This is part two of my discourse with the writer, Patrick A. Howell, author of Dispatches from the Vanguard: The Global International African Arts Movement versus Donald J. Trump (Repeater Books).
Patrick A. Howell: I’m so glad that you took it there Jordannah—representation matters. And as a group, the folk of African descent have less than 10% of their stories told, actually, it’s probably less than 1%. What an incredible business opportunity! That’s a big part of why I closed the doors on my profitable investor relations business to co-found Victory & Noble, a storytelling company. I see us massively distorted in the propagandist white supremacist industrial complex called Hollywood (founded nearly 100 years ago by D.W. Griffith in his seminal racist film “Birth of a Nation”).
There is a trend in the culture though. A huge ink blotch and a few dots against an empty canvass. That’s what “Black Panther’s” 2018 $1.34 billion means. Doesn’t matter whether the shows are on the big screen or streaming on laptops and smartphones. “Black Panther,” “Watchmen,” “Moonlight,” “BlacKkKlansman” “Get Out,” “Creed” or “Lovecraft Country” are those high culture watermarks plotting to an inevitable conclusion. What’s new in the hood––HA!
By and large, production studios headed by white ownership and C-level executive production teams have a one-track mind––actually, it’s a two-trick mindset––either Boys in the Hood Pt. 20,543 or Roots Pt. 1,029,395. It’s boring, programmatic, propagandistic. It is not profitable. John’s Singleton’s opus “Boyz in the Hood” was daring and inspirational in 1991… almost three decades ago.
We are kingdom builders. And whether we (West African descendants of those kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai) were designing the District of Columbia (Benjamin Banneker), building the White House, building Wall Street, or creating the seeds of an incredible global economy with fields of cotton (is King!) and tobacco, excellence is really the hallmark of our tribes in the Americas and Caribbean. I see the same incredible surge of financiers, healers (medicine), entrepreneurs, marketers and C-level executives on LinkedIn and in personal networks. Also, so many of those tribesmen and women are traveling back to the lands of our ancestors to do business, repatriate and live. Conversely, so many of our African countrymen are traveling to the states and European world to continue to boldface, italicize and highlight their marks of exceptionalism. We are in a bold new period of renewal, renaissance, and vision.
It also occurs to me that white privilege is showing its backside, rifles in one hand, white pointy hooded ornaments in the other, stained underwear and denim overalls around ankles, to the world. I mean, think about it: Germany’s Angela Merkel is the de facto leader of the free world. After 400 plus years of this particular barbaric terrorism, the minority mooring of a deplorable culture is having revelatory results for all Americans and the world. And this is not to say it is all “white” people. However, when you see an electorate that is willing to make a close contest of Trump v. Biden and they really have no vested interest represented other than white supremacy or white privilege, you are witnessing the direct descendants of indentured servants, slave-owners, slave-catchers and deplorables enact their political, social and cultural agenda: abomination. From Tea Party to MAGA, these are the descendants of the rejects of Europe from the 17th and 18th centuries. We are in the midst of a decade of spiritual trench warfare with real consequences of power, finance and the future. But it also occurs to me that there is a very different path for our children and grandchildren for whom we are ancestors. What are your feelings? What do you see?
Jordannah Elizabeth: Our children were born with the internet, LGTBQ rights, trap music, and the viral lynchings of Black people. With so much information at their fingertips, it is important that we help them discern what is “real” and what is not.
I keep working to tell my mentees who are mainly Black and POC (persons of color) femmes that this world is not out to kill them. Our generation has not been good at reassuring our children––the media has not been responsible about issuing warnings that some of their content may not be suitable for children. We as Black women go on reality shows and scream and beat other Black women up. Black men complain about our independence and our rights to choose how we engage with our own sexuality. We just haven’t done a great job of creating a mentally and emotionally stable environment for our kids.
So, they are growing up much more scared, isolated and confused than we did.
I just do the work of letting them know that they can let their guards down a little. The world is scary but their anxiety is through the roof––I have to let them know to remember the beautiful things about life like falling in love, creating art and music, spending time with family, volunteering and being generous to others, gratitude for the privileges we as American citizens do have…just simple straightforward values that they can easily digest and incorporate into their hearts and thoughts.
I think the next generation, once they become more confident and discerning will change the world for the better