by Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino
Now I’ve been putting off watching this TV show for the longest time despite recommendations from friends. This is mainly because of my outrage for the writer and co-star - that is Childish Gambino. After reading this article a few years ago
READ WITH CAUTION
Basically this is what I was offended by...
"But I was having sex with her and we were towards… towards the end, and she goes, “F**k me harder with that N-word dick.” And I stop, look at her right in the eye… and I came harder than I’ve ever come… before. It was so awesome, you guys, it was so great. Like, I was like, wha? Like, I couldn’t believe it. Like, it was almost worth being black my entire life. It was so great. It was so great, I actually felt bad for white dudes, I felt bad. I was like, you guys’ll never have that"!
There is definitely something contradictory going on whereby quite a few Black people in main stream media that are quite vocal about white supremacy and racism promote same said thing. Hmmmm.
In Gambinos case it is not the colour of his wife that I find interesting - (although that heightens EVERYTHING... why?? Because your personal is ALWAYS your political that's why) - but an educated, western, talented, assumably visual being that encourages racism in the bedroom! REMEMBER your personal is always your POLITICAL!
Slight detour... Storytime
So.. two examples of how allowing a white woman to call you the N Word in bed affects my life
1) I was on my way back home after visiting friends in Shoreditch and this young white woman and I were waiting at the bus stop alongside others (it was a busy night). She was on the phone to who I assume was her Black boyfriend, ( I have no evidence but bare with me), and he must have asked what bus stop she was at.
She was like... "I'm at bus stop N. Bus Stop N! I SAID BUS STOP N!! N for N***
I was so shocked! I went up to her... and channelling all the anger and aggression bestowed to me by society
I was like... "N for WHAT?!?! Say that again - I dare you!'
2) Without going into too much detail on this one I was renting a room from a white lady once, and during a conversation on my first week she notified me of how Black men always tells her how aggressive Black women are.
Another off guarded moment - but a feeling of complete betrayal and unlike the first example my status in this moment was very low. I was in this lady's house, she was white, and i believed her... a Childish Gambino had told her that!
So the This is America video for me was for entertainment purposes only. That or when we talk about Black lives we are only selfishly thinking about our own!
The universe there after definitely got me at my own hypocrisy - I gave in!
It made me start thinking about what boycott actually means. And in a time where big brands are poking fun at Blackness and we still let them dress us, is the concept of total abadonment a thing of the past!
Can you imagine if the woman photgraphed above had a Black husband? The irony is here!!
A protest and stand for change FAIL!
Anyway... now that's out of my system. Atlanta is a brilliant piece of TV that has had me hooked every evening for the past few weeks. It has had me in stiches of horror as well as laughter.
It explores racial nuances brilliantly and like I’ve never seen before. It makes me realize how infiltrated I have been to one narrative, so find this soooooooo refreshing! It aslo makes me realise the complexities that lies within us all - and in an age where we are all trying deperately to not fit comfortably into a box... one box - maybe my idea of hypocrisy is actually freedom!
Vanessa (the girlfriend of Donald Glovers character) best one liners -
Watch the first two series of Atlanta on Amazon Prime now.
This is a must see film! Especially for those Black Love couples out there that may want to see a good film this valentines!
When trying to determine what Black Love is, I assumed (alongside others I’m sure) that it is a description of two Black people in love. However, ‘Black Love' is 'Self Love’ and I think that definition is epic.
Who you love can be anyone just as long as first… you love yourself!
Directed by Barry Jenkins of Moonlight and written by the iconic James Baldwin this film breaks the fast paced, typically cast conventions that Hollywood usually presents.
It felt more like an Indie movie – that focused on intimacy; how we relate to others (even when from the same community); as well as paying attention to how people of colour are shot and framed.
It’s 1970’s and we meet Tish and Fonny – an African Amercian couple from Harlem, New York…Beale Street to be exact. They grew up together. Played together, bathed together before falling in love... together.
It was so refreshing to see two Black people in love without the usual subliminal message of cheating and ratchetness, and In that way it reminded me of Starrs parents in THUG Life.
Without spoiling the major tragic moment in the movie (which I guess every movie has to have to be a movie) If Beale Street Could Talk flicks between the development of Tish and Fonny’s relationship, racial innuendos and how Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.
The racial innundos also bleeds over to their family life and we see a clear case of Colorism and assimilation by Fonny’s mother and sisters towards Tish. It’s these internal issues of war and hate that I most appreciated and so typical of Baldwin… adding a contextual theme of tension rather than tension just being active. I particularly loved and appreciated this as it is something I definitely reflect and relate to. With my loc journey now 6 and a half months in I often wonder what type of family will accept me. As well as what type of mother would ‘allow’ her son to marry me… a dark skinned, loc’d, opinionated woman.
My favorite feature of the film though was the gentle and beautiful way it dealt with the black body.
Unlike Between The World and Me [a father’s love letter to his son about how the world abuses and destroys the black body] If Beale Street Could Talk celebrates our body and forces its audience to see more than our richly melinated exterior.
I also felt it successfully attempts to reverse the years of psychological programming to see dark skin as monstrous, whorish, only physical and unkempt. And Tish’s dress style and Afro is a symbol of virtue, softness, patience and royalty. Staying on the subject… object of the Black Body, for the first time in my life I understood the importance of a sex scene. I 100% enjoyed watching Tish and Fonny make love. With soft jazz playing in the background, and an intimacy and sensativety that you seldom see two Black people on television show towards each other - my antennas went up - as I was reminded that I too was a sexual being. Not designed to be f’d in a music video, but one that deserves to be held, looked at and… made love to!
If Beales Street Could Talk it would have prepared us for the onslaught of murders by police, the injustice of the prison service today, and the racial prejudices that continue to exist not just in America but around the world - stopping Black people universally to meet, love and pro-create.
If Beale Street Could Talk is out now! Catch it in cinema’s near you.
I’m hoping that by the time you read this you would have watched this three part series aired on the BBC last month.
Based in Jamaica, the Long Song retells the story of enslavement happening on the Island by the British. As a Jamaican British woman – just its setting made me feel on edge but I was immediately glued to the series as most TV/ Film documenting the events of slavery focus on the African American experience.
Note – I guess in some respects the Caribbean is considered a part of the America’s
We follow the story of July – a young girl who is conceived by rape and taken away from her mother at a young age.
Note – this moment reminded me of that famous moment in Colour Purple… the Hell No moment – Please watch with caution!
Now in the Long Song, Kitty, July’s mother does not react like Sofia (Oprah Winfrey’s character) as there is a difference in time and Kitty is enslaved. But it triggered this scene for me because as well as ownership and control of Black people in the psyche of Europeans, there is a fascination and obsession with Black children that I think still exists that is seldom spoken about.
#shoutout to Sharon Duncan Brewster who plays Kitty – a fantastic Actress!
July then goes on to what we would call a “House Negro” working directly Ms Mortimer. What I found very interesting is the theme introduced by the casting of Tamara Lawrence and the issues therefore raised around colourism. You see, but for privileges surrounding being in the house, July did not benefit from the privilege of being bi-racial as her complexions darker than usual. I was impressed that this theme was included, and chuckled uncomfortably watching July needing to tell both Black and white people of the race of her father, despite what he had done to her mother.
Note – this happens today –with Black passing people feeling the need to tell Black and White people the non White parts of their make up. How sad!
Now the majority of the first episode in particular, is very barbaric and not for the light hearted, or those that do not feel they are in a strong mental state to see the atrocities that happened not so long ago. It is also more horrific if you are of Jamaican (Caribbean) descent living in the UK. But for me I was spell bound and had to continue what I started!
Interestingly though, my mother who I watched the first episode with, refused to watch the other episodes. I don’t think she was alone in this and there is a danger of losing a lot of Black audiences because we actually relive what we watch. I think what made it easier for me to watch is my ability as an Actress and Writer to watch things critically. And I invite all who read this to always watch everything critically as a programme is called a programme because it programs.
The other episodes were an easier watch because physical violence and murder isn’t so prevalent (although still traumatic) as slavery is coming to an end. Although there is the mental violence that increases with the introduction of Racism and what were once physical shackles has complications as July becomes a mistress for the new plantation owner and has his child... and so the saga continues, hence its title.
The Long Song is still on BBCIPlayer check out more information on other Andrea Levy books too.
So in my obsession with titles I researched and researched the word widow and how I could make the various definitions that came up correlate with the film. And whilst the Black widow is infamous for eating her male counterpart once she is pregnant this was not what this film was about. However, female resilience, power and determination when living without our male counterpart was definitely a theme. And widows explored and executed this message excellently. In addition, although I am not sure if this was purposeful – but most of the male characters in the film were at best two-dimensional. This was not a bad experience as character development and purpose in the male characters was definitely present. And actually, often in film, females are presented in this two-dimensional way, so the reversal of roles and shift of focus to the Widows I found exciting!
Death is definitely a theme and obvious by the title, with some of the killing scenes making me jump and look away. Now baring in mind that we now live in a world where murder captured on camera is the norm, I was shocked at how shocked I was with brutal murder, so have to give that reaction to the actors. Shout out again and especially to Daniel Kaluuya – whose brutal character caught me off guard and was unsettling.
I loved the backstory portrayed by each of the female characters. And their different reasoning and approach to take on the task of the movie. It reminded me of a revitalized Set it Off – now more diverse racially and main stream. The women had wit, intelligence and a passion to take control of their current circumstance.
Slight Spoiler - The twist with Viola Davis’ husband I found epic. I caught hold of the first clue alongside Veronica Rawlins (Viola Davis' character), which was an important moment as, without it she may have ended up dead. It is this attention to detail and no stone, clue left unturned that I enjoy. And added yet another layer to a film that is current with great acting, direction and character journey. In comparison to Hole the Girl Power message was a lot more subtle but equally purposeful.
Defo worth a watch!
Directed by Steve McQueen
The Hate U Give
[Little Infants F*#ks Everyone]
The Hate U Give follows the journey of Starr Carter, an African American 16 year old that lives in an inner city predominately Black neighborhood but attends a school in a more affluent White neighborhood.
So… The Hate YOU Give unconsciously when the terms ‘Urban’, ‘Inner City’, ‘Ghetto’ are used, is all locked into unconscious bias
I’m so interested in this, after doing the test myself and performing training to NHS managers on it, I am now convinced that this is the root to discrimination!
Anyway, Starr’s parent’s choice to send her and her brother to that school but still live in a poorer neighborhood reflects Starr's diverse experience. Russell Hornsby who plays Starr’s father does an amazing job at portraying a hardworking, loving father who has a past in drug dealing. Despite his past (and the biases that come with that) he quite literally will die for his children and, one of the first scenes is him schooling them on how to not get shot by police.
Please see my review on ear for eye which has a similar theme.
Regina Hall plays Starrs mother. She has been brought up very differently from her husband (Starr’s father) but this doesn’t affect the love they share for each other. Which I found both refreshing and unifiying. It is down to the education that she receives that she fought for her child to go to this particular school and as the film develops, unloading how problematic living in a poor neighborhood but attending a rich school can be, Starr’s mother is one of the many antagonists that wants the family to move.
I have taken away a star(r) because of one of the characters, Starr's boyfriend Chris.
I really enjoyed how rounded and well developed most of the characters were, including Starr’s policeman uncle played by Common. Uncle Carlos (Starr's mother's brother) is a Black Police man and we hear his unique perspective when it comes to the shooting of same said Black males. I further enjoyed how Starr's education from both school and home also equipped her to call her uncle out on how racist his viewpoint is.
[SPOILER SPOLIER SPOILER]
Especially after Starr experiences the killing of her best friend by the police. This incident leads to Starr's self development and the killing of her alter ego that she created to survive both worlds.
However, Starrs boyfriend Chris, whom she met at school, sticks out hugely. This is probably because all of the other characters were so developed and rounded, whereas Chris' character I found was one dimentsional. He was just a device, and served no other function to me other than to convince White audience members that Starr’s fight for Black lives shouldn’t be perceived as racist… because her boyfriend's White. This in itself is problematic, because regardless of who one dates, marries, has children with - Black lives and the treatment of Black people is a disgusting fact that very much needs to be addressed! Chris (the White boyfriend) had no opinion, no point of view, no internal struggle and I found his character annoying.
What I loved this about this film though, is that it looked into the class clashes that exist within the Black community. It did a wonderful job at showing another type of mixed experience. An experience whereby your parents may be of the same race, the sme age, the same heritage even – but are of different social classes. Isn’t that something? And actually, I think is the root of division within the Black race - on both sides.
Identity being a theme, Starrs diverse life and mixed upbringing causes her to develop an alter ego as mentioned before. This ego is the cause of disparity and we see a very truthful conversation between Starr and her best friend Hailey - who hold contrasting views on the shooting by police of Black people.
By now you should know that titles and images are important to me! The “Don’t judge a book by its cover” statement doesn’t address the fact that as humans that is all we do. We judge what we see – and it is so deeply rooted that we may even murder because of a preconceived bias notion that… for instance, Black skin means danger. Alert! Alert!
Following my current loc journey – I’d like to expose judgments rather than pretend they do not exist.
The Hate U Give title is an acronym from Tupac’s THUG LIFE (the full acronym which is also mentioned several times in the film, is The Hate U Give Little Infants F*#ks Everyone)which is pretty self explanatory.
Once again see my Theatre review for ear for eye which also exposes how we are f*#king up the youth, and then blaming them. In The Hate U Give there is an iconic moment towards the end that teaches us all about the cycle of destruction.
Read the book as well as seeing the film The Hate U Give.
So I’m three episodes deep into Black Earth Rising, starring our very own Michaela Coel, Noma Dumezweni and Emmanuel Imani, as well as John Goodman - and I am loving it!
I'm loving it so much that this month I decided to break form once again [see my recent quick review on Poet in Da Corner], and write a TV review rather than a film one.
As I write it is raining outside, I have my cup of tea to the right and have just turned on my central heating.
Yass darling, TV season has arrived!
And as the weather changes to its favourite position of cold in London, I change from Theatre trips in the evenings, bars and cinemas at the weekend - to the TV. In the comfort of my own home, I take joy in embracing my introvert self, and hybernating during this season, on my couch in front of the tele.
With the Internet giving access for people of colour to connect across the globe like never before; Black Twitter “checking” even the most notable celebrities and their racially loaded language; Not to mention the wave of Black British actors/ actresses that have gotton success across the pond – compared to my childhood - this definitely feels like a Black (Earth) (Up)Rising.
Imagery of a volcano exploding sits firmly in my photographic mind and is symbollic of the suppression of many voices, opinions and view points... until now! The blood coloured lava sizziling in the centre of the earth is the blood of the people that have lost their lives or their families in the name of ego, power and colonisation. The earth, therefore has no choice but to explode, because of the build up of oppression. Well... that's what I got from the title (lol).
Check out the trailer and Comment below your thoughts on Black Earth Rising :)
Politics aside (you know that isn't possible right?) - what I really enjoy about this 8 part series is watching an international cast, filmed partially in London do their own accents!
A slight rant - As a trained Actress myself I am tired of auditioning in an American Accent.
I know I know... I'm an actress so I should be able to do any accent!
Well yeah I should... and that includes my own!
Not wanting to crush anyone's hollywood dream or jump on the Samuel L Jackson band wagon of the annihilation of the African American by the Black British overtake, but I do want to say two things (I'm learning quickly through this blogsite to say what I mean in fewer words);
1) I want to be like Michael Caine. I want to be able to portray the lives of people who look like me (and SOUND like me) because WE exist.
2) I love Angela Bassett. She can do no wrong! But if someone was to ever have the fabulous idea to write a screen play of say... Olive Morris and her legacy, I'd struggle to focus if Angela Bassett were cast as Olive Morris!
So Black Earth Rising is that rare but very real instance where - as I sit on my sofa with my central heating on high - my introverted spirit resonates with the oddities and eloquence of Kate Ashby. She represent the other type of mixed race - read my Nine Night review of a detailed account of the different types of mixed experiences - She represents one of the many multi-faceted, multi-layered experiences of being Black and British!
You can watch Black Earth Rising on catch up on BBC Iplayer, and if you're up to date catch it on BBC Monday's at 9pm (GMT time)
So my cousin and I went to see the BlackkKlansman by Spike Lee, starring John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s son). We didn’t know much about it other than the title – see my Nine Night Review for my view on the power of titles.
As we entered, I took note of my surroundings at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, and there was a ratio of 1/3 black looking people in a turn around since gentrification. I think as my position as the 'outsider' in London has developed, I automatically observe my surroundings in an attempt to safe guard myself! Strangely, my life seemed to be in reverse as my cousin turned to the white men on our row that laughed (uncomfortably maybe) at the minstrel introduction and asked
" Are you planning to laugh throughout the film"
To which they replied
and were then silent throughout.
I guess my cousin's candidness immediately made me feel Ok. I mean... it's important that we feel OK to begin with, right? As with a title like BlackkKlansman I defintely was bound to feeling uncomfortable.
Please Watch the below video with caution! As it highlights Racist Stereotypes which most will find offensive (not funny).
Spike Lee has always been an interesting director to me. He has this way where - in the middle of a scene he will zoom the lens right into the Black face. Almost like he is objectifying on purpose… making Black purposely visual?
See my Product Review of Aphroism the book [20:52] and the difference between Black lives and Black life.
Growing up starved of Black British faces, I remember watching films like Crooklyn, Do the Right Thing, She’s Got to Have it and loving a similar face to mine up real close. I found BlackkKlansman very much a Spike Lee joint and his directorial style is all over it. Black Power and White Power, their similarities and differences are themes that are clear and almost caricature in the approach.
I think Spike Lee in a past life was a painter. His themes are always so clear and bright, and this clarity shouldn’t be taken as an under developed piece, but just... well... a Spike Lee Joint. Saying this, I do struggle with storyline in his films, as they are not traditional or what I have been conditioned to expect. He tells his story visually and usually from a zoomed out perspective looking at how the political affects the personal. I love him for this, because I personally choose to look at life from this angle.
Saying all that, I'll say again that the BlackkKlansman’s storyline dragged! The mash up of Blaxploitation meets Mockumentary I think annoyed me as I wanted a story about race to be straight.
The flick between genres did offer some light relief to the weighted politics behind racism, murder and how it is still active though!
There is a real activist in Spike Lee and his inclusion of including real people that historically have actually led Black and White power movements is share genius for people like me who continually want to research!
Click on the names for a brief review on the real life people in BlackkKlansman
Kwame Ture [note Wikipedia’s disrespect of his name]
However this was not just a Black and White movie, Blackkklansman had some ‘grey ‘ areas articulated through character journey that I really enjoyed.
Flip is Jewish American but passes as European American and in this privilege doesn’t start asking questions of culture, identity and who he is until he is initiated into the KKK.
Ron is an African American who works for the police. This character frustrated me deeply at first - because I guess my judgement of him was someone just wanting to assimilate. Especially by working in an organisation that has been getting away with murder. But on reflection I recalled Ron’s moment of change, which happens quite early in the film. It is at the Black power meeting that Ron decides to not assimilate but infiltrate a systematically racist institution.
The BlackkKlansman film made me think about how necessary it has become to take the better person position to survive as a minority. I think the consequence of this, is enabling an attitude by the privileged to never fully understanding that we are not just fighting for equality but fighting because we are in fact equal. Isn’t that sad that we have to beg to be treated like what we inherently are!
I’d like to share with you a (true) story in relation to the scenes highlighted in the BlackkKlansman’s about accent discrimination as I work casually in a Call Centre.
Once upon a time, whilst at work I got disconnected from a customer. The customer then called back but got through to one of my colleagues.
After speaking with the customer for a short while, my colleague calls over to me (having put the customer on hold);
Colleague: Sharlene, did you just get disconnected from someone?
Sharlene: Yes – has she called back?
Colleague: Yes – She said she was just speaking to a coloured girl and the phone got disconnected
[may I describe my colleague as colour-less?]
Sharlene: What! Really? That’s not very nice I’m actually very offended by that!
My colleague speaks to the customer reassuring her that he is still there and will be with her in a moment
Sharlene: Nah! That’s out of order! When she said that what did you say?
He presses hold.
Colleague: Nah. Don’t be like that mate she’s lovely.
Sharlene: Well that’s not a lovely thing to say!
Unholding the Customer, my colleague finishes the call. After a short while I hear him say to another colleague...
Colleague: But how did she know though? I don’t understand how she knew!
Black Panther - The Title
The Black Panther title offered much controversy with the bloggers I subscribe to. Mainly because of a lack of trust in big production companies and how they represent marginalised groups in general, not to mention Black people. Actually let’s briefly mention Black people. Disney and Marvel have failed for years to ever have strong Black representation. I do not mereley speak of Black characters, but of actual representation. The trust is lost!
So many are asking - why now?
Another strong concern was - why does the title share its name with the civil rights activists -
The Black Panthers.
Despite this criticism, I thought the titles double meaning was marvel...lous. :)
I watched this film four times!!!!
If that isn't actively telling you my thoughts I don't know what will.
The first time was definitely an event! With Peckham Plex filled with Actors and Blacktresses* in full African attire, we all succeeded in recreating our very own Wakanda.
See Ruth Carter the costume designer of Black Panthers Afrocentric Designs to see how we were inspired.