Art is such a powerful tool for education. From movies to music to books, each medium has the ability to open our horizons and transform our thinking about a particular issue or experience.
Although Black artists are experiencing their much-deserved recognition in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s important to continue to support Black artists after the headlines fade. Showing your financial support for Black artists by engaging with the art they've created is key to creating a culture that reflects a more diverse reality.
If you’re looking for some Black artists to satisfy your cultural appetite, while educating yourself on the Black experience this week, look no further! We compiled a list of some talented Black directors, musicians and writers worth checking out right now.
Ava Duverney is a writer, producer and director. She’s directed a multitude of cinematic gold, with powerhouse stars taking center stage in many of her productions. Duvernay eloquently captures the Black experience in so many pieces of her work. If you’re looking for a moving piece to tap into your humanity and bring you to tears, tee up one of Duvernay’s productions. Some of her bests are "13th," "Selma" and "When They See Us."
Spike Lee is a no-brainer when it comes to some of the most prolific directors of our time. He’s been directing films that hold a mirror to our society for the past 40 years. To narrow it down to just a few of his many masterpieces is a challenge. Some of his most iconic films that encapsulate the modern Black experience include "Do The Right Thing," "Jungle Fever" and his more recent, "Blackkklansman."
Barry Jenkins is a newer director who has been taking Hollywood by storm. Best known for his Oscar-winning film "Moonlight," Jenkins has directed other great movies like "If Beale Street Could Talk" and "Medicine for Melancholy."
While everyone knows her for her timeless classic "Feeling Good," Nina Simone consistently used her singing platform to discuss racial tensions in the South. Her song “Mississippi Goddam,” her classic "Feeling Good" and plenty of other songs from her career reflect the Black experience and discusses the plights of freedom many people of color experience in America. If you have time this weekend, delve into your Spotify or Apple Music and discover some of the hidden gems by this iconic songstress.
A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest is a New York-based rap group that started in 1985. Any bonafide hip-hop lover will be well-acquainted with their music. A Tribe Called Quest released their latest album in 2016, "We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service" and it's one of my all-time favorites. Their verses provide ironic, metaphoric and poetic descriptions of Black America.
When I’m feeling down and defeated by the powers that be, I often turn to some Solange to soothe my soul. For many Black women, Solange’s lyrics encapsulate the many difficulties and frustrations women of color face every day with a melodic and captivating beat. While it’s worth listening to both of her recent albums, "When I Get Home" and "A Seat at the Table," some of my favorite singles are "Cranes in the Sky," "Mad" and "Don’t Touch My Hair."
James Baldwin is one of the quintessential Black authors of the 20th Century. The expat moved to France in the late ‘40s when he felt his work wasn’t appreciated in the U.S. He continued writing poetry, novels and essays on the subject of race in Western society. Some of his bests include "Notes of A Native Son," "Giovanni’s Room" and "Going to Meet the Man." If you don’t have time to read one of his novels in its entirety, you might enjoy reading some of his poetry online.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian-American author who writes about the Black immigrant experience in her bestselling novel, "Americanah." While the plot is based on immigrant life, her writing and subject matter straddles topics that we can all find relatable and have a good laugh about. "Americanah" is a wonderful read loosely based on her own experience becoming familiar with the "American experience." It is an interesting, impactful and comical commentary on race in America for both Black Americans, immigrants and even non-people of color.
Terry McMillan is an author who became popular in the ‘90s. One of her most famous works is "Waiting to Exhale," which was adapted into a movie starring Angela Basset and Whitney Houston (and is worth watching, too). While her books often border satirical, her writing provides insight into the modern Black woman’s experience of dating, sex and friendship.