Race & Culture

An examination of the racial and cultural lenses through which we experience our favorite geeky pastimes and the different perspectives that shape our interpretations.

Twin Cities Playwright Duck Washington Reflects on a Caucasian-Aggressive Controversy

Derek “Duck” Washington is a local theater artist and fellow geek. He moved to the Minneapolis area in 1995 and has been doing theater here ever since, working in a variety of roles with Blackout Improv, Fearless Comedy, Vilification Tennis, and more. Besides theater, Duck geeks out over Star Wars (so much so that he says he keeps it in an IV in his arm so he can take it anywhere he goes) and Dungeons & Dragons (he was...

Gorillaz, Kendrick Lamar, and a Darker Chapter of Hip-Hop

This year is kicking into high gear with tunes that are more and more suited to the rainy bleak weather that’s been hanging around most of this spring. Kendrick Lamar’s Damn and Gorillaz’ Humanz exemplify this move into a darker, more self-aware theme that is emerging with artists of the hip-hop genre delving into deep emotional places. Spinning songs out of depression, rage, and the questioning of one’s place and legacy in the world. Damon Albarn of Gorillaz dances...

Please Stop Using Creators of Color to Defend Representation Problems

Once upon a time, there was a little girl in an all-pink bedroom who spent her Saturday mornings watching cartoons and eating multicolored cereal. One morning in particular was interrupted by an epic guitar riff and a battle for equality between humans and mutants. She was awestruck by the program, but what made her heart skip a beat was the appearance of a woman known as Storm: Mistress of the Elements. Up until that point, the girl hadn’t seen...

How Visions of Hope Unite the Works of J. R. R. Tolkien

Of all the common threads in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, I propose that the uniting theme is hope. It can be found in his popular works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as well as his more obscure writings like The Silmarillion and Morgoth’s Ring. If one were to assign a theology to his writings, it would be a Theology of Hope. It is a multifaceted hope, with trust as the foundation—the belief that...

The Northside Celebration from Capri Theater and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Is a Joy to Behold

Last night, in the auditorium at North Community High School, a gospel choir sang. A spoken-word poet recited a piece. A woman told a story. In between, a string quartet strummed their instruments, a woodwind quintet performed a couple of pieces, and a high schooler read a poem by one of his classmates. These disparate parts all came together as a wondrous whole to form the Northside Celebration, a collaboration between the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis and the...

What’s Wrong with a Black Brit Playing a Black American?

In a somewhat lengthy interview with hip-hop radio station HOT 97, highest all-time box-office star Samuel L. Jackson offered his comments on Jordan Peele’s (fantastic) recent film, Get Out. While Get Out has been near-universally praised as a masterful allegory for contemporary race relations in America (and has been covered here on Twin Cities Geek), Mr. Jackson seemed to take some issue with the casting choices, particularly around star of the film, Daniel Kaluuya of Black Mirror fame. “I think it’s...

Why White Minnesotan Liberals Really Need to See Get Out

As soon as I saw the trailer for Get Out in October, I knew that this would be a movie I needed to see. However, at that time I honestly did not anticipate Get Out to be legitimate horror film, even though it was being marketed in that genre. I thought the first trailer was a cleverly edited comedy film to mimic a horror film satirically (similar to the SNL skit “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black”). It only made sense to me...

Using Music as an Escape in the Black Community

A few notes float across my consciousness as I lie awake at 4:00 a.m., coasting through a gray night, inundated with news posts on TV, Facebook, and whatever meme posts about the failure of the American system come up. As a young boy, I was told—so often it felt scripted—that America was never going to work for me, that I would always be against it. This internalized message gave way to a commonplace depression known in most black communities:...

Understand this Crazy World a Little Better with the Power of Video Games

“Fantasy is not divorced from our world. It is a lens through which we explore it.” —Rhianna Pratchett Log into Facebook, hop onto Twitter, skim the headlines, and one thing is clear: the world is on fire. Everyone seems to be posting about current events, a nonstop stream of news articles and opinions, personal anecdotes and memes. As they should be. As stressful as it can be to feel bombarded by what seems to be an endless tidal wave of insanity...

Octavia Butler’s Graphic Story Kindred Gets the Graphic Novel Treatment

Octavia Butler is one of the most important writers of our time, known as the mother of black science fiction and speculative fiction. Because of her unique perspective, Butler adds a new lens to these genres using the influences of sex and race and their relationships to power. Her best-known work of speculative fiction is her 1979 novel Kindred, in which the protagonist, a middle-aged black woman named Dana living in 1976 California, travels back in time to a...
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