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Art, Music, & Pop Culture

The role of artists in society has always been important. Artists raise awareness about social issues and are often the register of the times. They can reinforce the status quo or they can serve as a catalyst for change. Popular Culture often illuminates where we are all are as a people and a species. We invite critical essays and thinking on art of all types today in the US and abroad.

Love and Theft: Why Get Out Matters

By Mary F. Corey

A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ASTONISHMENTS” —Kendrick Lamar, The Heart Part 4

In 1962, James Baldwin hurled a smart bomb into the liberal white community when the New Yorker published his incendiary “Letter from a Region in My Mind.” In this essay, he let white people know some hard truths about Black rage and white oppression. Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a smart bomb of a different sort hurled into the theaters of America to deliver some troubling news.

Since 1619 when the first slave ship touched land in Virginia, the relationship of white people to Black folks has been a complex amalgam of what the scholar Eric Lott has called love and theft. Sometimes it is the body itself that is stolen; sometimes the gift of song and story. From slavery to Blackface performance all the way up to Mackelmore, this sometimes violent, sometimes reverent form of appropriation continues to be played out in American culture. Get Out, a kick-ass genre film that begins with love and ends in theft (and mayhem), is a smart, dark exploration of just how inseparable love and theft really are. (more…)

Lemonade: Our Album of the Year

By Stephanie Shonekan, Contributing Editor, Art, Music, and Pop Culture This year’s Grammy Awards show was one of the best I have seen in the last few years. Almost every performance was spectacular–Bruno Mars as himself and then as Prince; … Continue reading

Luke Cage: An Exploration of Black Identity

By Marquise Griffin “Man, it is what it is. You can’t understand a man if you ain’t live what he lived.”             -Method Man “Bulletproof Love” I have a vivid memory of being in the Chicago Union Amtrak station in … Continue reading

One Week of Poems on Love and Terror

By adrienne maree brown In this moment, when the future is so uncertain, Praxis Center turns to poetic offerings by adrienne maree brown. As she wrote on her blog, “i still believe it is the core work of our species – to … Continue reading

Ligatures for Black Bodies

By Denise Miller Denise Miller’s stunning artwork is featured on the home page of Praxis Center’s website. Here, she shares three poems from her forthcoming book, Ligatures for Black Bodies, with Rattle Press in November. For Denise, poetry tells the … Continue reading

A Storied Neighborhood, Wrapped in Contradiction

By Bill Ayers and Claire van den Heever Writer, educator, activist and long-time resident of Chicago’s Hyde Park community, Bill Ayers recently recorded a one-hour audio walking tour of his neighborhood for the mobile application VoiceMap. “I had a lot … Continue reading

The Healing Powers of American Roots Music

By Stephanie Shonekan, Art, Music, and Pop Culture Contributing Editor During this year’s Grammy Awards Stevie Wonder reminded viewers to appreciate the “healing powers” of music. This lovely sentiment, as well as the well-loved adage that “music is a universal … Continue reading

Lioness of Lisabi: A Black Girl Power Story

by Stephanie Shonekan, Art, Music, and Pop Culture, Contributing Editor Reverberations of the assertion that Black Lives Matter have been heard and felt across the nation, on our street corners and in our communities, on college campuses, and in media … Continue reading