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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.

Rethink Shinola

By Rebekah Modrak

RETHINK SHINOLA is a multi-part, Internet-based artwork analyzing and critiquing the branding messages publicized by the company Shinola, founded in 2011. Shinola’s name is “a nod” to the former Shinola, a shoe polish company that promoted its products using racist caricatures of African Americans. The “new” Shinola company planted itself in Detroit and leverages and profiteers from the extreme conditions and image of the city as a site of grit and resilience. The brand creates representations of patriarchal whiteness to enforce perceptions of their “leadership” and circulates images of African American employees being grateful for this so-called governance. In Shinola’s narratives, the “wild” Detroit environment needs a civilized savior who can first identify with and then tame and civilize the savage. (more…)

Free All the Political Prisoners

By Zolo Agono Azania I was introduced to Zolo Azania some twenty years ago through his artwork – striking portraits of Harriet Tubman, Malcom X and Emmet Till, artwork that reflected Zolo’s deep commitment to the Black freedom struggle – … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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