documentary

what happened miss simone? out on netflix

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1950:  Photo of Nina Simone  Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Imageswith people around the world uniting for the black lives matter movement, this summer is the perfect time to celebrate one of the greatest musicians and revolutionaries of the 20th century. what happened, miss simone? was released on netflix friday and is an intimate view into the nina simone’s life.  using previously unreleased footage, letters and interviews with close family and friends, the singer-songwriter’s words and life are just as relevant now as they were the day dr. martin luther king jr. was murdered.

at 93, iris apfel is styled for the gawds

“you will never be pretty, but you have something much more important. style.”

revolutionary style icon and interior designer iris apfel remembers these words from a friend in the documentary iris, coming to dc this friday. at 93, she’s remarkable and irreverent, a true artist who uses accessories as her medium.  just catching a sneak peek of her style in the trailer below made me sick with anticipation!

light girls documentary

colorism, noun: discrimination against a person of color due to the european standard of beauty (e.g., light skin, thin lips, loosely coiled hair). this condition is most frequently present between those of the same race.

lightdarkpeople of color around the world grapple with colorism as a harmful by-product of racism.  the mere fact that black folks categorize each other by hue reeks of the internalized oppression that teaches people of color that the lighter among us are the most attractive and that features which resemble our native ancestry are undesirable. according to clutch magazine, oprah’s own network may be tackling the light skin versus dark skin debate once again with a new documentary by bill duke entitled light girls. after watching dark girls last year, i think it’s time a more nuanced perspective is added to this discussion– we have the tendency to invalidate the experiences of those whose features fit more squarely within the european standard of beauty.

it wasn’t until a conversation about this topic among black women a few years ago that i realized light skin sisters didn’t have it “easier.”  one of the women shared stories about being taunted and bullied by classmates and another spoke about feeling isolated from her family and friends.  both commented on people’s perception that they’re conceited because of their skin color and hair texture, an assumption that has made it difficult for them to form friendships.  hearing them speak was the first time i stepped outside of my pain and realized how oppression has no favorites.  light, dark or somewhere in the middle, we’re all struggling to love ourselves at the hands of a divisive system.

read raquel wilkerson’s thoughts on how colorism cuts both ways here.

Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots

uprising: hip hop and the la riots is a documentary set to air on vh1 on may 1st.  the film explores the 1992 beating of rodney king by white police offers in los angeles, california and the riot  rebellion that engulfed the city after all officers were acquitted of his heinous beating caught on videotape.

the trailer below is especially meaningful today as we remember trayvon martin, the black teenager gunned down by a white man in sanford, florida.  although his killer has confessed, the sanford police department has not charged him with murder.  time and time again we’re reminded that black lives are valueless.