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When Black people struggled to penetrate media of any kind, any representation was historic — but we need more from our art

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On the last day of the 2021 edition of Black History Month, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio hosted a program celebrating the work of Black composers. The performance included work by William Grant Still; Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; and Jeffrey Mumford. Being a faculty recital, the music was performed exclusively by White musicians, which is admittedly a redundant statement. I could be making an Oberlin joke here, but really, the overwhelming Whiteness of classical musicians and instructors would be true almost anywhere in America. Conservatories aren’t exactly brimming with Black harpsichord players.

We tend to whitewash characters even in our minds, unconsciously

Photo: Maryna Terletska/Getty Images

A few years ago, I taught Freshman English and Composition. During downtime when I wasn’t instructing (or maybe when they had tuned me out), several of my students drew cartoon and anime characters in their notebooks. A few of them were really talented, and I encouraged all of them to keep at it.

Level Reader,

ZORA’s interview with 77-year-old Howardena Pindell about her new exhibition ‘Rope/Fire/Water’

“Pindell’s artwork comes with a warning label for its graphic material, but sadly, none of the material itself has been imagined or self-constructed. Instead, it’s been pulled from the historians…

Your paintings are monstrosities — and they’re just what I need in these ridiculous times

Image: @atomly/Twitter

Dear Thug Heaven Artists,

Wake up and appreciate the greatness of these criminally slept-on heroes

Photos: Gary Gershoff, Katja Ogrin, Scott Dudelson, Kirstin Sinclair, Noel Vasquez, Paras Griffin,
Tim Mosenfelder, Alison Buck, Kwangmoozaa/Getty Images

Ever since White jazz critics barged into the hootenannies Black musicians threw for one another, the face of genius has been homogeneous. The standards for what was considered creative could only be performed by men, it seemed — an assumption that hasn’t changed very much. Standards in Black creative production are a little wonky in that they largely adopt a patriarchal structure made to separate us from experiencing one another in full. Luckily, there have always been adroit beings from all across the gender-and-sexuality spectrum making waves for the people that they can touch.

Who needs a weapon when you are a weapon?

Balrog (left) and TJ Combo (right) from ‘Street Fighter’ and ‘Killer Instinct.’ Photo: Capcom

When I was young, I was a big fan of the original Killer Instinct games.

Authentic collaboration is more relevant today than ever before

Photo: Armando Diaz/POCStock

It’s already August, and I’m not sure anyone can truly articulate what this year has become. The collective experience of flattening the curve of the pandemic has turned into a collective movement of fighting against broken systems that have long protected and perpetuated the injustices against Black people, people of color, and the economically challenged around the globe. Even in social isolation, an important conversation for change continues to build momentum, and denial about anti-Black racism is no longer an option.

The king collector breaks down his guidelines for acquiring work that will grow with you

Photo: Lars Niki/Getty Images

Collecting art is not for the faint of heart, nor the deficient of coin. Spending three or four (or five or six) figures on that oil painting or rare figurine can turn into a gold rush or a toilet flush. Patience is key, as is a discerning eye and feel for the market. At least, that’s what one of the culture’s biggest art aficionados told us.

For immigrants, encouragement to pursue the arts is slim. Here’s why it’s important.

Photo: Prasert Krainukul/EyeEm/Getty Images

When I was younger, I heard that singing was haram, which means “forbidden” in Arabic — and in Islam is the term for sinful behavior. I never really understood this concept, especially since the Quran sounds like a melody when it’s recited. Some of my earliest memories are of my Palestinian father and me “singing” along to the Quran.

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