What a night. Regina King, Best Supporting Actress winner and
Ruth Carter for Costume Design and Hannah Bleachler for Production Design and
Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor and
Spike Lee for Best Adapted Screenplay! About time on the Oscar tip (School Daze and Mo’ Betta, my all-time favorites from you.) Hats off to Barry Jenkins for directing If Beale Street Could Talk, for which King won her own first Oscar, and yes
Bao, that adorable animated short (To all the nerdy girls out there who hide behind their sketchbooks, tell your stories to the world). As a professor who loves using film, video and song in her classes, I am smiling ear to ear. I am also smiling because this is the first day in days I have felt almost better after a nasty flu and bout with allergies.
I am, indeed, feeling fearless, after crossing paths with wonderful souls in the past week, among them one who purchased a painting I made early this century at a gallery that once repped me in New Orleans. It’s titled “Harriet and Oz.” (#tubman #easeondowntheroad).
And I smile because I have had a moment to reconnect with a 2005 choreopoem I directed and choreographed for my very first graduate program. I worked with six amazing dancers who were also my classmates.
I feel so privileged to have the historical context to better tell our stories, creatively and otherwise. Forever grateful to my shero Harriet, Zora, Eartha and Ntozake, among others. Sounds like an Oscar speech. It’s that kind of night for us. And in a week when my grad students turn to Hettie Jones’ biography. Humph.
Already, I am feeling tensions between this biography about Hettie Cohen Jones, a Jewish writer from Queens who married the African American poet-activist Amiri Baraka when he was still Leroi Jones and Lauren Elkin’s study on the flaneuse, but also Imani Perry’s attention to the radicalism of Lorraine Hansberry, two of our earlier readings.
What all will the students hear, see, feel as they read about the Beatnik scene of which she was a part? How does she continue to push our thinking on whiteness and womanhood? And humanity. And loss. And hate. And love.
And the urban space.
“I’d been recommended to silence often,” writes Jones. I hear you.
With whom does she hold hands? Here in the States and elsewhere? For possible answers, we should consider the jazz music being released when Miss Hettie was coming into her own in New York in the early sixties. Jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln’s performance below with a band that includes her former husband Max Roach is a good starting place.
Wakanda! Brooklyn! Yes, back to the Oscars.