Are artists obligated to be activists? For Amiri Baraka, the answer was yes. Baraka, born Everett LeRoi Jones in 1934, first became known for establishing the Black arts movement in the mid 1960s. He imagined the movement as an attempt to be Black in form, accessible to Black people, and so effective it could be used as a weapon against racism. In further support of this movement he set up the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS) in Harlem with an aim at advancing the Cultural Revolution.
“Pretty. Period.” is a trans-media project created as a visual tribute to brown skin. The blog features portraits submitted by women who see themselves as part of the movement, it also includes contributions from photographers all over the world. Doctor Yaba Blay‘s project is a response to the current colorism dialogue, celebrating beauty in every shade. Dr. Blay’s states, “While there is so much to say when it comes to dark-skinned beauty, I really want to focus on the PERIOD in ‘Pretty. Period.’ No explanations. No defense. Just pretty.”
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 17, 2014
Simultaneously, on opposite ends of the world, protests in Ferguson, Missouri and Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, signify the ground zero of polarized political movement—the demand for democracy upheld by civil and human rights. The movements in Ferguson and Hong Kong are primarily youth-led and organized, a focal point not lost in media and supporters of radical struggle. Their objectives dictate a call to accountability and action. Sparked by the killing of unarmed African American 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, activists in Ferguson have engaged in ongoing protests to counter police bias and violence against Blacks and Latinos. In the wake of a succession of unjust murders at the hands of law enforcement officers, organizations are leading the way to reform in Ferguson including The Organization for Black Struggle, Hands Up United, and Millennial Activists United, among a host of social, political and religious supporting allies.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 14, 2014
Is freedom merely enough? That was a question for most Black people in the United States in 19th and 20th centuries. Harlem had become the destination for most African Americans in the early 1900s. They were looking to find a way to achieve equality and civil rights. With a stronger community in Harlem, Black residents started a movement in 1910 to fight for their American rights. Uniquely, this movement was inspired by various works by Black artists: Three Plays for a Negro Theater, Claude McKay’s If We Must Die, poems by Langston Hughes, and others.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 13, 2014
What is Afrofuturism?
In 1909 Filipo Tommaso Marinetti launched the Italian Futurist movement in his Futurist Manifesto. Among its many principles, FT Marinetti and his fellow futurists sought to make people producers of their society rather than just consumers. They were obsessed with the idea of stretching the imagination, robots, technology and war. They wanted to destroy libraries, schools, museums, and all history in hopes that society would cleanse itself.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 10, 2014
Progressive Pupil is looking forward to celebrating the autonomy of Indigenous Peoples in November and we need your help! Artists, teachers, activists, local business leaders, we want to hear your stories about working for racial justice in your community and share your struggles and triumphs with our readership. Essays, photo journals, film reviews and creative fiction are all welcome. Please limit submissions to 750 words or less and include at least one photo or video. Send submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 8, 2014
Shoot the Messenger is a BBC film written by Sharon Foster and directed by Ngozi Onwurah. The film aired in 2006, receiving a mixed reception. The film is an extremely provocative story that follows a young Black man in his own experience with racial self-hatred. It is clear that the filmmakers consider negative stereotypes a realistic hurdle to be crossed and shamelessly embrace them. However, if the satirically negative outlook of the film can be tolerated, there may be some worthwhile messages to absorb, including an analysis of the prison system in the U.K. and its treatment of Black citizens.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 6, 2014
When I first walked into Arnold Hall on 55 West 13th St, one of the first things that caught my eye was the fluid motion of black and white shapes on the wall near the staircase. Upon closer inspection, I immediately recognized these forms as animated figures falling down a long tunnel. A site-specific creation, Kara Walker’s Event Horizon was her first public art installation commissioned by The New School as part of a commitment to create new art within its public spaces in 2005. It is a piece that takes up the left and right walls of the staircase entirely and provides visual movement as the viewer walks up and down.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 3, 2014
When I saw the epic fashion photo spread featuring Rihanna, Iman and Naomi Campbell in W magazine, I immediately connected the gold earrings by French luxury fashion house Balmain (pictured above, $850) and the bamboo earrings I coveted at Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall when I was growing up.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on October 1, 2014