Producer Jahaan Sweet Speaks Black Art and the Joke that Helped Him Graduate from Julliard

By: Imani J. Jackson

Asking people how they self-identify is more instructive than presumptively assigning them labels. So I asked Jahaan Sweet, during a recent hour-long, sit-down interview in an artsy enclave, who he is. “I consider myself a music maker.” He added that he is a burgeoning businessman, “I just like to create shit.” That spirit of Black creation, whether during the Depression Era Harlem Renaissance or Reagan Era rap movement, continues to thrive despite our oppressive conditions.

New England Patriots Player, Martellus Bennett, Won’t Visit White House With Team

It’s a standard tradition for championship teams to visit the sitting President of the United States at the White House and pose for a photo. They often award him with his very own jersey.

But the United States hasn’t ever had a president like Donald Trump and tradition’s likely to get thrown out of the window at any moment. 

Roxane Gay Pulls Book After Publisher Gives Deal To “Alt-Right” Leader

Roxane Gay has one of the most noteworthy writers and authors in today’s market. She’s received critical acclaim for both her non-fiction works, such as her Bad Feminist essay collection, and her fiction, which included An Untamed State that’s currently being turned into a film adaptation. She’s also Marvel Comic’s first ever Black, female writer.

If all of this wasn’t enough to confirm that she’s incredible, she recently took a grand stand against the “alt-right” movement.

Black Actors Make History With Oscar Nominations

A year ago, the biggest story at the Academy Awards was the clear lack of diversity among award nominees. Two years running, no people of color were nominated in any of the acting categories and were a rarity in the Best Director category. After multiple efforts to help bolster diversity in Hollywood, history has been made.

For the first time ever, a Black actor is nominated in every acting category. 

Brooke Obie Gives Us Black Girl Magic in ‘Book of Addis: Cradled Embers’

Harlem-based writer, Brooke Obie, has some ideas about freedom that you need to hear. In her debut novel, Book of Addis: Cradled Embers, the first book in a three part series, she tells the story of 17-year-old enslaved Igbo girl, Addis, who kills her enslaver, the president of the new country Amerika. In this story, Addis is on the run for her life and for the freedom of her people.

Issa Rae and Jussie Smollett Are Teaming Up To Produce A New Web Series

It’ll probably be a while before the world’s thrown back into debates over relationships with another season of Insecure. But Issa Rae, who starred in and created the series, won’t leave fans without any entertainment.

Issa Rae and Jussie Smolett (Empire) will serve as executive producers for a new web series entitled Giants

Steve Harvey Meets With Donald Trump, Internet (Including DL Hughley) Reacts Accordingly

To date, President-Elect Donald Trump’s interaction with Black people has been mostly limited to making vague promises from the safety of rooms full of white faces, painting inner cities as urban dystopias and posing for a few pictures with a couple black celebrities.

Kanye West came under harsh scrutiny for meeting with Trump shortly after being released after the hospital following what’s suspected to be a mental breakdown. The latest Black celeb to make the same mistake and end up in the Internet’s crosshairs after visiting Trump Tower was famed comedian and host Steve Harvey.

Understanding the ‘cultural not remedial’ aspect of Black Vernacular English

“Why don’t you hand in papers in Ebonics since that is how you talk?”

I remember someone asking me this in my early days of grad school. I then explained that, as a student, it was my job to perform particular scholastic duties – including showing a mastery of the traditional APA, MLA, and Chicago Turabian styles of writing.

However, I told him that I use my native tongue – manifested from my years in Oakland, Calif, raised on the music of E-40, Keak Da Sneak and Tony! Toni! Toné!, and on the slang stylings of radio DJs like KMEL’s Chuy Gomez and Sway – in the classroom when I speak because I have no problem being who I am in that space.

But his question made me think about the ways that our use of regional tongues of Black Vernacular English (sometimes referred to as African-American Vernacular English, AAVE, or BVE) is often judged unnecessarily. Not only that, our decisions to use them in particular settings rather than others is often questioned as inauthenticity.