If you weren’t paying attention, you might not have noticed our stumble into a black renaissance in entertainment, and overall started to change our ways of thinking as a culture. These are of course, two separate points, but they often work best in unison. I’ll get to that point later, but first, black media is changing. In some way or another. Most all media platforms stand on the backs of black culture. Not all of course, but prominent platforms in American history. Hell, jazz music alone could write a book on how it influenced American culture from its humble black beginnings. But look around at how we are represented. Listen to the voices screaming into the void, hoping to be heard, and you’ll notice. Something is a little different.
In an interview with Charlamagne tha God on the series “Emerging Hollywood”, Trevor Noah makes a comment that, for a long time, adding a black person or story or point of view, was treated like charity. “Hey, why don’t you add a black character? That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?” There is definitely a disconnect along cultural lines. And I do mean cultural, not racial. A black man most likely can’t tell a black woman’s story the same way a black woman can, and vice versa. But for a long time, it seemed like everyone’s story was being told from one point of view. This is believed to have a lot to do with, as Mr. Noah put it, “the gatekeepers”. Hollywood’s proverbial judge of all things art. Is this worth writing or reading. Is it worth filming or watching. Is your art valuable to me, says the judge. But as times change, and art transcends its limitations, the power is, in a way, being put back in the hands of the artist. And black artist, musicians, filmmakers and such, are taking advantage of new technology.
Sure there’s the obvious examples like Chance the Rapper who made his mainstream success without the need of a record label contract, and has still prospered as an artist. Or another example like Jordan Peele, who, after a successful TV show on Comedy Central, was able to spin that success into successful and original horror movies that were well received by fans and critics. But then you have names like Ava DuVernay, who wrote and directed the mini series, When They See Us. A series that has stirred up more than its own share of controversy in the past couple months. There’s also Stefon Bristol, the director of See You Yesterday, an interesting sci fi story of family, and time travel. Staring, of course, black lead actors. David Crownson and courtland Ellis, author and director of Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer, probably the coolest comic you’ll ever read. As well as Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith, and Jamal Igle’s Black. A comic about a world of super powered black people.
The point of this article is just bring awareness of the motion in progress, but to keep the momentum rolling. Not just give praise to successful artist but encourage new artists to take the torch further. And not just for black people, but for all minorities. This uprise shows that there is a market for the stories we want to tell as the notoriously disenfranchised. The catch is, we can’t brush it off as just another piece of media. We can’t be afraid of new and unfamiliar content. And most importantly, we need to remember that our stories, our voices, our lives matter.