Sometimes you just gotta go back and reflect on what made you who you are today!! Receiving one of the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2021 has really taken me down memory lane! Ahhh the good ol’ days!!
Here is a peek into some of my experiences growing up in Champaign, IL!!
After getting the news back in November 2018 that Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) villain “Loki” would be starring in his own series on Disney +, fans patiently waited for further news of its release!
Unfortunately, fans would be in limbo as the release date for “Loki” was stuck in TBA status primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which paused shooting in Atlanta (this impacted the filming of other Disney+ shows as well) after two months of filming. However, production would resume in September 2020 and finish in December, and now we have a May 2021 confirmed release.
Check out the trailer below:
With a May 2021 premiere date this is perfect timing for some Memorial Day Weekend binging!
When I tell you I love to read that is really an understatement! Outside of traveling and going to the movies, I have always loved picking up a book and getting my reading fix. I remember as a kid participating in reading challenges in school and at the local library, going to the Scholastic Book fair, and Now my fondest memory when it comes to reading was the Pizza Hut Book-It program, collecting those 5 golden stars was the key to many dinners that included a personal pan pizza. (All Cheese for me!!) What a cool way to encourage reading! And for many of my friends it “low-key” became a competition to not only see who could read the most, but also who could collect the most pizza coupons. One thing was for sure, my mama and grandma did not have to worry about whether I was into reading!
The importance of reading has always and continues to be a regular topic of conversation and discussion, especially in the K-12 school system. We are at a point, where you can literally access a book or magazine via your phone, tablet, iPad, laptop, and of course old school physical book. And even though there are many avenues for reading books these days (Kindle, Audible, AudioBooks Now, Downpour, Apple Audio Books, Scribd, Libro.fm, and many more) it is nothing like having the hard, physical copy. For me it’s all about being able to turn the page, fold the corners, write in the date/year when I got it, and using a creative, colorful bookmark.
But I could go on and on about my love of books and reading!! As a result of this bibliophilia, I wanted to make sure that I shared with you on a monthly basis some book recommendations. Each month I will share my top 5 books to read and/or add to your library. These books will range from memoirs, to academic research books, to graphic novels, and much more. Each month will be a new surprise!! So without further ado here is my February 2021 Book Recommendations:
My friends!! We got you covered for last night’s episode right here!! See below:
Our third conversation discusses Episodes 3 (“Holy Ghost”) and 4 (“A History of Violence”) of Lovecraft Country!! In this episode we tackle everything from the museum space, mental health and trauma, rituals & spirituality, calling on the ancestors, Chicago housing/redlining, visibility and invisibility of Black women, and preserving #BlackGirlJoy & #BlackBoyJoy. There was a lot to digest and unpack with this one, but so glad that we did!!
Next time, we will discuss the 1989 crime-comedy drama film Harlem Nights!! I have been truly looking forward to having this conversation, and look forward to your thoughts and feedback!! It’s another one you do not want to miss!!
“The only way you really see change is by helping create it.” ~Lena Waithe
Today’s post is all about creating that change through featuring up and coming talent, especially young Black talent! Just in the same way that many of my teachers and mentors guided and assisted in my journey, it is my duty to do the same. If it was not for my community, I would not be the person I am today. I remember back in high school I use to tell myself, whenever I got the opportunity to reach back and guide the next future leaders I would jump at the opportunity. Thus, it is very important to guide and recognize, but also create a space and a platform to feature these talents.
So it is with great excitement that I am able to share with you the newest member to the Black Future Feminist team, Jaya Robinson! Jaya is a sophomore in high school, a published author, and a budding pop culture commentator!! Plus, like me she is also a fan of comic books and film!!
And on a monthly basis, Black Future Feminist followers will get to check out featured pop culture commentary on a variety of Blockbuster films, new television series, comic books, manga, and so much more. Today’s featured content, takes a look at the 2008 Marvel Comics action film, Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. and its overall impact on pop culture.
“Iron Man and Its Impact on Pop Culture” ~Jaya Robinson
Like many people, 2008’s Iron Man was my first introduction to big popular comic book movies. Before that time, there were superhero movies such as the Warner Bros. Batman film franchise, (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney), and even before that the Superman movie franchise, however no movie franchise was what Marvel was bound to become. Prior to Iron Man, only a selected few (mainly comic book fans/readers) knew about the “Iron Man” character. Even those who were familiar with from the comics, they did not necessarily relate to the character. However, this movie created a lane that made it possible to relate to Tony Stark. It made an otherwise un-relatable billionaire, playboy philanthropist…human. Iron Man, as a film, not only launched Marvel Comics into mainstream media and pop culture, but it also changed how superheroes were approached in blockbuster movies. Additionally, Iron Man played a fundamental role in the launching other comic book movies and future blockbusters. Without Iron Man, current comic book based movies would not be the same. Iron Man humanized the characters it brought from the page and showed them in a way audiences had never seen before. It is important to note, that superheroes have always been an important part of pop culture. Before there were superhero TV shows, we had comic books. As an added bonus, what made this movie so special was that they were able to take inspiration directly from the pages of the comic book that people grew up with and transform it to the big screen.
Now what made this movie so different from other comic book movies of the time was its realness and grit. This movie did not shy away from Tony Stark’s flaws (such as his struggle with alcohol addiction), but embraced them and showed them in a new light. Iron Man not only reached people who enjoyed comic books, but also people who just enjoyed movies.
Iron Man bridged the gap between the comic book genre and the regular film genre. It is one of the reasons why Iron Man was so good for the time. The cinematography as well as the plot and storyline proved to be good enough to break the label of being a stereotypical “comic book” movie. In some cases, comic book movies focused on the superhero and not the character itself. Iron Man moved away from that formula and essentially laid the groundwork for future comic book movies. It essentially became the blueprint. This movie sparked the start of not only the Marvel franchise, but other comic book movies outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man, as a film, also played a role in signaling other comic books to move into the mainstream media. One might also argue that it sparked an added interest in comic books, in general. Because of its commercial success, people began to take an active interest in Tony Stark’s complete background and origin.
All in all, Marvel would set its wheels in motion with the Iron Man film while making a further mark in the comic book medium and securing a place within pop culture. In the end, Iron Man proved skeptics wrong, and showed how superhero movies did not always have to be a superhero vs. alien threat, but could also be superhero vs. self. Iron Man showed that superhero movies can incorporate an intimate and relatable narrative, because at the end of the day Iron Man is still a man behind all of the armor.
We are back at it again!! Make sure to join Dr. Robinson and I as we continue our discussion of Lovecraft Country! This week we will discuss Episode 3-“Holy Ghost” and Episode 4-“A History of Violence”…Two of my favorite episodes!!
And remember you can watch it on Thursday February 11th at 7pm/ET!! For additional information go here!!
Are you looking for an engaging documentary to watch with the family? Do you need a special report to share with you students? Or a digital platform that taps into your musical and/or intellectual interests? Well I have a few things that are airing this month in honor of Black History Month:
Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage (History Channel)- Wednesday, February 10th at 8pm/ET…”In this one hour special, Robin Roberts explores the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary group of African American pilots including her father that served in WWII, revealing how these warriors for change helped end segregation in the military and pave the way for the civil rights movement.”
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song (PBS)- February 16 & 17th at 9pm ET/8pm CT…An intimate four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song will explore the 400-year-old story of the black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews.
American Masters: How It Feels To Be Free (PBS)…“The inspiring story of how six iconic African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.“
YouTube, Website & Streaming Services
Your Attention Please (Hulu)-February 18th 8pm/ET…Your Attention Please is a TV series “that introduces audiences to Black innovators and creators who are working to leave the world better than they found it.”
Ailey Experience Atlanta-February 19th-21st…Ailey Experience Atlanta celebrates over forty years of a rich partnership with the city’s most prominent arts and civic organizations. This year, AEA teams up with AREA Atlanta to bring Ailey Experience online to the greater Atlanta area and across the country.
iHeartRadio’s Living Black! (iHeartRadio)-February 20th 6pm/ET…A first ever special event that features conversations that educate, inspire and celebrate the Black experience through a mix of custom tributes from artists and listeners across the nation.
Black Renaissance (YouTube)- Friday, February 26th…A YouTube Originals special that will showcase the Black creators, artists, writers, storytellers, and history makers who have shaped our nation’s history; and the next generation of Black voices who are reimagining our future. The special will also feature dance, music, fashion, photography, literature, Afrofuturism, and art from Black Women and LGBTQ+ artists.
All Hands: Race Toward Inclusion (Cheddar.com)…”All Hands is a show about the minority stories that go untold. Each week, we peel back the layers of business stories that expose racial inequalities and are exacerbated by global phenomena like climate change and health crises. We also discuss the successes of minority businesses and communities, and examine how to talk about, and take action on, race-related topics. It’s an inclusive living room in which to have meaningful, difficult, and provocative discussions… *for* everyone.“
A Most Beautiful Thing (Peacock)…Narrated by the Academy Award/Grammy-winning artist, Common; executive produced by NBA Stars Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade along with Grammy Award-winning producer 9th Wonder; and directed by award-winning filmmaker (and Olympic rower) Mary Mazzio, the film chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country (made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago), all coming together to row in the same boat. Based on the memoir by Arshay Cooper.
Freedia Got a Gun (Peacock)…“Devastated after learning that her brother was murdered, New Orleans bounce legend Big Freedia raises awareness about gun violence, an epidemic that continues to disproportionally harm Black communities.”
The Sit-in: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show (Peacock)…“In 1968, entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte took over “The Tonight Show” for one historic week, introducing a fractured, changing country to itself alongside legendary guests like Aretha Franklin and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Looks like fans we will be able to revisit the Kingdom of Wakanda!
Check out what crossed my desk…just got word that acclaimed director Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station, Creed) is set to create a new Wakanda series for Disney+!!
As reported by Marvel.com, Ryan Coogler is set to develop a new drama for Disney+ that is based on the fictional society of Wakanda. The upcoming series is set to be a part of The Walt Disney Company’s five-year exclusive television deal in collaboration with Coogler’s multi-media company Proximity*.
So not only do we get to see the work of Coogler in film through the Black Panther sequel, but we will also get to see his magic play out on our television screens!! According to Bob Iger, Executive Chairman-The Walt Disney Company,
“Ryan Coogler is a singular storyteller whose vision and range have made him one of the standout filmmakers of his generation…With Black Panther, Ryan brought a groundbreaking story and iconic characters to life in a real, meaningful and memorable way, creating a watershed cultural moment. We’re thrilled to strengthen our relationship and look forward to telling more great stories with Ryan and his team.”
This is very exciting news, as viewers will get a chance to see Wakanda’s story continue to unfold, and in many ways create another branch that picks up from where we stopped in the 2018 Black Panther film. As a huge fan of Coogler’s work (directing, producing, writing), I can only imagine what he along with his Proximity team have in store for us! Through this television series and other potential projects, audiences will get the opportunity to dive deeper into the fantastical world and people of Wakanda. In addition, the creation of this series will also provide another platform to elevate and amplify Black diasporic talent and voices in front and behind the camera and television screen.
“We look forward to learning, growing, and building a relationship with audiences all over the world through the Disney platforms. We are especially excited that we will be taking our first leap with Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and their partners at Marvel Studios where we will be working closely with them on select MCU shows for Disney+. We’re already in the mix on some projects that we can’t wait to share,” as stated by Coogler.
Nothing like watching the unveiling of Black Excellence!!
*Proximity is a multi-media company founded by Ryan Coogler, Zinzi Coogler, Sev Ohanian, Ludwig Göransson, Archie Davis and Peter Nicks with a mission to create event-driven feature films, television, soundtracks and podcasts that look to bring audiences closer together through stories involving often-overlooked subject matters. Proximity is committed to developing a wide variety of projects across all budget levels.
Now for folks that know me, they know I love geeking out about Black Futures and even more about its relationship with Black History (hence the name of this site ‘Black Future Feminist’). So it is without question that I am very excited to virtually sit with some forward thinking minds and participate in this soul-stirring, out of this world panel!!
You can stream and get more information about the event here!!
And remember although February is the month (here in the US) that we formally celebrate Black History (major thanks to Carter G. Woodson) just know that Black History is 365 day effort!!