007 at 70

In 2023, the Bond franchise celebrates its 70th anniversary. Very few franchises, with the exception of the Universal Classic Monsters and Godzilla series, have enjoyed such a long life in the popular media of film. Like them, the Bond franchise has seen many new beginnings that continually restart the property, perpetually reset it, and are bound to do so again.

The Five Best  Films of the Blaxploitation Era

While dismissed by Hollywood as a handy trend, Blaxploitation has earned a shaky status in the history of film and Black cultural history at large. The propensity to elicit loaded for or against debates has led to equally overwrought praise and scorn for these films. A half-century after Blaxploitation’s bombastic introduction, quick rise, and equally quick fall, we would do well to revisit, and reconsider, those films that best exemplify the still prickly term.

Black Conservatives Finally End Affirmative Action

I decided that I wanted to write a commentary that focused on Black conservatives. One reason for this was obvious: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is one of the most famous (or infamous, take your pick) Black conservatives in the country. I was certain that if the court overturned college admissions affirmative action, Thomas would write the majority decision or a lengthy concurrence. He did the latter.

On Top with The Four Tops

Duke Fakir’s life determination radiates throughout I’ll Be There: My Life With The Four Tops. From arriving early in high school, hustling up the group’s first uniforms, managing the group’s funds, and now preserving the group’s legacy.

Tales from a Train

Riding coach on Amtrak today is more like taking a nice bus. No doubt I will arrive weary, disillusioned and, as the Victorians put it, “travel-stained.”

Ten Best Poems of the Past Ten Years

Funeral sermons for poetry seldom discuss, in detail, a single poem. This is a problem of reception, not of poesis, or making. I offer, here, under a perhaps too-pithy conceit, the antidote: a hyper-close, even seemingly rudimentary, close reading of ten poems from the past ten years that I believe offer glimpses of the most vital work in today’s poetry.

Terminal Baggage Claim

This essay is a transcontinental flight with several stops—from Harriett Quimby’s 1912 flight across the English Channel to the 1981 PATCO strike that nearly brought American aviation to its knees. In between we learn about a Tuskegee airman who became a POW and a bit about children’s books that deal with aviation.

The World As a Trash Heap

The desolation that troubled T.S. Eliot comes from a soulless industrial greed that has yet to explode into wanton consumerism. He is mourning spiritual and intellectual decay. I am mourning the trash we then generated to fill that emptiness.

Race Empress of the Air

Bessie Coleman’s real life made her something larger than most Blacks and most women could imagine themselves to be, and her fictionalizing made her large life larger. Blackness had become something ultra-modern with Coleman, a meta-fiction, the mastery of fabrication, of image, for public consumption. She was the heroine of velocity. She ushered Black people into the age of speed.