Tips for Understanding Black History Month- 2015 Edition

blackhistorymonthIt’s that time of year again, Black History Month. Beginning every February in the United States, the country sets aside 28 (or 29 in a leap year) days to celebrate, discuss and engage Black History. Innocuous enough. And yet what seems to happen every Feb. 1st, is the beginning of a 28-days long ritual of whining (how come they get their own month?), misconceptions and endless micro-aggressive racial faux-pas. And this isn’t just from the usual sky boxes of white privilege; there are black people (some of them noteworthy) who wade into…well…the stupid. So here are a few tips to better understand the month, both for those who have to endure the stupid and for those who might be enticed to engage in the stupid.

This is just an updated list from an identical post I did last year. But guess what? It never gets old because the stupid never changes.

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“A Space Knight Like Rom:” Hip Hop and Science Fiction Fantasy

bishop-doomUnlikely Mix: Rappers, Dragons and Fantasy. So read an article this past March in the Wall Street Journal. The story was on a new campaign strategy by HBO to reach out to a more “urban” demographic, by putting out a Hip Hop and reggaeton album craftily named “Catch the Throne” (see what they did there?). I like Hip Hop. I like dragons and fantasy. But something about this entire affair and the way it was promoted had me feeling “some kinda way.” Cue the Rains of Castamere.

*parts of this write-up were recycled from an earlier posted 2012 blog. opening art: emcees MF Doom and Bishop Nehru

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Beyond Westeros- Sisters of the Spear

ayen and bullSisters of the Spear is an anthology of “seventeen original and exciting” fantasy tales featuring heroines of color, set in realms of magic, monsters and myth outside of the Eurocentric norm. Yes Virginia, there is life–and fantastic stories to be told–beyond Westeros.

“Ayen and Bull”- art by Jason Reeves. Story by “moi”

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Searching for Lando

Lando-FlamewindCoverChatter in the geek-o-sphere for the past few months says that nearly every major character in the Star Wars universe is going to return to the new JJ Abrams flicks, starting with Episode VII. Mark Hamill is to reprise his role as an older Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford is coming back as a grizzled Han Solo and Carrie Fisher will be a more mature Princess Leia. Even the Wookie and the droids gonna be in it. Yet the one character that doesn’t seem to be making it back is the one with the baddest name–Lando Calrissian. So far, despite fan requests, it doesn’t seem that actor Billy Dee Williams has been invited to reprise his role as the daring rogue. But how can this be, when Lando Calrissian saved my young geek life?

Art from book cover of Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, by L. Neil Smith

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My Own Personal Judas: Revisiting Jesus Christ Superstar

Carl Anderson JudasSometime in the mid 1990s, around Easter, I stumbled upon a VH-1 showing of the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. I caught it in the middle, but I sat mesmerized, watching what appeared to be a rag-tag bunch of 1970s hippies and yippies singing and dancing a passion play. In the desert (!?) Before I knew it, the film had ended. But, being VH-1, it naturally started up again. So I watched it a second time. A few hours later I couldn’t deny it. I was hooked. And most shocking of all, the character who affected me the most wasn’t the guy playing the requisite Lord and Savior. It was Judas.

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