Archive for April, 2012

Really, Glee? Two Months & We Should Be Over Whitney

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2012 by thebibliophile

Amber Riley as Mercedes

Maybe this isn’t fair, because this week’s episode is airing, right now…and I haven’t even seen the entire episode. But, to paraphrase Jerry MaGuire’s love interest “you had me at Whitney.” That is until, Mr. Shuster uttered, “it’s been two months, shouldn’t they be over it already.” Pause. Blank Stare.

Cue singing montage featuring the fab four: Mercedes, Santana, Kirk, and Rachel. Can we just let Mercedes sing this song? No, there is Rachel, somehow being positioned as the lead, even for a song that might give Mercedes an opportunity to take center stage – and I think, exemplifying part of what Whitey broke down. In short, Whitney, though gives much slack for it by some in the Black community, broke down barriers of Black womyn being idolized and centered. Glee has appropriated Whitney.

So, you know what we should be over Mr. Shu…the appropriation of Black womyn.

I don’t like this at all…

In part, because I was truly troubled by last week’s episode, in which the Idol watcher winner was positioned as a Black man who had a female alter-ego (at first) and was truly transgendered. NOW, I support the inclusion of transgendered characters. My beef was how they did not humanize, but caricatured this character. Then they had Quinn in her chair…SMH. The tokenization on this show troubles me.

And the commodification of Whitney; this doesn’t feel like a tribute. I know it is intended to be, but in my opinion it was done in poor taste. Particularly when we have the beauty of Whitney’s going home ceremony as an example of Whitney’s cultural grounding; rather Glee gives us what Whitney was often in the middle of: her pop persona and her very real Black cultural roots.

And lastly, if they would let Mercedes use her full voice, she would outshine Rachel – and frankly NO ONE on the show in my opinion was really up to the standard of singing Whitney – though both Mercedes and Rachel, I think could do it.

Glee this is your last season with me. The identity politics are just too messy – and by messy, I mean problemactic, dismissive, pseudoliberal (read neoliberal), and marginalizing.


Something Pretty

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 22, 2012 by thebibliophile

Support East WillyB

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2012 by thebibliophile

Check this out the webseries “East WillyB” and their Kickstarter campaign.

Webseries are offering folks of color so many creative outlets. Love it.

Hear actress Julia Ahumada Grob talk about her involvement with “East WillyB”:

National Endowment for the Arts, Institution Building, & People of Color

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 18, 2012 by thebibliophile

Guest contributor to Racialicious, Tiffany Bradley, wrote a thoughtful piece on why the National Endowment for the Arts has such a limited impact on artists of color. Her essay is entitled, “Kickstart This: Why the NEA Is Irrelevant to Artists of Color.” In her piece, Bradley astutely notes that the NEA is designed to fund institutions, and that many artists of color are not necessarily working within institutions.  More than that, Bradley points out that the work that many artists of color are doing, and the cultures from which we come, do not easily fit within the frameworks of largely white-run or white-funded organizations – adding a level of pressure and tension – to how and when artists of color enter (“with their whole race too”) into arts organizations.

Rather than rely on the NEA, Bradley suggests that we turn to fundraising campaigns like those run by Kickstarter which allow artists to crowdsource their fundraising for specific projects. There are in fact a couple of Kickstarter projects that look interesting to me, including:

1. The Uptown Collective’s East WillyB

2. Magic The Gathering The Musical

Bradley is making a lot of really great points. Instead of relying on government institutions to fund projects, or even simply relying solely on giving to large institutions that then funnel money, Kickstarter allows you to give directly to work that you are passionate about. And its time, I think Bradley is saying, for us to use the power of our wallets to fund directly what is meaningful to us as people of color; we don’t have to wait for our cultures to be recognized of the doors of the canon to be opened in welcome. In fact, I think implicit in this, is that institutional networks and funding, while wonderful can also sometimes hinder an artist if they are dealing with tropes, figures, and themes which the institution is not invested in exploring.

It’s true that Kickstarter, like any other organization, probably has issues of privilege and politics to navigate. Yet, the model, I think is quite interesting – as is Bradley’s larger point about how artists of color are funded – and where and how those artists can be supported. There is another point to be considered. The NEA is a very different institution now, than it was twenty-five years ago, as a result of conservative attacks on culture and art programming. The 1990s saw the peak of the assault – instigated by the NEA’s funding of exhibits that included work by Damien Hirsch and Robert Mapplethorpe. The inability of the NEA to meet the needs of artists of color or to adequately fund communities of color engaged in art education, is also related to a broader attack by conservatives on art and culture programming. Perhaps the NEA might consider doing things differently, but the structures now in place, are there precisely to prevent the NEA from reaching its previous stature or of challenging the status qu0 (as much as a government institution is able to that is),

I agree with Bradley that the NEA cannot fully meet the needs of artists of color or communities and cultures of color vis-a-vis some of its current funding structures, however, I also think that this is directly linked to the ways in which the NEA itself has been attacked and gutted. There is something, also to be said, I think for supporting the NEA – because in truth, privatization of arts funding, crowdsourcing – that is what conservatives want. They do not want publicly funded art programs. If you have Kickstarter why do you need the NEA? In truth, I believe that we need both kinds of structures, however, I think that people of color invested in the arts, must also remain committed to organizations like the NEA; pushing back against them, holding them accountable, holding up the ideal of what a diversely funded, dynamic cultural and arts support can look like. One that doesn’t push people, communities, and artists of color – not to mention working-class folks, LGBTQI, or people with disabilities – to the margin.

Holographic Blackness: Tupac @ Coachella

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2012 by thebibliophile

Say what, word? Coachella uses a hologram that allows Dr. Dre to perform with Tupac Shakur. You can see the performance below:

I’m sorry I am not going to lie, if I was sitting in this audience and Tupac appeared on the stage, I would be both terrified and exhilirated all at the same time. Right before my analytical brain began to question what it means to sell tickets to a show featuring the holographic image of a deeply controversial black rapper. What does such resurrection mean for black bodies? Did Tupac’s mother give permission for her son’s image and body to be used in this way?

I am going to need Tricia Rose to speak on this. Like. Right. Now.

On the one hand, as a denizen of the generation that came of age to Tupac, there is something amazing about seeing Tupac performing – not in a video, but on a stage, with movements that are real and intimate; that look alive. On the other hand, this performance is very literally a resurrection. It looks real. It is painful in a way – because after all Tupac is not alive. He was brutally and violently murdered. And now, for commercial purposes, he is very literally resurrected as a marketing strategy for Coachella. Such a ploy (and artistic and creative endeavor) gives Coachella a nearly untouchable status for cool and innovation, but it places Tupac’s body in the service of a music industry that at times flatly vilified him.

I’m all types of uncomfortable.

You can read more about Coachella 2012 here. All in all, it seems like an amazing event.

But all I can think about is all the ways that holographic black bodies are now going to be put to use…does this mean I am cynical beyond repair?

Howard Thurman

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2012 by thebibliophile

“At the core of life is a hard purposefulness, a determination to live.”

– Howard Thurman

Howard Thurman has been on my mind of late. Thurman was born in 1899 in Florida and later was a religious leader at Howard University’s Rankin Chapel and at Boston University (where he was the first Black Dean of the Chapel). Thurman was a proponent of liberation theology and he is widely credited with establishing the first multiracial church in the U.S. You can learn more about Howard Thurman here.


thebibliophile on Twitter

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 by thebibliophile

Yes, I’ve done it. I mean: Yes! I’ve done it! thebibliophile is now on Twitter. You can follow me on Twitter where I’m known as thebibliophile1. I’ll continue with commentary about literature, popular culture, and art. I’m excited to try out this new medium. I was ambivalent for awhile, but I’m intrigued and in-like with how quickly you can receive (and put to use) info from Twitter. Let’s see how it goes!Image