Two Black men analyze u.s. film, TV, politics, and literature using radical Black thought and critical theory
EPISODE #27: The Personal Side of Radical Political Organizing
1:06:59G challenges O to think less about the political theory of organizing for a moment and think more about the personal events in his life that brought him to identify with other oppressed people and organize to fight back against that oppression. G & O share stories from their experiences that helped radicalize them and the love and joy they experience in struggle.
Episode #26: FILM REVIEW: "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and August Wilson's Black Life
1:11:03The brothers review the film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe, written by Ruben Santiago-Hudson based on August Wilson's 1982 play, starring Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman in his final (and arguably greatest) screen performance before his unfortunate death at the age of 43. The brothers meditate on August Wilson's body of work, which chronicles stories from working-class Black people and which the brothers definitely plan to come back to in future podcast episodes. They try to address the question Wilson once asked to one of his elders: How did you live to be 70 as a Black man in America? The brothers also relate some stories passed down from their own family histories, stories that some of the people in Wilson's stories might relate to, and consider how the isolation of young Black people from their elders is one way the antiblack structure works to sap the capacity of Black resistance.
Episode #25: FILM REVIEW: Black Fatherhood and the Movie "Fences"
2:01:58Today, for Father's Day, the brothers ask, how is Black fatherhood possible in an antiblack world? In other words, how do new and evolving forms of antiblackness and capitalist oppression change and strain the relationships between Black fathers and their children? And how, in this changing but still deadly context, can new forms of masculinity emerge? This review of the 2016 movie Fences, starring and directed by Denzel Washington, examines the web of relationships around Troy, a former Negro League baseball player in Black Pittsburgh of the 1950s. G & O talk about the relationships between Black parents and Black children. The brothers also explore the film's treatment of other themes, including the emotional labor of Black women, Black intergenerational trauma, and Black men's friendships. O reflects on a time he performed in a scene from this play.
Episode #24: Organizing to Survive Capitalism in the Time of Biden, Harris, and Trump
1:44:58How do we survive capitalism while organizing its end? Thinking about violent events like the Flint water crisis, the police murder of Breonna Taylor, or the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 have many Black radical activists asking: As we organize to bring down the oppressive capitalistic structure, are we preparing ways to amass the resources and capacities we as Black people will need to survive this genocidal structure in the meantime? In this episode, G & O begin to think through these sets of questions. The brothers recorded this episode shortly after the 2020 election was called. The celebrations of November, which would soon be followed with the horrors of January, led the brothers to reflect on that moment, even before white supremacist terrorists tried to violently overturn the election and murder government officials. What the brothers saw, and still see even after the January 6 attacks on the capitol, is a moment way bigger than the election. In this moment there is an opening, a need for big ideas in critical Black thought, including Black self-sufficiency and self-defense, Black conversations about the role of government, surviving within capitalism while working to destroy it, and the importance of radical leadership from the Black poor and working class.
Episode #23: The Homelessness Crisis and Pandemic Capitalism
1:51:24The brothers talk about homelessness and the looming lapse of the federal eviction moratorium. G talks about his experience being homeless with a family to take care of. The brothers originally recorded this episode before the Biden administration signed off on the one-time distribution of $1400 relief checks and extended the eviction moratorium by a few months. Most of it still applies because both of those acts of governmental largesse were temporary and did not come anywhere near solving the problem. And now, with a federal judge recently ruling the eviction moratorium unconstitutional, the problem is again being kicked down the road. But the fundamental problem is, and has been, capitalism -- a genocidal system generated out of structural antiblackness and anti-Indigeneity. The brothers discuss alternatives to that genocidal system we live under.
Episode #22: Jailbreaking Black Thought from the Academy
1:59:36Inspired by Karen Hunter and Greg Carr's YouTube conversations about jailbreaking knowledge from the academy, the brothers reflect on aspects of the academy that they can do without -- including classism and antiblackness. They think through how Black people might keep the irreplaceable functions of the academy (the production, conservation, and distribution of knowledge) while discarding the other bits. They discuss the kinds of knowledge Black people need in order to get free.
Episode #21: “Don’t Quit until You Either Win or You Die”: Film Review: "The Spook Who Sat By the Door"
1:43:23The brothers review the classic Black revolutionary film The Spook Who Sat by the Door, directed by Ivan Dixon and based on Sam Greenlee's novel of the same title. Please find it on YouTube while it's still available!
Episode #20: The 1776 Commission and the Attack on Black Thought
1:39:51Remember the "1776 Commission"? Started by Donald Trump late in 2020, its intent was to force feed students with so-called "patriotic education" and to counter the 1619 Project of new york times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones. In this episode, the brothers discuss the foolishness of trump's 1776 Commission. They point out that, even though trump lost, the Black intellectuals on the 1776 Commission represent an ongoing problem internal to our communities: Black intellectual misleadership appointed by white people and white interests to lead Black people to ignore our collective experiences and knowledge and to force us to conform our thinking to that which our enslavers and genociders will allow.
Episode #19: REVIEW: "Judas and the Black Messiah" and the Education of Black Leadership
1:39:44The brothers recorded this review of Shaka King's 2021 film Judas and the Black Messiah a few months before Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield were up for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (which Kaluuya won, but Stanfield should also have gotten an award). The brothers briefly discuss the actors' performances, casting, and writing, but mostly they focus on the film's contribution to Hollywood's long history of depicting Black love and Black radicalism, as well as the Black Panthers' historical role in politically organizing Black street organizations, the force of Black resistance to police murder, and the police infiltration of and war on the Black liberation movement. The brothers also talk about the building of Black leadership capacity through political education and the importance of preparing for self-defense, intelligence, and counter-intelligence capacities in Black movements. NOTE: The brothers urge people to read Native American Studies scholar Ward Churchill and writer Jim Vander Wall's book Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement and check out episode #12 of this podcast, in which the brothers discussed that book.
Episode #18: REVIEW: "Exterminate All the Brutes" and the Language of Genocide [PART 2 of 2]
46:02In the last episode, G & O began discussion of "Exterminate All the Brutes," Raoul Peck’s 2021 film now streaming on HBO Max. The brothers focused on the repeated symbol of white people’s “heart of darkness” echoed from the book that title is taken from: Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, written about Belgium’s rape and genocide of Africans in Congo. The brothers also brought in some of the tools of psychoanalysis. They paid close attention to language and images to read the unconscious intentions that drive and direct an action, even if people are unaware of those drives, Seen in this way, this film’s topic is the genocidal drive at the core of whiteness, and it is articulated so that whiteness can be understood and ended. In this episode, the brothers continue their discussion of "Exterminate All the Brutes," by homing in on the film’s connection between images that shape how we think about genocide, such as John Wayne movies and monuments and histories of genocide, and the structural conditions of modern u.s. society which are designed to result in genocidal effects on Indigenous and Black people. In the present moment, whiteness is engaging in a collective refusal to see itself in the mirror image of other sadistic figures, like Jeffrey Dahmer. The psychic structure of whiteness, stretching across many generations and geographies, is sadistic — meaning, it gets juiced from harming those it sees as “others” — even if that harm is concealed while it occurs and is later denied completely. The brothers analyze the industry term “artisanal miner,” for example, which sounds pretty but conceals the slave-like conditions under which Black people in Congo today are forced to produce the coltan mineral that makes our smartphones work. The brothers conclude with their score of the revolutionizing potential of “Exterminate All the Brutes.” NOTE: The brothers apologize for the moments of crosstalk, which are really bad in this episode. This is an ongoing problem with the Anchor software, which the brothers have brought to Anchor’s attention. They will work on fixing it in future episodes and might end up moving to a different recording system and platform.