Last month I had the pleasure of writing an essay for Allison Janae Hamilton’s very powerful art exhibition titled Wonder Room. As stated in the press release about the project:
Allison Janae Hamilton, Untitled (House Dress in Field), Archival Pigment Print, Multiple Sizes, 2017
“Many of the sights, sounds, and imagery featured in the installation space come from Hamilton’s home regions within the rural American south. By infusing Recess’s Soho storefront with these materials, Wonder Room creates a deliberate play between the gallery’s urban surroundings and the project’s rural imagery. In this way, Wonder Room points to the impact that migration has on our relationships to landscape and the complexities of addressing rural space within an urban context.”
Viewing Hamilton’s work made me think about a popular southern euphemism, “you smell like outside.” Me being the nerd I am, I theorized it as a framework for thinking about southern black folks’ agency and its connection to the outdoors.
SUPER EXCITED to share that my first book and collection of short stories, Boondock Kollage: Stories from the Hip Hop South, is available for PRE-ORDER! You can peep the cover below. Isn’t it gorgeous? Many thanks to John Jennings for bringing my cover to life.
You can pre-order here: http://tinyurl.com/boondockkollage
Paul Beatty’s historic win as the first American to win the British Man Booker literary prize for his novel The Sellout made me think back to my initial introduction to Beatty’s work via The White Boy Shuffle. Written in 1996, The White Boy Shuffle remains a timely engagement of contemporary Black identity and cultural politics. Told from the perspective of Gunnar Kaufman, a Black boy living in 1990s Los Angeles, The White Boy Shuffle avoids romanticizing the Civil Rights Movement and its victories. Gunnar’s evolution from a token Black boy in the suburbs of Santa Monica, California to a hesitant Black messiah and poet from the fictional inner city community of Hillside is one of African American Literature’s initial forays into canonizing contemporary concerns around post-Civil Rights Black identities. Beatty’s novel uses humor to highlight and expound upon the peculiarities of Black folks living after the movement.
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.
Regina N. Bradley, Ph.D
Back by popular demand…
A limited run of my critically acclaimed dialogue project about all things OutKast!
Peep the first episode featuring Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Assistant Professor of English at University of Texas at San Antonio.
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?”
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.