An Open Note to Nate Parker

Dear Mr. Parker:

When I first heard about your telling of Nat Turner’s story in Birth of a Nation, I was excited. When it was picked up for major theatre release, I cheered. But when I heard you were a rapist or, if it is easier on your feelings, rape-ish, I gasped. That gasp turned to anger. And sir, as a rape survivor of over 20 years, I will not support your work.

Here’s the thing, Mr. Parker. Your response to why and how you ‘moved on’ past a rape allegation is selfish and troubling. You talked about your pain. You talked about your family. Your wife. Your daughters. You didn’t mention the trauma you caused a young woman. You didn’t mention how you terrorized a young woman or her violation. You didn’t even acknowledge the fact that this woman felt hurt, anger, fear, and hopelessness. You don’t realize or refuse to realize that she feared you to the point she took.her.own.life.

My question is what are you doing to rectify your wrongs and ‘accused’ wrongs?  Are you saying (black) women’s names?  Helping survivors tell their stories? Are you  donating to charities and organizations that promote sexual consent education and anti-rape culture? Are you helping rape survivors? Helping sex trafficking victims? What are you doing to turn your ‘pain’ into a teachable moment that can help save another young woman (and man) from the pain and trauma you inflicted on her that she believed death was her only comfort?

Further, what part of the game is it that you can pick and choose which lives matter? Women are part of that freedom work you try to promote and convey to your audience, Mr. Parker. Do the work. Show your receipts.

In a word, I will not pay you to trigger me.

Respectfully,

Regina N. Bradley, Ph.D

 

Jumping Off The Porch: Kendrick Lamar’s Haunting Grammy Performance

Apparently, Black music still matters and kicks ass. Snatches wigs. Chokes Th(r)oats. Makes white folks extremely uncomfortable.

In other words, black folks jumping off the porch, with squinted eyes, asking “who you is and what you here for?”

Chile.

Kendrick Lamar jumped off the porch and said he was a “proud monkey” and that he/we gone be alright.

Kang Kendrick. That’s who he is. Kunta Kinte’s chopped off foot. Hip Hop’s hoppin’ john.

Kendrick. The storyteller. Time traveller. Vessel. The unfinished masterpiece. Blacker than James Brown’s Afro pick.

Yet again, a few quick thoughts.

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Call For Papers: Hip Hop Cinema

From the editor Regina N. Bradley:

Black Camera invites submissions for a Close-Up focusing on hip-hop cinema. Cinema is an underutilized medium for critically engaging how hip-hop sonically and visually experiments with memory, music, and identity to articulate a post–civil rights Black experience. Where earlier representations of hip-hop cinema (such as the Breaking films and Wildstyle) focused on documenting its elemental aesthetics or conceptualizing contemporary black agency and protest (such as the “hood” film era of the early and mid-1990s), there is still room to consider how hip-hop cinema stands as a curator of race, identity, and performance in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This call for submissions looks to break new ground in identifying how film helps visualize and navigate hip-hop’s increasingly ambiguous intersections of race, identity, and commercial appeal. In other words, how does hip-hop cinema redress and/or link critical depictions of Blackness in the past, present, and future?

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Credit: John Jennings

The guest editor invites essays from multiple disciplines, aesthetic inquiries, and theoretical perspectives. Topics of particular interest include but are not limited to:

  • hip-hop musicals
  • queer studies
  • cinematic depictions of regional and/or diasporic hip-hop identities
  • black gender scripts
  • hip-hop artists as film actors/producers
  • hip-hop satire and parody
  • manifestations of digital hip-hop aesthetics (e.g., social media, “vines,” etc.)
  • fashion and costuming
  • marketing/publicity and hip-hop cinema
  • hip-hop and protest
  • race and urbanity

 

Essays, film reviews, and short commentaries will be considered. Essays should range between 5,000 and 8,000 words; commentaries between 1,000 and 3,000 words; and reviews between 800 and 1,500 words.

Please submit completed works, a 150–200 word abstract, and a 50–100 word biographical statement by August 30, 2016. Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Please see journal guidelines for more on submission policy:

http://www.indiana.edu/~blackcam/call/#guidelines

Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editor Regina N. Bradley (regina.bradley@armstrong.edu).

Getting in Line: Working Through Beyonce’s “Formation”

Don’t you love it when a video needs liner notes?

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The first thing I immediately thought when I saw Beyonce’s “Formation” was that some folks ruts – “roots” – would show. You know, ruts: biases, fears of lineage, missing genealogies, shit like that. And folks don’t like their ruts or their slip showing. Beyoncé showed er’body’s slip, parasol, skeeta bite scars, and conjuring grandmamma essence in this video. And it was scary. Downright gothic. That is, of course, unless you’re southern – by affiliation or blood and maybe hot sauce preference – and your ruts are ALWAYS showing because there was no reason to hide them in the first place.

Look here: I done said this time and time again that Beyonce’s ass is southern and country. I’m still working through her calling herself a Texas Bama. I guess it’s not too far off – when I hear Bama in Georgia it literally means someone from Alabama. But in the DMV Bama is a diss. I digress.

“Formation” is Texas style fatback and biscuits with country gravy, a dizzying spell that pulls from multiple places and modes of the black southern experience. Beyoncé took a familiar cultural marker of black southernness – trauma – and flipped that bih into a working ideology to engage what it means to be southern and black now.

A few thoughts:

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