Book Mini-Review: Black Marks

Run: Book One.

John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. Art by L. Fury and Nate Powell.

New York: Abrams Comic Arts, in conjunction with Good Trouble Productions, 154 pp., $24.99.

The change of artist did nothing to hinder the entrance into John Lewis’ world: one of bloodshed, and courage and almost constant activity and sound. Kudos to co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist L. Fury, who took the baton well from Nate Powell. The award-winning March (examined by this reviewer here) is followed up with a new triology, completed in text just before the congressman’s death last year. In this first installment, Lewis slowly realizes that the attributes that propelled him to Movement leadership–Christian witness, closeness to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King (derisively called “Da Lawd” by some youth activists) and a belief in integrated work–has got him ousted from his beloved Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. It’s a time of X marking new spots, of Watts and draft cards afire, of Black Power shouted, of Stokely Carmichael ascendant, of Black self-determination on Black terms, and Lewis is exhausted. To Be Continued in Book Two. After all these decades, it is sad to see Lewis still refer to Black nationalism as Black “separatism”–as if such nationalism was still some abberation–but at least he explained in detail here why some thought it justified. Wedded to American thoughts and ideals, the hero decides not to put on a new face but to find a new place and space.

Deep and Profound Reflections On Earning A Doctorate 20 Years Ago This Month

Addendum: what I wish I was told then: the exploration is up to you–not your university, not anyone else in your life. And you can always leave the journey and join the real world whenever you wish. But if you can sustain a sense of courage (in this realm, arrogance will always do as a substitute, as I have learned), you’re doomed. ūüôā

OCTOBER 5th UPDATE:

Asante Sana, Dr. Julia (“Judy”) Miller and Glen Ford

The Male Principle and The Female Principle, grit and fierceness inner and outward.

Coming out of the 1960s into the 1970s, both pioneers filled with revolutionary consciousness, both using work to create new space for words to propel The Race forward.

One celebrated for her expansive heart, the other celebrated for his sharp machete.

Personal versus/and ideological.

But both understood the power of planting yourself within a role, and then being left to the never-ending, back-breaking, un-privledged, un-advantaged labor of pulling out your own weeds.

And, by doing that, creating your own eras.

87-Word Review (not including P.S.) of “Space Jam: A New Legacy”

Critics are hard on this film because it is a betrayal of the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies spirit of parody and satire. No one at WarnerMedia cared about skewering itself–The Simpsons and Fox, anyone?–so the movie has way too much product placement done in the name of homage to more than 50 years of entertainment. The goal should be to generate laughter at the expense of the product and the studio, not to humble brag about how you have the world’s minds on lock.

P.S. See below for a classic example of Warner Bros. making fun of itself.

109-Word Review of “Black Widow”

“The only natural resource in the world that there is too much of: girls.” Because of the topic addressed, that line, uttered by the old-time Bond villain in this old-time-007-meets-Jason-Bourne flick, deserved a much more significant movie than this. At this point, the Marvel formula of drama-action-joke-repeat is irresistible to its shareholders, I’m sure, but it’s sad and a little frustrating to see such a good movie, led by a great star, subtly and not-so-subtly work against itself. When the accompanying (connected by Disney+) Simpsons short is only slightly more light than a serious, well-meaning film, it might be time for Marvel/Disney to re-assess after making the bank deposit.

Some Brief Words About That Nikole Hannah-Jones/Ta-Nehisi Coates Announcement

This is significant because this move will now establish a national, 21st-century Black liberal journalism tradition. I just wanted to point out that this will not erase what award-winning journalism professor Allissa Richardson has written: that post-modern Black activism–symbolically represented now by Darnella Frazier--finds mainstream journalism irrelevant.

With the Black liberal J-wing on the way to being established, this allows a Black Left to do what it is doing now–to build itself as an alternative. In the olden days, the best Black newspapers held all views. Here’s a book on that.

And with Haiti in the news, here’s an example of the present and future:

And the below is an on-the-ground Haiti discussion from this morning’s ReMix!

74-Word [Major Spoilers] Review of “F9”

F9, Baby!

Okay, right, remember the Racer X storyline from Speed Racer? Now, remember UPN‘s much-maligned Homeboys From Outer Space? (You don’t! Good for you! LOL!) So put them together and you have…..well, if there was any doubt this is a past-films-cameo/supporting scene superhero franchise….. If you love these characters (as I have learned to do for about four films now, since The Rock was the group’s enemy), just go and have a good time!

So Les Payne Won The Pulitzer For His Malcolm X Bio….

….so that’s now two for two. Two bad biographies written by important Black writers losing battles with time and illness. And two Pulitzers for bad or incomplete history. Sad. I wish Columbia University would have found other ways to honor Manning Marable and Les Payne.

My Quick Thoughts About “In The Heights”


a) Lin-Manuel Miranda reminds me how¬†Ta-Nehisi Coates described Barack Obama: an activist, not a protester. (Nice move he made with NPR’s Maria Hinojosa to get some intellectual/activist cred!¬†:)) This is the most¬†thoroughly gentle–even if ever-present!–film portrayal of systemic white supremacy I’ve seen on film. Miranda, who loves 20th-century white popular culture at least as much as I do ūüôā , does NOT want to upset¬†Whitey, EVER. ūüôā Having said that, I enjoyed seeing the undocumented struggle included in this. It shows how, like Coates, he is VERY careful.¬†
b) This story is highly¬†cultural–very BROWN, the way¬†Hamilton¬†is (ironically!) very WHITE. (I can see Miranda on that¬†Heights¬†vacation, reading that Ron Chernow bio and going: “Yes! I can now go completely in a new and opposite direction, like an artist should!¬†Past¬†instead¬†of¬†present,¬†white¬†instead of¬†Black/Brown, historical narrative instead of love letter, naked, individual ambition instead of family/community survival, birth¬†of a¬†nation¬†instead of¬†death¬†of a¬†neighborhood!”) As a concept,¬†Hamilton¬†makes a LOT of sense to me now. You can clearly see the themes in both New York-centric, immigrant-centric musicals that attract Miranda–the¬†power¬†of personal drive and dreams with/versus sacrificial commitment to family and community, etc.
c) Whether it is culturally stereotypical I will leave for Brown people to discuss. To this outsider, it looks like he’s trying¬†to hit EVERY cultural mark.¬†
d) Because¬†Hamilton¬†was first for me, this seemed like a workshop to test out the style he would perfect with the slaveholders. ūüôā

JUNE 12th UPDATE: So now that I’ve laid my issues on the table, I will admit he’s a FREAKIN’ GENIUS!!! Have you seen the teaser (below) for his directorial debut?!? And the Oscar goes to…. ūüėČ The year 2021 is only halfway through, and he’s already its savior!! LOL!!!