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. 

Being Human

From my Facebook page:

These riots didn’t happen in a vacuum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning them. But people are feeling angry and hopeless. For the past 200 years black folks have been trying to beg and plead our way to acceptance. The model of peaceful protest, Martin Luther King Jr., got shot in the head anyway.

What more do you want us to do? We change our diction; we straighten our hair; we starch and iron our clothes; we use our inside voices; we get degrees and move to the right neighborhoods. What happens? We get a pat on the head and our brothers and sisters who are too poor or maybe too proud to stamp out every sign of their cultural identity continue to be slaughtered in the streets and thrown in jail for offenses that result in no arrest or mere community service for their white counterparts.

THE GAME IS RIGGED. And in the age of information, a refusal to see the facts or connect the dots is willful complicity in the perpetuation of racism. Yes, racism. If you see a white man with a gun as a patriot exercising his 2nd Amendment rights, but a black man with a gun as a thug, you’re racist. Period. But you know what? Change is the only constant in life and you have the ability to break free of your mental conditioning. But most of you won’t because it’s easier to believe that black people are incapable, or choose not to succeed, than to admit that a large part of your privilege and comfort in life was built on the backs of slaves and continues to benefit from the blood, sweat and tears of black folks.

Trayvon Martin. Jordan Davis. Renisha McBride. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice.  What do they have in common? They were all gunned down by scared white people.

Fear is a monster. And I will never understand why it is so hard to see past brown skin to our shared humanity. We, too, sing America. We like to eat, drink, sleep and fall in love. Just like anyone else. So our voices are louder, our speech more colorful, our hair more buoyant and our features fuller. We are people first and foremost. Some of us are slowly starting to understand that degrees and the King’s English won’t protect us. Ever since we were carted across the Atlantic, the idea that we might one day rise up against our oppressors and exact bloody vengeance has taken deep root in their collective psyche. The truly sad thing is that most black folks don’t really want that. Nor do we want “special treatment”. We want TRUE equality. The kind that means a multi-syllabic, creatively punctuated name won’t get your resume tossed in the trash. The kind that means we can ask for help from a neighbor without fear that we’ll be shot in the face. The kind that means we can trust the police to serve and protect us too. The kind that means a black man in baggy clothes can be thought of as a hipster instead of a thug.

When will America get that there is nothing to fear? That love is more powerful than hate? That all we want is to be your countrymen in word, thought and deed?

 

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