It’s been a while since I did a mash-up and think it’s about time for another one. Here I’ll highlight some forms of media that are exciting, inclusive, and centers social justice. Hopefully you’ll find one (if not all) of them fantastic and share with your networks!
Black in Latin America premiered this week on PBS. I’ve heard a lot about this series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and am looking forward to watching it (I live an analog life so I don’t even get PBS) online. If you don’t have PBS (or cable like me) you too may watch it online at the website.
There are also photo galleries, timelines, and essays about specific people, events, and histories that show the intersections of race, culture, and ethnicity. Many of the features are very useful and inclusive of Afr@-Latin@s, LatiNegr@s, Blaktin@s, and Afr@-Cariben@s, a community that I believe we rarely see represented or included in a lot of different discussions. If you are eager to learn more and/or challenge what is presented in the documentary (believe me there will be issues with this series!) check out the LatiNegr@s Project and submit something to share on the site. Below is a trailer of what will be featured in the Black in Latin America series.
International Response to Homophobia in Sports
The story of Brazillian fans supporting an openly gay volleyball player really is a great example of how we are media makers. Some background to this specific story requires some context. Volleyball is a huge sport in Brazil (and other countries in general) and when fans of a rival team, Sada Cruzeiro, began to collectively yell homophobic slurs that equate to “faggot” in English, fans of Volei Futuro, whose player, Michael Santos, was the target of the slurs responded. The namecalling forced Santos to come out (which he had not previously done) in public and the following game after coming out, his teammates supported him by wearing pink warm up suits, some of his fans wore pink shirts as well and used pink thundersticks with his Santos name, and carried banners that read: “Vôlei Futuro Against Prejudice.” The entire stadium was pink for the game. See fotos here.
This story comes out right after US basketball player Kobe Bryant made similar homophobic slurs to a referee, which he has been fined $100k for and which Bryant claims he will appeal. I agree with the author of this post, who also includes video and fotos of the fans support, that this is how it is done! So, NBA fans, take note, this is how we can create media, support our community members, and hold others accountable for their hate filled and misogynistic statements.
New Media: Webseries & Webisodes
Last week was the premiere of a new media web series called East WillyB. I wrote an in-depth review of the series after attending the premiere and am really impressed with what has been created. Focusing on a new generation of audiences, specifically Latino and viewers of Color, the creators and directors wanted to create something that would speak to the “140 character” community. East WillyB is a story about Willie Jr. who owns a bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a community that is experiencing gentrification. We are introduced to each character in this pilot season and several new webisodes are uploaded each week to continue the story.
The series has a fabulous cast of actors including: Flaco Navaja (Fighting, Falling Awake) as Willy Jr. the “King of Bushwick”, Raul Castillo (Nurse Jackie, IFC’s Cold Weather) as Edgar,Caridad “La Bruja” De La Luz (Bamboozled, Down to the Bone) as Giselle the “Man-Eater” and bar local, Danny Hoch (Black Hawk Down, American Splendor) as Albert “The Whiteboy” who is dating Willy Jr.’s ex-fiance Maggie performed by April Hernandez-Castillo (Dexter, Freedom Writers), along with many of local NYC Latino talent.
Check out the trailer below:
Another series that is a shameless plug if there ever was one, is for HomeGirl.TV, a web series created by author, activist, and media maker Sofia Quintero. I’ve shared a bit about HomeGirl.TV prior to it’s official release at the end of March for Women’s History Month, but now HomeGirl.TV is in full online mode!
Not only do these webisodes provide information, guidance, advice, and support for various topics, they are also funny, entertaining and come with a way to communicate with the HomeGirls (and I’m one of them!). Sofia has created an online network (that connects to Twitter and Facebook), where viewers can watch the webisodes (they won’t all be posted online, you’ll have to join to see them all) as they are uploaded each Thursday. Participants may also be selected as the Homie of the Week and win prizes, or contribute to season 2! Check out the latest webisode called “Dreamy Halitosis” which asks: I’ve met the person of my dreams, but they have bad breath! What do I do?” Hear what the Home Girls have to say and join HomeGirl.TV to share your perspective!
Sex-Positivity and Black Women’s Sexuality
Crunk Feminist Collective have written an amazing open letter in support of Dr. Tamura Lomax and her review of the book “Erotic Revolutionaries: Black Women, Sexuality, and Popular Culture” by Shayne Lee. Lomax has experienced a lot of pushback, bullying and outright misogyny regarding her review which she writes about in her review. She provides an amazing list of Black feminist authors who have written about sex, sexuality, the body and their intersections with race and citizenship/nationalism that may be useful for those of you seeking to expand your knowledge of the topic and learn various opinions. Here’s a quote from the letter:
We, therefore, resent your attempt to put us on the defensive when it comes to pro-sex discourse, namely so that if we invoke our history of sexual oppression and question the very real costs of embracing popular notions/representations of the erotic, then we are dismissed as parochial gatekeepers and perpetuators of respectability. Clearly you don’t understand, suffering as you do from unchecked (Black) male privilege, that Black women’s positionality in the academy is complicated. Our pro-sex stance is often instilled in the very classrooms where we learn to think about why the histories of racism and sexism have given Black women’s sexuality such a negative rap in the first place. We don’t need more attacks about our sexual “dysfunction.” We need allies, fellow scholars who are especially sensitive to the ways that white supremacy and male supremacy make the pro-sex framework advanced by white women an always difficult space for Black women to enter and inhabit.
This is one way we support one another and hold others in our community accountable. I’ve written my fair share of open letters, even posted one on this column. I find open letters to be an amazing form of media making, one where our voices are shared and a public conversation can be created around the topics discussed. One of the exciting links in this post is to the project “Come Correct” which began from a comment left by Alexis Pauline-Gumbs on a previous Crunk Feminist Collective post.
The Come Correct space was created with the following ideologies in mind:
“BECAUSE BLACK FEMINIST SEX IS THE BEST SEX EVER...THIS SITE WAS CREATED BY THOSE OF US HAVING AND COMMITTED TO HAVING TRANSFORMATIVE EROTIC EXPERIENCES WITH/AS BLACK FEMINISTS. (AND BOTH! OH BOTH!!!!!!)
THIS IS ALSO A WAKE UP CALL TO ANYONE WHO INSISTS ON INTIMACY WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY, CONDONES VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN, OR REFUSES TO BE TRANSFORMED BY THE ECSTATIC MIRACLE THAT BLACK WOMEN EXIST. YOU ARE SERIOUSLY MISSING OUT.
Such a refreshing and affirming time in new media and media making! If I missed something that has happened or you want to plug media that has given you life and support please do so here!