So my husband hates Key and Peele, but I love them. I love them because they use their platform to tackle difficult topics surrounding race, flash judgements, stereotypes, and other “isms”. I don’t find every sketch funny …but I still laugh out loud each time I see the sketches about Luther – President Obama’s Anger Translator (which is really about minorities having to change who they are to be accepted by the majority race), Substitute Teacher (about minority names), and the Football intro sketches that bring in the Substitute Teacher names (I see you Aaron Blake!). I find the duos willingness to explore such topics and issues refreshing — like a mini version of Dave Chapelle when he tackled white supremacy (e.g. Clayton Bigsby), the 1950s (e.g. Meet the Niggers), and racial tension (e.g. the Race Draft). So enjoy, even if my husband will roll his eyes!
A bit about Key and Peele from wikipedia: Key & Peele is an American sketch comedy television show. It stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, both former cast members of MADtv. Each episode of the show consists of several pre-taped sketches starring the two actors, introduced by Key and Peele in front of a live studio audience. The sketches cover a variety of societal topics, often with a focus on Black-American culture and race relations.
[Note: Wanda Sykes uses adult language — sorry]
So admittedly I really like Wanda Sykes. I think she is witty and just brilliant. I also love that she did a fantastic job at the 2009 White House Correspondence Dinner (it’s on YouTube if you’d like to see it). So enjoy todays video, and get a good laugh in on a Monday!
A bitty bio fro our good friends at Wikipedia: Wanda Sykes (born March 7, 1964) is an American writer, comedian, actress, and voice artist. She earned the 1999 Emmy Award for her writing on The Chris Rock Show. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly named Sykes as one of the 25 funniest people in America. She is well known for her role as Barbara Baran on The New Adventures of Old Christine and for her appearances on HBO‘s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In November 2009, The Wanda Sykes Show, her own late-night talkshow, premiered on Fox, airing Saturday nights, until it was cancelled in April 2010. Sykes has also had a successful career in film, appearing in Monster-in-Law, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Evan Almighty, and License to Wed, and voiced characters in Over the Hedge, Barnyard, Brother Bear 2, Rio, and Ice Age: Continental Drift.
So I appreciate that SNL, despite being under extreme duress, has tried to increase the amount of African-American comedians on their show and in their writting room. The history of comedy as an artful expression in the African-American community is long and historic. Who would deny the impact of even modern comedians such as Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Katt Williams, Dave Chapelle and others (yes yes I do know I focused on males, but in all honesty they have had a larger overall national reach). The new young comedians are taking the torch from the masters including Key & Peele on Comedy Central and now the new (and seasoned) actors on SNL.
Last Black History Month I focused on women of color who had made great contributions to the United States. However, I’ll be honest ….I’ve had a bad January. So I think I’d like to laugh and loose myself for just a few moments. For this February, I will be trying to find some of the skits from African-American comedians that make me smile and laugh; maybe even adding in some information on other African-Americans making strides in media art forms (e.g. TV and Film). I’ll try to post one at least every Monday — so lets start with this piece of satire from SNL. Enjoy!
Kara Walker — The Truth Telling Artist
*P.S. — I love her work. No really. I LOVE her work.
Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, in 1969. She received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. The artist is best known for exploring the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality through her iconic, silhouetted figures. Walker unleashes the traditionally proper Victorian medium of the silhouette directly onto the walls of the gallery, creating a theatrical space in which her unruly cut-paper characters fornicate and inflict violence on one another. In works like “Darkytown Rebellion” (2000), the artist uses overhead projectors to throw colored light onto the ceiling, walls, and floor of the exhibition space; the lights cast a shadow of the viewer’s body onto the walls, where it mingles with Walker’s black-paper figures and landscapes. With one foot in the historical realism of slavery and the other in the fantastical space of the romance novel, Walker’s nightmarish fictions simultaneously seduce and implicate the audience. Walker’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. A 1997 recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award, Walker was the United States representative to the 2002 Bienal de São Paulo. Walker currently lives in New York, where she is on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University. (Biography from PBS Art 21)
Michaela Angela Davis: Fashion, Style, Race, Gender, and Hip Hop
An expert cultural critic and writer, Michaela Angela Davis has been exploring the power of urban style, race, gender, and hip-hop for nearly two decades.
Having begun her career under the mentorship of Susan L. Taylor at the incredibly successful Essence, Davis went on to become founding fashion director at Vibe, and later editor-in-chief ofHoney, a premiere magazine for 18 to 34-year-old urban women that, under her editorship, was the number one growing women’s title at the time.
Over the years, Davis became known for her insightful perceptions and seasoned opinions, penning fashion and culture commentary for publications in the US and worldwide. A stylist to such celebrity icons as Mary J. Blige, Oprah, Prince, and Donald Trump, Davis was often consulted on film and television sets for her fashion forward sense and intuition.
Her interests went further than fashion, however, as she maintained a close pulse on the developing urban culture and its roles and influence in society today. Perhaps best known for her work with Take Back the Music, Davis founded the initiative to promote the next generation of the hip-hop movement to focus on the musical value of the genre instead of the negative, often sexist attitudes that are so prevalent now.
A dynamic woman known for her insightful perceptions of popular culture, Davis developed MAD Free, a multi-platform conversation project dedicated to spurring and expanding the conversation about black women’s image, beauty, and power. Also devoted to several philanthropic efforts, she serves on the board of Black Girls Rock!, ImageNation, The Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School, and conducts her own monthly career-mentoring program. (Biography from THIS site)
Dr. Mae C. Jemison — Space Cadette
“When I’m asked about the relevance to Black people of what I do, I take that as an affront. It presupposes that Black people have never been involved in exploring the heavens, but this is not so. Ancient African empires — Mali, Songhai, Egypt — had scientists, astronomers. The fact is that space and its resources belong to all of us, not to any one group” — Dr. Jemison (source here)
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations…If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out … You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.” — Dr. Jemison (source here)
The video above is Dr. Jemison’s 2002 TEDTalk on teaching arts and sciences together. Oh my goodness — she is incredible! Really — watch this. Seriously. She really is an artist AND a scientist.
Dr. Jemison reiced her medical degree from Cornell and practices in several countries. Dr. Jemison was the first African-American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program in 1987. On September 12, 1992, Jemision flew into space with six other astronauts on the Endeavor.
“Some people are just negative,” says Hale. “They’ll try to shut your dreams down. I’ve always believed that I, along with other people, could change the world for Christ.”
Dr. Hale is an inspirational person to me, in the scheme of my own life. She was one of the pioneering women who continued to integrate my undergraduate college of Hollins University; she is a fellow sorority sister in Alpha Kappa Alpha, and she has embraced her political beliefs. Dr. Hale stumped for President Obama during his first run in 2008, was invited to give the Invocation on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in 2008, and was invited to read the scripture at the National Prayer Service for the Inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 (see video above). I remember meeting her for the first time while presenting as the SGA Vice President to the Alumnae Board which she was a member of at the time. She knew my parents growing up, and took some time to talk to me and encourage me to continue moving forward. It was inspirational to see such an incredible Hollins women, who happened to look like me. Don’t get me wrong — my undergraduate institution is filled with women who are going places (as our tag line says); but not very many of them look like I do. So it was an honor to get to see that women who look like me also get to go places.
Since today during Black History Month I have a sorority meeting — it is my honor to present the history and mission of my historically black sorority: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
In 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded on the campus of Howard University. The founders are: Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Slowe and Marie Woolfolk Taylor, Norma Boyd, Julia Brooks, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Nellie Quander, Nellie Pratt Russell and Minnie Smith.
My current chapter filled with phenomenal black women: Beta Chi Omega
Althea Gibson: The Tennis Pioneer
“People thought I was ruthless, which I was. I didn’t give a darn who was on the other side of the net. I’d knock you down if you got in my way.” — Althea Gibson
“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” — Althea Gibson (source HERE)
Zora Neale Hurston: Author
“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How canany deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” –Zora Neale Hurston (source here)
Born in Alabama on January 7, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston spent her early adulthood studying at various universities and collecting folklore from the South, the Caribbean and Latin America. She published her findings in Mules and Men. Hurston was a fixture of the Harlem Renaissance, rubbing shoulders with many of its famous writers. In 1937, she published her masterwork of fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston died in Florida in 1960.