Note: Watch this documentary on Netflix. That’s all. You’re welcome.
I have been a fan of the arts since I was a little girl. I was fascinated by movies, acting and award shows. I have been enthralled with language since I heard my Aunt Linda curse! I was enthralled with language and what it could do, does accomplish on page or screen. It is for that reason, for that passion, I have cast my lot with the misfits of language–writers.
The one thing that I love about the arts, about watching people that look like look like me acting, is that it puts a power to language that I cannot express outside of ancestral shouts and cries. Black art, Black arts, Black actors still matter. Even while I write this, the Netflix documentary GIVING VOICE is playing, and all I can do is smile. And here is why.
Black art is an expression of who we are as a people, the depth and complexity of our greater community, along with our own experiences! In the eyes of a greater White dominated culture that desires erasure over elevation, celebrating Black life through art is revolutionary! It is a definitive middle finger in the face of white supremacy that tries to tell us what we as Black people can be, can see, can say or become. Black art matters because Black lives matter. Furthermore, since life imitates art–why wouldn’t be an expression of the value of Black life? Why shouldn’t that be explored?
With the resurgence of the plays of August Wilson, it is important to remember how important Black writers are! How essential they are to recording culture, preserving culture, even relaying it to people that have never seen it. Art matters because life is precious, fleeting, and worthy to be celebrated! What I love to think about is the artists who paint, or photograph, uses pens or words, see see the world. In seeing the world, we as Black people, too, are seen.
Ah, and it is that want–that need to be seen–which keeps Black arts creating. It keeps us dreaming, it keeps us writing, it keeps us seeing the world as it is–and can be.
We are here, been here, and we aren’t going anywhere.
If you need to jumpstart your reading list for his month, might I suggest some of the following works:
The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis
King Hedley II by August Wilson
Homegirls and Hand-grenades by Sonia Sanchez
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Home by Toni Morrison
Eloquent Rage by Dr. Brittany Cooper
Teaching My Mother To Give Birth by Warsan Shire
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
The Street by Ann Petry
Hood Feminism: Notes From The Women That A Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
White Like Her by Gail Lukasik
Around The Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson
The Good House by Tananarive Due
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison