Janelle Monae/Audre Lorde

“…we must move against not only those forces which dehumanize us from the outside, but also against those oppressive values which we have been forced to take into ourselves” (Lorde, 2)

For this blog post, I primarily want to deal with this quote from the Lorde piece we read. There is a lot to take in, both in Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae and “Learning from the 60s” by Audre Lorde, so I figured it was best to concentrate on one connection for a brief blog post.

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Snead/Space is the Place

For this weeks post, I wanted to expand upon what I began last week about Sun Ra’s Space is the Place, which was about the depiction of white and black men in the film. However, now I would like to discuss how the movie reflects Snead’s ideas about repetition in black and white cultures from Black Literature and Literary Theory (a concept I am particularly interested in). In Space is the Place, science and technology play key roles, but they are represented in various ways. Sun Ra often discusses his own science. For example, his theory of “transmolecularization” as a way to transport black people to his planet. This theory itself stands as an example of the concept in black culture; Snead asserts “[i]n black culture, the thing (the ritual, the dance, the beat) is ‘there for you to pick it up when you come back to get it’. If there is a goal in such a culture, it is always deferred; it continually ‘cuts’ back to the start…” (Snead, 67). While Ra’s science may be an advance, it is still done with the notion of the “cut” in mind; one of Sun Ra’s goals is to ultimately transport black people back to a time before the taint of the white society on black culture, and the new science helps accomplish this.

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White Men and Power in Space is the Place

In Space is the Place, I noticed the idea of material/earthly desires versus Sun Ra’s “altered destiny”. Although this was shown in many different ways, it seemed especially interesting that earthy desire seemed to be a majorly white concept. Sun Ra was on the planet to reconnect black people of Earth with the natural. He was only doing this for black people, which implied that this connection to naturality (shown partially through his music) is a black concept itself.

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Modern Music and Afrofuturism

One of my long-time favorite bands is Gorillaz. They’ve been making music since the 1990s, and the word I’ve most often used to describe them is “experimental”. They feature many different artists on their albums; the one that actually made me want to discuss them for this prompt was Grace Jones, who was featured on one of their more recent albums, Humanz. I’ve enjoyed the bands music for years, and although the reviews for Humanz were mixed, I’m listening to it as I type. The band has definitely experimented with hip hop before, but Humanz featured hip hop artists I enjoy independently: Vince Staples, Vic Mensa, and Pusha T, to name a few. The way the band uses not only hip hop, but pop, electronica, and alternative rock can create sounds unlike any other. The minds behind the band are two white men from England named Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (although Albarn is the primary artist). Yet here lies another unique aspect of the band; they do not use their own faces. The official band has four members, all nonexistent fictional characters with their own stories. The actual human minds behind the music are almost completely nonexistent, and the characters serve as the real face of the group.

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Langston Hughes and Afrofuturism

Afrofuturism is hard to explicitly define. Wikipedia defines it as using “…science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentrism and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique the present-day dilemmas of black people and to interrogate and re-examine historical events”. By this definition, Langston Hughes practices parts of this himself in one of the poems we read this weekend. He writes “[d]reams and nightmares…dreaming that the negroes of the South have taken over- voted all the Dixiecrats right out of power- comes the colored hour: Martin Luther King is Governor of Georgia, Dr. Rufus Clement his chief advisor, Zelma Watson George the High Grand Worthy. In white pillard mansions sitting on their wide verandas, wealthy negroes have white servants, white sharecroppers work the black plantations, and colored children have white mammies…”(Ask Your Mama, pages 91-92). In a way, this does what a part of afrofuturism aims to do, but without a sci-fi or fantasy theme. Continue reading “Langston Hughes and Afrofuturism”

Liberia’s Response to Hegel

When the question is “what did you find most confusing about this poem?”, I imagine most of us could come up with more than just one line. One line I was particularly confused by was “Liberia? No oil-boiled Barabas, No Darwin’s bulldog for ermined flesh, no braggart Lamech, no bema’s Ananias…” Even after reading the analysis at the end, and doing some google searches of my own, I cannot seem to figure out this statement. “Oil-boiled Barabas” was a man in the bible, killed by oil. “Darwin’s bulldog” refers to Thomas Huxley, an English biologist who supported Darwin’s theory of evolution. “Ermined flesh”, on the other hand, refers to the fur of a weasel. Lamech is a descendent of Cain, the biblical figure who killed his brother Abel out of jealousy. Ananias was a member of the early Christian church in Jerusalem, and a bema is the altar area in an Orthodox church. While I gathered all these definitions, I still cannot figure out what the author is saying. Continue reading “Liberia’s Response to Hegel”

Hegel’s Hypocrisy

“Slavery is in and of itself injustice, for the essence of humanity is freedom; but for this man must be matured…”

Hegel’s main argument in the piece is captured here; while slavery is wrong, black people are not consciously mature enough to live freely, and thus must be enslaved for their own sake. One of his key points is the concept of man over God. On page 151, he writes “…Herodotus called the Negroes sorcerers:-now in Sorcery we have not the idea of a God, of a moral faith: it exhibits him as alone occupying a position of command over the power of Nature”. Continue reading “Hegel’s Hypocrisy”