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Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Recent
Television

The Superficial Approach to Chicano and Pachuco Culture in 'Penny Dreadful: City of Angels'

The story of how structural inequalities have shaped Los Angeles can be found in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels but it needs to be in the forefront of season two.

Television

Why I Did Not Watch 'Hamilton' on Disney+

Just as Disney's Frozen appeared to deliver a message of 21st century girl power, Hamilton hypnotizes audiences with its rhyming hymn to American exceptionalism.

Books

'Conjure Women' Brings Forth Racism and Reproductive Rights

It is Afia Atakora's reiteration of the current calls for racial justice that positions Conjure Women as an unadulterated masterpiece.

Books

Jaki Shelton Green Blends Poetry and Protest on Timely 'The River Speaks of Thirst'

Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green's The River Speaks of Thirst is at once a political statement, cultural commentary, and an aesthetic milestone, a skillful commingling of galvanic activism and evocative poetry.

Film

Spike Lee's 'Da 5 Bloods' and Pedagogical Filmmaking in the Movement for Black Lives

As with Da 5 Bloods, Spike Lee's films are replete with experimental aesthetics that deconstruct the conventions of (white) Hollywood and re-frame and re-contextualize Black lives and Black history.

Film

There's a War Going on: Spike Lee's 'Da 5 Bloods'

Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods engages with the notion of perpetual conflict. But how well does it fit into the current social milieu of demonstrations against police violence?

Culture

Listening in a Racial Crisis

America is good at broadcasting but it suffers from low-level listening literacy.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Television

Don't Let Roseanne Barr Ruin Roseanne's Legacy

Watching the Roseanne family's hopes and dreams dashed over nine seasons made the show highly relatable then -- and now.

Books

'Blackface Minstrel Show in Mass Media' Is a Roadmap to a Peculiar, Disturbing Terrain

Tim Brooks' detailed research tells us how blackface didn't die, but found ways to multiply as the entertainment industry grew.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Big Black' Is a Stunning Depiction of the Attica Prison Uprising

Fifty years ago Attica prisoners rose up for justice -- and were slaughtered. Graphic novel Big Black: Stand at Attica is a powerful story from a survivor's point of view.

Books

The Kids Might Be Alright: Progress as Virtue in Contemporary Children's Literature

Dave Eggers and Colin Meloy take on the antagonistic and nativist rhetoric in American politics and culture with children's books intent on generating empathy.

Books

Racism's Trauma Reverberates Across Generations in 'Your House Will Pay'

Steph Cha's depiction of systematic racism in Your House Will Pay is compelling, attesting to the complicated social structures at play.

Books

'Sports Is Hell' Narrows the Field to Identity Politics

Ben Passmore's Sports Is Hell is an apocalyptic parody of racism in US sports and politics.

Film

For Valentine's Day, the End of Anti-Miscegenation Laws: 'The Loving Story'

The Loving Story's tale of this Supreme Court victory lays out both its legal and moral import, and then turns back to Richard and Mildred Loving in intimate, evocative images.

Culture

Critical Noir: Confessions of a ThugNiggaIntellectual

If you need to know what the boundaries of diction are, listen to my reformed ghetto-ass.

Books

Journalist Desmond Cole Confronts Canada's Anti-Black Racism

In The Skin We're In, Canadian journalist Desmond Cole reveals the shocking scale of racism in a country that prefers to look the other way.

Books

The Book Every American Needs to Read: 'Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People'

Award-winning lawyer Ben Crump's Open Season irrefutably documents how America's treatment of Black Americans and other minorities is indistinguishable from genocide.

Film

'Sword of Trust' Is Random-Generation Comedy for a Truth-Deficient Time

Lynn Shelton's lo-fi Southern satire Sword of Trust yokes historical artifacts, the quest for meaning, Civil War Truthers, and the devastation of addiction to a pleasingly ramshackle comic quest.

Books

Box Brown Takes on the Ultimate Weed Killer in 'Cannabis'

As cannabis legalization spreads, Box Brown's graphic novel, Cannabis, examines the sordid and racist history of how it became demonized in the first place.

Books

It All Goes Sideways in Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore's 'BTTM FDRS'

Graphic fiction BTTM FDRS drags up our culture's biggest, ugliest globs of unconscious sewage and spreads it across a white page for us to see and acknowledge.

Books

Progress Is Not Linear, as 'The House of the Pain of Others' Reminds Us with Devastating Effect

Julián Herbert's The House of the Pain of Others is a masterly study that sheds light on the role played by educated elites in fomenting genocide.

Books

Thinking on Dark Matter: 'A Mind Spread Out on the Ground'

In Alicia Elliott's essay collection about colonialism, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, she compares racism to the elusive role of dark matter in the universe.

Film

Banned 'Babylon' Finally Sees Light of Day

Franco Rosso's stark, rough-edged, and music-soaked 1980 drama, Babylon, about West Indian Londoners scrapping for survival, was never released due to worries about inciting violence. Until now.

Film

Jordan Peele's 'Us', Postmodernism, and Free-Floating Racism

Before terrifying us, Peele overwhelms with cultural signifiers untethered from their referents in his latest, Us.

Books

Complicit Christianity vs. Courages Christianity: 'The Color of Compromise'

Jemar Tisby's historical overview of the American church's complicity in racism, The Color of Compromise, will help provoke dialogue, but we face significant challenges, still.

Justin Cober-Lake
Books

Learn from Your Female Elders: Read Feminism's Forgotten Fight

When progressives adopt an ahistorical critique of feminism, they risking aiding and abetting its subversion. Historian Kirsten Swinth offers a remedy with Feminism's Forgotten Fight.

Film

'If Beale Street Could Talk' Is an Intimate Rendering of Black Love in the Face of Hatred

Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk is a near-perfect success both as a grand statement of solidarity and as a gorgeously wrought, long-overdue story of black life and black love.

Film

Barry Jenkins' 'If Beal Street Could Talk' Is Unapologetically Romantic

Unlike justice, love has not abandoned the protagonists in Barry Jenkins' adaptation of James Baldwin's' If Beale Street Could Talk.

Film

Framing White Nationalism in Spike Lee's 'BlacKkKlansman'

Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman most dramatically reveals how race is a performance, not a biological essence, as it focuses on the importance of language in structuring racial representations.

Film

'Green Book' Delivers Its Message About Racism with a Spoon Full of Sugar

Peter Farrelly's first foray into drama, Green Book, is simplistic in its message for examining racism, but maybe that simplicity serves as the sugar coating the pill that many current Americans need to swallow.

Books

When Sexually Frustrated Angry White Men (Mis)Read the Classics

Donna Zuckerberg's Not All Dead White Men is a powerful study of the ways the alt-right distorts the understanding of ancient Greek and Roman literature to serve hateful interests today.

Film

The Bee-all and End-all of 'The Swarm', or Irwin Allen's Human Bee-in

No matter if they're African or Brazilian bad-ass bees, what matters to the Yanks in The Swarm is that a bunch of vicious foreigners want to invade their land and claim their women!

Books

'Black Lives Matter and Music': From a Movement That's Only Beginning to Find Its Voice

Scholars share their initial thoughts on the musical reactions to the burgeoning social movement, Black Lives Matter, in this anthology from Indiana University Press.

Books

Why Is It So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism?

In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo commits the error of telling her readers what to think instead of providing ways to use critical thinking to challenge societal norms.

Film

Shaved Jews and Philosemitic Fantasy: On 'Jud Süss' and 'Das alte Desetz'

The fascist mind, always limited by parochial sentimentality, fears art because it fears any hint of ambiguity.


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