Happy black history month! This month I will be publishing one article per-week on a variety of topics involving influential black figures, media, events, and politics. I want to start off discussing the incredible amount of black entertainment being created right now. We are blessed to be living in a time where majority black (by this I mean members of the African diaspora) productions are getting world-wide recognition, such as Black Panther and Blakkklansmen— both of which were nominated for Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Golden Globe, and Oscar awards.
I want to make it clear that when I say “black entertainment,” I am not talking content only targeted towards a black demographic, but content that highlights black entertainers as unique, whole beings, who gain admiration for their work and performance rather than getting praise for them being a person of color who just happens to be an actor, musician, painter, etc.
Amongst these large-scale productions as mentioned above, there are several other heavily impactful and unique portrayals of blackness being created right now. They range from comedy specials to Broadway productions. Here are a few I recommend checking out:
1. “I Be Knowin’ ”- Amanda Seales
Known for her bougie, light-skin portrayal of Tiffany DuBois in the HBO series Insecure, actress, comedian and DJ Amanda Seales steals the stage in her HBO comedy special “I Be Knowin’ ” The hour-long special covers everything from the black national anthem, to the struggle of going out and being social, to the “caucasity” of white people. I guarantee as an audience member, regardless of race or gender, you will be cracking up at her outlandish statements.
2. Still Processing- The New York Times
Hosted by two black culture writers at The New York Times, this podcast delves deeply into topics involving all things black media and culture, offering unique perspectives on race and representation. Hosts Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris truly take the time to offer audiences the chance to develop an opinion in an era where fast information is processed and disregarded. Every week I look forward to popping these two besties into my ears and learning something new.
3. Choir Boy- The Manhattan Theatre Club
Brought to you by the creative genius of Tarell Alvin McCraney, the screenwriter of the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” this play beautifully intertwines the story of a group of black boys who attend a preparatory school with powerful spirituals which have been adapted with a modern twist. The lead character, Pharus, gets the chance to lead the school’s choir, but struggles with his gay identity at the same time. Though the show is only scheduled to run until the middle of February, I would keep an eye out for future productions, I know I will be.
4. Seven Seconds- Netflix
Heart wrenching and ominous, this Netflix series starring actress Regina King deals with the murder of a black teenager in New Jersey by a cop. Regina and her fellow black actors on the series, Clare-Hope Ashitey, Russell Hornsby and Zackary Momoh, rev up the racial tension amongst the justice system in America. At times they are pinned against one-another, questioning their positions as parents, workers and lovers due to justice being sought after for the wrongful death of this young man. It begs audiences to ask themselves, what would you do as a friend, family, or community member when a young person of color dies for no real reason?
5. Blindspotting- Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal
I couldn’t end this list without one of my favorite indie films of the year. Hamilton musical star Daveed Diggs and poet Rafael Casal (both Oakland natives and high school buddies) join forces to play Collin (Diggs) and Miles (Casal), two best friends from the Bay Area, dealing with the gentrification and racial tension of Oakland. Collin is just a few days away from the end of his probation, when he witnesses a white cop shoot a black man. The film intertwines the sounds of Bay Area rap with spoken word, unique use of pacing and language never really seen in a film before.