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.
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.
Black LGBTQIA+ relations to their heterosexual counterparts is seldom part of the public narrative about Black LGBTQIA+ life, though their presence and relationship as bell hooks tells us in 1992’s Black Looks: Race and Representation has always been a seamless part of our collective community. Usually it’s Black women writers highlighting this truth in a way that does not problematize the presence of queer Black people in relationship to their families and communities, from Ann Petry and Gloria Naylor to Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, the Black LGBTQIA+ aunt, uncle, cousin, brother, sister, or mother are essential, even normative threads woven into the fabric of our community, if sometimes rendered a curious one.
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?
February 20, 2019 – Atlanta, GA – Black people represent only 13% of the population but 50% of people living with HIV. The epicenter of that epidemic continues to be the Southern region of the United States and has been for some time. In response to the endurance of the epidemic and the anemic response to that epidemic as it relates to black Americans, particularly in the South, on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a group of activists and organizations are demanding change. The Counter Narrative Project, a national black gay men’s advocacy organization located in Atlanta, joined over 50 signees on a five-point statement of principled stances demanding the following: …
February 14, 2019 – Atlanta, GA – TheFulton County Board of Commissioners will deliver a proclamation honoring the legacy of a Black gay poet, HIV activist, and cultural pioneer who made both Black and American history, Atlanta’s own Tony Daniels. The proclamation will be presented during the February 20th Fulton County Board of Commissioner’s Recess Meeting at 10 am, in the Fulton County Government Center Assembly Hall located at 141 Pryor Street SW in Atlanta, GA. The proclamation is expected to officially be delivered by District 4 County Commissioner Natalie Hall of Atlanta.