There is no getting around the popularity or cultural clout that both Afropunk and Afrofuturism have in contemporary culture. It’s been over ten years since James Spooner’s film on Afropunk came out, the website that bears its name is visited by hundreds of thousands each month, and the yearly festival recently expanded from Brooklyn to Atlanta and will soon be making its way to Paris. Afrofuturism, for its part, has become quite trendy in certain circles, with advertising companies attempting to cash in on its aesthetic. It is not difficult to see its influence in a growing array of artists.Read More
On January 8th, 9th and 10th, hundreds of activists, scholars, radicals and revolutionaries gathered in Philadelphia for the Black Radical Tradition conference at Temple University. The conference was a success. Featuring Angela Davis, Robin D.G. Kelley, Vijay Prashad, Charlene Carruthers, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Glen Ford, a call-in from Mumia Abu-Jamal, and many others, the conference interjected into the current moment of Black struggle in the United States a particular reminder of the rich and varied interaction between socialist and anti-capitalist ideas and the goal of Black liberation.Read More
What does it mean to be “unrapeable?” It can mean, among other, almost limitless possibilities, that the labor we perform, the industry we work within, those that consume the products of our labor, and those that try desperately to deprive of us self-determined working conditions, somehow belongs to everyone but us. It means that our bodies are meant for others. It means we are robbed of control over our art and our labor, which are ultimately the same. To be “unrapeable” is to presume nymphomania. It means consent is rendered irrelevant. It devalues our bodies, our art, and our labor to the point of only ever being (to the chauvinist) in service of male desire.Read More
Enter Donita Van Pop. She sits down on a swing set that is located on the left side of the stage. The stage lighting is a mixture of bright pink and purple. She sits on the swing, and the scenery behind her switches from a blank wall to a dreadful park background. It is of trees, bushes, and a few flowers and looks like the picture you drew in kindergarten that your poor parents were obligated to place on the fridge. Such a shame. You really made the kitchen ugly for almost a year.
Donita Van Pop: The world is mad. (Puffs her cigarette) But when you have great tits like me, it’s a little less. (Ms. Pop readjusts her bra strap that peeks out of her black and white polka dot dress. She takes another puff of her cigarette)Read More
"Black Art Matters." If there were a way to sum up the thrust of this essay in one very brief sentence then that would be it. W.E.B. DuBois is one of those thinkers who needs very little introduction: lifelong socialist and Black liberationist, founder of the N.A.A.C.P., author of what is still to this day one of the definitive books on Black Reconstruction in the south. What is often overlooked is how central art was to DuBois' ideas about Black freedom in the United States.
That DuBois had ideas about art is not very surprising; a writer whose theories were as far-reaching and as all-encompassing as his is bound to encounter the milieu of human creativity at some point. When he claims that "all art is propaganda" he is not claiming that all art should be didactic or stump for a cause, merely that all art, whether honest about it or not, carries with it ideas and social consciousness...Read More
Ta-Nehisi Coates' sharp criticism of Bernie Sanders on racial justice generally, and the issue of reparations in particular, has kicked up some interesting discussion and heated debate. Left responses to Coates piece – and Coates’ subsequent responses to his critics – have foregrounded once more the importance of thinking through the relationship between “race” and “class” in the imagination and the political strategy of an emancipatory social movement. The importance of such discussions, though clearly relevant to the current Presidential campaign, extends well beyond it, revealing and potentially informing the state of the radical imagination, as expressed in artistic works, critical discourse, as well as social movement culture, tactics, and strategy.Read More