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NewBlackMan (in Exile)

The Digital Home for Mark Anthony Neal

Updated: 2018-01-15T11:28:14.379-05:00


“But don't wait to jump in too long” by Mark Anthony Neal


Hughie Lee Smith -- "Desert Forms" (1957) “But don't wait to jump in too long” by Mark Anthony Neal | @NewBlackMan | NewBlackMan (in Exile) “You never have time for anything” my 15-year-old daughter chides me with regards to something that has nothing to do with her.  My retort, “I have time for you” is met with a defiant “really?”.  She and I both know that it’s not about the car rides to school in the morning, or the trips to Barnes & Noble and Five Below; she has always demanded more than I could give, and more than her older sister was willing to ask for -- and more than her mother, my wife, knows to ever expect. A recent Pew Researchsurvey suggest that a majority of American Fathers (63%) believe that they spend too little time with their children.  As nearly a quarter of American fathers are not in residence with their children (under the age of 17), such sentiments should not be surprising. Yet the data also captures that such concerns are shared by fathers, who live with their children; I am one of those men. Among the more disturbing data that is revealed in the Pew Research poll is that nearly half of all Black fathers did not live with their children, a rate that is nearly three times that of their White peers.  Of course such data doesn’t reveal the quality of parenting that Black fathers engage, as there are myriad ways in which fathers, and Black fathers in particular, co-parent without living in the household of their children’s mothers.  Indeed we are witnessing a generation of Black men so traumatized by the idea of the absent Black father -- reproduced ad nauseum in popular culture -- that they are simply better fathers than they will ever be partners. I know for myself, the idea of not being available to my children has produced a constant anxiety.  To be sure, my own father was a regular presence in my life, he was my first intellectual interlocutor, and I expected to see him return home every night, which he did without fail.  Yet he was also among generations of Black men who understood their primary duty to be that of a provider, and he did that without fail, often six days a week.   The Sunday mornings when my father was home, cooking breakfast, singing along with The Mighty Clouds of Joy, were precious to me, but in retrospect it didn’t make him any more emotionally or physically available to me. I’ve learned more about who my father was in the world listening to his old records a decade now after his death. As a father, I was hell bent on being as available as possible to my own children. The bourgeois dreams of a working class kid from the Bronx perhaps; like my father, I am not sure I have been any more available to my daughters than he was to me.  While I can no longer count the number of  school plays, dance recitals,  softball games and swim meets that I attended in support of my daughters -- as much of the by-product of the hyper-programmed lives we’ve bequeathed our children -- it doesn’t mean I have been any more attentive as a father as my dad, who literally never attended my extracurricular activities -- or my college graduation -- because of the responsibilities of making a living. My daughter gives me that look that should be a meme that says “my dad trying to sing that high-pitched line ‘But don't wait to jump in too long’ from Miguel’s ‘Sky Walker’”; it has become my way to remind her that I know what will make her laugh, that I am paying attention to her, often to break the intensity of our conversations in the car -- a metaphor for our changing relationship. NPR, ESPN radio, Sirius XM Radio 49 be damned, I’m trapped in the car again for 15 minutes to be bombarded by everything she has been storing to share with me from hours before;  it is exhausting, and she knows it -- it’s how she gets my attention. Like her older sister, my daughter’s days riding shotgun in the car will become a thing of the past, and no doubt like her older sister, I will lament n[...]

Luvvie Ajayi: Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable


'Luvvie Ajayi isn't afraid to speak her mind or to be the one dissenting voice in a crowd, and neither should you. "Your silence serves no one," says the writer, activist and self-proclaimed professional troublemaker. In this bright, uplifting talk, Ajayi shares three questions to ask yourself if you're teetering on the edge of speaking up or quieting down -- and encourages all of us to get a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.' -- TED

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#InspiringWomen: Rakia Reynolds, Founder & CEO: Skai Blue Media


'Rakia Reynolds, founder and CEO of PR company Skai Blue Media, has worked with and been inspired by clients such as Serena Williams, Ashley Graham and the hashtag #1000blackgirlbooks. She shares strategies and insights on being a mother, breaking through as an entrepreneur and embracing her identity as a black woman.' -- American Masters PBS

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Black America: Getting to the Root with Danielle Belton


'Award-winning blogger, former print journalist, screenwriter, political and social commentator, creator of the pop culture and politics blog, and Managing Editor of, Danielle Belton sits down with Black America host Carol Jenkins to discuss the Root's 100 most influential African-Americans.'

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Lorraine Hansberry Speaks out with "sighted eyes and feeling heart" Against Injustice


'As A Raisin in the Sun broke new ground on Broadway, Lorraine Hansberry raised her voice for activism. In this clip, from Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, Hansberry is heard delivering the keynote address at the  First Conference of Negro Writers.' -- American Masters PBS

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Carrie Mae Weems is taking on America’s History of Violence


'Multimedia artist Carrie Mae Weems hosted a day of music, art and talk in a public event called “The Shape of Things,” exploring America’s history of violence. Jeffrey Brown reports from New York about what inspired Weems to take on the project and what message the group of 50 artists wants to send.' -- PBS NewsHour
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Professors William 'Sandy' Darity & Darrick Hamilton Suggest 'Baby Bonds' Could Fix Widening Inequality In The U.S.


'"Baby Bonds" are back in the news. Two professors, William 'Sandy' Darity & Darrick Hamilton, presented their idea to do something about widening inequality to an economics conference. They suggest creating an education trust fund for each newborn. The grants — ranging from $500 to $50,000 — would be on a sliding scale tied to household income.' -- NPR

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Histories of Racial Capitalism: Urban Renewal, Racial Segregation, and Redevelopment


'Destin Jenkins, Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor and incoming Assistant Professor of U.S. History at the University of Chicago, joins the New Dawn Podcast to discuss the emergence of histories of racial capitalism. Jenkins insightfully examines the role of the state in the displacement of people of color and the accumulation and distribution of wealth in San Francisco.'

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BUILD: Taraji P. Henson Discusses "Proud Mary"


'Taraji P. Henson is Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes bad. Henson takes the BUILD stage to talk all about her new movie,  Proud Mary.'

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Sidney Poitier, Lloyd Richard and Ruby Dee reflect on The Groundbreaking Broadway Casting of Lorraine Hansberry's 'A Raisin in the Sun'


'Sidney Poitier, Lloyd Richard and Ruby Dee reflect on the unprecedented casting of Black actors in the Broadway debut of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun.

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Explore the inner life and works of the activist, playwright and author of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry. Narrated by actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson and featuring the voice of Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as Hansberry. Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart Premieres Friday, January 19, at 9/8c.

Joshua Clark Davis: “From Head Shops To Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs"


'In the 1970s, independent bookstores, local food co-ops and credit unions shaped a new consumer landscape that was as much about protest as it was about purchase.  In his new book “From Head Shops To Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs” (Columbia University Press/2017) history professor and author Joshua Clark Davis digs into the unique environment that led to the rise and demise of these businesses. Host Frank Stasio talks with Davis about the storefronts that gave physical presence to social movements and how today’s corporations appropriated the language of protest they propagated.'
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Golden Globes Fade to Black to Protest #MeToo; But for Black Working Men Dressing for Success Always a High-Stakes Scenario


Golden Globes Fade to Black to Protest #MeToo; But for Black Working Men Dressing for Success Always a High-Stakes Scenario by Jackson F. Brown | @JacksonFBrown | special to NewBlackMan (in Exile) Of course, Hollywood would protest its own structural inequality with a retreat to sartorial conservatism. So don’t be confused by the all-black garb worn by men at Sunday’s Golden Globes. Far from a nod to tradition, black symbolizes solidarity with the (mostly) women who’ve highlighted the film industry’s rampant sexual misconduct in recent months—capping off 2017’s wildfire #MeToo movement with the safest fashion diktat possible. Donald Glover and David Oyelowo best stash those fashion-forward brown velvet Gucci and printed, purple D&G numbers from Globes past back in their respective closets and dust off the penguin suits. Trust that the irony won’t be lost on black male professionals facing their own sartorial dilemma outside Tinseltown. While the Mark Zuckerbergs and Tim Cooks of the world sport hoodies and Nikes to the office and sartorial standards across industries likewise trend toward the casual, it would appear that many a black male administrator, donning traditional dark suits, tie pins, and pocket squares, has missed the memo. The optics of one’s leadership—especially for black male leaders in primarily white institutions—most certainly matter, but at this critical sartorial moment, a reality check is in order: dressing too formally for one’s occupational context turns otherwise respectable attire into a spectacle. Encountering a black male professional in, for example, innumerable college towns across the U.S. can be as rare as finding a black male lead in a Hollywood rom-com. And as 2009’s Henry Louis Gates, Jr. arrest-tuned-Beer-Summit incident suggests, it’s no secret black professionals face disproportionate scrutiny and challenges to their legitimacy in the face of these demographics. On some level, fastidiously keeping the bowtie symmetrical and a lint roller on standby are as much measures of self-preservation as preening. Let’s not forget, “dressing for success” in the Zuckerberg sense produced a fatal outcome for Trayvon. To fellow black males, the motivation for this trend is clear. Formal attire makes a readily legible claim about one’s respectability and legitimacy in the way the mustache served for an earlier generation of black men as a symbol of their manhood, particularly in light the Jim Crow custom of labeling black men as “boys.” In our current moment, however, such black male claims to legitimacy are valid yet inconsequential if they are made at the expense of a broader acceptance of black men in our workplaces and communities. After all, whether organizing a Black Student Association solidarity march or managing an academic office, to which even professors arrive in Polos and denim, neither job necessarily requires a cashmere sport jacket or a herringbone vest. In fact, overly formal fashion runs the risk of not only socially isolating black males from their more business-casual-inclined colleagues (“He thinks he’s too good for this job.”) but also creating a relational gulf between black males and their primary clients—on university campuses, students. “Dressing for success” in the conventional sense could, in other words, actually hinder one’s job performance and career objectives and prospects. Certainly, professionals chasing the dream of a corner office in an executive suite should dress to look the part if they are so inclined. And, for college instructors, study after study has indeed indicated a correlation between students’ initial perception of faculty members’ credibility, competence and knowledgeability and the[...]

Blackness in Sequence by Mark Anthony Neal


Blackness in Sequence by Mark Anthony Neal | @NewBlackMan | NewBlackMan (in Exile) In December of 2017, Kendrick Lamar released a vinyl collector’s edition of his critically acclaimed album Damn., but unlike the original release, the collector’s edition was sequenced in reverse order. Given the flexibility that digital music platforms allow, some fans had already experimented with the reverse sequencing, leading off with the 9th Wonder produced “Duckworth” instead of “Blood.” Lamar admitted to The Independent (UK), “I don’t think the story necessarily changes, I think the feel changes. You listen from the back end, and it’s almost the duality and the contrast of the intricate Kendrick Lamar. Both of these pieces are who I am." (Aug 2017)  Lamar’s further admission that sequencing is “something that we definitely premeditate while we’re in the studio" highlights how important song order (what I'm referring to here as sequencing) remains  for artists in an era where technology allows listeners to easily shuffle song order or skip songs that they don’t like; it is not unusual to hear young folk say that there are more than a few songs they have never listened to on an album, simply because they don’t have to.That Lamar released the reverse sequenced version of Damn. as a vinyl album is not insignificant; the genius and limitation of vinyl is in the difficulties associated with skipping songs and the impossibility of changing sequence.  Lamer was, in essence, forcing some listeners to experience the album as he might have originally intended it.The sequencing of an album was something that I took for granted as I began to consciously seek out music as a child. Though my home was filled with my father’s vinyl collection -- largely made up of Gospel quartets and quintets like the Soul Stirrers and Mighty Clouds of Joy, and Blues and Jazz artists like B.B. King, Jimmy Smith, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Jimmy McGriff -- my mother’s platform of choice was the 8-Track cassette, a long obscure format, whose popularity in automobiles and home stereo systems peaked as I was growing up in the early 1970s.Though the 8-track offered a kind of portability that albums didn’t -- The Columbia House mail-order service exploded in the late 1960s and 1970s because of that portability -- and you didn’t have to worry about damaging records (the reason why I was never allowed close my father’s turntable), the 8-Track format had several clunky conventions, such as the changing of its four channels during the midst of songs, or that sequencing sometimes had to be jumbled to allow for songs to fit neatly into the format.It was via the 8-Track format that I first listened to the Jackson 5’s second album ABC(released in May of 1970) -- the aptly titled Third Album, released in September of 1970 is the first vinyl album I ever bought -- which began my childhood love-affair with the Jackson 5. Yet because of the quirkiness of the album sequencing of 8-tracks, the first track I heard from the album was “La La Means I Love You”, which opens the 4th channel. “La La Means I Love” -- a cover of a Thom Bell produced classic from the Delfonics --  remains one of my favorite Jackson 5 songs, in large part, because of my initial listening experience; one would never start an album halfway through side B, which is where the song appears on vinyl.  Years later when I purchased the album in the compact disc (CD) format, I was in fact shocked that the album didn’t start with the Delfonics cover.To be sure Berry Gordy had little interest in the sequencing of Motown releases in the 1960s and early 1970s, as he was trying succeed in an industry that was not driven[...]

Ijeoma Oluo: Black Women and the #MeToo Movement


'Seattle-based writer, speaker and Internet yeller Ijeoma Oluo joined Rebecca Carroll for a live taping of her podcast pilot Black Folks at The Greene Space at WNYC.  Oluo was named of of the most influential people in Seattle, by Seattle Magazine. She's the Editor-At-Large at The Establishment - a media platform run and funded by women. Her new book  is So You Want to Talk about Race.'

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Over | Under: Erykah Badu Rates Aliens, Period Tracker Apps, and Porky Pig


'On this episode of Over | Under, Erykah Badu also rates landlines, airline safety videos, Fred Flintstone, and more in this episode of Over/Under.'

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"Glowing Lines: Odili Donald Odita in Durham"


'"Glowing Lines: Odili Donald Odita in Durham" follows abstract painter Odili Donald Odita and his technical team as they conceive, develop and complete two monumental murals commissioned by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. In addition to creating a poetic portrait of the artist and his process, "Glowing Lines" also features some of Odita’s most exceptional murals, including "Rise" at Yale University, "Forever" at the New Orleans Museum of Art and "Light and Vision" at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City. "Glowing Lines: Odili Donald Odita in Durham" offers a glimpse into the kaleidoscopic world that is Odita’s and reveals his conceptual practice and concern for the social issues of our day. "Glowing Lines: Odili Donald Odita" in Durham was produced by On Look Films.' 

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Black America: Family Pictures with Thomas Allen Harris


'On this episode of Black America, host  Carol Jenkins sits down with the award and fellowship winning director and producer Thomas Allen Harris. He discusses his work behind such projects as the film Through A Lens Darkly and the forthcoming television series Family Pictures.'

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"Bits of Borno": A Conversation with Photographer Fati Abubakar


'Photographer Fati Abubakar has embarked on a personal project to showcase her hometown in Borno State, Nigeria, in the time of Boko Haram. "Bits of Borno" on social media has gained critical acclaim and has been covered in media outlets including the New York Times, the BBC, Reuters, CNN, Voice of America, Newsweek Europe, Africa is a Country, and Nigerian newspapers such as ThisDay and The Blueprint. On October 25, 2017, Abubakar spoke with Duke Professor Samuel Fury Childs Daly at the Forum for Scholars and Publics about documenting everyday life in Borno and shared some of the photographs from this series."

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"What We Need More of is Rebellious Behavior": Rosa Clemente on Resistance and Puerto Rican Independence


'BRIC TV Senior Correspondent Brian Vines and activist Rosa Clemente discuss how her home island of Puerto Rico is dealing with the impact of Hurricane Maria -- and the ongoing struggle to achieve Puerto Rican independence.'

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Tate Talks -- Kahlil Joseph & Arthur Jafa: In Conversation


'To celebrate Tate Modern's Soul of a Nation exhibition Tate invited Kahlil Joseph and Arthur Jafa to discuss their careers and influences with curator Zoe Whitley, alongside a special presentation and discussion of the photography of Roy DeCarava by curator Mark Godfrey.' -- Tate Talks

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Wayne Shorter: Artist In Residence At The Detroit Jazz Festival


'Wayne Shorter didn't release any new music in 2017. But that's not to say the eminent saxophonist, composer and NEA Jazz Master had anything less than a banner year. In the spring he returned to Newark, for the first time in ages, as the honored guest of a festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He turned up as a sage witness in two notable documentary films, I Called Him Morgan and Chasing Trane. And over Labor Day weekend he was artist in residence at the Detroit Jazz Festival, the largest free outdoor event of its kind in the country.' -- NPR Music

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MacArthur 'Genius' Njideka Akunyili Crosby Paints Nigerian Childhood Alongside Her American Present


'Visual artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 34, is having a moment. In 2017, she won a MacArthur "genius" grant, and over the past few months her work has been shown in Baltimore, New Orleans and upstate New York. Akunyili Crosby was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States when she was 16. Many of her works contain a sort of portal between figures, like an open space in a wall, and she often paints members of her family.' -- NPR

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Alice Smith: Black Mary – A Film by Kahlil Joseph


Kahlil Joseph: "I have a pure obsession with Alice Smith. A lot of people do. When she sings, especially live, she goes places very few people I've ever seen live can create . . . there's a lot of pain and soul in her songs . . . it's formed by everything (that's happened in the last 400 hundred years or so*) . . . a kind of a cry, it feels like a cry . . ." 

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"Who's Afraid of the New Now?": Faith Ringgold and Sharon Hayes in Conversation


In celebration of the New Museum's 40th anniversary, the institution hosted "Who's Afraid of the New Now?" featuring 40 artists.  In this segment artist Faith Ringgold and Sharon Hayes are in conversation.

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Refined Players: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah + Vic Mensa Perform "Freedom is a Word"


'In this final episode of the Refined Players Series the band, with leader  Christian Scott aTunde Adjua and Vic Mensa,  heads to the historic Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana to debut their new song "Freedom is a Word."

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