The Time When Uncle Phil Brought Out "Lucille"

uncle-phil-lucille

I looked up to my dad even if we didn’t see eye-to-eye in my teen years. I saw certain similarities between our relationship and Will and Uncle Phil’s in The Fresh Prince. And like many episodes, Will got himself into some trouble and couldn’t get out. Until Uncle Phil came through once again. There were times you might have been on Will’s side in certain episodes but others, you were rooting for Phil. What made their relationship so strong was Uncle Phil always stood up for him and made sure he knew he loved him and he was there for him (when the time was right).

“Don’t mess with my boy again. You mess with him, you messing with me.”

Uncle Phil

In this clip, Will gets himself in trouble with some pool sharks and Uncle Phil has to come and bail him out. But there’s a debt to settle. Rather than just pay the money, Uncle Phil decides to take pool shark on with comical effect. Until Lucille makes an entrance. Who’s Lucille? You’ll have to find out.

Happy Black History Month!

An interview with Simon from Power In Discussion

Simon - Power In Discussion

It’s a pleasure to have Simon take part in our Black History Month festivities. Besides being a good friend of mine, Simon is also a speech-language therapist and founder of Power In Discussion, an organisation creating positive discussion in the context of mental health and well-being, identity, and experiences faced by Black communities in Britain and Black LGBTQ+ representation.

What is your favourite city in the world?

Las Vegas.

What’s the most unusual item you take everywhere you go?

Almond oil.

Why do you do what you do?

Currently, I’m working on Power In Discussion, a platform which recognises the importance of having conversations both on and offline. I do it because I love communicating and I recognise the value in sharing our stories.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?

At the weekend.

Where do you go to relax?

The bath.

69, 280, or 420?

280.

How do you say goodbye in your culture?

A’right, we goh see…later!

An interview with Shanarà Phillips

shanara-phillips

Her love of visual storytelling has taken her around the world and she recently had her video, He’s Not Like That, featured at the BAFTAs as a finalist. We interviewed her for Black History Month.

What is your favourite city in the world?

To not be biased and say my own, I would say Oslo. I recently went there for a little weekend trip to visit one of my best friends and I wish I could have stayed longer. Such a beautiful city, friendly people and the food is great. Plus the flights are really cheap!

What’s the most unusual item you take everywhere you go?

There’s nothing usual that I take with me, although I’ve weirdly had a few people ask me before why I carry moisturiser with me all the time… I mean who wants ashy skin? Especially when you already have eczema.

Why do you do what you do?

I do what I currently do because I’m passionate about film and TV. So I currently have a full-time job as a logger for a production company and we’re working on a series about Formula 1 racing which will be on Netflix. I also do the odd videography/editing freelance job. It’s all to help pay the bills and fund my filmmaking hobby so that eventually I can start producing my own work for film/tv.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?

I can’t remember and that’s terrible.

Where do you go to relax?

The only place I have to relax is my room really. I came back home last year and my room was still the same way I left it at 18 and so as I’m almost 23 now I decided it needed a makeover to match the woman I am now. So I’ve been slowly turning it into my own relaxing sanctuary where I can just edit and write, or watch crap on YouTube.

69, 280, or 420?

420, always.

How do you say goodbye in your culture?

Unfortunately, I don’t know Vincentian Creole, but my family have this habit of mostly saying ‘in a bit’.

He's Not Like That | Vlogstar Challenge Grand Final Entry

RIP Jean-Michel Basquiat

King Alphonso by Jean Michel Basquiat

That’s the line I’m going with anyway. I won’t pretend I knew about him for years. He was a name I’d heard but not explored further than occasional utterances. Then I went to see his Boom For Real exhibition at the Barbican in London and everything changed. His bodies of work (and that pun was intentional) were the true definition of expressionism. He flew by the seat of his pants when it came to life and art, neither discipline far from each other nor mutually exclusive.

“I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat

He proclaimed himself a legend and nobody can take that status away from him.

The chaotic brilliance of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat - Jordana Moore Saggese

My All-Time Favourite Chili Pepper Challenge by AyyOnline

AyyOnline's Chili Pepper Challenge.

The other is the one with the two white girls which I’ll post tomorrow, but back to my all-time fave. AyyOnline was a popular black British Youtuber until he left (and recently came back) and during the chili pepper challenge’s heyday, Ayy joined in. The hottest pepper at the time was the Naga Viper pepper or “Ghost pepper” as it was also known. It was the “World’s Hottest Chili” in 2011 with a rating of 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Pepper X is the unofficial champion now (used in the Hot Ones’ sauce) but the Naga Viper was the king for quite some time.

The featured image for this post is the precise moment before he took the “deadly” bite; the record scratch “you’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation” moment. What follows is hilarious. Cue removal of clothing, ice, yoghurt, and some vomiting. The initial reaction was classic. The instant realisation that you’ve made a bad decision and there’s no way out. Well, not a comfortable one anyway. But like he said, he did it for laughs and he got plenty from me over the years. I’m glad he didn’t live up to the ghost pepper’s name and came back.

Fun facts about chili peppers (courtesy of Wikipedia):

  • Chilis were part of the Aztecs’ staple diet and originated in Mexico.
  • The substance that gives chilis their intense heat is called capsaicin.
  • 32.3 million tonnes of green chili peppers and 3.8 million tonnes of dried chili peppers were produced in 2014 worldwide.
  • China is the world’s largest producer of green chillies, providing 50% of the global total.

The wonderful art of Upendo

upendo

Who is Upendo?

Upendo Taylor was born in Watts, California but moved to New York to make the city “his canvas” according to his website. He draws inspiration from everything in his life and puts them back into his art in the best possible way.

His aesthetic has covered topics such as pop culture, cartoons, and his love of hamburgers with different media like hand drawings, painting, and computer designs.

Leroy Jenkins!

In 2005, Upendo teamed up with Ron Upperman to create their Leroy Jenkins clothing brand (named after the infamous Leroy Jenkins meme). The biggest endorsement of the brand came from Jay-Z who wore a Leroy Jenkins cap in 2012.

Upendo has worked with the likes of Adidas, Burton, Gatorade, Stones Throw Records, and Black Milk over the years and he’s one of my favourite modern artists and artistic inspirations.

Some of Upendo’s work

UPENDO ART

Gabrielle Union eats hot wings, discusses Twitter fools & DMX

Gabrielle Union Impersonates DMX While Eating Spicy Wings | Hot Ones

Gabrielle Union is a treasure. When she’s not being a brilliant actress, absolute beauty, or a best-selling author, she enjoys a wing or two. First We Feast’s Hot Ones series has guests talk about their lives while eating the spiciest wings available. During Gabrielle’s wing stop, she discussed her husband Dwyane Wade’s friendship with LeBron James, the time she took Michael Jordan to a lesbian white party (that one passed me by) and when she drank beer and watched Golden Girls with DMX. Yep, that last one happened too. And she also drooled and snotted because the Scoville scale was too damn high.

Have a glass of milk nearby.

Black Minimalists

Black Minimalists on YouTube

The Black Minimalists want to change that perspective. They are a community of individuals who identify as black and live minimalist lifestyles.

The website launched this year and is funded by the founding team members. The team is made up of four people: founder Yolanda Acree, and co-founders Farai Harreld, Kenya Cummings, and Anekia Nicole. Everything from food and travel to beauty and fashion is covered but more importantly, Black Minimalists welcome collaboration and support to spread the word and provide a safe space to do so.

You can find out more about them on their blog and donate to keep the community alive.

Semiotics: myths, #BlackLivesMatter & #AllLivesMatter

Intro to Semiotics Part 2: Sign, Myth and #AllLivesMatter

I’m still on my semiotics tip and discovered this interesting video about myths, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and the loathsome #AllLivesMatter. I was wary of how both hashtags would be described but they went how I’d hoped in such a short video. I’ve not heard or read about either one described from a semiotic perspective and it’s good to know the arbitrariness carries such weight in #AllLivesMatter.

As Electric Didact says when quoting semiotician Roland Barthes, “myth freezes or immobilises intention.” This considers the notion that while Black Lives Matter is a movement, All Lives Matter isn’t.

Watch the video below and leave a comment with your thoughts on the semiotics angle.

Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait

picturing-prince

Prince was quite a secretive person but you won’t be short of photographs of him. Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait will piece together never-before-seen photos of the late musician, taken by Steve Parke.

A new book from Cassell, Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait, out September 5, aims to add depth to Prince’s public persona; it features never-before-seen photographs by Steve Parke, the musician’s former art director at Paisley Park, including 16 pages of lost photographs from his extensive archive.

Along with those images are some hilarious anecdotes from Parke, revealing more about Prince than most fans would know. Stories include The Purple One renting out whole movie theatres at 4am, requests for exotic animals, and his love of basketball. Away from taking photos of Prince, Steve Parke also designed his album covers and merch before becoming the official Paisley Park art director. That’s a high accolade given Prince’s attention to detail and perfectionism when it came to his image.

This is a must-read for Prince fans and music lovers alike.

View a slideshow of nine photos via The Cut.

When Joanne the Scammer Visited Britain

When Joanne the Scammer Visited Britain

A very insightful 20-minute documentary on Branden Miller, the man behind Joanne the Scammer, and his journey to Britain for the first time. Getting to see both sides of the Joanne coin makes for interesting viewing and you become more appreciative of the performer as well as the performance. There were wonderful dresses and lots of sightseeing in that classic Joanne style.

UPDATE: It appears the video was cancelled so enjoy this Caucasian tweet and the preview for the documentary that never happened. Iconic!

Joanne The Scammer Takes Britain: Behind Branden Miller's Rise To Fame | Instant Exclusive | INSTANT

Brief Excerpts From James Baldwin's 1,884-Page FBI File

james baldwin

Such was the strength of racism and homophobia during the Civil Rights Movement. You can still feel that potency today, if not in different ways. But this quote from Literary Hub is harrowing:

My memorandum date 7-17-64, which concerned the captioned individual’s plans for a future book about the FBI, has been returned by the Director with this question: “Isn’t Baldwin a well-known pervert?” It is not a matter of official record that he is a pervert…

James Baldwin, a well-known pervert? M.A. Jones of Crime Records elaborated further:

While it is not possible to state that [Baldwin] is a pervert, he has expressed a sympathetic viewpoint about homosexuality on several occasions, and a very definite hostility toward the revulsion of the American public regarding it.

M.A. Jones of Crime Records

It is no wonder Baldwin moved across the Atlantic.

(via Literary Hub)

The Atlantic Remember Black Postmodern Artist Barkley L. Hendricks

Barkley L. Hendricks

Apart from the advent of hip hop, not much gets a look in over white counterparts. Barkley L. Hendricks’ portraits were striking in recognising the beauty of post-Civil Rights blackness and every decade after. The contrast of minimalism and abundant strength in his paintings were unfortunately overlooked by those in the museums.

Kriston Capps of The Atlantic wrote a brilliant piece on his work and what it meant to black culture.

He never painted black people in protest or in crisis. Ideas about black nationalisms surfaced in his work as they were reflected in the world of images.

Barkley L. Hendricks died last Tuesday at the age of 72.

Barkley L. Hendricks – 'I Want to Be Memorable' | TateShots

A Gold Experience

tutankhamun

For my 10th birthday, I got a Gameboy Color. I cried when I unwrapped it because a few months prior, my original Gameboy DMG was stolen along with 10 games. I also got a gold cover for it but I’ve yet to find another since.

Gold is the colour of extravagance, wealth, riches, and excess. It’s also a colour of prosperity and grandeur and that’s why it’s one of my favourite colours behind red and green.

Here’s a series of images showcasing the gold experience in all its splendour. And if you like all things golden, you should check out how it can make your broken pottery look even better.

Get Out: Black Solidarity and Knowing the Code

Get Out is probably one of the most unique and intriguing horror films I’ve seen since It Follows. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or two, Get Out is a huge box-office success and a critically acclaimed horror/thriller/comedy mash-up from the mind of Jordan Peele. A lot has been written about how Get Out derives its horror from racial overtones. This is certainly true and as a young black man myself, what resonated with me most was how Chris attempted to initially combat the awkwardness of the situation – particularly through his language.

The film

In Get Out, Chris Washington, an African-American, accompanies his white girlfriend Rose to meet her parents in a predominately white community but he soon discovers something sinister is afoot. Most black people in predominately white countries are aware of the concept of microaggressions. Get Out successfully highlights how those day-to-day microaggressions contribute to fetishizing an individual by reducing them to stereotypical components. Instead of greeting Chris normally, white characters in the film adopt forced African-American slang and proclaim their love of Obama. To them, Chris isn’t ‘Chris the Individual’, instead, he’s reduced to ‘Chris The Black Guy’ – a thoroughly isolating experience.

Chris’ attempts to remedy this isolation strongly resonated with me. Whilst staying with Rose’s parents, Chris only encounters three other black people. His first solution to avoiding that segregation is to appeal to them for solidarity. But there’s something ‘off’ about the black servants who serve Rose’s family, and similarly something unsettling about the only other black man who Chris meets at the parents’ party. When he tries to engage with them on their assumed level, i.e. through African-American idioms, slang and gestures (the fist bump for example), they don’t reciprocate.

On my initial viewing of Get Out, it got me thinking about the ‘black guy nod’. Personally, I don’t even know when I learned or when I started doing the ‘black guy nod’, otherwise called just ‘the nod’ or the ‘Negro nod’. This refers to a knowing look and small nod of the head shared between black people whenever they see each other in an area without many other black people.

Last year, when walking down the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I did it when I noticed a black guy walking past me and he kindly returned the gesture. We didn’t even say anything to each other, we just nodded knowingly, kept it moving and I never saw him again. I don’t know his name, where he was from, but it just seemed like something I ought to do.

A scene from Get Out

It’s not the only tool for establishing solidarity; code-switching is an effective tool for connecting with someone from the same culture. Code-switching refers to when a speaker alternates between two or more languages or dialects. It’s often context and audience dependent. For minorities, this can be especially important. Referencing shared cultural experiences can be a form of emotional survival. And considering that survival is at the core of Get Out, it’s probably the best exploration of code-switching I’ve seen on cinema. (Dave Chappelle has a hilarious stand-up routine where he mentions Black people looking out for each other in dangerous situations.)

We codes

Some academics propose that this type of intra-communal code-switching can be divided into “we” and “they” codes. “We codes” are geared towards the home, family and immediate community, while “they codes” are associated with wider public discourse. A “we code” might consist of something as overt as a shared language or regional dialect that people of a shared heritage might use versus the standardised language they use when corresponding in formal settings. “We codes” establish solidarity for people who might be marginalised and minorities in a specific context.

A good example of Chris attempting a “we code”, is when he tries to establish a rapport with Walter, a black groundskeeper who serves Rose’s family. It’s a short scene; whilst Walter is outside doing manual labour, Chris says to Walter, “they working you good out here, huh?” in a friendly manner. Potentially, this is Chris’ attempt to highlight a distinction between the wealthy whites who own the property and the African-American outsiders, namely Chris, Georgina and Walter. Walter responds by reaffirming his link with Rose’s family, leaving the audience to feel that Chris is alone and Walter is not an ally.

It’s an awkward moment when Chris tries to segue into a “we code” with fellow African-Americans in the town, only for it not to be reciprocated. For Chris and the audience, this confirms that there’s something ominous brewing in the community with regards to the way it views black people. This shifts the tone of the film from merely being a clumsy navigation of meeting the girlfriend’s parents (a la Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) to a disturbing and unsafe atmosphere. There’s no one there who can relate to Chris, which poses a threat to him as the true horror of the story unfolds.

Conclusion

There are many things we can take away from Get Out. There are so many thematic points to unpick which makes me look forward to re-watching it. The importance of reciprocating code-switching is demonstrated by the fact that the only person looking out for Chris, is the person who is most relatable to him culturally and linguistically. It’s a film with a lot of substance, but my favourite aspect of the film is its encouragement for ethnic minorities, particularly African-Americans, to look out for each other.

Get Out was released in UK Cinemas on the 17th March 2017.