Doing it for Black Culture


Leslie McLemore II

Believe it or not, some people still deny the undeniable influence of black culture. Unfortunately for those who still attempt to deny these influences, black culture is American culture, and it is here to stay. Without it, there would be no such thing as soul, rhythm and the immense creativity born from the hell of supremacy—or seasoning.

It should come as no surprise to many that black culture is popping up everywhere we look nowadays. For the purpose of time and word count, let's bypass historic culture references. I want to reference present-day black culture, which, in recent weeks, has been more dominant than Hillary Clinton's massacre of Donald Trump in the first presidential debate.

Black culture has only worshipped a few entities throughout its 400-plus year history—white Jesus, black Jesus, Tupac, Biggie, Al Sharpton's Jheri curl, The Fab Five, "The Dave Chapelle Show," President Barack Obama and Beyonce. Essentially, Princess Diana is to white folks what Beyonce is to black folks. However, black culture embraced not the deity known as Beyonce this week, but her younger sister Solange. Admittedly, I have not heard her new album, but apparently it's producing more fire than Dany's dragons, and the blackness of Master P's interludes knows "No Limit." Some people chalk up Solange's album success to talent, perseverance and timing. Personally, I chalk it up to her shared bloodline.

Black culture has always dominated music. This is nothing new. However, at times the culture has been left off the big and small screen. Sure, black actors have starred in America's favorite white savior/black servant movies like "The Help," "The Blind Side," "12 Years a Slave" or "The Butler," but it's rare that black culture makes the movies and TV shows it really wants to make. You know, like "Malcolm X" or "The Last Dragon."

So when I heard that the Netflix show, "Luke Cage," which is based on the Marvel superhero comic about a black man who is bullet proof, temporarily shut down Netflix due to the massive amount of streaming following its debut, I was not shocked in the least bit. This black-culture show is trolling white supremacy so brilliantly. Get this: Cage walks around wearing a hoodie, paying direct homage to one of black culture's young kings, Trayvon Martin.

During such moments of TV brilliance, the culture is also celebrating the success of other brilliantly produced black shows such as "Blackish," "Atlanta" and "Queen Sugar." "Atlanta" is a brilliantly developed piece of art, created and starring one of the top black-culture talents around, Donald Glover. Glover's nuanced way of piercing through the veil of young, black America and displaying it to the world is something that is much needed. Furthermore, the show seems to have a "Seinfeld"-"Curb Your Enthusiasm" sensibility about it.

Major motion pictures directed and starring black folks are slowly rearing their beautiful heads, with films like "Selma," "The Magnificent Seven," "Black Panther," "Dope," "Fences," "Dear White People" and "The Birth of a Nation." Some movies on that list come with controversy (black culture wouldn't be black culture without some controversy). 
 "The Birth of Nation," which is created by, directed by and stars Nate Parker, is a real-life "Django" story about a slave who realizes that the horrors of slavery wouldn't be undone anytime in the foreseeable future, so he decides to lead a slave rebellion. This movie is laced with controversy, with everything from the content of the actual film to Parker being accused of rape.

Even though Parker was found innocent of the allegations, some people in the black community rightfully stand against him and his alleged actions and will, therefore, not watch the movie.

However, others in the community rightfully separate the movie from the person and will go watch "The Birth of Nation," hoping to level up on their blackness. Conundrums like this bring me back to my original point of black culture being American culture.

Like American culture, black culture has the freedom to go wherever the hell it pleases to go.

Leslie McLemore II, a Jackson native, is now in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Jackson State University, North Carolina Central University School of Law and American University Washington College of Law.


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