February 6th, 2023– “Expanding the Archive & Classroom: Channeling Blackness, Comics and the Speculative”, UVA Wise-Black History Month Lecture Series (Register to Watch Here)
February 7th, 2023- Suffolk Discovers + Black and Super Live Talks: Afrofuturism with Dr. Grace Gipson [IN-PERSON + LIVE] (Register Here for Zoom)
*March 17-18, 2023-The Past Into The Future: Afrofuturism & Ancient Egypt [Featured Speaker], Berkeley Center for New Media [BCNM]-UC Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), Free to Attend, For More Info
March 25th, 2023- “Imagining a World of Possibilities Through Comics and Graphic Novels” [Keynote Speaker], Friends of the Library Presents-CulpeperCon 2023– Culpeper County Library (Culpeper, VA), Free to Attend
With all the conversations and reactions surrounding the teaser trailer of the upcoming spring film “The Little Mermaid” myself and another colleague of mine Bethan Jones decided to put digital pen to paper and share some of our thoughts. The piece is titled, “Part of Your World”: Fairy Tales, Race, #BlackGirlMagic, and The Little Mermaid.”
Here are a few excerpts…
In 2016 Disney announced a live-action adaptation of its 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 fairy tale, the animation earned critical acclaim, took $84 million at the domestic box office during its initial release, and won two Academy Awards (for Best Original Score and Best Original Song). Given Disney’s recent foray into creating live-action adaptations of some of its most successful animated films, it’s no surprise that The Little Mermaid was added to the list. Yet controversy rose when Black actress Halle Bailey was announced as Ariel in July 2019. Among the critiques was the argument that the adaptation should be as close to the original as possible, and the original featured a white mermaid; that if a Black character was re-cast as white in a remake there would be uproar; and while representation in all forms is important it shouldn’t override the history of the characters…
We even provided some history and background into the significance and importance of Black mermaids.
While the original fairy tale from Hans Christian Andersen does describe Ariel’s character as “her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea” this does not mean that there were no mermaids who were of color. In fact, water spirits and Black mermaids existed even before Christian Andersen’s 1837 fairy tale. It is important to note the global history of mermaids and water spirits due to the fact that the existence of Black characters in fantasy, magical realism, and science-fiction is often non-existent. If we think about this from an Afrofuturistic lens, these early Western tales did not see Black characters as even being a part of these narratives. The waters have always been seen as a sacred space literally and figuratively within African folklore. Housed within many African traditions, the water serves as a bridge between otherworlds, life and the afterlife. And the sea deity Mami Wata or La Sirene (which translates as Mother Water or Mother of Water) serves as the beginnings of many African mythical tales.
In celebration of Dr. King’s Birthday I wanted to share some of my favorite speeches from him as well as a few films, documentaries, and television series that feature his life and legacy. I wanted to make sure I shared some hidden gems, along with a few speeches and films that I have learned about through my time as a student and now professor. Check them out below:
“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.” ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
With the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the anticipated FX series Kindred, the emergence on online Black & Brown shopping directory (Harlem Fashion Row) created by a Black woman Brandice Daniel , and so much more Black Girl Magic is in full effect…I would even say overload!!
Black Girl Magic in Media is a “curated site that shows the vast, creative representations of Black girls and women in media.” This project was launched in response to the many reactions after “The Little Mermaid” trailer dropped. While there were numerous reactions of excitement and joy, sadly (but not surprisingly) there were quite a few visceral reactions. Thus, the light bulb went off and I wanted to make sure I played a part in changing the narrative of how Black girls and women in the media are truly magic!!
Through out the week this space will provide an array of features including: spoiler-free television and film reviews, “Black Girl Magic” Highlights, monthly staff picks, recommended book, television, and film lists!!
So if you want to hop on the ride, check us out on Instagram at @blackgirlmagicinmedia !! And if you would like to contribute your thoughts on Black Girl Magic, please feel free to share here! You never know we might feature you :-)!
Nothing like some mid-week goodies!! Check out this week’s Hot Topics, see below:
Preparing for Spring 2023 Festival Season … “Something in the Water” festival is coming back to Virginia Beach, VA in 2023!! On Saturday November 5th, VA Beach native Pharrell Williams along with VA Beach mayor Bobby Dyer made the announcement during Williams inaugural Mighty Dream Forum.
In a statement made by Williams, “The demand for the festival in Virginia Beach and The 757 – among the people – has never wavered. If anything it has only intensified.” Well folks will not have to wait long!!
The full line up and details will be announced soon. Tickets have gone on sale starting Saturday, 11/5.
This is for you Sneakerheads!! … Need some new sneakers…Going to be visiting New Orleans (NOLA) well I have a spot for you!! Check out the only Black-owned sneaker shop in Kenner (a suburb of the crescent city-New Orleans), Peddlers Ave. Birthed out of a hustle and love for shoes, owner Lawrence Wilright launched the sneaker shop in 2010 with a brick-and-mortar building in 2017.
There’s Power in a Name …One of my favorite authors Octavia E. Butler is getting a school named after her, matter fact, it’s her alma mater. Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy in Pasadena, CA will be renamed “Octavia E. Butler Magnet,” the only school in the nation named after the late author. Adding to the excitement, fellow sci-fi and horror author Tananarive Due exclaims, “It feels like a prophecy fulfilled almost…I mean, here she was learning to dream when she was a child attending the school, and now it’s turned into a school that would have been something beyond her dreams.” The decision to rename the school was first made this spring and comes the same year as the new FX television series based on Butler’s 1979 novel “Kindred” is set to debut (December 13th on Hulu).
New Postage Coming Soon in 2023!!… It was announced late October two Black literary giants Toni Morrison and Ernest J. Gaines will be honored with USPS stamps!! Both trailblazers used their craft and literary gifts to amplify stories that provided a lens into the Black experience in America. The “Toni Morrison” stamp features a photograph of Morrison taken in 2000. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with photography by Deborah Feingold. And the stamp of “Ernest J. Gaines” features an oil painting of Gaines, based on a 2001 photograph. Mike Ryan designed the stamp with art by Robert Peterson. Greg Breeding served as art director.
Broadway Legacy!!… Broadway has something new to celebrate!! The former Mansfield Theater in New York City will now grace the name of the legendary actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne. Horne becomes the first Black women in American history to have a Broadway theater named in her honor. As noted by her granddaughter Jenny Lumet, “My grandma’s a Bed–Stuy girl, and we’re a New York family. So to have her always be in New York City in the theater district, it means everything.”
New Exhibition in Oakland, CA… A new exhibition project “Angela Davis—Seize the Time” is on view at the Oakland Museum of California. The exhibition provides a lens into Davis’ revolutionary quest for change, her incarceration, and the “Free Angela Davis” movement that followed. It will compose of of artwork, sketches, literature, stickers, buttons, postcards, and letters from the “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” campaign, Davis’ writings, and other multi-media elements to encapsulate her story. The exhibition was cultivated by the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, and curated by Donna Gustafson and Gerry Beegan of Rutgers University and Lisa Silberstein and Peggy Monahan of OMCA. “Seize the Time” is on view now through June 11, 2023.