthology, Steve McQueen has made the films of the moment. Three of the five films — Lovers Rock, Mangrove, and Red, WhiteandBlue — have premiered to a great reception at the NYFF. The films capture vividly the lives of London’s West Indian community in the 1970s and ’80s and their force of will against systemic racism and discrimination. “I dedicate these films to George Floyd, and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere,” the director said in May.
In just over a month, Spike Lee’s masterful Do the Right Thing will be 31 years old. Me and a group of friends skipped out of our summer work program to see the film. We were budding Black and Brown cineastes who marveled at Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and begged our caretakers and school counselors to help us apply to HBCUs after viewing School Daze (and A Different World) — well, those of us who could activate our dream machinery enough to believe we could escape the projects and could make it in university. It was the summer before our senior year and we all knew that in a year’s time, things would be different. Some of us would be off to the military. Some of us would go to either a four-year college or a junior college. Some of us would go directly into the workforce. And there was me. I had no idea what was waiting for me after high school. All I knew was that as soon as I graduated (if I graduated) I was running as far away and as fast as I could from my abusive mother. I didn’t care where. I just needed to get the hell out of that house. All this was bouncing around in my head as the lights dimmed. Continue reading “They Are Still Killing Radio Raheem”
The past few days have been a whirlwind, to say the least.
As we have all seen or heard at this point in time, George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police when former officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin has since been arrested — initially on the charge of third-three murder, but the charge has since been raised to second-degree murder. The other three former officers, Thomas Kiernan Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, have also been arrested on aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.
The escalation of charges, however, didn’t come without a fight. For an entire week, people marched in Minneapolis, around the country, and around the world, for Floyd’s killer and accomplices to be brought to justice. Part of those protests included a riot that ended with Minneapolis’ third precinct police station being burned down.
Throughout the riots, protests, and general unrest, I went through a myriad of emotions, to the point where I felt unable to write for this site. I still haven’t watched the video of Floyd’s death because for me, reading about the details, including Floyd calling for his deceased mother, was enough. If I watched the video, I knew I would be haunted by it for the rest of my life. I am already haunted by the lives of so many Black people who have been needlessly killed, and their stories were already compelling me without having to see them get killed on camera. I didn’t want to see the video that would only add insult to injury — the insult being that no one would care.
As you might expect, it begins with a selection of starters: today, do you choose fuming rage, crushing grief, or helpless fear? Perhaps you feel all three. Or none. Being Black in America is not just some game that anyone can control, after all.
As a Black Nerd it’s impossible to ignore that in the same week that we gained Pokémon Go, arguably one of the most anticipated games of the year, we lost Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to police brutality (who in reality are part of an even longer list of murders by the police this week alone). Once again the debates flare up between distraction and self care, between what people “should” be talking about or feeling at any given moment. But if Pokémon taught me anything, it’s that there is always another option than the “starters” you’re given, and sometimes this, too, is its own revolutionary act. I’m talking about allowing ourselves to sometimes choose Black joy. No, the Blackest Joy.
On last night’s episode of the ABC comedy show black-ish, the sitcom took a big chance and dedicated an entire episode on police brutality, racism, and the effectiveness of the American justice system. Although I only catch an episode of this show every now and then, I was made very well aware of this particular episode for some time because of its decision to center this episode on such heavy topics. And boy, it did not disappoint.
Last week, we brought you Black Girl Nerds’ account of the shooting of Darrien Hunt, the 22-year old Utah man who was killed by police for “brandishing a sword” that happened to not be a real sword at all. Depressingly, Hunt’s murder is part of an all too common pattern of high-profile killings of unarmed black men by those who have been sworn to protect and serve them.
The death of Darrien Hunt did not happen in a vaccum. In the wake of similar instances in Staten Island with Eric Garner, or Ferguson with Michael Brown, and Ohio with John Crawford1 — and these cases are just from this summer — the mainstream media and society in general is paying attention more than they ever have in the past.
This morning I read the link to a news article tweeted to me about Darrien Hunt, a 22-year old Black male who was gunned down by police on Wednesday September 10 by the Saratoga Springs police department. Several news outlets initially picked up the story as reported by the police and Tim Taylor, the chief deputy attorney for Utah county. His statement to the press was as follows:
When the officers made contact with Mr. Hunt, he brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr. Hunt was shot.
On a hot July summer day in New York City, I was working with a film crew hopping in and out of the subway in my costume as Captain America. We stepped out on one of the stops and after shooting for a few hours in Washington Square Park hopped back on the subway. That is when a couple spotted me and appeared amazed at having seen me a second time on the subway that day. The wife initiated the encounter and I sat down next to them for a few brief moments. The couple was from Arizona, and they were in town primarily to tick an item off the husband’s bucket list. To attend an Arsenal soccer match. They asked me what I doing, and I summarized the motivation of my social experiment. I stepped out on my next stop.
We finished the film shooting the next day. Two days later I received an email titled “Our chance encounter” from a sergeant in an Arizona police department. It was one of the most touching mails I have ever received.
I finally saw X-Men: Days of Future Past at our local close-to-DVD-release cheap theater that we South Minneapolitans all love, The Riverview. I loved it. I knew a few of the main comics discrepancies beforehand, but they didn’t bother me. It was gripping, the effects were sick, and I for me personally, I’m not sure there’s a limit to great acting performances once Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender hit the screen in damn near everything they do. All of that said, once I was waiting for the credits and the usual Marvel post-flick teaser, I started thinking about something else: Ferguson, MO.
One of the biggest stories in comics and pop culture over the summer was from Marvel Comics showing their efforts in creating diverse characters. Much to a lot of fans’ dismay, they made Thor a woman and Captain America a black man. Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon) is now officially Captain America.
While working today through my anger at the Ferguson, MO story — which is still unfolding — I wondered what Sam would do if he were a real person.
[Ed. note: This essay first appeared as a series of tweets on Marc’s twitter account and is being re-presented with his permission.]
The six years between the Genius Pilot Season issue release and the miniseries dropping [last week] felt like an eternity. But now, it feels like the world was making us wait for just the right time. When the hunger for female leads would reach a tipping point. When the hunger for diversity on and behind the comics pages would reach a tipping point. And, sadly, when the devaluation of black youth would reach a tipping point.
After reading this book, I was hesitant to review it. It is one of those rare books that transcended the four-color realm and hit me in my real life. I was also unsure if my endorsement of the book was an endorsement of some of the messages in the book. Artist Afua Richardson and co-writers Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman’sGenius is a book that I am still digesting. First introduced in 2008 by Top Cow via “Pilot Season,” Genius is a book that challenges me in a way that I haven’t felt in a while.
Comics are my escape from a stressful job. I want to read snikt and see folks teleport, and leap off buildings — it is a great way to decompress after days of seeing people in pain. Hell, even the more serious fare can act as 22-page escape pods — escaping into the fantastic from the sad and mundane. But this book read more like a possibility than a fantasy. In light of the killings of Eric Garner, Pearlie “Miss Sully” Golden, and Kathryn Johnston at the hands of the police, Genius is almost prescient. And it is a little foreboding.