I believe we can build a world where the Black Imagination no longer has to be a response to state-sanctioned violence. This article contains light spoilers for "See You Yesterday" and "When They See Us". I sat down with my Queer
BlacKkKlansman isn't a story of infiltrating hate, but a harsh reminder of how easily pro-police propaganda can disguise itself in radical Black aesthetic.This essay contains spoilers for Spike Lee's “BlacKkKlansman” and mentions of racist violence, police brutality, sexual assault. By Vanessa Taylor With the tagline “infiltrate hate”, Spike Lee’s latest joint, “BlacKkKlansman”, boldly burst onto the scene this summer with a marketing campaign that focused on its basis as a true story. At its simplest, that is true. “BlacKkKlansman” is a biographical dramedy based largely on Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir, Black Klansman. However, to say that the movie adaption holds completely true to either Stallworth’s memoir or the history it draws from would be a lie. Although adaptations often take liberties and make changes when bringing true stories to the big screen, “BlacKkKlansman” and the way it treats this particular story brings up questions about what kind of responsibility adaptations such as this has to its subjects as well as its audience. The film follows Ron Stallworth, the first Black officer to work for the Colorado Springs Police Department. Stallworth is able to use his position to launch an investigation of the Ku Klux Klan, assisted by fellow officer Flip Zimmerman. As a Black man, Stallworth can only infiltrate the KKK via phone calls, so Zimmerman is the one who portrays him in any face-to-face interactions with the hate group. To understand the criticisms which cite the film as cop propaganda, it’s necessary to parse out fact from fiction. In Slate, writer Jasmine Sanders breaks it down for us. The film very briefly touches on the issue of anti-Blackness within the police force, but largely portrays the problem as belonging to one cop, Landers, who shot and killed a teenage boy prior to the film’s beginning, harasses Kwame Ture, and sexually assaults Stallworth’s love interest, Patrice.
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I'm pleased to finally meet the flawed, yet whole Nola Darling, both through her and the women who love her.I remember when I first met Nola Darling in 2007 during a university film class. Yes, she was alluring and sexy and like other people who had seemingly wandered into her path, I desperately wanted to get to know her. But I only saw glimpses of Nola through the eyes of those who wished to possess her. Who was she as an artist? How did she regain a sense of herself whenever she experienced abuse or mistreatment? Hell, did she have any real friends who didn't wish to sleep with her, aside from Clorinda? Spike Lee's inaugural She's Gotta Have It is as much the mark of an immature filmmaker as it is a cinematic staple. While the 1986 film about a free-spirited, polyamorous woman may have cemented his career, its poor treatment of her left so much to be desired. One of Lee's more egregious missteps showed in the way Nola was denied any opportunity to process her varied moments of potential trauma — from her verbally abusive relationship with international playboy Greer Childs, to her own brutal rape by Jamie Overstreet. Even in the face of predatory behavior (from the only LGBTQIA character, mind you — another notable mistake) she is unflappable, the perfectly uncomplicated object of the vintage male gaze. Nola is mysterious, self-assured, sexy, and strong-willed, but she never feels whole. 31 years later, Spike Lee has revisited She's Gotta Have It for Netflix, and the episodic do-over is welcomed for a number of reasons. Nola (DeWanda Wise) and the men in her life — Childs (Cleo Anthony), seasoned, the now professional Overstreet (Lyriq Bent), and the iconic, charismatic Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos) — are fleshed out beyond their original caricatures. Nola is openly queer and involved with business owner and mother Opal Gilstrap (Ilfenesh Hadera). Best of all, Nola experiences trauma that isn't gratuitous, but relatable while allowing her to maintain her power. And when the time arrives for her to process her pain, she has a number of women to whom she can turn.
It is Black History Month, and we're at the midpoint! If you haven't done anything yet to celebrate, allow me to invite you to do any or all of the following: 1. Support your local, non-gentrified, authentic Black-owned establishment. Don't just peruse,