Living While Black, in Japan

Living While Black, In Japan | All Things Considered | NPR

“Living While Black, in Japan” is a film by photojournalist and filmmaker team Keith Bedford and Shiho Fukada. They are both married and moved to Japan three years ago. Fukada was born in Japan and missed her family while living in New York where she met Bedford.

Bedford is African American. He says he likes living in Japan but there is a sense of being an outsider or a sense of being the other. He says this is a lot of what Fukada went through living in America.

They discussed moving back to America but then the George Floyd killing happened.

Fukada said she worried that something like this could happen to Bedford or her son. And she wanted to learn how others in the Black American community in Japan felt about it. This film touches on what it’s like living abroad for a group of Black Americans in Japan.

The film features interviews with men and women discussing how racism and encounters with police in the US, contributed to their decision to leave.

Blackness and Japan related: Yasuke, an African samurai in Japan and the Black polyglot who speaks Japanese, Mandarin, and Arabic

(via NPR)

Tobi Kyeremateng on the joy of Nigerian childhood parties

iNews published an excerpt by Tobi Kyeremateng from the book Black Joy about her love of Nigerian parties as a child. I’ll keep the quote short and brief as you should definitely read the original link and the whole book:

There was a particular pride to be taken in hosting parties, especially “Why not?” parties that didn’t call for any specific occasion to circle its way back around the sun. “People say we Nigerians take parties too seriously – and yes, we do!” D Boss would say, punctuating the air with a nod in agreement with himself. “It’s part of our tradition. Parties are never forgotten.”

My earliest memories of these parties are distinct. The familiar scents of hard liquor and spiced foods carry me towards the kitchen. In the corner of my eye is a blue bucket full of ice moving like Tetris, cradling bobbing bottles of Supermalt and cans of Lilt. As soon as you arrived, the aunties would say, “Oya, go and play with your cousins!” – as if they had been waiting for the moment they could drop their shoulders and just be – and off you went with a group of children who you weren’t sure were your actual cousins or just the children of the elders.

There’s just something about Black parties. That warm buzz of community and togetherness, people enjoying themselves, laughing and drinking, dancing and eating—I’m not nearly as social as I used to be but when it comes to a Black party, I feel right at home.

More from Nigeria: Johnson Eziefula on his art and his relationship with identity and Daniel Obaweya as Nigerian Gothic

Black Film Archive

Black Film Archive is an archive of Black films made between 1915–1979. Their collection is ever-growing and they will likely expand that timeframe in the future but for now, that period covers a lot of significant Black cinema eras. But the important thing is all the films are streamable in some way.

Here’s how Black Film Archive classifies a “Black film”:

The films collected on Black Film Archive have something significant to say about the Black experience; speak to Black audiences; and/or have a Black star, writer, producer, or director. This criterion for selection is as broad and inclusive as possible, allowing the site to cover the widest range of what a Black film can be.

The films listed here should be considered in conversation with each other, as visions of Black being on film across time. They express what only film can: social, anthropological, and aesthetic looks at the changing face of Black expression (or white attitudes about Black expression, which are inescapable given the whiteness of decision-makers in the film industry).

Titles include Blacula, Super Fly, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Shaft, Boss Nigger, and Ganja & Hess.

Black film related: Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema, 10 best Black superhero movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes, via Screen Rant, and Room Rodeo: a Chicago student’s film about Black cowboys

The African origins of Yasuke's name

I covered Yasuke, an African samurai in feudal Japan in 2019 (I honestly thought it was in 2020 but I digress). His story was retold by Satoshi Okunishi for a popular* Netflix animated series and Language Log investigated the African etymology of his name via Wikipedia. Apparently, there are a few theories:

  1. He was a member of the Yao people from Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique and his name was a portmanteau of Yao and the common Japanese male suffix -suke.
  2. He was a member of the Dinka people from South Sudan due to his height and skin tone, which was a defining characteristic of the Dinka.
  3. He was Ethiopian, according to this theory that suggests his original name might have been the Amharic Yisake or the Portuguese Isaque, derived from Isaac.

Who knows if any of them are correct. The Dinka theory gives me “all Black people look alike” vibes and his appearance was the only match (Adult Dinka men used to have decorative patterns tattooed on their faces and Yasuke apparently didn’t have any.) Nonetheless, etymology is fascinating and none of it takes away from how awesome Yasuke was.

* – Popular on Rotten Tomatoes (93% as of today), not so popular on IMDb (6.2/10) or MyAnimeList (5.8/10)

'We Are History' examines the links between art, colonialism and climate change

We are History | Trailer

For gal-dem, Lauren Dei spoke to the artists behind a new exhibition called ‘We Are History. The show, curated by Ekow Eshun, displays art that tells the stories of colonialism and its pivotal role in global warming and the harsh realities of climate change.

Featured artists include Alberta Whittle, Otobong Nkanga, and Malala Andrialavidrazana.

“We have a saying in Barbados charting the timeline of hurricane season,” Alberta tells gal-dem via phone call.“‘June – too soon, July – stand by, August – come it must, September – remember, October – all over.’ In 2021, the hurricane season began in April. Climate colonialism means the hurricane seasons are growing longer and longer, leaving the country on tenterhooks for over half the calendar year.”

An early scene in the film shows the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in 2019. The camera pans above the wreckage of the decimated Bahama Islands. An estimated 13,000 homes were severely damaged or lost during the Category five storm that left the national airport underwater and saw over 6,000 evacuees rescued by air. 

Head over to Somerset House to see We Are History, which runs until 6th February 2022.

How to make Jamaican rum punch with Wray and Nephew (recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups Wray and Nephew (depending on your liver and gag reflex)
  • 2 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup grenadine
  • Ice, ice, baby!

Recipe

  • Put the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker (if you have one) filled with ice.
  • Shake vigorously for 30-40 seconds.
  • Strain into a hurricane glass with ice.

More on rum and cocktails: a very brief history of Jamaican rum, the mint julep and the Black bartenders who popularised it, and Equiano, the world’s first African-Caribbean rum

The creative direction of Tyler Adams

Tyler Adams is a creative based in LA. He works predominately in casting, photography, and art direction and boasts clients such as BET, Def Jam Records, Nike, Stussy, and Warner Music Group.

There’s something very cool and understated about Tyler’s art direction. I like his use of lighting and colour and the mix of urban landscapes and personal portraits, sometimes in the same image.

In an interview for Full Service Radio (below), Tyler discussed his work style, what it’s like living in LA, and how he got into photography.

'Bold Black British', curated by Aindrea Emelife

© Ibrahim El-Salahi

‘Bold, Black British’ was an exhibition held at Christie’s London between 1–21 October, showcasing Black British art from the 80s until the present. It was curated by Aindrea Emelife who wanted to show a wide range of Black British art besides a few paintings:

‘I like to see my curatorial practice as a Trojan horse,’ Emelife explains. ‘I want people to go into exhibitions with one idea, and have other ideas leap out at you, challenging and moving you at unexpected turns, asking you to look again at the history you thought you knew, or look closer at a history that has been seldom looked at.’

I found about this way too late but you can see some of the art via Wallpaper.com and a list of the featured artists on the Christie’s website as well as a 3D virtual tour.

A UK Black History Month Post (2021)

I’m going to quote myself from last year because it’s still relevant:

It’s been a challenging year to navigate and, needless to say, Black people are tired.

I’ve not really written anything specific about Black History Month this year but I have thrown in some Black British content here and there. So I’m going to emulate last year’s BHM round up post for 2021. It’s been tough finding decent BHM content because so much of it is whitewashed or performative. People are retreading the same steps and the same “look at these famous slaves!” lists of influential Black people, often written by white people. Or pledges for more action that were made last year and the year before. I’m also not pleased about a few articles regarding more Black presence in the police force which is the most counterintuitive suggestion to make in any month, let alone Black History Month. But I digress.

Same format as last year—some stuff from the Web, some stuff from the Cultrface archives, and people you should follow.

From the Internet

From the Cultrface archives

People to follow

See 2020’s list for more people to follow

  1. Demi Colleen: Twitter | Instagram
  2. Kuchenga: Twitter | Instagram
  3. Emma Dabiri: Twitter | Instagram
  4. Sareta Fontaine: Twitter | Instagram | Website
  5. Lauren-Nicole: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  6. Nathaniel A. Cole: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  7. Matilda Egere-Cooper: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  8. Tanya Compas: Twitter | Instagram
  9. Nicole Crentsil: Twitter | Instagram | Linktree
  10. Ronke Lawal: Twitter | Instagram | Website

Rhea Dillon on 'Nonbody Nonthing No Thing', her debut solo exhibition

“Being Black British is part of my ontic and ontology so it’s always present in my work because it is me.” Photography by Theo Christelis, via V.O Curations

For AnOther, Sagal Mohammed spoke to Rhea Dillon about her first solo exhibition, entitled Nonbody Nonthing No Thing. The Black British-Jamaican artist, writer and poet uses a variety of media to interpret what she calls the “‘rules of representation’ as a device to undermine contemporary Western culture” and “‘humane afrofuturism’ as a practice of bringing forward the humane and equality-led perspectives on how we visualise Black bodies”.

Nonbody Nonthing No Thing is one of those works, showing abstractions of Blackness in the form of 7 paintings and sculptures. The above image depicts “landing” and how the Diasporic experience for Black Africans and Caribbeans meant leaving the known and landing in the unknown. That fragmented journey, which doesn’t stop when the plane touches down or the ship anchors, is captured brilliantly in this work.

Nonbody Nonthing No Thing is at VO Curations in London from 15th Oct–11th Nov 2021 so get there if you can.

Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema

Carvell Wallace wrote a brilliant essay on Candyman and chronicled a history of Black pain in cinema for The Atlantic.

Ultimately, DaCosta’s Candyman character becomes a cipher that the film’s characters, and by extension its audience, have no choice but to live with—the absence upon which anything can be projected, bequeathed by centuries of Black trauma. This is perhaps where the film hews most faithfully to the Clive Barker short story upon which it is based. “I am rumor,” his monster reminds his victim, and us, in “The Forbidden.” “It’s a blessed condition, believe me. To live in people’s dreams; to be whispered at street corners; but not have to be. Do you understand?”

I enjoyed Candyman (1992) even if it was a white liberal depiction and exploitation of Black pain as Wallace surmised. Candyman (2021) rewrites, recreates, and renews the ghosts of that film (figuratively and literally) and extends the lore for Black people to feel much more than they could imagine—myself included. I want to watch it again and I will at some point. It was an intriguing film and something to be appreciated and studied (but maybe not by and for white people).

Tina M. Campt's 'A Black Gaze'

I follow MIT’s tech blog and stumbled upon a book from their press called ‘A Black Gaze’:

In A Black Gaze, Tina Campt examines Black contemporary artists who are shifting the very nature of our interactions with the visual through their creation and curation of a distinctively Black gaze. Their work—from Deana Lawson’s disarmingly intimate portraits to Arthur Jafa’s videos of the everyday beauty and grit of the Black experience, from Kahlil Joseph’s films and Dawoud Bey’s photographs to the embodied and multimedia artistic practice of Okwui Okpokwasili, Simone Leigh, and Luke Willis Thompson—requires viewers to do more than simply look; it solicits visceral responses to the visualization of Black precarity.

With regular discourse around cultural appropriation and Black art that falls under the white gaze, it’s important to bring the conversation back to Black people creating for Black people and what that means for us.

You can buy a copy from Bookshop (affiliate link) or head to the book’s official MIT Press page for more stockists.

Kyndall Cunningham's interview with filmmaker Ashley O’Shay

Unapologetic Trailer

Kyndall Cunningham spoke to filmmaker Ashley O’Shay about her latest documentary, ‘Unapologetic. The film examines the way Black organisers in Chicago—primarily focusing on two young Black women, Janaé Bonsu and Bella BAHHS—came together in the wake of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald’s murders by the police.

H: Given the history of infiltration in social movements, how were you able to build trust with this community?

AO: I think being a Black woman helped, as far as them being comfortable and feeling like they could open up to me. But I just tried to keep showing up as much as possible. Even when I wasn’t there with the camera or doing an interview, I would try to go to their different rallies to just show support and amplify the work they were doing. I think after a while, when someone keeps showing up like that, you can build that trust with them. And I think also that as I was building stronger relationships with my main subjects, Janaé and Bella, that helped make other organizers in the space feel more comfortable with me as well.

[…]

H: The film is also very nuanced in showing the importance of Black women leaders but also dispelling this myth that representational politics automatically lead to liberation for Black people, particularly with Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.

AO: Yeah. We see people like Lightfoot in administrative positions, you know, running a campaign and uplifting herself as this Black gay woman, but everyone knowing, like, hey girl. We saw you at the Chicago police board hearings telling people to shut up after their time was up, and basically saying there’s nothing productive about the work that young Black people are doing. And she has a history as a prosecutor and all these other things that show you that all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk. I think depending on the space you’re in, it’s going to differ how your identity does or doesn’t show up. I think it’s really important to remember the communities that are actually doing the work for us.

Lightfoot is an enemy to progress and she knows it. I am grateful for the work of Black women who actually care such as Ashley O’Shay, Janaé Bonsu, Bella BAHHS, and countless others—past and present.

Black British people from the Windrush era are the focus of a new photo exhibition at Wrest Park

Two black people greeting each other in a museum.
Gestural Greetings © Kemka Ajoku

London-based artist Kemka Ajoku put together a photo exhibition highlighting the lives of Black British people living in the UK following the Windrush era as part of a wider exhibition.

Called England’s New Lenses, it’s part of a major exhibition at four English Heritage sites across the country: Wrest Park in Silsoe, Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, Middleham Castle in Yorkshire and Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, where photographers challenge the definition of heritage.

The exhibition started on 5th August 5 and runs until 31st October (likely to coincide with Black History Month) so if you can, get down to Wrest Park.

Wrest Park location on Google Maps

(via Bedford Today)

9/21/21

I’ve been waiting months for this and it’s finally here. So sad that it’s the last one but what a send-off.

For those who don’t know, Demi Adejuyigbe has been making videos to commemorate 21st September, the date Earth, Wind & Fire sang about in ‘September‘, and to donate to various charities over the years. They’ve become more elaborate as time has gone on and today’s was his last.

This year’s charities are

  • West Fund – a west Texas abortion fund that uses collective resources to uplift border communities.
  • Sunrise – a climate change advocacy group
  • Imagine Water Works – a Mutual Aid Response Network in New Orleans that helps people during floods, storms, and other natural and manmade disasters.

You can donate to any or all of them using this link and watch all 6 of his 9/21 videos on YouTube.