“Representation matters,” but not more than everything else

I went to film school chasing a dream of telling my story to a world that always seemed not to know what to do with queer Black bois like me. A dream of forcing the world to know.

But it was just a dream. At film school, I quickly learned that while you may be able to make a person see you, you cannot make a person know you. You cannot make them interpret your body the way you want them to when their own sense of sanity demands another interpretation of humanity. And you cannot ignore forever how the over-simplicity of the term “representation matters” often renders it useless, just like it rendered so much of my work as a young liberal artist useless, or at least un-impactful, before I knew these limitations.

How two young Black Chicago women are using art and activism to change narratives about Black communities

“Fighting the system is a very big burden to take on” – Martinez Sutton, “Another Life”

The future of Chicago often seems uncertain as two factions within the city battle for power. The current mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and his supporters are continuing to push a narrative which supports the divestment from Black and Brown Chicagoans while many young activists have emphasized a narrative of people over profit. In that respect, two young Black women, Morgan Johnson and Eva Lewis, are working to recognize how uplifting others, creating space for marginalized groups, and embracing authenticity are just a few of the ways that The People can reclaim power over their lives and communities. 

We are in a queer media movement, but is increased visibility the answer to violence?

By George Johnson

This June marked the 17th celebration of “Pride Month,” a designation declared by Bill Clinton to recognize and observe the heritage and culture of LGBTQ people. As LGBTQ rights continue to be attacked politically, growth in pop culture and media is simultaneously surging in areas of journalism, television, Broadway, and the big screen, creating new narratives and shifting the conversation from a hetero focused lens to one more inclusive of what life actually looks like.

However, these two opposing trends lead one to question whether increased visibility and representation is only doing the beneficial work we presume it to be doing in the fight for LGBTQ existence.

This Cover of TIME Came and Went, but it has a Message for Our Movement

On the cover of TIME Magazine’s special February edition is a faceless white man behind bars. At first glance, I assumed this was an issue about millionaires and billionaires who deserve jail time for getting over on society, but after a double take I saw that it is actually about wrongful convictions, celebrating 25 years of the Innocence Project.

Interview With Hari Ziyad: Finding Visibility and De-centering Whiteness

We are lucky to have people that walk through life challenging the world around them with each step. Writer and artist Hari Ziyad is one of those people, challenging the norms that whiteness has established for how we identify ourselves. Hari’s work has been featured in various publications, including Black Youth Projectwhere they are a contributing writer, and RaceBaitR, an online publication they have created.

Preaching to the Choir About Racism

“How many times do we expect Black people to build our country?” asked Samantha Bee on the episode of Full Frontal following the presidential election. I have asked this question many times and while I appreciate these sorts of sentiments from “woke” White comedians on a national level, at this point I don’t know that the jokes and the efforts to push the point carry much weight.

Here’s What’s Missing From Reporting On Chicago’s ‘Bloody August’

Four-hundred people were shot in Chicago within the span of 31 days. Ninety of them died. Multiple outlets, including The Washington Post and CNN, are calling August the deadliest month the city has experienced in two decades.

Some news reports implicated widespread gang violence within the city for the drastic uptick in crime, while others focused on the influx of firearms from neighboring states with looser gun laws. A new documentary from BBC, titled “Lost Streets Chicago,” hones in on the impact of the seemingly inescapable violence concentrated in minority neighborhoods, with residents describing them as tantamount to “third-world countries.”

New ‘Melanites’ Doll Line Offers Different Images Of Black Boyhood

As we’ve seen through the influx of data and media coverage on Black boys, they often lose their innocence at the hands of someone else, someone who has stereotyped and criminalized their Blackness continuing the mindset that because they are Black, they don’t deserve innocence. And, while this won’t be changed overnight, Jennifer Pierre is taking the issue of Black boyhood into her own hands and is releasing a new line of dolls for boys of color called “Melanites.”

Ava Duvernay’s New Documentary on Mass Incarceration Will Change The Game

Ava Duvernay’s documentary, The 13th, will be the opening film at the New York Film Festival’s (NYFF) 54th Festival. It’s the first non-fiction film to open the event in the NYFF’s history; if you haven’t already, let us toast to Duvernay’s #BlackGirlMagic. I want to take it a step further though, I want to uplift Duvernay’s message.

The documentary is appropriately titled to address the ironies between the 13th Amendment that simultaneously “abolished” slavery and also created mass incarceration over time.