My Kanye Ramblings…Why Because I?…For Reasons

Yesterday there was an interview in the NY Times featuring Kanye West. I had several thoughts about it but there were three that that stuck with me. The first, is that Kanye is one of the only Black men in pop culture who continues to evolve publicly, in real time, while remaining squarely in front of his narrative.

Second, a big part of Kanye’s public evolution has to do with his willingness to be vulnerable and emotional, publicly. He is willing to be vulnerable, honest and wrong. When I say emotional I don’t mean full of rage, there is space for Black men to do that in pop culture, in fact some folks expect it.  In fact way back in 2008, I wrote about his willingness to be vulnerable with the album 808’s and Heartbreak.

Last, I realized that a huge portion of the public sphere conversations about art don’t pivot around Black artists who put their craft first. On Twitter, we talk about Scandal (and Shonda Rhimes certainly puts her craft first but our conversations on Twitter aren’t about that dimension of her work), we talk about Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, we talk about rap music lyrics if they are inflammatory. But Black visual artists who are craft first!?!? But perhaps  one of the issues playing a role here is privilege, my own personal privilege that I need to own in this conversation. By privilege I mean the ability to know, study and read about Black artists who are craft first. When I think about Black artists who are craft first the folks who come to mind are Ava Duvernay, Wangechi Mutu, Sanford Biggers, Bradford Young,  Dee Rees, Aisha Simmons (who is on and engaged on Twitter). This list isn’t exhaustive, these are the folks who came to mind. I am not saying that they don’t have online presence, they do, what I am saying is that reading that Kanye article made me wonder, where are the artistic conversations by young(er) established and emerging artists in 2013? Or perhaps the conversations exist and I am slipping. If you are aware of such conversations, please link me, I’d Love to see them.

If a huge portion of the Black public sphere is happening on the internet, and this is MY observation, then what does it mean if we don’t see these artists in these spaces having conversations. Or is the issue also of one around time, space and labor. In other words, if you are too busy shooting documentaries, shooting photographs, writing novels, creating web series, creating multi-media work, then you simply may not have the time to be on Twitter.

Social media is labor.

Anyhoo, just some thoughts that the Kanye interview had me thinking about.

I guess also has me thinking that as I move forward with the book and the doc, one of the questions rattling around in my head is whether will the historic spaces that I have visited and participated in, will they feel the same? Will the internet conversations be enough?

Black Women’s Sexuality Documentary: Can Black Women Reclaim Deviance?!?!?!?

Over the break, I was going back over my old posts and I saw that in two thousand and eight that I wanted to make a documentary after seeing Byron Hurt’s Barack and Curtis. In fact, I stated that I wanted to do FLOTUS and Nicki Minaj.

When I met with Boss Bear yesterday and told her what I wanted to do she asked me “What was I doing that was new?”, “What was my question?”, “Why a documentary?”.

She then zeroed in on my Byron Hurt inspiration, which is here. I would never think of doing anything around a binary in terms of Black women’s sexuality, because the binary is violent in terms of how/who it erases. However, knowing what I don’t want to do, doesn’t tell me what I am want to do.

I went on to say that I was using Nola Darling y Bryon Hurt’s doc as a point of departure for my new project…She challenged me as to WHY I was centering Black men’s voices but implying the influence of Ava Duvernay, Dee Rees, Gloria Naylor….

Naming is important. Peace to Quvenzhané.

I had no defense and simply said I was wrong and that I was thinking. I clearly know better, but it is important to see how we can not be aware of our own assumptions.

I went to sleep early, because I knew that I would wake up early processing the data. Before I went to sleep I re-read some work on Marlon Riggs, and I saw precisely what I needed to do, which was be brave and follow the heat.

The lesson, be careful who you use as a point of departure because you will be caught in the framework of their logic in your work. Choose deliberately.

But first, you have to learn that their logic. You can’t be in conversation with someone that you don’t understand, or whom you haven’t read.

I am not invested in a binary system of Black women’s sexuality or Black women’s gender, in fact it is why I am addressing the fact that Black Women’s* sexuality has an asterisk, because their are some Black female bodied people who do not identify as women.

Creating a project and coming up with questions entails a lot of sifting, and lot of condescending and doing what I call “looking for the heat energy.” Like where is the heat, where is the hot shit in this work?

Beep was clowning me because she thought I was talking about making a doc, like I was making a sandwich. She has an MFA, and so I respect and understand that folks need to have their work and time invested taken seriously.  In some ways, I was on some sandwich making in that I had not thought clearly about the narrative arch, and what I wanted to get out of the data. This distinction became clear yesterday in that boss bear made a clear distinction between getting a group of folks into a room to talk being a focus group, but what I was talking about was a narrative which answers a question.

#sandwichmaking. I like that.

So, I woke up with reclaiming deviance as a subtopic.

Why did I pick reclaiming deviance? Well, with reclaiming deviance, the politics of respectability is challenged head on, and  want that, I need that. Also, in my interdiscplinary paper, I talk about “ho tapes” and I talk about how ambivalent I am about “reclaiming deviance”, but ultimately, I knew this this would be the subject for the first video because I remember the conversation that I had on my blog. I remember seeing Pariah and the Black women responding and being like “what the hell do you mean by reclaiming deviance” and I know that the “what the hell do you mean” is what I want to dig into.

The other question lurking in here is that if Black women, reclaim deviance, what are the costs!?!?!

I will still engage Nola Darling, The Steve Harvey Industrial Complex, and MSNBC’s/The Washington Post and other folks investment in our dating lives, but my point of departure will be deviance, not these otro narratives.

Reclaiming deviance is about representation, power and Black women as subjects, as contradictory dynamic human beings and I am all about that. #fuckaBinary.





Look What Happened to Your Hip Hop

When I first heard it, I was g’chattin’ with @hotcompics.

Then I saw it again, and was like that’s cute.

Then the third time, I was like, “this is hella obnoxious.

Old school Breakbeats selling ice cream and cakes.

What happened to your Hip Hop?

You know what it is, I figured out what struck me about it
right before I clicked publish. This video is like an Adult Swim
cartoon skit masquerading as a commercial.

Blurring of art and commerce makes my ass itch.