There are some people who like comics. There are others who love them. Then, there are those who live and breathe comics. Not as a way to keep copyrights up-to-date for further cinematic use, but who see the comic form as important; as a worthy and necessary part of our collective artistic and cultural life. Professor, scholar, and creator, John Ira Jennings, embodies the latter.
Some time back, I watched a documentary about master Fumio Demura, one of the first to bring authentic Japanese karate (Shito-ryu) to the United States. I thought of him because he was Pat Morita’s stunt double for the Karate Kid movies.
One of the things that struck me about the documentary was his struggles to integrate into our culture, his uncertainty about sharing his cultural treasure with us, the degree to which his masters in Japan didn’t really want him sharing (“cultural appropriation,” anyone?) and his superhuman efforts to create not just a life of meaning but to uplift the children of Japan’s former antagonist.
As he is struggling with health issues now, the story is all the more poignant. One of the most affecting portions was his interactions with Pat Morita. Morita adored him, and the respect was fully returned. The “Mr. Miyagi” character was greatly beloved in Demura’s social and professional circles, and Morita was a superstar, the one who had “made it.” They were so happy that he had made it, and his success was a beacon of hope and pride to the Japanese-American community. The love and admiration at a testimonial dinner when Morita took the podium was unmistakable. The shining faces made me so happy.
With historic Oscar nominations for Get Out and record-breaking ticket pre-sales for Black Panther, 2018 is shaping up to be a watershed year for mainstream genre pictures that center Black characters. Acclaimed speculative fiction writers and educators Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, who currently offer an online course dedicated to Jordan Peele’s box office phenomenon, join Keith for a frank discussion of both films and their place in American popular culture.
Recorded live during the Asian American ComiCon Summit on Art, Action, and the Future.
We’ve seen so many different kinds of futures unfurl in pop culture, and many of them have people of color and LGBTQ individuals as backdrop and “local color.” What would a truly diverse, inclusive and intersectional future really look like?
To get to my failure, I should start with a childhood that took place in Los Angeles. Hawthorne, California is a small community situated in Southwest Los Angeles. With Inglewood to the north, Gardena to the east, Torrance to the south, and the glamorous beach communities to the west, it was basically the edge of working class/POC Los Angeles butting up against the elite.
What this meant is that I’d had some familiarity with celebrity. Not with myself, mind, but, like most Angelenos, I’d run into famous people while out and about. My most hilarious sighting being Los Angeles Laker Luke Walton at a local Target, while I was shopping for a few things with my mother. My mom was incredibly upset that I did not tell her that the tall and maddeningly handsome Walton had just waltzed right by her with the grace of a ballerina (Walton did have decent footwork) and the obviousness of a panzer tank.
Needless to say, my life here should have prepared me for meeting Lewis Tan. It, however, did not.
One of my New Years resolutions was dedicating this year to leveling up, specifically as an author and artist. Or rather as an auteur. 😉
Breaking personal records and churning out more pieces than ever, I’ve spent the better part of the year in nonstop writer mode which of course is the equivalent of Puppet Angel.
One cannot truly celebrate #BlackExcellence and look to the future without taking a moment to honor those who paved a way for us to journey forward.
Case in point, author, philosopher, life coach and fellow Wakandan, Steven Barnes, who is celebrating a birthday today.
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.
Originally posted at Super Justice Force
The recent death of celebrated author Walter Dean Myers has seemingly left a void in that corner of Young Adult literature that is aware of representation and diversity, and produces works of fiction populated with a rainbow coalition of characters. It seems like every week I’m reading something about the lack of diversity and representation in YA (as well as comics and films and whatever else you care to throw into the mix), much like this piece. And now that Myers is gone, he can join the list of authors frequently cited as those that did the most for those who are represented the least.
Unfortunately, while he was alive, a significant amount of what was written about the lack of diversity in YA failed to mention Myers and his work — which speaks to a problem almost as bad as the lack of diversity itself. That problem, of course, is the lack of dialog about those books and those writers who do put in the work to ensure diversity and representation.