Peabody’s, Pulitzer’s, and the Time100 – Oh, My!

All my favs are out here kicking ass and taking names and I live.

Peabody awards and Pulitzer Prizes were something I was taught to believe only old white men got. Earlier this week, the news came out that Kendrick won this year’s Pulitzer for music.

Now, the receipts will tell you that I have been a stan from time. I’ve been a fan of K.Dot’s since high school. I was really into the music blogs and things back then and I remember my first time hearing of his music was on Pitchfork.com. My good buddy at the time, Lev, one of a handful of white boys in the whole school district actually put me on.

I just remember him coming up to me, going “listen to this,” and handing me one of his ear buds. And I just remember the beginning of Backseat Freestyle and my mind just being blown.

I can go on and on with how much this dude’s music has meant to me over the years, but when I heard damn., I knew it was going to be one for the books.

And look at that: A mfn Pulitzer.

Then, just last week, a host of tweets actually brought me to tears.

Time’s annual “100 Most Influential People” edition that I’ve appreciated for  a long time. As far as journalism, they’ve been a favorite of mine for as long as can remember reading and appreciating news journalism and writing. And somehow, growing up, I’d somehow gotten my fingers on a copy every year since senior high school, no bullshit. The list has featured many people who influence me, personally, and who have changed the game in their respective lines of work. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Kanye West, Lin-Manuel Miranda… Beyonce – nuff said.

This year, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and Ryan Coogler made the list.

I’ve written, before, on the feeling that there’s truly a renaissance happening within Hollywood and, really, in the creative zeitgeist of the 21st century. And there’s all these beautiful black folks are leading the charge.

Issa’s been giving me life since Awkward Black Girl. Lena’s been moving calm for a while now and finally dropped “The Chi” on all our heads earlier this year. Ryan. Coogler. Black Panther. We’ve already been through that one.

Seeing how these three have been moving for so long has truly been an inspiration to watch. And now, some validation that if you really want and work for it, the world is yours.

The biggest bomb was dropped shortly thereafter.

My bitch, Issa Rae, has a Peabody. Like I said, folks, SINCE THE ABG DAYS. We been rockin strong.

Let’s pause on this for a moment. No, in theory, these constructed institutions that evaluate social and cultural value like the Oscars, the Grammy’s, McArthur Awards, Peabody and Pulitzer awards – they don’t validate us as black creatives. We know that racism is systemic and has found it’s way into these particular systems and that it’s not set up for us to win. But it’s a fact that times must and always do change.

To have the Peabody’s and the Pulitzer’s of the world acknowledge creatives of color is frankly, a big fucking deal. Because these are the things that inform the culture, the names that will be written indelibly in the cultural canon.

So shoutout to Kendrick, Issa, Lena, Ryan, and everyone else honored in this year’s round of awards and recognitions. They deserve and it’s about damn time.

 

 

 

 

Wakanda Forever: Thoughts on Black Panther

Four times… and counting. That’s how many times I’ve seen Black Panther and honestly, Marvel can continue to take my money until it’s no longer in theaters.

This. Movie. is simply everything. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like it. As someone who aspires to write for the screen and work in film, I feel like this movie has changed the game has began an era of clearing the path for folks like me who have new ideas and new stories.

What Black Panther has assured us of is that black does indeed translate internationally. Black entertainers like Kevin Hart have made a point of talking about this very phenomenon in multiple interviews. And Kevin does bring down the house. He’s kind of a superstar. (I mean how many movies has he done in the past five years?) But he’s one guy.

Black Panther gave us a cast full of black excellence, some familiar faces, and some new.

And oh baby, did it travel.

$1 B I L L I O N, and still climbing.

Following Ryan Coogler’s career, I knew he was capable of delivering something of quality. He’s a brilliant story teller, but I wondered how he would bring his auteurism to a studio like Marvel, who, in my opinion, makes movies that generally lack depth. Marvel makes good movies, obviously, but I rarely go to the theater to see them.

The two philosophies pitted against each other in the film worked perfectly as the defining conflict between T’Chala and Eric. Tradition vs. Innovation? What is a nation that has built and sustained itself to do in the context of a global society? Do they have a moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves? Or should they just mind their business like they’ve been doing?

I knew I smelled a rat. W’Kabi a.k.a. Brutus, Daniel Kaluuya’s character, said something telling in the first act of the film.

“If you bring the refugees here, they bring their problems with them. Then Wakanda is like everywhere else.”

Sounds like a Trump supporter to me. When he said that, I knew I had to watch that nigga. And low and behold, this bitch is leading the rebellion. But he knew he wasn’t stepping to T’Chala – and winning – so he waited for his moment.

ENTER Eric Killmonger.

The beginning of the movie sets up his tragic story and we get some context to what he’s trying to accomplish here. The MO: to liberate oppressed people the world over and usher in a new era of Wakandan global dominance. But his motives are revealed to be completely selfish and ill-founded so the mission was doomed to fail from the start.

From what I’ve seen on the internet, very few people are acknowledging the voice of reason, Nakia, Lupita Nyong’o’s character, who was basically saying “We don’t have to wage war on the world to help it. We have the juice here. Ain’t nobody fuckin’ with Wakanda. We can all be great.” A happy medium right? I thought so.

T’Chala is ultimately won over by Nakia’s philosophy and he even confronts his dad about it after being revived from the spirit realm. Leave it to a woman to be the rational one.

This is where my absolute favorite comes in. Lord M’Baku of the Jabari people.  He sees himself as this defender of tradition in his initial combat with T’Chala. He’s been watching from the mountains and does not like what he sees. He’s gracious enough to keep T’Chala alive after finding him nearly lifeless but set in resolve to remain neutral in the ensuing struggle for power. But in the end, the Jabari people help to save their Wakanda, realizing that it would be more a crime to remain silent than to let Killmonger and W’Kabi wage war on the world.

Depth. Thought provoking. Insightful. The performances were amazing. The costume design, the detail, the aesthetic, everything about this movie was out of this world. It’s the best Marvel movie I’ve ever seen hands down, but it also one of the best movies I’ve ever seen period.

This was a feat of tremendous proportions and I am both floored and fascinated. What the world is about to witness something I will call the Black Panther effect, pushing forward an era of pushing boundaries, telling new stories, and inspiring new ideas.

And I cannot wait.

#100: A Weekend For the Books

#100: A Weekend For the Books

Even with only 2 classes this semester, I’m just exhausted. It’s like no matter how much I think I’m eliminating from my plate, it somehow manages to fill itself back up almost instantly.

We last spoke at the end of February and since then a lots been going on. As I type this, I’m flying 3000 feet in the air back to Memphis from DC after a weekend with my best friend, Reuben. As avid listeners of…

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What Black Panther Means to Me

Today in Black History, I would be remise without acknowledging the release of Black Panther.

When I saw the photos from the Black Panther premiere, I knew right then and there that the cast and crew of Black Panther was readying themselves to take aim at our necks.

Everyone looked stunning. Just regal. Black excellence.

I overheard a coworker gripping the other day over the fact that all these people were going to see Black Panther who weren’t true fans of the Marvel universe. I rolled my eyes. He’s a white, if you couldn’t tell already… He’s one of those “you can’t wear the shirt if you’re not a fan of the band” type bitches.

To my coworker and anyone else harboring a similar sentiment, this is bigger than your little childish fandom, bitch. Get over yourself or go choke.

I realize that some folks might not grasp the immensity of the occasion, so let me break it down.

First of all, for all the white supremacists talking about how this is some nigger shit and how the Black Panther is some black power propaganda: the character of the Black Panther was introduced in the Marvel comics before the Black Panther Party was formed. With this in mind, we can then conclude that Stan Lee simply thought the Black Panther would be a cool character to add to his comic universe.

While it is a revolutionary thought that an entire African country could exist completely outside of the reality of European colonization and that because of this, they are more technologically and socially advanced, but at the end of the day, Wakanda is fictional. (But oh, can’t we dream?)

Second, the fact that this movie is directed by a black man and features an all black cast is monumental when you consider the discussion about diversity in Hollywood.

Side note on the director, Ryan Coogler

Mr. Coogler’s been working for a long time. His first film, Fruitvale Station, made him an indie darling, taking home the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as international acclaim, winning the Avenir Prize at Cannes. He also directed Creed as well as a few other short films.

The #oscarssowhite thing brought the issue of diversity to public consciousness a few years ago, but just because it’s not trending anymore doesn’t mean the work has stop nor that the problem has been solved. Ryan Coogler, along with other filmmakers such as Ava DuVernay, have been out here championing the cause to make Hollywood a not-so-white place.

In theory, this movie should’ve been made. However, I doubt it would’ve been carried out on such a grand scale. There was no Ryan Coogler to direct it (or an Ava DuVernay, who was approached for the project first) and up until recently only a handful of black actors were even getting booked for roles. And the ones who were damn sure weren’t getting booked for Marvel movies. Don’t make me break out the receipts.

As the release date draws near, the girls are readying their hearts and minds to receive something that is way past due.

White people can honestly get over themselves and shut the fuck up.

This movie is not inherently political, but the conditions that even make this movie a possibility are. The fact that the thought of “Maybe somebody black should direct this” actually went through someone’s head is revolutionary. The fact that Marvel didn’t just cast some random white people and white wash this story is revolutionary because we know its been done in the past with no after thought.

If you really wanna know why black folks are going all the way up for this movie, it’s because this is a celebration of us. This beautiful cast is all shades, shapes, and sizes of black. This movie will affirm for so many young black kids that they too can be extraordinary and that they too have the potential to be a superhero.

Not to mention, the soundtrack is produced, at least in part by Top Dawg Entertainment, which…

Honestly, I’ve been burnt out on Marvel movies for a while now. After the Avengers 12 and Iron Man 23, I started to wonder how much more shit these hoes could blow up and smash and destroy with reckless abandon. And for what? (Yeah, yeah, to save the world or whatever)

But best believe,I will be present and accounted for for Black Panther.

 

 

 

 

Anticipation

So I stalk a few my faves on Instagram and…

So I watched the trailer, per their recommendation.

And, my. god.

It truly warmed my heart. Like I’ve never been so sprung for a Marvel movie in all my life. Like…. uuuuugh. All that melanin. Being bad bitches. Bravo. I want more.

I just might pay this $12 to go see this movie. Like I more than likely will… I definitely will though.