BLACK LIVES MATTER
It's not enough to be not racist, you must actively be anti racist.
– Angela Davis
If we—and I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world.
– James Baldwin
As we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and seek to educate ourselves, we wanted to share a little of what we've been reading and watching, and the people we've been following. We have so much to learn.
We have been re-reading Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, a powerful, illuminating, often confronting exploration of what is to be a person of colour in Britain today. From eradicated black history, to the political purpose of white dominance, white feminism, and the link between race and class: this is essential reading. About Race, Eddo-Lodge's podcast series continues the conversation with key figures from the last few decades of anti-racist activism in Britain. A look back at the recent history that has lead to the politics of today.
On our bedside tables: Beloved by Toni Morrison, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House by Audre Lorde (included within Your Silence Will Not Protect You which we wrote about here), Invisible Man by Ralph Waldo Ellison, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis, The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, Ain't I A Woman: Black Women & Feminism by bell hooks, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, White Teeth and On Beauty by Zadie Smith, The Good Immigrant compiled by Nikesh Shukla.
Ava DuVernay’s 13th takes its title from the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution which abolished slavery but left a loophole, allowing involuntary servitude to be used as a punishment for crime. The film presents the direct correlation between slavery, convict leasing, segregation and what is happening now: the mass incarceration of people of colour within the United States. A mix of interviews, archival footage and searing facts and figures, there will be some things you knew about already, others you maybe didn't, but seeing the way all these pieces fit together gives a whole new perspective. Incredible in all senses.
Rediscovered and compiled 30 years after its footage was shot The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Mubi writes, 'though told from an outsider perspective, is a revelatory portrait of American systemic racism that is sadly of the utmost relevance today.' It is at its most compelling when it focuses on individuals: Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael in particular. Don't miss Davis' answers to the Swedish journalist while awaiting trial in prison in 1972. Agnès Varda's Black Panthers has a similar broad focus, filmed within the same time period, but with a distinctly Varda empathy.
We always love Le Cinéma Club's weekly free film screenings. This week it's Integration Report 1 by Madeline Anderson, the first known documentary by an African American female director. Succinct but encompassing, the footage Anderson has compiled is an important record of desegregation efforts across America in 1959 and 1960 and of civil rights activism in general. Next week, Le Cinéma Club screens another of Anderson's films, I Am Somebody, 'a vivid, intimate, and on-the-ground account of a historic nurses' strike.'
Until the end of June, Criterion Collection have removed the subscription paywall from those films that 'focus on the dreams, struggles, desires, and art of black characters and real life subjects.' We loved Daughters of the Dust and Black Mother and look forward to watching more.