In continuing with our Summertime Conversationson ‘Feeling Good’, Kaniqua and I dive into the culinary world to talk about the importance of Black culinary traditions and their relationship to happiness and and joy!! Now I will forewarn you, you will probably want to have a snack on hand, or immediately afterwards, when catching this episode!!
Inspired by Nina Simone’s 1965 classic song “Feelin’ Good”, Summertime Conversations on “Feelin’ Good”: Exploring the Lived Experience of Black Joy, is a freeform dialogue that foregrounds how people of African descent create communal agency and collective resilience via the cultivation of joy.
During this episode, Kaniqua and I will discuss and explore traditional Black foodways and how they contribute to the communal expression of collective Black joy and happiness.
Check out the video below:
For more Summertime Conversations, you can go here !!
After the program, we spoke to Dr. Gipson about some of her favorite comic book series, characters, and authors.
CHF: In your CHF program, you mentioned comic books and characters (like Dark Horse’s Martha Washington, who grew up in Chicago). Can you talk a little bit more about the history and significance of some of your favorite series, characters, and authors?
1) Storm (X-Men, Marvel Comics)
Gipson: When it comes to selecting my favorite comic book characters, I have a pretty solid line-up. While my introduction into comics was through the funny papers, there would be one character that truly drew me into the genre: Marvel Comics’s Storm from the X-Men.
As a Black woman who not only served as a leader of the X-Men, but also a goddess that controlled the weather elements, Storm as a fictional character provided an example of progressive representation and a fantastical escape.
Her presence in the comic book world made a significant impression on me as a young, Black girl from the Midwest. I was able to see myself, at the center and not on the fringes, within this popular medium that had been dominated primarily by white and male characters. Storm also opened the door for me to discover more Black female characters, as well as Black female comic book writers and artists.
2) Martha Washington (Dark Horse Comics)
Gipson: Another character who would have a significant impact on me personally and professionally is that of Dark Horse Comics’s Martha Washington. Created in the early 1990s, Martha Washington resonated with me in a very close way, considering her character was based in Chicago, IL. As a Champaign, IL native her story literally and figuratively felt close to home.
Martha Washington’s narrative as explored through The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century comic book series sought to showcase a “regular” relatable character that, despite her circumstances, becomes a heroine for her local community and ultimately the world.
Set in the urban space of the Cabrini-Green projects, Martha Washington’s beginnings (which are told in the first issue Give Me Liberty) explore, from a dystopian perspective, a current and relevant story of public housing, crime, poverty, Black youth, adulthood, womanhood, and even patriotism. Uniquely, her story offers a rare opportunity to explore American patriotism from a Black woman’s point of view. This is especially noteworthy considering the lack of Black female leads in comics, during the 1990s.
When it comes to comics, one can never underestimate the power of a diverse story and the impact it can have on all types of readers. These next two characters not only contribute diverse storylines but also have the impact of reaching a young audience. When looking at the landscape of comic book characters, most of them are adults, so it is refreshing to see a Black female youth presence.
3) Raquel “Rocket” Ervin (Milestone Comics)
Gipson: Raquel “Rocket” Ervin from Milestone Comics (a Black publishing company) is one of the earliest examples of a Black teen character that I have encountered. Also, Rocket’s storyline is one of the first comics to deal with complex and practical issues such as teen pregnancy, balancing motherhood, Black mentorship, and community access. And it was done in a way that avoided stereotypes, while providing hope.
As a character influenced by notable figures like Toni Morrison and W.E.B. Du Bois, Rocket provides an existing reality and a story of dedication and perseverance. Although she is deemed as a superhero, for Rocket her true superpower and strength is her ability to inspire.
4) RiRi “Ironheart” Williams (Marvel Comics)
Gipson: Another character that humanizes the Black girl experience is that of Marvel Comics RiRi “Ironheart” Williams. Through RiRi/Ironheart, as a fictional character, she personifies what it means to be a young, gifted, Black teen in today’s society. Her character also shares another look into the STEM world by encouraging Black girls to embrace one’s giftedness and intelligence.
This is a comic that I wish existed when I was a teenager, but nonetheless grateful that young Black girls and the world are able to appreciate it now. What is also significant about the Ironheart story is that it is written by a Black woman and Chicago-native, Eve L. Ewing, this is key as most stories in past comic book history have been written and drawn by white men (thankfully there is a growing landscape of representation).
To know that I am represented on the page and behind the panel inspires and further confirms that Black women and girls deserve to take up space in this popular medium. Ultimately, both Rocket and Ironheart are perfect examples of how comics can rewrite the script regarding Black girlhood and the importance of why “Representation Matters!!”
5) Torchy Brown (created by Jackie Ormes)
Gipson: Lastly, I felt it was important to not just recognize the importance of some of my favorite characters, but also one of my favorite writers/artists. Before there was even a Storm, Martha Washington, Rocket, or Ironheart there was a Black female lead named Torchy Brown created by cartoonist and writer Jackie Ormes. Similar to the Martha Washington character, Jackie Ormes legacy and work would find a home in Chicago.
As the first Black female cartoonist, Ormes was instrumental in resetting the standard in cartooning and comic strips. She did this by creating her own lane of telling stories that primarily featured Black voices, while also challenging the stereotypes and caricatures often presented in mainstream press. With readers from coast-to-coast, Ormes used her comic strip series and panels to discuss unapologetic commentary on such issues as racism, labor and taxes, U.S. Foreign policy, violence against women, unfair housing, segregated schools, and environmental injustice. She was able to use her talents to not only inform but also showcase (while entertain), in full color, the existence of intelligent, stylish and fashionable Black characters (particularly Black women). With Chicago as an honorary character, much of Ormes cartoon and comic strip work mirrored her real life as she was a community advocate and mentor, fundraiser, and trendsetter.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (In theaters September 3rd, 2021)
Eternals (In theaters November 5th, 2021)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (In theaters December 17th, 2021)
Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness (In theaters March 25th, 2022)
Thor: Love and Thunder (In theaters May 6th, 2022)
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (In theaters July 8th, 2022)
The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (In theaters November 11th, 2022)
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (In theaters February 17th, 2023)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (In theaters May 5th, 2023)
Looks like there is going to be a lot of interweaving of the MCU films and television shows, which should make things very interesting!! Definitely no shortage of engaging content for the next couple of years!!
Check out this great professional networking opportunity, put on by the Women in Comics Collective International (WinC), to connect with like-minded folks in the comic book community.
The event will take place Thursday July 22nd, 2021 at 12:00 PM/ET!! See more about the event below:
“WinC Creative”, aka WCC, is our new virtual professional event experience! The conference serves to support the professional comic book community with programming directly addressing their needs via professional, educational & wellness workshops!
This one day conference will serve to support the professional comic book community with programming directly addressing their needs via:
Professional development panel(s)
An industry symposium
WCC will also have vendors, courtesy of our new “Artist Alley 365” (Debuting in July!) Admission will be Free for WinC members and $3-$6 for non-members.
The curtains will rise again, this Fall, as Broadway theaters will be opening its doors after being shutdown for a year and half due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A select new group of plays have been scheduled to premiere through the rest of this year!! But there is more….all seven plays on the fall line-up are by Black playwriters!! Theaters biggest stage will highlight a wide variety of stories including family comedy, drama, hope, survival, and much more! Check out the full line-up below:
Pass Over: Setting the tone and beginning the season is playwright Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s three-person play Pass Over directed by Danya Taymor.
A riff on Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ following two black men killing time on a street corner when a white man enters their space.
Chicken & Biscuits: Hitting the Broadway stage for the time, Douglas Lyons new play will also feature the youngest Black director in Broadway’s 250+ year history, 27-year-old Zhailon Levingston
The Jenkins family is coming together to celebrate the life of their father — hopefully without killing each other. But any hopes for a peaceful reunion unravel when a family secret shows up at the funeral.
Lackawanna Blues: Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson writes, directs, and performs his solo play in which he “embodies more than 20 vibrant characters, creating a richly textured reminiscence that’s inspiring, uplifting and right at home on Broadway.”
Time: 1956. Place: Lackawanna, NY. Would-be philosophers, petty hustlers, lost souls, and abandoned lovers all find refuge, comfort and nourishment at 32 Wasson Avenue, a boarding house where the landlady, Miss Rachel – “Nanny” – rules with the embracing spirit of both earth mother and drill sergeant.
Thoughts of a Colored Man: With an ALL-STAR cast ensemble (Dyllón Burnside, Bryan Terrell Clark, Da’vinchi, Luke James, Forrest Mcclendon, Tristan “Mack” Wilds and Keith David), playwright Keenan Scott II and director Steve H. Broadnax III brings to the stage “a mosaic of the inner lives of Black men and heralds the arrival of an essential new voice to the American theater.”
Over the course of a single day in the pulsing heart of Brooklyn, the hopes, sorrows, fears, and joys of seven men reverberate far beyond the barbershops and basketball courts of their community. Vulnerable and vibrant, raw and alive — these are the Thoughts of a Color Man.
Trouble in Mind: Originally produced off-Broadway in 1955, a Broadway transfer of the play was announced in 1957, but the production never happened. The acclaimed play from Alice Childress makes its Broadway debut with director Charles Wright-Randolph at the helm.
Wiletta Mayer, an African American actress of a certain age, has spent her career playing stereotypes, trapped on a merry-go-round of mammies, maids, and other menials. The curtain rises on the first day of rehearsal for Chaos in Belleville, a Broadway-bound play that tackles the harsh truths of racism in America. But when those truths spill out of the play and into the rehearsal hall, will Wiletta’s insistence on her dignity cost her the work she desperately needs?
Clyde’s: A new play from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and director Kate Whoriskey that explores second-chances, reclamation, and what it means to dream.
A truck stop sandwich shop offers its formerly incarcerated kitchen staff a shot at redemption. Even as the shop’s callous owner tries to keep them under her thumb, the staff members are given purpose and permission to dream by their shared quest to create the perfect sandwich.
Skeleton Crew: Written by Dominique Morisseau and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Skeleton Crew navigates power dynamics and the power of decision-making.
A makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. Power dynamics shift and they are pushed to the limits of survival. The final play of Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit trilogy.
Nothing like seeing Black voices and stories take center stage. As noted by Broadway Black founder Drew Shade,
Seven Black shows coming to Broadway — it’s unprecedented. It’s what we would like to see, especially after the racial reckoning we’ve had in this society over the past year, and more specifically in the theater industry. But we also have to be realistic about the placement of the shows. We have to be realistic about what this may mean for Black artists going forward.
This fall theater season is going to be FIRE!! And I look forward to catching a few of these shows in the coming months!!