Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Beyond the Bed of Nola Darling

The most prolific feelings are what holds our attention and form our convictions beyond physical encounters, seizing us to awaken to the world around us and taking courageous steps to become greater human beings. 

This is what I observed in Season 1 of the She’s Gotta Have It Netflix series, which compelled me to interview one of its lead-female writers, Radha Blank, who talks extensively about her journey to the SGHI writers’ table, and what we can expect for Season 2, starting May 24.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

                        “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. …”
                                                                                   – Helen Keller                  

Friday, February 1, 2019

An Essential Love Story

Photo Credit: Tatum Mangus/Annapurna Pictures

When beginning The Interiors of Man six years ago, I acknowledged James Baldwin as a possible muse, having read his works over the years and living with the constructs of his voice, talent, and ability to express humanity in various measures.

Among the novels Baldwin has written, If Beale Street Could Talk was a quiet gem with cultural relevance, addressing the incarceration epidemic and inadvertently addressing the state of black love as it stands today in comparison to the past.

As the first director to bring Baldwin’s words to film, Barry Jenkins has unveiled an image of black love that is drowning amidst intra-racial violence, crime, and cultural assaults within the black community.  Through Baldwin, Jenkins has turned a lens on sacred, loving relationships that steer from a fantasy-aesthetic to one that’s organically rooted in community struggle and family solidarity. 

If Baldwin were alive, I’m sure he would not be alarmed by the current state of “the village,” having had the insight to foresee its future.  The nurturing love he sowed in this novel through family unity and sacrifice is the underlying message, which needs tending.  A community cannot survive without love for one’s community, and without human love the village will perish.

Monday, January 21, 2019

“We must not give ourselves to those sayings which will not solve our problems.”

                                                                                                          – Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Making Art out of Truth – the Legacy of Ntozake Shange

Image Ownership: Public Domain

The recent passing of the feminist playwright, Ntozake Shange, has expanded my appreciation for artists who extend their voice to the most creative realm, fearlessly expressing truth through art and surviving waves of criticism that usually shadows great work conceived ahead of its time.

Even today – while there are many women who applauded Shange’s 1976 “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered …,” Obie Award-winning play, contrasted to the majority of critics having been men at that time – a number of millennials did not embrace the artistry and feminist commentary that the film conveyed when adapted by Tyler Perry eight years ago, which, in my opinion was his best art to date.

The positive reception from the twentysomething generation of the 70s in contrast to the indifference from those millennials of the 21st century brings attention to the generational mind shifts that have developed over three decades.

Looking at the social traumas addressed by Shange’s characters, and mirrored in Perry’s film are still experiences realized by today’s females, but, as I observed, the alarming indifference was as if some could not relate to the characters’ experiences, which was possibly due to the inability to bear the gravity of these experiences as visualized on film, thus their affinity to relate were numbed or blatantly negated in a non-conscious state.

As the Me Too Movement has found its voice, we are in a haze of female empowerment, and misogynistic conditioning that have some women thinking they are not women unless they can successfully compete in providing male pleasure at the expense of their souls.

In the voices of her characters, Shange arrested this concept, and should always be remembered for creating her masterwork in her twenties.  I believe "For Colored Girls ...," saved her life in having the courage to address various female realities and their ill encounters, leaving such women with no place to turn but within to find their esteem and embrace the tenets of self-love and respect. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

                     “Fiction, like sculpture or painting, begins with a rough sketch …”
                                                                         – John Champlin Gardner Jr.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Worthy of an Award – Lahey V. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Photo Courtesy/Credit: ABC/Mitch Haaseth

It brought tears to our eyes, sitting at the table with a mixed generation, watching crossover episodes of two African-American actors guest-starring on each other’s show with veteran actor, Cicely Tyson cast as the maternal-elder, watching her daughter, (played by Viola Davis), defending Glynn Turman’s character with a closing argument, advocating for thousands of men and women who have been falsely incarcerated without due process or resources for bail.

This award-worthy episode on How to Get Away with Murder“Lahey V. Commonwealth,” personified [real] reality TV, based on innumerable cases of color, and a comparative reality when  the chances of seeing blacks on TV was as much an anomaly as seeing a black attorney in real life arguing before the supreme court.  Moreover a woman.

Viewing this episode from a historical angle with a conscious reminder of the days when blacks were a rarity on TV, made this a layered reality with a recollection of what the fight for civil rights was all about, reflecting on the accomplishments we have made as a country and the reformations that have yet to be made to provide all citizens equal humanity.

The brilliance of this episode was its scripted argument on the racial injustices that still prevail as it mirrored a dichotomous realization of the achievements we have made in witnessing a powerful cast of black actors and female producer, Shonda Rhimes, who has gained a monopoly on Thursday-night TV with creator, Peter Nowalk, and a diverse team of writers and directors helping to establish a legacy-making moment with this episode, and Season 4’s finale, addressing the outcome of Lahey V. Commonwealth.

This is the level that I feel we should strive for in producing great TV that stimulates dignity and pride through a reflective lens of America’s past, present and future.