On June 5th, 2019, Netflix dropped the fifth season of its dark anthology series, Black Mirror, to eager audiences, myself included. Due to a new job and other extraneous forces, though, I couldn’t devour the three-episode season in one sitting like I would with previous ones. However, the episode titled “Striking Vipers” kept popping up in many of my remaining social media feeds, provoking in-depth discussion among those who had seen it. When I did finally get to the episode, I was left with metaphorical blue balls at what had just transpired on my screen.Read More
Cover Photo: T.E.V.I.N. album cover
Thirty-years ago this year, the world was introduced to the elastic, richly textured instrument of one Mr. Tevin Campbell. Shepherded into the offices of Warner Bros. Records by jazz pioneer Bobbi Humphrey and signed by Warner Bros. renowned Senior Vice President of Black Music, Benny Medina, the then-12-year-old singer would be launched into the public consciousness by no less than the iconic Quincy Jones. If that start wasn’t impressive enough, Campbell’s 1989 debut single with Jones would eventually become a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts, “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me),” somewhere around the same time Campbell was just turning 14. Partially driven by a single that would, for a time, be a hallmark in the graduation auditoriums of schools, teen talent shows, and youth choirs in churches across America, Back on the Block would go on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year.Read More
She’s black. She’s a woman. She’s a lesbian. She has a wife and family. She has the conservative butch natural cut sported by Aunties of a certain age since at least ’72. “But, what does it all mean?” both the media and the people ask. Now that the haze of this historic election win that saw two Black women running neck and neck for the first time as the leads in a mayor’s race of the third largest city in America, the question is left hanging in the air, its residue wet, clear, but still staining as narrow eyes are cast suspiciously at this new thing that was never thought to be a political possibility before has become exactly a new reality for a city whose public image hasn’t known a clean day since the era of Al Capone and whose people could barely be bothered to get out and vote beyond a mere 33 to 35% for said political miracle.Read More
Overlooking a sparkling spring view of the Atlantic Ocean from a Fort Lauderdale hotel penthouse floor, I sat among an intimate group of activists and community service workers talking about art as activism and what makes that potentially igniting mix possible when it strikes. Several minutes deep into this discussion, we began exploring the idea of something that seems obvious when talking about it now but felt like a profound bit of news to us as we unpacked what the boom-bust history of movements had in common with one another when they each began. For instance, what did the works of Black women writers in the ‘70s that formed a new era in Black women’s fiction have in common with the ‘20s and ‘30s-era Harlem Renaissance workers who peopled Wallace Thurman’s “Niggerati Manor” in New York, many who’d go on to create the iconically single-issued Fire?Read More
I have a funeral Saturday. His name is Nathan D. Strickland, Jr. He was 28-years-old. After a lengthy battle, one I truly believed he’d survive, he “suddenly” succumbed to cancer. His marks the first death I’ve had in 2019 of a Black man, a fellow brother. He will not be my last. Last year, I experienced the deaths of 20 Black men. Last year I experienced the deaths of 20 Black men. Last year I experienced the death of 20 Black men. This stuttered trifecta of trauma was not a typo. It’s a weight that needs to be restated to be felt, to be heard, to be understood.