Posts filed under art

50 Shades of Black Hosts Opening Day of Pan African Film Festival - Atlanta

It gives us great pleasure to announce that we will be hosting the Opening Day screenings of the Pan African Film Festival on August 7, 2014 at the Historic Plaza Theater in Atlanta, GA.

As hosts, 50 Shades of Black will introduce each of the day’s screenings, lead engaging Q&A discussions after each film, and will be present with other sponsors and actor Danny Glover at the red carpet screening of “Supremacy”.  Throughout the weekend, 50 Shades of Black will also be conducting exclusive interviews with some of the festival’s biggest stars.

Beginning with the very first film “From Above”, a Shakespearean tragic love story between African and Native American main characters,  to the final film of the day Elza, [a visually beautiful tale that confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair] each of the Opening Day hosted films connect directly with the mission of 50 Shades of Black and highlight the work we are doing with some of our key partners across the country such as I Love Ancestry, National Congress of Black American Indians, Jazz WCLK, and Locs Revolution.

Screening 12:15pm - William Ward (Danny Glover) dives under the gloomy waters of his memory to recall the love story of his life with Venus, a girl belonging to the Lighting Clan, a peculiar Native American family living in Arkansas with a strange communion with electricity.

Thanks to the introduction from our partners at   I Love Ancestry  , Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining   50 Shades of BLACK   tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the   Pan African Film & Arts Festival   (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:1  5pm]  "I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden

Thanks to the introduction from our partners at I Love Ancestry, Yvonne Rosegarden will be joining 50 Shades of BLACK tomorrow for a post film conversation of "FROM ABOVE" at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival (Atlanta) [Screening at 12:15pm]

"I am really looking forward to viewing and participating on a panel to discuss this film that spotlights the seldom discussed relationships between Americans of Native and African descent---AND spreading a LOVE VIBRATION with 5-count hugs at the same time! See you there--please share!" -Yvonne Rosegarden


It is PAFF’s goal to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

Directly in line with the festival’s mission, 50 Shades of Black is the multimedia platform for exploring the complex relationship between race, skin tone, sexuality, and the role each play in the formation of identity. 50 Shades of Black, its creator Carlton Mackey, and its team has collaborated with visual artists, scholars, and the general public to also cultivate a deeper understanding of what diversity truly means with particular focus on the spectrum of manifestations of and understandings of "blackness".


Screening at 2:50pm - A documentary that examines with candor and humor Black women's issues regarding hair and self-esteem, and advocates for the acceptance of all hairstyle choices.  


Screening at 4:50pm - Titus is the story of a virtuoso African-American jazz musician whose damaged soul has brought him to the status of a nobody. Living in London, far from home, he’s wasting away, estranged from his one true love, his vintage alto sax. All hope looks lost until a visitor arrives, Jessica, the daughter he abandoned as a baby. Over the course of a day and night together, old demons are laid to rest and new ones are stirred, and for one last time the future is back in Titus’ hands. The poetic and soulful story of one man’s final shot at redemption – when all he’s ever known is hell.

Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz.  Rivablue can be heard on   www.wclk.com   mon-fri 7pm-10pm. 

Rivablue will be joining 50 Shades of Black tomorrow for post film conversation of Titus as she reflects on the film and the global influence of Jazz.  Rivablue can be heard on www.wclk.com mon-fri 7pm-10pm. 


A young Parisian woman of Caribbean descent returns to her native island of Guadeloupe looking for the father she has never known. This visually beautiful tale confronts the issue of “colorism” in Guadeloupe (and in most colonized societies), where internal race prejudices often hinge on light skin versus dark skin; “bad” hair versus “good” hair. 

Screening 10:10pm

JOIN US OPENING DAY!  PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE HERE

or at the Box Office Window - Plaza Theater 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave N // Atlanta, GA 30306 // 404.873.1939

 

50 Shades of Black is a signature project of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE ™ Campaign.

 

Posted on August 2, 2014 and filed under africa, art, film, press, race, religion and culture, sexuality, skin tone.

Lessons In Colour - Lupita Nyongo Inspired Photo Shoot and Magazine Spread

In January 50 Shades of Black reported how Lupita Nyong'o dazzled in Dazed and Confused Magazine spread.  Inspired by that shoot, 50 Shades of Black featured artist and photographer of our BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Open Photo Shoot on the campus of Emory University, Breonca Trofort, shot this amazing spread published by Afro Style Magazine.

On her Blog Trofort reflects:

Playing off of [Lupita's] editorial, I wanted to do a male fashion shoot focusing on the contrast of the elements of color, found in the make up, wardrobe, background, and prop choice. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to execute this concept “Lessons in Colour” with a collaborative effort from an amazing team consisting of African Model Kwabena Agyemang, MUA Danielle M, and Wardrobe Stylist Dallas.

kwabena-168cop.jpg

Check out the featured spread by Breonca Trofort in the latest Afro Style Magazine

Posted on July 27, 2014 and filed under art, blog, fashion, press.

OFFICIAL MOVIE TRAILER and EXCLUSIVE CLIP: Andre 3000 is Jimi Hendrix

jimmy-andre-hendrix.jpg

Available In Theaters: September 26, 2014 OutKast's André Benjamin stars as Jimi Hendrix in this revealing biopic from Academy Award-winning writer-director John Ridley (12 Years A Slave).

See Andre 3000 as Jimi Hendrix in Clip From 'All Is By My Side' Biopic

Exclusive footage from upcoming film shows guitarist grappling with decision to move to London in this exclusive Rolling Stone video clip.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/videos/see-andre-3000-as-jimi-hendrix-in-clip-from-all-is-by-my-side-biopic-20140306#ixzz38Lu3G1Ta 
 

Posted on July 23, 2014 and filed under art, music.

JUNE ARTIST PROFILE - Sarah Silberfeld: Artist, Actress, Advocate

Featured Artist: Sarah Silberfeld | Photo by Jeffrey Galvezo Sales |  Makeup by: Alan Milroy Clothing by: Melanie Vagenheim

Featured Artist: Sarah Silberfeld | Photo by Jeffrey Galvezo Sales | Makeup by: Alan Milroy Clothing by: Melanie Vagenheim

With her captivating looks and her charming French accent, Sarah Silberfeld is an up and coming force to watch out for. Born and raised in Paris, France, her roots trace back to Mali where she is a descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali Empire.

Though Sarah began her acting career at the age of 11, she has been immersed in the arts since she was a small child; growing up as a professional ballerina. She is multi-talented as an actress, musician, dancer, and model. The impressive list of talents she has acquired doesn't simply suggest natural giftedness.  In actuality, it proves how ambitious this up and comer is.

Photo from *Me There by Lia Saïdi.

Photo from *Me There by Lia Saïdi.

Although only 19 years old she has already starred in an award-winning short film, Me There opposite actor Mabö Kouyaté who just finished performing in John Malkovitch's play adaptation of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”. The film tells the story of first love in the streets of Paris. 

Sarah recently played the lead role in Rahmatou Keïta's film Jin’naariya!, which had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last month. The film was deeply personal for Sarah as it required her to speak Songhoy (the national language of Niger), her native tongue.

Silberfeld in Jin'aariya Directed by Rahmatou Keita

Silberfeld in Jin'aariya Directed by Rahmatou Keita

The reason this is such significance is because there are very few movies made in the country's original language.  Titles and languages often change in order draw the largest audience.  Seeing that the script to Golden Ring/Jin'aariya was still in the original language and that it placed emphasis on Songhoy and its culture was not only an honor for this amazing young actress, but it shows versatility in the characters she can portray. 

Roxane Awa Silla-Depardieu, Piper de Palma, Ali Aroyan, Sarah Silberfeld in Ride or Die

Roxane Awa Silla-Depardieu, Piper de Palma, Ali Aroyan, Sarah Silberfeld in Ride or Die

Sarah is starring in Ride or Die, which is being considered for production and Sarah is being considered for a lead role, alongside co-stars Roxanne Depardieu and Piper De Palma. The edgy film tells the story of a group of Los Angeles teens and their relationship with prescription drugs.

Sarah's dream is to continue working as an actress, working on independent material surrounding multi-ethnic stories. She hopes to raise awareness about issues that are often left out of mainstream cinema and create a dialogue about the complicated issues of our 21st century society. Her passion for theater and her love for the art of storytelling will undoubtedly lead her to bigger and better things yet to come.

Posted on June 3, 2014 and filed under africa, art, film.

Finding Myself in Belle: a review by a biracial woman in America

This film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle.

This film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle.

“I don’t know that I find myself anywhere.”

Thus responds Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) in the movie Belle when asked if she finds herself in a book she is reading.

As a biracial woman, I could almost say the same today. I don’t see myself as the subject of many books or movies—which is why 50 Shades of Black is so refreshing, and why I was excited to see Belle in theaters last week.

It tells the true story of a girl born to an enslaved African woman and a white aristocrat in 18th century England. After her mother dies and her father sets out to sea, she is raised lovingly by her father’s uncle and aunt in high society.

The story situates itself around the infamous Zong case brought before Belle’s adoptive great-uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), chief justice in Britain’s supreme court. In the case, merchants sued an insurer for monetary compensation for the 143 slaves they purposefully drowned at sea.

Painting attributed to Hohann Zoffany of Dido Belle with her cousin  Elizabeth

Painting attributed to Hohann Zoffany of Dido Belle with her cousin Elizabeth

Belle learns of the Zong massacre through her love-interest, an aspiring lawyer named John Davinier (Sam Reid). She shares his convictions about the injustice in treating human beings as property. Together, they attempt to cut away at Lord Mansfield’s inclination to protect the institution of slavery (and his reputation).

This is a story about a woman whose unique position and background created opportunity for the moral advancement of a nation. She seized the opportunity with courage and grace. In that sense I connected strongly with the movie and Belle’s character. Being placed, by God or by chance, at the intersection between divided worlds creates a tremendous opportunity to reexamine unspoken and written rules that dictate the status quo, into which we do not neatly fit.

We are the enigmas that breathe humanity into the people whom hatred, ignorance and bitterness abstract. That is what is captured so well in this movie. Belle’s white family is forced to see black in full human form, with all her intelligence, beauty and virtue. They cannot deny her, as they have already loved her as their own child. What proceeds from this buildup of cognitive dissonance is Lord Manfield’s uplifting and cathartic speech on the immorality of the Zong massacre and the sense that Belle is truly an equal.

That being said, I left the movie wanting more depth and less melodrama.

In one scene Belle desperately rubs her skin, as if trying to remove the color. This was too brief a snapshot of the tumult she must have experienced in coming to terms with the complexity of her identity. Confronting people with the “problem” her existence poses to their beliefs is a scary place to be as a young woman. I expected more attention to the difficult process of developing that sense of self.

That process for me has involved surmounting innumerable seeds of self-doubt planted by subtle gestures and overt comments of “you don’t belong.” My attempts to claim a place in either the white or black communities constantly meet resistance even in the 21st century. It is a back-and-forth dance of asserting myself and retreating in rejection. My parents were open to discussing the issue, yet it is still difficult to navigate. I can only imagine it must’ve been much more difficult in Belle’s conservative upbringing.

It was also difficult to believe Belle was so incensed about equality, yet demonstrated little interest in her black heritage, or developing a connection with the few black people she had contact with. As she grows up, Belle—along with the audience, is sheltered from the harsh realities of the time. Only one other black character enters the screen and Belle’s interaction with her is limited.

Danielle is a writer and special contributor to 50 Shades of Black.  Her contribution, "Papa Am I Black?" was featured in  50 Shades of Black Vol 1

Danielle is a writer and special contributor to 50 Shades of Black.  Her contribution, "Papa Am I Black?" was featured in 50 Shades of Black Vol 1

I was disappointed in the predictable and safe delivery of an infinitely complex story. I understand it is too much to ask of a single work of art, and the first of its kind, to tell all aspects of the experience of living between color lines. There is but so much you can explore when taking on historical fiction. At least, it’s a start. I am hopeful more will come in varied forms, and that soon other Belle’s and I will find ourselves more often reflected in the world around us.

—Danielle B. Douez

Emory University Grad
BA
 Psychology 2013,
Freelance Writer & 50 Shades of Black Contributor

Posted on May 22, 2014 and filed under art, blog, family, film, history, personal stories, race, skin tone.

The Stars Line Up: Rashan Ali, Ross Oscar Knight, Christopher Barker, & Fahamu Pecou

Ross Oscar Knight interviewed by Rashan Ali on Atlanta & Co (NBC)

Ross Oscar Knight interviewed by Rashan Ali on Atlanta & Co (NBC)

Sometimes the stars just line up.  Today was one of those days.

You would have thought I was going to be on TV based on how much I was smiling and pushing folks out of the way at work to get in front of the screen to watch what was about to come on.

Today's special guest on Atlanta & Company, a live weekday show featuring local businesses, events, and entertainment (aired on local NBC Affiliate station 11Alive) was Ross Oscar Knight.

Literally moments before Ross walked into the studio for the live broadcast, he and I were on the phone debriefing an international call we just had exploring a potential partnership with 50 Shades of Black in South Africa.  You see, not only is Knight featured in our coffee table book, and not only did he host the inaugural Open Photo Shoot of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Campaign, he is emerging as what may become an official role as our International Project Coordinator.  And for the sake of today's interview, Ross is clearly a celebrated speaker, author, and photographer.

Clamoring to get a glimpse of the segment where he discussed his latest work HIM -In His Moment, an intimate profile of the wedding experience from the groom's perspective, I couldn't have been more excited for this talented, driven, focused young man.

Ross Oscar Knight, Author - Cover Design, Christopher Barker

Ross Oscar Knight, Author - Cover Design, Christopher Barker

I was equally excited about the coverage and emphasis that the show placed on the cover of the book itself.  Designed the Artistic Director of our book, Christopher Barker, the cover of Knight's first book is a stunning manifestation of elegance and a clear articulation of a vision that could only happen between Knight and Barker.

Twitter: @50ShadesBlack

Twitter: @50ShadesBlack

What was equally as amazing was that Knight, with the Barker illustration in the background, was being interviewed by Rashan Ali!  She and I spent an hour together in the 'green room' at Emory University prior to her featured panel with Fahamu Pecou.  In a lively, heartfelt conversation we discussed the significance of the work...not simply in general but in the very real ways it connected to her own life.  During the panel conversation with Pecou, I felt moved and compelled by Rashan's powerful witness.  I tweeted (and truly meant) this message during the show to which replied.

...and guess what?  That panel host that I referred to...Fahamu Pecou is also a featured artist of 50 Shades of Black.  As a matter of fact, he and his wife to be grace the cover of the book!

Cover design by Christopher Barker featuring Fahamu Pecou and Jamila Crawford based on photograph by Terra Coles.

Cover design by Christopher Barker featuring Fahamu Pecou and Jamila Crawford based on photograph by Terra Coles.

Sometimes the stars just line up and the degrees of separation decrease to even less than six.  We couldn't be more proud of everyone on the team for their amazing individual and collective success.

Show them all some love!!

Poet of Choctaw, Coharie, Cherokee & African Heritage asks: "Who's Afraid of Black Indians?"

Bridging the Gap with Shonda Buchanan of Choctaw, Coharie, Cherokee & African heritage. Award-winning poet and fiction writer, author of "Who's Afraid of Black Indians?"

"Trust the first drum, your heart, for all your answers. The ancestors will follow..." ~Shonda Buchanan

POEM: "The Trail" by Shonda Buchanan
(For the Staffords, Roberts, Manuels and Mathews)

These are the holes
That fill you up
A morning after 4th
Of July
The empty hollow
A memory in the fire
The quiet morning
Rises
Death of father
Suicide of a nephew
Addiction of sister
Another nephew at war
His brother, prison
Pummeling of a mother and aunts
The breaking of lives without a sound.
No honor in their deaths or mistakes
No memory of them, except here

These are the shimmering calcified minutes
The spotted ghosts of a black Indian’s
Midwest life

Where nothing and everything changed
In the fires that burned your farm houses down
And you wonder how you would
Have been or grown
How you would have loved
Had not this or this happened

I remember another July
Years past, under the glass of time
When we were all together, laughing
Spit-polished by hard love
Smoky with hunger for the future
When memory was a thing
Yet to come

~Shonda Buchanan
Photo: Nottoway pow wow in Surry, VA

----
BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

This is the 11th of a weekly series of posts curated by I Love Ancestry on 50 Shades of BLACK featuring stories of inspiring people and ancestors who contributed to the struggle for freedom.

50 Shades of Black will also be curating a weekly series of stories on I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing.

Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

Each week we will feature a story of a historical figure & one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand and celebrate your OWN identity.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

Posted on April 28, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, history, Identity, personal stories.

Emory Black Star Magazine & 50 Shades of Black Release Special Edition Magazine

Screen Shot of Digital Magazine Release.  Print copies available this week!

Screen Shot of Digital Magazine Release.  Print copies available this week!

Emory Students at Black Star Special Edition Magazine Release Party.

Black Star, Emory University's first and only black student publication partnered with 50 Shades of Black to release a special edition magazine to close the year.  Dressed to impress, students crowded into the Emory Black Student Union (EBSU) for the unveiling of the magazine.

This special edition magazine comes on the heels of the two organizations successfully executing the first college campus open photo shoot of the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE (TM) Campaign, the signature empowerment campaign of 50 Shades of Black.  Atlanta Sports and Fashion photographer Breonca Trofort captured over 100 Emory University students, faculty, and staff.

A collage of images from the BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE (TM) Open Photo Shoot grace the cover of this Special Edition Magazine.  The magazine also includes a 10 page spread featuring deeply personal reflections from students who explore their own identities ranging from black Latina, biracial, queer, Jamaican, and East African.

Samantha Scott, the editor and chief of Black Star, wanted to offer a platform for exploring the question: "What is it like being black at Emory University?"

We couldn't be happier that she chose 50 Shades of Black as a partner for helping navigate that exploration.  We are so grateful for the entire Black Star Staff, and the 100's of people from the Emory community for their powerful witness and testimony.

>>HOST A BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE OPEN PHOTO SHOOT AT YOUR SCHOOL<<

BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE: One Year of Affirming Beauty

Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of the Inaugural BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE (TM) Open Photo Shoot.  Actually, the inaugural photo shoot wasn't even recognized as part of the trademarked BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Campaign when we held it 1 year ago (tomorrow).  

Celebrated, international photographer and photo-culturalist Ross Oscar Knight and I planned a singular event to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the many people who supported 50 Shades of Black, a grassroots movement seeking to utilize the power of art and personal narrative to not only critically examine the role of sexuality and skin tone in the formation of identity, but to celebrate and affirm the beauty of every human being.  Little did we know that a year later, we would have photographed nearly 400 beautiful people all across the world including Africa and Brazil...holding photo shoots on college campuses, at cultural events like an Indian Garba, and at the largest independent book festival in the country.

We look back to that day with amazement at the strength found in community, in the power in each of your stories, and in the reality that we've only just begun.  With BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE (TM) Open Photo Shoots being planned in other countries and in other parts of the United States, we are committed to our work of "Spreading Beauty".  With so many messages that tell us that we are not, our motto is >> 

Mexican, French Creole, Gang Interventionist: The Story of the Future Mayor of Inglewood

Mexican, French Creole, Gang Interventionist: The Story of the Future Mayor of Inglewood

I am a 2nd generation gang member born in raised in Inglewood, California. I'm Mexican mixed with French Creole. My father is born in Mexico but DNA says he is Aztec, Mayan, Greek, Russian & British. My mother's father is Mexican and her mother is French Creole (Broussard family: French, German, African Islander, and Magician Chinese) (DeRouen Family: Cajun which is French and Native American plus African and Spanish). 

I grow up in California not being excepted by the black girls because I wasn't black enough. I wasn't excepted by Mexicans because I didn't speak spanish.

I started junior high school and became a gang member from a well know Mexican Gang in Los Angeles area. Being mixed was a little complicated because to every one I was every thing BUT Mexican and Creole (LOL). To the world, I was Cambodian, Puerto Rican, Mulatto, etc. As I explored my heritage I learned to accept myself as a Mexi-Creole. I'm proud of my mexican blood AND very excited about my rich culture of being Creole. My Dad side gives me spanish and bomb Mexican food and the integrity of the Mexican belief of being a woman of your word. Mom side gives me the enjoyment of broken french, bomb new Iberia style gumbo and boudin. Dancing to Zydeco music and knowing my DeRouen side came from Normandy France to Quebec then to Avery island to New Iberia Louisiana. 

I'm blessed to survive the gang life. I earned my BA Degree, got married, was blessed with twins and a daughter. I am a community activists and in the future will be Mayor of Inglewood.
~Reina Carrillo
---
BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

This is our 13th weekly personal story curated by the creator of 50 Shades of BLACK, in partnership with I Love Ancestry featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing. Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

>>SHARE YOUR STORY<<

 

Wonderroot Podcast: Interview with the Creator of 50 Shades of Black

In this WonderRoot Artist Feature Carlton Mackey, creator of "50 Shades of Black", talks with WR Interactive Media Manager Floyd Hall about the origins of the project, its evolution as a platform for dialogue about race, sexuality, and identity, and why the tag line "Beautiful In Every Shade" is so meaningful.

For more information on 50 Shades of Black, visit: http://50shadesofblack.com

WonderRoot is an Atlanta-based non-profit arts and service organization with a mission to unite artists and community to inspire positive social change. By providing production facilities to Atlanta-based artists and coordinating arts-based service programs, WonderRoot empowers artists to be proactive in engaging their communities through arts-based service work. For more information, please visit:

http://wonderroot.org 
http://facebook.com/wonderpage 
http://twitter.com/wonderroot 
http://instagram.com/wonderroot

Introducing The New Cool Kids On The Scene: The Tenth Zine

As a black, gay writer, I’m always happy when I see people from my community planting a flag in the world of media, whether it be behind the scenes, writing or designing, or giving me LIFE in pixelated in pixelated form in glossy pages or on my computer screen.

Earlier this month, I’d heard about a new magazine geared toward the black gay community called The Tenth, the first independently published project from the Brooklyn-based Pink Rooster Studio. Recently my 50 Shades of BLACK cohorts, Carlton Mackey and Chris Barker, and I checked out the online site and we all raved at what came across our screens.

The creators of Pink Rooster Studio, &nbsp; André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

The creators of Pink Rooster Studio, André Verdun Jones, Khary Septh, Kyle Banks

In the past, friends and I have complained about black gay magazines focusing too heavily on the fluff of party scenes, well-oiled Adonis models, flyers, ads, flyers and more ads. But The Tenth, though only offering a glimpse into its pages on the site, seems to skew left of middle and simultaneously travels the roads of art, fashion, sex appeal and literature.

Boasting more than 80 contributors for its first bi-annual issue, which was released on April 10, The Tenth promises offerings from the likes of performance artist Andre Singleton, fashion designer Telfar Clemens, photographers Idris & Tony, activist Darnell Moore, contemporary artist Rashaad Newsome, and literary critic William Johnson.

"We really talk about what's happening now in our culture and have no agenda to represent an image or counter any perception. We just want to play in the sandbox with other exceptional black gay boys and be faggy and angry and smart and silly and beautiful and ugly and radical and perhaps more than anything just learn to trust each other through collaboration. It really has been an incredible experience," said the founders of Pink Rooster studios to Huffington Post.

"The work is born out of our queerness. We know that we, as black gay men will always be forced into a box. This is us coloring that box, and that is a very queer thing. Making anything beautiful, elegant, and joyous," they added.

Yet, most intriguing, so far, is the Courtney Harvier helmed short film "The Masters." Perhaps playing on the layered opening phrase of “I Saw Africa On His Mind,” the stunning visual piece showcases black men, slaves, on the plantations of the south as they work the fields and their master’s home, all the while yearning for the freedom of their homeland, as well as the solace and familiarity of each other’s bodies and hearts. It’s provocative and immediately enthralling and undeniably an awesome teaser for the work that’s the come from The Tenth.

If you want to know more, check out The Tenth website here. And be sure to watch "The Masters" below. 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on April 19, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, blog, Body Image, LGBT, Masculinity, sexuality.

Do You Believe In Magic? The Story of a Little Black Princes

Photos by Carlton Mackey, Creator of 50 Shades of Black

Photos by Carlton Mackey, Creator of 50 Shades of Black

Several years ago, the mother of this little princess contacted me about capturing some images for her daughter's 4th birthday. She knew the party would be princess themed, and she knew that that she wanted the pictures that would be given as keepsakes to be special.

As the day approached we talked about ways to execute the shoot. At first, I proposed some areas near downtown Atlanta that might look "castle-like". At the last minute, I shifted my thoughts to trying to pull off an "enchanted forest" look.

Of course, the day of the shoot was colder than the rest of the week. We covered the princess in a big coat and took it off just as we began shooting. We literally shot for 15 minutes. I captured only 24 frames before we were headed back to the car. It was too cold. We finished the shoot in the studio and hoped that at least one of the images from the forest would work.

I don't think the princess was worried at all. She believes in magic.

Photography, Concept, and Digital Editing by Carlton Mackey

Interested in having your magic captured by me or a member of our creative team?  Email me at carltonmackey(at)50shadesofblack(dot)com

Posted on April 15, 2014 and filed under art, blog, personal stories.

African, Native American, Irish, & Italian: I Am Here

I AM HERE

I AM HERE

My name is Linda Simpson [Bradford] Jenkins. I am the youngest of three siblings, and the only biological child of my parents' union. I grew up in a deeply spiritual family who loved and fought fiercely for what they believed in. 

My father, the great grandson of freed mulatto slaves, was raised by his maternal grandparents. Although my grandparents weren't married, cemetery records and oral accounts from my father's second cousin, reveal a long history of connectedness between both families (Simpson and Bradford). 

The Bradfords (African and Cherokee heritage), and the Simpsons (African, European and Cherokee heritage) have been buried in the same Tennessee cemetery dating back to the 1700s. 

My mother's lineage on her mother's side is Ethiopian and Choctaw. I remember my mother talking about conversations between her mother and grandmother (who she described as Black Indians "with coal black skin and long straight coal black hair that shined as if it was always wet). She said they would "shoo the children outdoors to play" as they talked in the Choctaw language. 

To both my mother's and my dismay, my grandmother's children never fully learned, and ultimately lost the language of their mother because my grandmother was insistent that "You kids must learn to speak English". I always felt "different" as a child--never really feeling as if I "fit it" or "was accepted". At visual appearance, I was African American, but I was always reminded at some point, that I "don't talk like us". I remember being teased by a young classmate who called me "pie face" for years. Almost 50 years later, "it all makes sense". In recent years, I started conducting my ancestry research, and the discovery has been nothing short of "liberating". 

Every child and individual should know and have access to their "culture and heritage". We are a magnificent sum of our parts, and I have much to celebrate, as do we all. I am proudly African Native American, with a dosing of Irish and Italian. I celebrate life and my ancestors each and every day, and I am loving the reddish-brown skin I'm in!

~Linda Simpson Bradford Jenkins
Photo by: Creative Silence and Edited by Carlton Mackey

Order Coffee Table Book Today from http://www.50shadesofblack.com/shop
---

BRIDGING THE GAP: Contemporary Realities, Our Ancestral Past, & Our Liberated Future

This is our 10th weekly personal story curated by the creator of 50 Shades of BLACK, Carlton Mackey, in partnership with I Love Ancestry (facebook) www.iloveancestry.com called BRIDGING THE GAP featuring contemporary stories of people like YOU from around the world.

Each week we will feature one of YOUR stories about your ancestors, your heritage, and/or your coming to understand/celebrate your OWN identity.

We personally invite you to join us on this journey of discovery and healing. Share your stories, find your voice, speak your truths.

SHARE YOUR STORY:
http://www.50shadesofblack.com/share-stories

READ MORE STORIES

LIBERIA is BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE

beautiful in liberia.jpg

50 Shades of Black visited Liberia back in October and was inspired by a very special woman we met there to send our signature BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE shirt back for some of the youth.

Just got the @50shadesofblack African edition T-shirts supply.....yay!!!! The BEST thing about these is...they are FREE.....and there's some for the KIDS!!!!  #50shadesofblack  &nbsp;African edition going nationwide! We are Promoting  #Sexuality  &nbsp;and&nbsp;  #SkinTone  &nbsp;in the&nbsp;  #Formation  &nbsp;of&nbsp;  #Identity  . Website:  www.50shadesofblack.com  &nbsp;@50shadesofblack&nbsp;  #Embrace  &nbsp;who you are. Rocking my tee at work today

Just got the @50shadesofblack African edition T-shirts supply.....yay!!!! The BEST thing about these is...they are FREE.....and there's some for the KIDS!!!!#50shadesofblack African edition going nationwide! We are Promoting#Sexuality and #SkinTone in the #Formation of #Identity. Website:www.50shadesofblack.com @50shadesofblack #Embrace who you are. Rocking my tee at work today

Thanks to your support, and the help of another great partner on the ground we made good on that promise.  When Ms. Cooper posted this image and tagged us on Instagram, it made our day.

Soon, we'll have more photos for you of some of the youth proudly embracing their heritage and the various skin tones reflected within it.

Show YOUR Support

PURCHASE YOUR SHIRT TODAY

Posted on February 27, 2014 and filed under activism, africa, art, press, travel.

Solange - 'Cash In' Fan Video (An Ode To Blackness, Femininity and Solange)

Cash In - Cover Photo 1.jpg

They say birds of a feather flock together, and when it comes to creative weirdos, those birds flock together, have a few drinks, and come up with some pretty amazing and artsy ideas.

That's exactly the case when it comes to SoMAF (Some of My Artsy Friends), a new multi-media collective for writers, filmmakers, designers, artisans, musicians and artists. Inspired in name and creative spirit by the lyrics of music icon, Erykah Badu and her song "Apple Tree," the SoMAF collective is unvieling several passion projects this year, ranging from music videos to short films to online shows and any other creative outlet they can get their physical and digital hands on.

The first passion project to come from this young group of artsy friends is a tribute video to Solange's Saint Heron track "Cash In," created by filmmaker and 50 Shades of BLACK friend Chase Simmons.

"This video is a fan/love letter to Solange, Saint Records, & all of the artist of Saint Heron," says Simmons about the video, which features a trio of black women, all of whom are suffering from their own form of the blues, bringing a little sunshine - and homoeroticism - into each other's lives as they throw a party full of guys, sorrel, and impromptu singing in the forest, in spite on all of their worries. 

Check out the video below, including a few cameos from yours truly, a proud SoMAF tribe member. ;-).

 

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, Storyteller and Blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

www.nicholasharbor.com

www.facebook.com/NicholasHarborOfficial

www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Harbor

Posted on February 14, 2014 and filed under music, art.

50 Shades of Black Music & The Anthem: Academic Mixtapes for the Mind and Soul

the anthem and 50shadesofblack-music.jpg

50 Shades of Black Music - The Mixtape

This compilation was researched and compiled by Kwame Phillips, a doctoral candidate in anthropology and films studies at Emory University. Each digital release is accompanied by artwork created by Atlanta based artist C. Flux Sing exclusively for 50 Shades of Black.

This compilation was researched and compiled by Kwame Phillips, a doctoral candidate in anthropology and films studies at Emory University. Each digital release is accompanied by artwork created by Atlanta based artist C. Flux Sing exclusively for 50 Shades of Black.

Six Months ago 50 Shades of Black released our signature Mixtape: 50 Shades of Black Music curated and compiled by Kwame Phillips and our first Exclusive Signature art piece by C. Flux Sing to accompany it.  (10 Limited Edition Giclee Prints Available)

Showcasing the history and rich diversity of 'Black Music' in America and throughout the diaspora this Mixtape highlights the forms and styles that have stemmed from global black experiences. In the tradition of the medium, this volume serves to be a gift, from older generations to new, between friends, from parents to children. We aim to represent an intersection between hip hop tradition and scholarship by offering an Academic Mixtape -one where one could both nod their head and feed their mind.

50 Shades of Music back 1-web.jpg

Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora 

the anthem download.jpeg

Following the success of the 50 Shades of Black Music Mixtape, Phillips teamed up with Dr. Shana L. Redmond, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California to create another Academic mixtape titled ANTHEM.  The mixtape accompanies Dr. Redmond's book of the same title (2013 NYU Press, 356 Pages).  Also available on Amazon.

Anthem NYU Press-Kwame Phillips-Shana Redmond.png

For people of African descent, music constitutes a unique domain of expression. From traditional West African drumming to South African kwaito, from spirituals to hip-hop, Black life and history has been dynamically displayed and contested through sound. Shana Redmond excavates the sonic histories of these communities through a genre emblematic of Black solidarity and citizenship: anthems. An interdisciplinary cultural history, Anthem reveals how this “sound franchise” contributed to the growth and mobilization of the modern, Black citizen. Providing new political frames and aesthetic articulations for protest organizations and activist-musicians, Redmond reveals the anthem as a crucial musical form following World War I.

Beginning with the premise that an analysis of the composition, performance, and uses of Black anthems allows for a more complex reading of racial and political formations within the twentieth century, Redmond expands our understanding of how and why diaspora was a formative conceptual and political framework of modern Black identity. By tracing key compositions and performances around the world—from James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” that mobilized the NAACP to Nina Simone’s “To Be Young, Gifted & Black” which became the Black National Anthem of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)—Anthem develops a robust recording of Black social movements in the twentieth century that will forever alter the way you hear race and nation.

Kwame Phillips rocking 50 Shades of Black Signature BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Shirt and Dr. Shana Redmond in California for the release of The ANTHEM Mixtape

Kwame Phillips rocking 50 Shades of Black Signature BEAUTIFUL IN EVERY SHADE Shirt and Dr. Shana Redmond in California for the release of The ANTHEM Mixtape

Both Academic Mixtapes Available Above

LISTEN. SHARE. CRITIQUE. LEARN. GROW.

the anthem and 50shadesofblack-music.jpg

Janelle Monae's Afrofuturism on Black History Month

Is humanoid equality the next civil rights fight?

Cindi Mayweather

And so she sings, we're all virgins to the joys of loving without fear....

Following her EP: metropolis Janelle Monae has used the analogy of synthetic intelligence to argue topics like civil and gender rights along with giving a new meaning to the ideal of LGBTQA ...perhaps the 'T' can stand for Transhuman or the 'A' for anything. In the five suite chronology of her 3 albums Monae has painted a picture of pop, rock, rap, jazz, blues, R&B, funk, and even folk to keep our attention while ranting about her own frustration with the kind of empowerment which is possible in the increasingly techno-connected world.

Modeled after the many interpretations of the storied Metropolis: a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences. Monae's consistent theme is a love between a human man and a robot women, but in this recent album has evolved into  stories about the her self confessed alter-ego cyborg Cindi Mayweather and her own identity as a seemingly lgbtR (R for Robot).

The album Electric Lady and Archandroid before that, bring to mind the issues surrounding love equality, which are socio-politically related to marriage equality. The age old dowry system of marriage is now a catalyst to normalize love across cultures and preferences, aside from its sustained bride price. Human's ability to create laws that better acknowledge independence of things of sentience will be increasingly tested as human-kind itself grows more diverse.

I'd argue that Gay is the new Asian because of all the unpacked diversity in the culture, but black seems to be the analogy that everyone is going with.

Michael Joseph Gross coined it The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle. Pundits are rightfully quick to make something finite in order to capitalize on it. Aside from marketing, it’s not true. There will always be more struggles, as minorities exist and define their niche forte. We are reverse engineering our way to pure individualism. Imagine 7,000,000,000 cultural labels and counting. LGBT issues are just the latest struggle, but the next or perhaps the one after that, will be Humanoid or even Robot issues. There is an ethnography to everything including the technology that compels and propels our daily lives. As we humans try and engineer our ways out of all labor we've started to create sentience. Just as Edgar Rice Burroughs writes in The Master Mind of Mars we have the potential to fall in love with a beautiful mind transferred to a horrible body. How will our ethical code change legally when Cindi Mayweather a humanoid lady falls in love with Anthony Greendown, a gentleman?

Originally posted on 10/3/2013 in H+ an extension of the World Transhumanist Association by author James Felton Keith

 

@JFKII
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black

Posted on February 1, 2014 and filed under activism, art, blog, education, Homophobia, Identity, LGBT, music, sexuality.

Happy Black History Month: Minorities as a Heuristic

untitled.jpg

For everyone unfamiliar, a heuristic can be an experience-based technique for problem solving, learning, and discovery that give a solution which is not guaranteed to be optimal.

jafari-allen3.jpg

This past November 6, 2013 I attended an event at the City University of New York’s Center for Lesbian & Gay Studies for a roundtable discussion on Black Queer Diaspora. I thought it would be ultimate in minority topics, next to Asian Queer Diaspora. I have to admit that I was unsure what would actually be discusses at the event. The event was a critique of Jafari Allen's new book and mostly about the "connectivity" of the black queer diaspora to other cultural genres of the world.

In a special issue of GLQ, Jafari Allen beckoned us to see that “Black/queer/diaspora is an organic project of multivalent and multiscalar reclamation, revisioning, and futurity (yes, all at once).” This event brings together preeminent writers and thinkers at the forefront of engaging with this work. Issue editor Jafari Allen (Yale) and contributor Vanessa Agard-Jones (Columbia) present research from their new projects emerging from the conversations of the special issue. Robert Reid-Pharr (CUNY Graduate Center), and Rosamond S. King (Brooklyn College) will offer responses to this new work, informed by their own scholarship and research interests. Collectively, they will each present new research that considers and expands the methodological and conceptual inquiries grounding the issue.

After the presentation of Allen’s new book project Black/Queer/Diaspora and a Agard-Jones’s beyond fascinating paper What the Sands Remember (which could suggest radical political warfare on ethnic and sexual minorities via unethical bio & chemical policy. READ IT!) their critiques made the event much more compelling. Rosemond King’s poetry was beautifully easy yet provocative, although I’m not sure she’d agree with my choice of language. But the kicker was Dr Robert Reid-Pharr’s critique of Allen & Agard-Jone’s work. He said

Black Queer Diaspora should be presented as a heuristic

The way he used it, meant that it “can” go away. I immediately thought about my own work and how colleagues, peers, critiques, and I regularly explore the ends of things to push understanding beyond our understanding from the day-to-day lives we lead. Of course it's an effort to understand the exponential growth potential of our lives. I’ve never seen so many minorities clash. %0 Shades of Black regularly employes the clashing of many minorities as we individuals recognize so many sub-groups in our own minority.

If you are still reading, please indulge my logic of Reid-Pharr's comment briefly: Think of "minorities" as "problems" to potentially be "solved" with less-than optimal outcomes; or rather a diluted existence into some broader culture (majority). Anthropological history of culture systems and even physics system suggest that Reid-Pharr is on to something. A minority that is tolerated and accepted should eventually dilute into the norms of the broader culture.

Even further and most interesting to me as a socialized African American, although my genome sequence reads quite different, was question posed from the audience by a woman asking Jafari Allan if he agreed with Rober Reid-Pharr’s comment about heuristics. Allen agreed that “Queer” could go away, as he elaborated about his and the academy’s difficulty with the term. He continued to say that “Black” could never go away. After he laughed at the the statement he switched subjects.

To this point I haven’t dealt with Afro-futurism mainly because it is not an interest of mine, even after the request of editors at organizations like Humanity+ & IEET. Having stated that, the writings and comments around Afro-futurism concern me simply because I am classified as black. Phenomenologically I am inclined to reject Allen’s suggestion that “Black” could never dilute, especially while considering “Queer” to have the potential to do so. While we are still early in the commencement of our technological evolution it is possible to consider the potential of ethnic ranks pervading the humanoid population. Simply, human selection aside from that of natural selection is allowing each individual in the human-kind race to design themselves in the favor of their own ambitions. I’m compelled to think of the green-honed four-toed tri-breasted Spanish-speaking avatars designed in SecondLife and those in real life. If I extrapolate the cultural changes that I see in 2014, it seems that our population will be a large sea of minorities. From a socio-cultural standpoint, I think that Anthropologists can find and will continue to find remnants of tolerance leading to the acceptance from individuals living OUT... Those transparent lifestyles dilute the majority and minority normative: exposing everyone as an individual participating in a group.

 

 

@JFKII
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black

Posted on January 31, 2014 and filed under art, blog, education, Identity, LGBT, sexuality.

Modern Identity of the Black Madonna?

Black Madonna

A Black Madonna or Black Virgin is a statue or painting of Mary in which she is depicted with dark skin, especially those created in Europe in the medieval period or earlier.

Since joining this blog, 50 Shades of Black keeps me thinking about identities and diversity via our skin tone and sexuality. As a minority of any sort sometimes we adopt the positive and negative connotation associated with our Race. Even as we give such connotations power by confrontation, feelings like ownership and resentment and guilt affect the culture of a group.

madonna

Last week Madonna was quoted on Instagram calling her son a “nigga”  --the same woman who popularized the gay black underground ball cultural interpretation of voguing through song, video, and employment of the underground’s most prominent. In an apology on Facebook, she wrote the following:

"I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N word on Instagram," she wrote. "It was not meant as a racial slur.. I am not a racist. There's no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention.. It was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white.  I appreciate that it's a provocative word and I apologize if it gave people the wrong impression.  Forgive me." 

#disnigga

Last month I hosted a Caucasian colleague in New York from North Carolina. As we pulled off from his hotel in Midtown to head to Harlem for dinner at Red Rooster, he threw his hands in the air where the roof was missing as he rambled off every lyric to Yeezus song Black Skinhead, politely editing himself each time Kanye West said “nigga” and “coon”. Focusing on the road I couldn’t help but count the number of pauses and the fact that he knew exactly where all of the niggas were: pun on Harlem.

The blunt reality of Hip Hop culture and Rap as its spawn is indicative of the transparency culture that started after the US civil rights & sexual revolutions in the 1960’s. Just because something exists in the culture that we know, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for the individuals of the culture to internalize. Having stated that, western society has historically done a poor job of stifling cultural shifts. I don't know that it can, or ever will.

jigga is present

When I listen to Mac Miller (a white rapper) get called "my nigga" by Tyler The Creator (a black rapper) , I realize that the word has been normalized. This isn't the language of camaraderie that existed with a duo like Eminem and Dr. Dre in the generation before Miller and The Creator. Times are constantly changing. Further, we’ve seen Rap’s foremost mentor normalize the word more than anyone. Jay-Z’s live performance called "Picasso" based on the MoMA presentation of "The Artist if Present" is the most prevalent. In the live show Jigga presses his head against Marina Abramović and then use the word "Nigga" multiple times. His breath leaving a legacy of the word on her face as the crowd chants “Picasso Baby”. While watching the show, I thought of the 2007 funeral that the NAACP hosted in Detroit, MI for the death of the word Nigga. Immediately Eban Thomas’ voice pops into my head from his rant on Nas’s untitled album song Project Roach:

It is absolutely silly, and unproductive to have a funeral for the word nigger when the actions continue.

While Madonna is correct in that her intentions mattered, intellectuals who identify as “Black” must meet the changing culture with PEST (political, economic, social, and technological) activism instead of washing their hands of the generational-ly loaded words. The only way to counter culture is with an actual counter culture.

 

@JFKII
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black

Posted on January 23, 2014 and filed under art, personal stories, skin tone.