NOTE: the final link for this month includes a piece about the fights over rape in fiction and so my response/thoughts… revolve around rape in fiction (and a little bit about it in fandom). Read carefully, please.
We started by affirming simple truths: that Black critics have been setting the record straight and engaging Black citizenry “in the making of its own story,” as Elizabeth Méndez Berry and Chi-hui Yang wrote in 2019, across the centuries, from Frederick Douglass’s sharp observations about blackface minstrelsy to the barrier-breaking journalism of theater and music columnists like Pauline Hopkins, Sylvester Russell and Lester Walton in the late 19th and early 20th century. The long Harlem Renaissance gave us figures like Nora Holt, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. And Amiri Baraka and Phyl Garland wed Black nationalist desire with fierce, experimental music criticism in the Black Arts era.
I would not be where I am now without Black critics who came before me. I think about that often.
It’s not just about reading their work and learning or growing from it, but about having that access to content and understanding that without them paving the way, there’d be nowhere for me to step.
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Black history is Black horror.
– Tananarive Due
One of Tananrive Due’s comments early on in the Shudder’s Horror Noire documentary will live on in my mind forever because of how it gets right to the meat of the relationship between Blackness and the horror genre.
I love learning things and I spend a lot of time being afraid of things – especially the things I’m learning about – so Horror Noire, Shudder’s new documentary about the history of Black people (and Blackness) in the horror genre is right up my alley.
Back when I was watching Eli Roth’s AMC docuseries History of Horror and livetweeting some of the episodes, one of my recurring complaints was about the whiteness of horror history as they portrayed it. Across six episodes (I didn’t watch the ghost story one because I am a baby), there were very few experts and actors of color that got to let their horror knowledge shine.Read More »
Note that this Letter to the Author contains graphic descriptions of racism and racist violence (sexual and otherwise) as it relates to the reality of white supremacy in history and historical romances.
Dear Afton Locke,
I could write you about a bunch of things in your Oyster Harbor series. I could talk about your constant use of food terms to describe Black characters (“butterscotch” and “light mocha” stand out). I could complain about how your heroine in Cali’s Hurricane is a vodou practitioner and how it’s so mishandled. I could even point out that the plot in and of itself is supremely flawed and in no way as accurate as you think.
But you know what, everything pales in the face of the one main question that I’ve had for you since the moment I read anything of yours: What on Earth possessed you to write a series of historical interracial romance novels where (at least) two of your “heroes” belong to their local branch of the Klan?Read More »
Note: if it’s not clear (but it should be), this is a celebration of my identity and my Blackness because February is Black History Month and it’s taken me this long to put my thoughts together.
“I didn’t know you were so… political,” my supervisor says to me on September 11, 2015.
It’s not a compliment.
What it is is a rebuke about the discussion I’d been having (mostly with myself) as I collected information about the Iran Deal and US interference in that part of Asia for a friend’s project. Because apparently, talking about the fact that the United States needs to get out of that part of Asia and stop interfering the way its done for like sixty years is problematic. My voicing that the Iran Deal was a good step forward to all of this was apparently disrespectful on September 11th.
I disagreed then and I disagree now, but what stuck with me was the idea that I suddenly became political that day.
Not when I spoke to one of my coworkers about her focus on making fun of AAVE or when I pointedly shut my office door on a discussion of who had it worst throughout history. Or not even when I spoke about my (a)sexuality with these people I thought were also my friends.
I was apolitical until what I was saying was too much to ignore.Read More »