Top Video: The trailer for the reprise of one of my favorite movies of all time, Annie, with more than just one Black guy playing Punjab this time! Clockwise from top left: David Boykin’s Soul Sessions in Chicago every Sunday … Continue reading
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The ongoing conversation about Black Americans in Hollywood ties a new knot: currently, forasmuch as we are proud and excited for our recent successes in Black film productions and critical acclaim, it is talent from the entire African diaspora that … Continue reading
I promised myself I would ‘blog’ here every single week. I would create a post, a literary non-fiction essay I like to call them, since ‘post’ sounds so bite-sized, and I am a Type-A overachiever who has to do everything … Continue reading
If nothing else, Black women can certainly tell a story. And where others are more subdued or might strain unto artificial performance and nearly-rehearsed expression, such embellishments to a tale are attributes we can’t help but deliver automatically. While the privileged classes … Continue reading
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I There is a defining 21st Century Western World story about a Black female Londonder who passed away in her government-subsidized bedsit/SRO flat in 2003, as she wrapped Christmas presents and wrote Christmas cards—and she remained in there, seated on her couch, evaporating … Continue reading
Today, January 15th, 2014, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 85 years old. It is arguable that, in this age of globalization and its increased emphases on the heightened role Americans should play in African diaspora nations and … Continue reading
Black American and Arts Movement Poet, Playwright, Writer and Literary Grand/Godfather to Countless People has passed away at the age of 79 years old. Full New York Times Obituary.
In summer 2013, I attended the American Library Association’s Annual Conference at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, with my writers group Sisters in Crime. I appeared and worked in our booth before I canvassed the gigantic exhibition arena. This … Continue reading
2013 was a phenomenal year in literature for Black/African-American authors as well as the readers who love them. From a thirtysomething Chicagoan who re-defined the art of the ‘rant’ in her first book of essays (Samantha Irby’s Meaty) to a respected non-fiction author … Continue reading
One day I’d love to write a book just about all the authors I have met or know: who, when, where, why and what it was like to see them in person or what it meant to me at the times. … Continue reading
The Butler is the culmination of what blacks in Hollywood, from its Golden Age unto its present, expected our contested involvement in the movies could, should and would be. And it is the reason why not only African-American people, but all people, will … Continue reading
**Trayvon Benjamin Martin (February 5, 1995 – February 26, 2012) was the son of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. He was a junior at Dr. Michael M. Krop High School and lived with his mother and older brother in Miami … Continue reading
I am so excited and overwhelmed with the fabulous things Black American people are doing in the arts now. Everywhere I turn, there’s something new to be proud of. A picture can be worth a thousand words. Not sure if I … Continue reading
Professor, Writer and Director Haile Gerima’s 1975 student thesis film Bush Mama premiered on the independent and student film circuit one year before I was born. I was born in the small-town Midwest: Kankakee, Illinois, a town most people have … Continue reading
The Snowtown Murders, a 2011 film directed by Justin Kurzel and written by Shaun Grant under Warp Films Australia, is an interesting and unusual study. It bears specific affinity to me as a former student who debated the merits of … Continue reading
It is startlingly appropriate that I was introduced to my first gray hair this past evening, at about a quarter to 7 p.m. in the basement of the Logan Center for the Arts on the University of Chicago campus right around the corner from my home. I came out of a bathroom stall to wash my hands and there it was visible in one of the lavatory’s mirrors, uncooperative with my repeated attempts to rub it into what I thought was a dab too much of white coconut oil. I believe there may be another one at the very center part of my head, but I am too nervous to confirm. I am unsure when I conceived the one strand I can not deny, but it delivered itself to me at my left temple right in the area where I am at ironically at risk for a receding hairline; maybe I will have good luck, and my lone gray hair’s siblings will cluster in an area that is expected to evaporate a little bit anyway. Or, maybe this is a silver lining. There’s always hope.
Most comforting about the particular setting and timing of discovery tonight is the obvious: I could have just gone right back home. For what, I am not sure: to have a tantrum, to hold the public bathroom mirror’s verdict up to the scrutiny of my private bathroom mirror’s trustworthiness, to Instagram a photodocumentary no one but I would care to revisit, to wail and moan and get the Holy Ghost, to call my best friends and family with a long-awaited announcement (of the unusual sort)? Thankfully, I stayed where I was. The event in waiting, a film screening of the film My Brother’s Wedding with director Charles Burnett present and introduced by my mentor Jacqueline Stewart, was a grateful distraction to this new fact of my life. The former I love in spirit and the latter I love in person; if I would love the movie or not remained to be seen, but I would never know if I did not stay and follow the hunch that I would.
Therefore, that alternate person inside me who noticed the gray was forced to come and go, with little to trigger or say. The work of a great artist awaited. I was expecting to see friends. And, most basically, I was at the movies for the first time in a long time. I could not spend time to create analogies with my gray hair and the oddly loose lower half of my stomach, or the expansion in the back of my arms, or the fading glory of my teeth, or my missing big house with a white picket fence and family dog. I can not imagine if I had been home with nothing at all to do upon such a discovery, this new dimension to what a woman might call her little “friend.” With so much else to think of in the moment of discovery, my existential crisis could not linger. I told my friends there about the gray hair. And so she was formally born, just as inconsequential as a few extra pounds but nothing close to losing a virginity.
At present, I am 36-years old and this lone gray hair may be the only thing to remind others of it. Even worse, I need the reminder more than others may. I do not have pre-teens blowing up my Smart Phone with their catastrophes or loan requests to me, “Mom.” I do not have babies younger. I have yet to breastfeed. I do not have a mortgage in good standing or foreclosure, nor a husband with his own companion gray head of hair to clue others into how long we have been married–thus how old I could really be. For most of the people who know me, I remain fixated in a perpetual fountain of youth…most known for my dimples, bright smile, funny jokes and abilities to be there at the last minute with no extenuating circumstances to prevent such.
For the last 5 years, I have asked no one in particular to bring me my gray hairs. When I have been the only person at a table of fine food to be carded for my usual order of house Merlot, I have remarked: “I’ll be glad when I get my gray.” When I have walked down the streets dressed casually for the day or a bit more polished for work, but approached lewdly by men young and old either way, I have asked for gray hairs; surely, no one irritates my aunts or grandmothers on their ways about town. When I have walked into a community center or artistic venue seeking information or tickets, and had the blase attendant ask me my age after alerting me that I must come with my parents, I have almost pulled out my hair. When I have been in a high-end store or dropped more than an allowance on a necessary adult expenditure, my handlers in these moments have surveyed me less as an adult customer to respect and more as a little Black girl to suspect. I have wished for gray hairs, in hopes I may have been treated a little better.
In the self-deprecating and sad rages that followed the last most gross example of these occurrences, I have come to near tears and butterflies wishing for gray hairs I felt they would certify and dignify me at last: like a girl waiting for her period to get back at bossy adults, or an adolescent scorning the tooth fairy for her dollar under the pillow when one last baby tooth lost will reward so much more payment than that, or a Black woman sat-in at the counter of Woolworth’s to declare that she can not be slighted based upon how she looked. For, it seemed that a scalp of commanding gray hairs would assist me in exercising my full rights as an equal adult worthy of proper comportment and approach by other adults; that such thin and fine miracles could be my silent partners to shed any and all’s presumptions that I was young therefore subordinate, youthful therefore deferred, cute therefore “Seriously?”
And, so now, here they are.
6-month old Jonylah Watkins, shot to death 5 times in Chicago, March 11, 2013 My mind hadn’t really caught up, yet. If not for my new early evening coffee habit, I might not–still–know that the 6-month old child who was … Continue reading
In 2002, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus was forced to end her documentary on the last three months of Oklahoman Wanda Jean Allen, a twice-convicted murderer. Allen was the sixth woman in the United States to be put to death after the … Continue reading