Sorry To Bother You Again: The Black Futurist Playlist

Sorry To Bother You was such a deep movie, and it put me in a mood to digest more media like it. My review (despite its length) just barely scratches the surface and there was a lot of stuff I didn’t get to. So if you’re interested in doing the same, here are my recommendations.

WATCH

Atlanta (FX, 2016-present)- If you aren’t watching this show, you should be. It’s hard to describe but most episodes are kind of like a magical realism black Seinfeld. But then there are episodes that veer into very weird territory (especially in the second season).

Bamboozled (A Spike Lee Joint, 2000)- This isn’t science fiction, but it is a satire very much in this vein.

Dirty Computer (2018)- This 45 minute visual album is sci-fil all the way. The protagonist is a black queer woman whose identity is literally being erased by technology. The music shows her journey of self acceptance and rebellion against the status quo. 

Get Out (2017)- Also something you should have seen by now, but it’s still very much in the vein of STBY and I’d be remiss to leave it off. 

Lamborghini Angels/ITAL (Roses)/Audubon Ballroom (Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, 2012)- There’s a lot packed into this 12 minute music video if you listen and watch closely. Interestingly, while this video was officially released it is no longer on Lupe Fiasco’s or his former record label’s official YouTube/Vevo page, even though all of his music videos push the envelope. I’d love to hear your conspiracy theories if you’ve got them. 

“Negrotown” (Key & Peele, 2015)- A comedy sketch that cuts so deep you have to laugh to keep from crying. 

READ 
“When Survival Equals Destruction- Let’s Talk About Sorry to Bother You” by TaLynn Kel

“Sorry To Bother You is Great Science Fiction, People” by Wired.com Culture Editor

“The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates- This longform essay is sci-fil only in the sense that reparations is seen as an impossible fantasy by most. Yet, Coates deftly rips apart the idea that slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and the civil rights struggle are ancient history. It’s an idea that only benefits the system of white supremacist capitalism that America is built on. Germany paid reparations to Europe after WWII. When apartheid fell in in South Africa there was reparations and a restorative justice panel–why should the US be different? 

Futureland by Walter Mosley- This writer is best known for his noir detective novels starring the rakish, smooth, but troubled Easy Rawlins. Remember that Denzel Washington movie, “Devil in a Blue Dress”? That was based on the first book in the series. Mosley is also a very talented sci-fi writer and this collection of stories remains one of my favorite.

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction in the African Diaspora”, edited by Sheree Thomas- Another great collection of black sci-fi, this one pulled from black authors across the ages, including W.E.B. DuBois. If you read nothing else, check out Derrick Bell’s story “The Space Traders”, which is even more interesting in light of the current administration.

LISTEN

Everybody (Logic, 2017)- I actually reviewed this album in a post last year. I’ll link it here so I won’t repeat myself, but the TL;DR of it all is that this is a conscious concept album that bangs. Give it a try. 

“If Your Love Cannot Be Moved” (Stevie Wonder ft. Kim Burrell, A Time to Love, 2006)- Stevie Wonder is best known for his love songs. This isn’t one of them. It’s a deep cut, not one of his singles, but the lyrics remind you that Stevie lived through segregation. He was born in 1950 (just like my parents!) and started his music career in 1961, just 7 years after Brown v. Board of Education integrated schools and another 3 years before the Civil Rights Act ended segreation altogether. When he says “You can’t say we shall and not fight through hell. . . You can’t shout out peace and then vanish in the crowd” or “You can’t free the slave to enslave them differently”, he means that shit. This is a revolution song, no doubt about it.

They Don’t Really Care About Us” (Michael Jackson, HISTORY, 1995)- The title says it all. But in case you forgot, they (whether that be the Republican Party, patriarchy, the 1%, or corporate interests) don’t care about anything but what they can get out of you. So get off your ass and VOTE in this election and everyone that follows. 

Why I’m With Her.

News broke this week confirming what we already knew–that Donald D_ru.mpf is the official Republican presidential candidate.

For a brief moment in time, progressives all over the country were excited about the prospect of Sen. Bernie Sanders becoming the Democratic presidential nominee. Ultimately, he failed, but not before running a grassroots campaign that will likely end up in the history books. The silver lining is twofold: young and progressive voters are definitely invested in the election, and Hillary Clinton has adopted several of his key platform points. I believe that if she is elected and we continue to put political pressure, she will move to the left on more issues.

But some folks aren’t satisfied. They refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils, they say. Hillary is a liar, they say. They’ll write in for Sanders or vote for one of the third party candidates because it’s time to stand on principle, they say. While I understand where they’re coming from, ultimately I am almost as disappointed in these people as I am in D_ru.mpf supporters. That’s saying a lot because, I’m deeply disappointed in those people I know who are voting for D_ru.mpf.

The thing is, I’m black. Sure, the Ancestry.com DNA results show that I’m just as much Nigerian as I am Native American, Russian and French. But I believe in calling a thing a thing, and I’m black. Blackity black. Negro. Colored. I’ve got chocolate skin and frizzy hair. There’s nowhere in the world I can go where I will be treated as anything else. But I’m proud to be black, despite the enormous psychic burden it confers. I’m very proud of my people and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. I grew up just 20 minutes south of Atlanta, the birthplace of Civil Rights Movement legend Martin Luther King, Jr. It was instilled in me that Black History was just as important as American history (and that I needed to know the difference). I majored in history in college and when we studied European revolutions, I saw W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

Embedded in my cultural legacy are the things that make me an individual. I am passionate about political and economic empowerment, as well as community service. I believe that because I call myself a Christian, I am called to love and understand others even when they deny my humanity. I believe that people are more important than money. I believe that socialism is the best form of government, but human greed and shortsightedness get in the way. I believe in law and order, but not in blind obedience.

My grandparents grew up during segregation. When they wanted to go the movies, that had to go certain showings on certain days and times and walk in the back door. My parents attended Georgia State University less than 10 years after integration. My father had a professor who refused to give black students a grade higher than a C+. My mother wrote a genealogical history of her family and tracked down my 4x great-grandfather’s grave. The only record of Sandy Reed, other than his tombstone, is a line item in his owner’s log book:

“He was a good slave.”

Let that sink in for a minute.

I can never escape the fact that not too long ago, historically speaking, I would not have been a United States citizen but property. Chattel. An object. Not a human being, much less a lawyer. When I got married, I wanted a formal ceremony and I took my husband’s last name not just because I wanted to, but because years ago I would not have had that right. I went to a law school named after a known racist. I went to school in classrooms where the Confederate flag and the American flag hung side by side. And while I don’t know of any relation, my maiden name is that of a president who is lauded for giving the country its independence but who refused to free his own slaves.

There is not a person in this country who doesn’t know of Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust. In fact, we romanticize World War II because it is the only conflict, other than our war for independence, in which America was unquestionably one of the Good Guys. And yet, the hate filled populist rhetoric Donald Dr_ump.f is spewing doesn’t ring any bells. He has dismissed or insulted every non-white male group in this country, from black to female to disabled. He has been endorsed by the K_u.Klu.x-Kla.n and has not condemned them. He encourages his followers to beat up and kick out anyone at his rally who dares to question him. Recently, a white woman attended a Drumpf rally with a sign that simply read “No Racism, No Hate” and had protesters try to rip the banner out of her hands and cover it with the American flag. Apparently, if you support equality and understanding you don’t love America.

When people tell you who they are, be skeptical. But when they show you who they are, believe them. In the year of our Lord two-thousand and sixteen, we cannot all agree that racism is a bad thing. This is madness. But it is a madness we are familiar with. It is a madness that makes it acceptable to gun down a black person for simply being unfamiliar. It is a madness that demands a system be put in place to track the more undesirable elements of society. It is a madness that justifies the systematic isolation and extermination of an entire race or ethnicity for “the greater good”. It is a madness that turns hatred into patriotism and bigotry into justice.

Our country is facing a crisis. Do not be fooled. D.ru_mpf is not running for President on lower taxes, or more jobs, or any other legitimate reason that outweighs his real platform. He is running on hate. Whether or not he believes the bigotry that many (if not most) of his supporters ascribe to is irrelevant because he is their voice. A vote for Dru.mp.f is not a vote for making America great again. It’s a vote for making America white again. It is a vote for America to return to the days when we ni****s knew our place.

And this is why I’m with Hillary. Not just because she’s the most qualified person for the job and not just because I’m a progressive liberal who doesn’t want to see regulatory legislation gutted. But because in our current system, any vote that is not for Hillary is a vote for Trump. And I’m bone-chillingly afraid of the havoc that a Drum.pf presidency would wreak. It took 100 years for black people to get from emancipation to liberation, and we fought tooth and nail every step of the way. There is no telling the damage that Dr.umpf could do. He has lifted up the most radical elements of the Tea Party and given them free rein to do and say whatever they want. His RNC speech has drawn comparisons to Adolf Hitler. How much more proof do we need in order to act?

I would love to be able to vote on principle. But I don’t have that luxury. I am black, from a black family, with a black husband, and black friends. We are teachers, lawyers, engineers, doctors, entrepreneurs, nurses and more. We are church goers, athletes, musicians, and bookworms. We are loud, funny, thoughtful, and generous. We are people. We are just like you, and yet we are disenfranchised and mocked and condescended to and murdered just for being a shade too dark. So forgive me if I don’t want to hear anything about third parties and sticking it to the establishment and how you shouldn’t have to vote for the lesser evil. Sometimes the lesser evil and the greater good are so close you can’t see daylight between them, and this is one of those cases. I am black. And I want to live in an America where blackness isn’t ignored or condemned but allowed to just be.

I don’t know if Hillary Clinton can get us on the path to that America. But I know for sure that Donald D_ru.mpf will not.