We’ve just come right out of Black History Month, and we’re right into Women’s History Month. What a wonderful time to spotlight more creators in the nerdy and tech spaces! I wanted to interview someone very active and inspiring in the indie gaming scene, and a creator who quickly came to mind was Catt Small. She is a Black game developer from Brooklyn, known for putting together the Game Devs of Color Expo, Code Liberation, and speaking about diversity in the games industry.
Although she is very busy, I was able to get a bit of her time to ask her some questions. Check out the interview after the jump!
Black History Month of 2016 was a hell of a ride. I can’t think of a good way to possibly wrap it up, because honestly, I don’t want to. So, I figure a transition of sorts is in order. In that respect, I’d like to talk about PoC solidarity and the general benefit of diverse casts.
This concept is very important to me as we all have to struggle with privilege, and lack thereof, in various avenues. Unfortunately, people are inclined to look out for themselves and people who look like them. I cannot be upset by that, or even discourage it. However, it is ultimately destructive when groups choose to tear each other down in the interest of self-propulsion. It’s quite painful that when discussing #BlackLivesMatter, some of the opposition will come from other people of color who face similar levels of discrimination. Speaking from experience, I know that there is anti-Black racism coming from more than just white people. But it doesn’t have to be this way! As always, I feel that our favorite forms of media are a good case study on this and the actual act of solidarity.
Black History Month keeps on moving, and it’s been one heck of a celebration. I’ve been celebrating by looking at great cosplay, learning more about creators, and of course, listening to new podcasts. This week’s Web Crush is going to be one I’ve just become a fan of, the Fan Bros Show!
Dearest Readers, writing for Black History Month is difficult. There is a difficult balance of focusing on concepts vs. people, discussing people that are strangers vs. people you are friendly with, and characters vs real people. To further the complication, there is an urge to spend the whole month celebrating and spotlighting things that deserve praise. But at the same time, I find it absolutely necessary to discuss less enjoyable topics.
I hope you’re ready: It’s Black History Month, and we’re gonna be talking about representation! What are the first images you see when you search “beautiful people”? What about “cosplay”? You will see lots of vibrant colors. However, that doesn’t generally extend to skin color; there’s not a lot of diversity in the skin color of the people who appear when you search. While the number of people of color appearing with these search terms is not zero, they are pretty low. So, how do we respond to this and try to make it better? Find out below the jump.
Billie “Lady Day” Holiday was born in April 1915 and died a short forty-four years later. In that time, Holiday changed the face of jazz music, writing and performing songs that would become part of the history of the genre, including “Lover Man” and “God Bless the Child”. Her “Strange Fruit”, a protest song about the lynching of Black men all across the American South, would become one of the most famous songs of its era. Since her death from cirrhosis of the liver, she has been lauded by all manner of greats, including Ray Ellis and venerable music critic Robert Christgau. Even before her death, Frank Sinatra would say of her:
With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.
All reflection on Billie Holiday tells the story of a life cut short by addiction, and a career of unknown potential snuffed out too soon. So, too, will the 2014 production of Lanie Robertson’s 1986 play in the upcoming revival of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which will feature Audra McDonald as Holiday.