Posts tagged Race.
Why is it that people are willing to spend $20 on a bowl of pasta with sauce that they might actually be able to replicate pretty faithfully at home, yet they balk at the notion of a white-table cloth Thai restaurant, or a tacos that cost more than $3 each? Even in a city as “cosmopolitan” as New York, restaurant openings like Tamarind Tribeca (Indian) and Lotus of Siam (Thai) always seem to elicit this knee-jerk reaction from some diners who have decided that certain countries produce food that belongs in the “cheap eats” category—and it’s not allowed out. (Side note: How often do magazine lists of “cheap eats” double as rundowns of outer-borough ethnic foods?)
Yelp, Chowhound, and other restaurant sites are littered with comments like, “$5 for dumplings?? I’ll go to Flushing, thanks!” or “When I was backpacking in India this dish cost like five cents, only an idiot would pay that much!” Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more. If we’re talking foie gras or chateaubriand, fair enough. But be real: You know damn well that rigatoni sorrentino is no more expensive to produce than a plate of duck laab, so to decry a pricey version as a ripoff is disingenuous. This question of perceived value is becoming increasingly troublesome as more non-native (read: white) chefs take on “ethnic” cuisines, and suddenly it’s okay to charge $14 for shu mai because hey, the chef is ELEVATING the cuisine.
As a psychoanalyst, I should help my patient to become conscious of his unconscious and abandon his attempts at a hallucinatory whitening, but also to act in the direction of a change in the social structure.
In other words, the black man should no longer be confronted by the dilemma, turn white or disappear; but he should be able to take cognizance of a possibility of existence. In still other words, if society makes difficulties for him because of his color, if in his dreams I establish the expression of an unconscious desire to change color, my objective will not be that of dissuading him from it by advising him to “keep his place”; on the contrary, my objective, once his motivations have been brought into consciousness, will be to put him in a position to choose action (or passivity) with respect to the real source of the conflict—that is, toward the social structures.
I sincerely believe that a subjective experience can be understood by others; and it would give me no pleasure to announce that the black problem is my problem and mine alone and that it is up to me to study it. But it does seem to me that M. Mannoni has not tried to feel himself into the despair of the man of color confronting the white man. In this work I have made it a point to convey the misery of the black man. Physically and affectively. I have not wished to be objective. Besides, that would be dishonest: It is not possible for me to be objective.
When I can stand before a class of predominately black students who refuse to believe that conscious decisions and choices are made as to what roles black actors will portray in a given television show, I feel compelled to name that their desire to believe that the images they see emerge from a politically neutral fantasy world of make-believe is disempowering; is a part of a colonizing process. If they cannot face the way structures of domination are institutionalized, they cannot possibly organize to resist the racism and sexism that informs the white-dominated media’s construction of black representation. And, on a more basic level, they lack the capacity to protect themselves from being daily bombarded and assaulted by disenabling imagery. Our mental well-being is dependent on our capacity to face reality. We can only face reality by breaking through denial.
Commemorating the happiest I’ve been in nearly six months, for the longest I can remember: from January, 2012:
A week ago, for Martin Luther King Day, a friend and I organized an event for my dorm floor in which we discussed and addressed issues of race, inequality and discrimination, both in terms of their historical narratives as well as their modern day relevancy. The aim of the night was to observe the legacy and influence of a man and movement that fashioned a positive trend in America’s racial relations.
Framing the discussion were reminders of the rebarbative nature of micro-aggression, white privilege, and oblivion to the historically informed gravity such a day has as part of an ongoing narrative in American discourse: the casual way in which one floor-mate reduced the potence of King’s effectiveness down to what she called “a day for black people”; how the floor of one dormitory across campus concocted a celebration of the day by eating chicken and waffles; how one peer remarked on how she may have transcended the need to learn about, discuss, and challenge her own preconceptions about race because she grew up in a liberal, though remarkably racially and socio-economically stratified city; irreverence fashioned by arrogance. It had hardly peaked 1PM and the day had rasped at my consciousness. I was reminded of the role of loaded-for-bear, militant, one-man salvo I felt obligated to assume as a tenth grader coming into consciousness of pervasive manifestations of oppression and discrimination, from the more blatant and obvious displays—a black vehicle carrying a car of strangers who spat, at a confused teenager definitely too old to be trick-or-treating but chose to do it anyway, with as much as vitriol as they could muster, all the bite and verve they could accurately slew in my direction while driving thirty-five miles per hour, the word that floated in my unconscious as a specter of a not so distant past of hatred, but one that often haunts, “Nigger”—to the more subtle and structural. All racked within less than six hours.
The day was another notch in the genealogy of my coming-into a positive racial identity. It brought me back to Audre Lorde: “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” No expectations. No threats of claims of affirmative action. No burden of representation. No diffidence masquerading as self-confidence. What it means to be black—Black. Not black-wan-lusterless like faded jeans, obsidian, coal-stones, the shat entrails of a carbon life that once was. But black like cosmic, vast, the unperceivable darkness that exists at the far-corner of an unlit bedroom, black like the vacuum of space, sharp, unfettering, infinite like absence. Pellucid. Unmistakably sharp and clear like a fricative “eff” segued into intent “fuck you.”
I recently read David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon College commencement speech entitled “This is Water.” Crudely boiled down, it’s about the extent to which our default registers of perception worship a reality that sets us up to fail, to feel disappointed, to feel unfulfilled, to, as Wallace tacitly suggests, die a multitude of deaths before we’ve been buried. We can free ourselves from that reality, we can choose to prioritize attention and awareness and discipline, to “care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.” We can choose to, in Wallace’s terms, “de-center ourselves.” And at those times when I can feel myself casually reclining into my desk chair and simultaneously into a mild fit of sadness—when I feel a splitting headache creeping in—a deeper recline—overwhelmed, distant, eyelids sagging, head tilting back—I can choose to imagine and construct a time and place and world in which the kaleidoscopic light emitted from the Swarovski-crystal ornaments on the living room end tables of my Aunt’s country estate refracts inimitably against the brass neck of the table’s lampshade, then splays itself deliberately against the windows at the back end of the living room—a bricolage of light and color: the soft-fulvous underside of a ripe peach, opiate-violets, the tawniness of worn-in leather, assaulting yellow, ingenuously optimistic blue, maternal green, colors too often suppressed under the lithesome choux-film threshold between the perceptible and unperceivable register. Or perhaps a world in which the facial tick of one of my best friends—the beautifully subtle way the right side of her upper lip tweaks upwards when she smiles, a simper comprised of what could be the prototypical definition of naif exuberance suffused with post-coital jolly—is magnified and always salient. A world in which the air is always lightly salted.
It is always there, innocent prisoner to a numbness that mantles. I can sit here, eyes now fully closed, lost in Panglossian infiniteness—the quiet comfort of the not-present—let out an acrid, resolved sigh, and indulge in a humbled state. I can choose that—this—reality.
Dr. King and Lorde encourage us to recognize and value, much like Wallace, the fact that we can choose our own terms, that we can fashion our own reality, manifest promising futurity, a new consciousness, a race-positive identity; I can choose to de-center, to not be a naive, parochial drone. To be, fully, unendingly, unapologetically, conscious. To cultivate an existence limned by the often ignored though beautifully remarkable prospect of a brighter something.
The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us - the poet - whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary demand, the implementation of that freedom.
The first interesting research paper I wrote in college was for a class called “African American Photographic Culture.” In it, we looked at the ways photography’s development helped to benefit (and damage) colloquial notions of the black body, as well as black identity, and how black photographers attempted to adopt and reconstitute the photographic apparatus to shift dialogue surrounding black identity into something revisionist, progressive, and revolutionary.
The class was my favorite of my freshman year. It gave me a chance to look at an artistic medium with which I strongly identify and helped contextualize my understanding of my identity into the broader strata of sociological concerns related to power and its expressions in new and interesting ways. This appreciation was cemented when we looked extensively at artist and photographer Romare Bearden, a bi-racial Harlem native who used the technique of photomontage to authenticate his understanding of post-colonial black identity. Without going into too much detail, Romare Bearden saw photo montage as a medium that allowed for an interdisciplinary and inter-medial reflection of a post-modern black identity, one which draws its influence from historically “western” schools of thought and artistry as inscribed through colonialsm—in Bearden’s case, Dadaism, cubism, and surrealism—and the black cultural traditions that root themselves on urban streets, Harlem, and the deep south. Bearden believed that the only way to authentically represent the black experience was to incorporate the different styles concomitant with their ideological underpinnings and their relation to the black man’s post-colonial situation into his artistic technique, and reframe them in a way that could inspire a new, positive framing of the black experience. After taking this class, and studying Bearden, I realized this artistic approach has been playing out in another scene, the beat-making scene.
After interning at New York’s 89.9 WKCR radio station for their weekly hip-hop show through Columbia, I learned about artists like Knxwledge, Elaquent, mndsgn, and Ohbliv who have been making serious grounds to redefine the way hip-hop and beat-making is understood. Essentially, this increasingly successful genre of music has sought to restructure the various elements of prototypically “urban” sounds—most notably, hip-hop—with a distinct homage and reinsertion of the genres which motivated its creation, jazz and R&B. Philadelphia-based Knxwledge is presumably the most prolific beat-maker today, and has created remixes ranging from an EP sampling Danny Brown’s “XXX”, to full-length releases sampling Amy Winehouse, Marvin Gaye, Erykah Badu, Drake, Lauryn Hill and R. Kelly. What makes Knxwledge’s music expressly post-modern and progressive in its scope is the way he’s able to reframe the artists he samples’ distinct sounds and genres in a way that pays respect to their individual creative licenses while simultaneously creating a genre and creative atmosphere distinctly his own. And so by pulling from, modifying, and breaking up these creative voice’s style, content, and general sound, and creating an aural collage that is expressly individual to himself and his relation to these genres, he’s not only creating a new context in which this characteristically nascent and post-modern urban voice is able to thrive and be understood, but also through that creation simultaneously creating a new language for understanding the urban experience.
This comes through clearly, with not just Knxwledge but artists mndsgn, Ohbliv and Swarvy as well, who make a pointed effort to title their songs and albums in a form of broken-English; toying with grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling to symbolize a rejection of the modernist formalities that require a rigid adherence to conventionalism, they are creating a new musical, as well as linguistic lexicon. The beat-making genre is inspired by the creation of both.
In a similar vein, these beat-makers’ music is characteristically distinct from typical hip-hop or rap artists in the way their music specializes structure over lyrics or hooks, challenging the way rhythm, tempo and time-signature are too often restricted to the “formal” constraints of genre. By mixing genre and sampling hooks from R&B, rap, jazz, and sometimes even folk (as in the case of the Joanna Newsom sample featured on “Between(Dreem)” featured on Knxwledge’s Old.Klouds.LP), these artists’ emphasis on the creative process underlying their work as opposed to the explicit, categorical niche it falls into attests to the way the beat-making genre, similarly to Romare Bearden’s photocollage, successfully attempts to resituate the black, urban experience into something more meaningful and genuine than its surface-level appeal.
For all of these reasons the beat-making genre is all I’ve found myself truly connected with in 2012. Trying to understand my identity and its relation to history, power and art—especially now in college as I continue to venture into the “Adult World”—is one that has been facilitated by the visual works of Bearden, and the musical works of beat-makers. It helps elucidate an aspect of the post-modern black experience—especially when complicated in cultures of affluence, wealth, and power (like my high school and like Columbia)—while holding firm the resolve to make peace between the often times contradicting fields of academia and “street-art”; a determination to move beyond the past while still acknowledging its present influence; to stop being creatively lazy in our approach to the world and in our understanding of it.
And so, and perhaps most importantly, appreciating these artists with and in relation to my peers across colors and cultures, shifting dialogue about race and its inclusion in art away from enervating, tiring, and often unhelpful dialectical framings of race as a matter of “black vs. white,” has helped create avenues through which we can understand art’s purpose in relation to race, culture, and history, and make the task of doing so a more unifying endeavor.
From my Black Intellectuals Class:
The New Negro movement spearheaded by Dr. Alain Locke tried to fashion a “New Negro” aimed at providing a new language for understanding and grounding the black experience. Locke argued that because the old modalities within which the black experience was framed an understood—those of the “The Sociologist, the Philanthropist, the Race-leader” (Locke, 3)—have been stripped away, a new, “younger generation is vibrant with a new psychology;” (Locke, 3) this new Negro psychology is one, as Locke understands, which “seems suddenly to have slipped from under the tyranny of social intimidation and to be shaking off the psychology of imitation and implied inferiority,” leading up to something Locke saw as “a spiritual emancipation.” (Locke, 5) But, sadly, this “New Negro” movement did not transpire into the full-fledged cultural renaissance Locke had hoped for it; the movement was marred by political dissidence, a failure to achieve (or even conceive of) true racial solidarity, and a failure to reconstruct what many as the black cultural capital—Harlem—from the ashes of its post-War ruins. There was another, more deeper problem affecting the black community and stunting its progression, sexuality, which, until the new modernist movements of the late 50s, with black intellectuals making real gains to understand the black body’s relationship to gender, sexuality, and the mind, stayed hidden underneath the black liberation struggle. In exposing how the evolution of sexuality’s inclusion within the black liberation struggle snuggly fits—or rather, is embedded—within the system of oppression that collectively oppressed blacks, we’ll find that the limiting of black sexual expression is the fundamental issue to the black community.
To understand the primary effects of stifling black sexual expression on the black community, we can look at James Baldwin, who, in his anecdotal accounts growing up as an effeminate, closeted gay boy in Harlem, retrospectively documents his accounts of his encounters with the depravity of Harlem, and the social problems they elucidate. In The Fire Next Time, Baldwin’s vision of Harlem is rife with depravity of the emotional, sexual, and political colors; it begins with accounts of Baldwin feeling as if he’s being auctioned off for sex—“Whose little boy are you?” one woman asked, which Baldwin understands to be “precisely the phrase used by the pimps and racketeers on the Avenue” (Baldwin, 28)—punishment, and contradiction. The infrastructural beam supporting Harlem, The Church, proved to be equally deceiving for Baldwin, engendering a perpetual feeling of “repentance for things [he] had vividly desired to do but had not done,” seeing himself as a “descendant of Ham, who had been cursed, and that [he] was therefore predestined to be a slave.” (Baldwin, 36) As Baldwin comes to terms with his sexuality and its complication with the church, his concern with power and his access to it is framed center to his experiences. This illustrates itself at the pivot in Baldwin’s life—when James’ father forbids him from seeing his best friend, a Jew, for fear he won’t be saved, he hits him, “[slamming] [James] across the face with his great palm.” (Baldwin, 37) From that moment, Baldwin has both a revelation and a summons to alternative action; he realized “all the hatred and all the fear and the depth of a merciless resolve to kill [his] father rather than allow [his] father to kill [him]” would become a centerpiece for his coming to terms with his sexuality, religion, and sexual shame. This dynamic, Baldwin posits, as an entrenched element of the black sexual experience.
In looking at the trends in black sexual expression, it’s necessary to look at how these oppressive and stifling social conditions manifest within the black psychology. Frantz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks, spear-headed research on blacks’ sexual psychology, using the mechanisms and expressions of sexual desire as proof, elucidators, and expressions of the condition of oppression through which blacks exist. This condition of oppression—both social and sexual—is invariably tied to what Fanon describes as the “inferiority complex.” In order to understand its affects on black sexual psychology accurately and holistically, we must look at the fundamental psychological processes that engender the dynamics of power that construct an “inferior” subject. By using the psycho-analytic rhetoric Fanon employs to elucidate the condition of the black sexual consciousness (and unconsciousness), we must look at the social construction, namely, the family, which prefigure trends present in broader sociological paradigms, and from there acutely chart the ways in which the black sexual experience is locked at the bottom of the social chain, and becomes the fulcrum around which the “racial problem”—and all its concomitant social supplements—rotates, manifests, and expresses itself.
But before we can explore this inferiority complex’ situation within the larger racial problem, we ought to first deconstruct the means by which the family prefigures this larger racial dilemma, and the dynamics of power the family structure supports and facilitates. Author and activist Angela Davis, in part of a series titled “Angela Davis, A Black Woman in the Liberation Struggle” discusses with Elaine Brown, Minister of Information of the Black Panther Party, the issue of women’s liberation, and its linkage to capitalism, restrictions to sexuality, and racism. In her dialogue with Brown, Davis frames the nature of women’s struggle as being inextricably tied to women’s access to the modes of production within a capitalistic society, opining that “women have been oppressed in the sense that they have been overwhelmingly excluded from the equal participation in the productive apparatus.” (Davis, 5) The specific figuring of the “relationship or the nonrelationship of the women to production”, Davis argues, is and “has been necessary in order to sustain an oppressive set of economic and political circumstances” (Davis, 5) which inevitably reinforce the subjugation of women through their lack of means to accrue material and social capital. As such, within this heterosexual capitalistic familial discourse, the woman is denied individual political and social agency, and her husband, resting as a dominant figure within this discourse as the sole proprietor within the heterosexual familial discourse, is isolated from the working class movement, and is thus distanced from the woman’s struggle.
The logics of power inscribed within the heterosexual family structure by their very definition perpetuate relationships of dominance and oppression along gender and socio-economic lines. But, when complicated with the issue of race, our understanding of the family and its relationship to sexuality is all the more difficult to demystify. As an expression of capitalistic necessity, the family structure invariably feeds off of the exploitation of labor along different axes of social organization. But in order to understand these paradigmatic logics’ relationship to sex and sexuality, we need not look further than the genesis of these power dynamics, the institution of slavery, to see how they express and manifest in relationship to blacks’ sexuality.
Black women, Davis notes, were not exclusively barred form the capitalistic modes of production as white women were, because the black woman “was also out in the fields, even when she had to carry her babies with her.” (Davis, 8) So, the capitalistic heterosexual family structure is a white one, and, wrapped into the logics of power that capitalism engenders and evince, become dependent upon the abuse and rape of black women’s sexuality to further instigate its success, and concurrently, break the black family.
If Davis claims that the capitalistic means of production that instigated slavery relied on the breaking of the black family, and from there divided slave labor along gender lines, black modes of sexual expression must too be broken, and thus codifies a shared system of oppression between black men and women from underneath differing occupational loci. Under slavery, black women “were forced to play the role of breeders,” and “mothers were also separated from their children” (Davis, 7); as such, black women’s’ sexuality was expressly linked to capitalistic means of production, and was executed through rape and violence. While black men were equally “rootless and often didn’t know who his children were,” (Davis, 7) his body was never objectified as a utilitarian measure for perpetuating paradigms of oppression and dominance; rather, rape, as an “institutionalized feature of the slave community,” (Davis, 8) divided equally between black men and women the burden of separation from the family” and did so through the exploitation of the black woman’s sexual apparatus—her mind and body. Expressly, the capitalistic white heterosexual family model is reliant upon the exploitation of black women’s sexuality for its stability and preservation, as well as the resultant destruction of the black family.
With this framework established, we’re now able to target the specific ways in which the psychology of African-Americans is able to exist (namely, as an inferior subject) in relation to a white supremacist society, and how this drama plays itself out most prominently with regard to the black sexuality. Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks, understands the white family to be “the workshop in which one is shaped and trained for life in society,” (Fanon, 115) and understands blacks as possessing the same capacity for being “trained” for integration into society outside of the family model. However, for the black, breaking away from the family means interacting with an Other—namely, the white society—and it’s this necessary dialectic that engenders his inferiority complex. In breaking ties with his familial roots for sake of integrating himself into a larger discourse, the black is made to choose between “his family and European society;” between becoming “the individual who climbs up into society—white and civilized,” or “reject[s] his family—black and savage.” (Fanon, 115) Embedded within this decision—to associate with one’s self and upbringing or to align one’s self in relation to access to social power and capital—is the added pressure of determining whether to make his relation to power a public or private affair; for regardless of his decision, the power dynamics underlying his experience in relation (or non-relation) to whites remain. Despite this, Fanon argues, “since the racial drama is played out in the open, the black man has no time to ‘make it unconscious,’” and, because he Negro carries his body with him forever, his “inferiority or superiority complex or his feeling of equality is conscious.” (Fanon, 116) And, as such, his very body becomes both a salient and defining marker of his difference.
While whites—or those who pass for white—can successfully make “unconscious” this racial drama “to a certain extent, because a new element appears: guilt,” it nevertheless cements the reality that the black corporeal figure—and all of its expressions—becomes a symptom of the racial problem, one that is perpetually reinserted into and complicates the public discourse through its very existence. It’s precisely this scenario—the elucidation of the racial hierarchy expressed through the black physical form—that positions black sexuality at the center of the racial problem, and facilitates the black man’s inferiority complex.
As a black filmmaker, I find that I wrestle with thoughts of ‘responsibility’; ‘who will see it’, ‘what impact will it have on the discourse in America’, ‘what images will I be projecting to our youth/to the world’. I’ve often noted, even in film school, white filmmakers don’t have that burden. They were free to write, to be, to create without thinking about this stuff. I’m certain they thought about other things but, the burden of race was not in their baggage. There is such a thing as privileged Art, privileged filmmaking. We see it in the current slate of insipid films coming out of Hollywood. Films that are not responsible or accountable to anyone or anything.
Django Unchained has sparked a lot of dialogue about the politics of race and its representations in mainstream American cinema, bearing questions regarding the racialization of medial consumption and its influence on modern day racial discourse and by golly am I jazzed.
What it boils down to is that I don’t need a smarmy self-entitled white boy past his artistic prime telling me how and under which conditions I should or ought to think, discuss, and handle issues of race. I’m not particularly concerned with Tarantino attempting to illuminate critical consciousness about our historically racist attitude towards blacks, how this was facilitated and catalyzed by the slave-trade and its ensuing and concomitant policies, regulations, and cultural prohibitions, primarily because I don’t think it’s his concern. If you don’t believe me, well, boop.
If a film-maker, however well-intentioned, does not take into account the implications of surrendering a large portion agency to an audience that will largely be comprised of white people and racists, and this oversight somehow takes a sour turn (as it has), then that film really hasn’t done anything progressive.
More specifically, if Tarantino cares more about his own artistic vision than the implications of the politicized histories he’s toying with in the typical revenge-porn fantasized Spaghetti-Western genre cum-Inglorious his white little feet are so deeply cemented in and the negative results they engender, then he is being an irresponsible white person. He’s expressly specializing his creative authority over the present and historically oppressive logics and implications of racism his film inspires.
Ding ding ding this does not help black people.
Tarantino very clearly does not actually give a damn about the condition of blacks in America, nor about how our status is affected (and has been affected!) by the choices of powerful yet stupid white people such as himself, the cinematic institution, and fucking America as a whole.
If you find yourself wanting to defend Tarantino’s right to make Django on the grounds that we shouldn’t censor art I would probably agree. If you want to defend Tarantino on the grounds that it’s refreshing to see such a bold critique of form play itself out with regard to a subject matter that is too often saturated in the typical Hollywood tear-jerking oeuvre of a feel-good family film or steeped in the similarly racist dogma it supposedly seeks to shy away from while spontaneously manifesting a white savior a la some Sandra Bullock nonsense, I would agree with severe hesitation.
If you want to defend the film because it’s including white people in the discussion of race, giving them the chance to talk and think critically about the matter, my response is I will never choose to engage with a white person—or any person, for that matter—about issues of racism and oppression by talking about a Jamie Foxx film. And based on the overwhelmingly slap-happy and uncritical response I’ve seen from white people across the board—I’d say you’re putting too much stock in white people’s capacity to think critically about race. And if you would like to retort arguing that black people use the word nigger, that black people find the movie well-made and funny, and that they too laughed offensively, get. away. from me.
The logic underlying all of these defenses belies the fact that what makes films tackling issues of race so intriguing and meaningful—when they so scarcely arise and when they are done well—is that their representation of the blackness, racism, or just the topic of race itself actually seeks to confer agency to the people who are and have been oppressed. If Django doesn’t help black people develop an agency and understanding of black identity that doesn’t rely on the validation or appeasement of the dominant and white critical consciousness, then it’s not helpful in adjusting racialized power dynamics in such a way that will elevate blacks out from under a white supremacist system. If a film can not do this then it is not subversive, and betrays a morally corrupt, voyeuristic fascination with its subjects.
I personally would rather not be bound by the conventions of the film, the restrictions of its fictitious characters and narrative, and the context this film creates in being an art object when trying to talk about racism. These conventions are restricting and limit our ability to talk about racism unbound by the intentions and manifest context of white arbiters of taste and relevance, directors and writers. This is an epistemological barricade tired in its ability to pop up at every point in history when blacks have tried to elucidate and illuminate the nature of our oppression, and distracting from the fact that we are not actually helping to solve the racial problem. It also seems to ignore the fact that if a black person were to write their own Django (as I’m sure has been tried!), no one would fucking buy it!