Happy #MCM everyone! This week, Taji Mag sat down with the talented brother Alan King, author of the new book POINT BLANK. Alan King has worked with the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper. King has also been an outspoken housing rights advocate. He has also served as a researcher with the Center for Public Integrity. In addition to his impressive resume, he is a devoted husband and father. Mr. King has an upcoming book tour, and took a break to talk to us about his work, love, and the perseverance it takes to be an artist.
Africa Jackson: What do you love most about being a Black man?
Alan King:I love being another line in the legacy of Black people. I’m juggling two legacies as a Caribbean American. I’m inspired by the writers that come before me. Writers who are ancestors now like John A. Williams, Clarence Cooper Jr. and Chester Himes. Oh yeah, and Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Let me throw some women in the mix: Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Wanda Coleman, Octavia Butler.I also love Black culture.
poet, husband, father, visionary
AJ: You mentioned ‘legacy’. What does that word mean to you? In what ways have you seen that manifest in your career and/or personal life?
AK: There’s a heritage that connects us to the diaspora. There [is] rhythm, history. There’s a beauty in our culture. Being a husband and father allows me to pass on the best of myself.I was a teacher. That role allowed me to be an example to my students. I taught a class, where I was the first married black men the young women encountered. This was middle school. They kept staring at my wedding band asking about what it’s like to be married.
AJ: The “wicker” reference from the latest Point blank trailer is indicative of Black culture. Have you ever been discouraged from being too Black? If so, by who? How did you respond?
AK: I had a higher up, during my work study placement, who asked me to read poems, but then said “Don’t get too back with it.” That came from a Black man.I wasn’t sure if I should still read poems. It was for an office party.
But my writer friends encouraged me to do it. They said by me going through with it, it would show him that his biases are wrong.As a writer, I don’t worry about being too black in my work. White writers aren’t asked not to be too white. I feel I should have that same freedom to explore various types of blackness in my work. In Point Blank, more of my Caribbean heritage comes through. Rereading the poems, I was surprised how present it is.
AJ: What advice can you offer to other artists struggling with double consciousness?
AK: My advice to other artists is to be true to yourself.
AJ: Did you ever seriously consider another career?
AK: I’m a Communications Specialist for a living. I’ve always been a writer at heart. There was one time, in college, when I considered being a programmer. I later found out from my mom that she thought I was making a mistake. She knew my passion is writing. My dad kept pushing me to do something that makes moneyThat’s why I went the programming route.But I don’t regret my decision. I’m also open to learning other skills that might mesh with my writing.
AJ: Switching gears, there is this belief that Black men don’t love Black women. What are your thoughts about that?
AK: I know there are some brothers who date outside the race, but so do some black women. It’s touchy to assume why those folks do it without knowing the whole story. I know for me, it was important to be open to however love presented herself. I had no idea that I’d meet my wife, a passionate Nigerian woman, the way I did. I think it’s important to be open to love, whatever way it presents itself. I don’t think someone should be with someone because the community feels that way.
AJ: Audre Lorde taught us that self-care is revolutionary. As an artist, father, husband, and Black man has self care been part of your life?
AK: My family is part of my self care. I draw strength from my wife and my daughter. I hit the gym when I can and go for walks to clear my head. The important part of self care is having friends, people you can vent to when needed.
AJ: If someone were to choose between your new book and Starbucks, what would make them pick up POINT BLANK over a Frappuccino?
AK: The image of the young man on the cover.I purposely chose it because he embodies what people of color are going through in this country. The picture is powerful. He’s on his way somewhere.Depending on the point of view , he could be up to no good or just minding his business. I thought it was powerful how the photographer, Ewholomeyovwi Jeroro, captured him. The young man is in the photographer’s scope much like how people of color are in the scope of law enforcement.
CLICK HERE to purchase his book of poetry and learn more about why we love this Black man!
Centering around the idea of an Ancient Future while embodying the aura of Emperor Haile Selassie I & Empress Menen Asfaw. They’re showcasing the presence of our luxurious Regal lineage as Afrikans, and amplifying the importance of balance & unity between a wombman & a man.
Okay, you got us. This is pure speculation, but why else would NONE of Netflix be working the Saturday after the release of the highly anticipated series, Luke Cage? Lucky for us, we binged watched it before Netflix glitched.
** LUKE CAGE SPOILER ALERT **
Reading beyond this point without having watched all 13 episodes of the most Blackity Black series in years is all on you…
We watched proudly as a strong Black Man, who refused to be called nigga, came to grips with his unexpected abilities. If you’re a comic junky, you’ll enjoy it for purely that. If you’ve seen any of the news surrounding the Black community since 2014, you’ll be mmhmm-ing and uhhhuhh-ing for 13 straight episodes. The not so underlying tone is a Black man in a (usually Black) hoodie, framed for charges/crimes he didn’t commit, who is constantly being shot at. Aka. Ode to Trayvon Martin.
Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter, sees the dirtbags that rule Harlem and eventually decides, with the push of barber shop owner Pops, to do something about it. The show taking place in Harlem is gold gem #2, #1 obviously being the BEAUTIFUL predominately Black cast. The vernacular is real and relatable enough, where you don’t feel like anyone is stereotyping. It felt like a family reunion with all of the colorful family members most of us can relate to in some form or fashion. The interpersonal relations were also real. For a fictional series, everything felt real enough to the point where you get wrapped up in it and almost forget you’re watching a scifi show. That is until he punches someone into a wall.
Yes, Luke Cage whips a lot of ass and it feels like vindication for all of us. Backstory (based on the show): Luke went to prison due to a frame job. His CO convinced him into joining the prison fight club. All the while, the doctors of the prison were watching him and other potential prisoners closely for an experiment they were conducting. Luke got injured badly and the doctors placed him into the tank that was meant to rapidly heal, but of course something goes wrong and electricity surges everywhere and by the time he woke up he had super strength and his skin was impenetrable. Essentially, he was “bulletproof.” They broke down the science, but we won’t give everything away…
He broke himself out of prison in Georgia as Carl Lucas, swam to shore, and resurfaced as Luke Cage in Harlem. He worked a day job as the janitor at Pops barber shop, and a night job as the dish washer/substitute bartender at Harlem’s Paradise. His day job and his night job eventually both come colliding and he could no longer hide in the shadows. Since we want those who said “eff yo spoiler alert” to form their own conclusions we’ll stop here, but the ins and out and plot twists make this series an amazing roller coaster. The villains are as fun as heroes. To see how little loyalty there is among villains and to watch the community come together (eventually) in support of their hero, all mixed in with musical cameos, Black women with natural hair styles, and life lessons dropped on EVERY episode, makes this is proud moment in Black history.
#RepresentationMatters. Luke Cage and Misty Knight are as important characters as Black Panther and the whole Wakanda nation. Although Taji is ALWAYS here for stories about us created by us, we’re also here for when the larger platforms represent the community as close as possible. There were some notions we could have done without, but we won’t let that 7% outweigh the 93% of dope Blackity Blackness. So hop on your Netflix, or borrow someone’s password, and clear your calendar for 13 hours. Thank us later 😉
Fashion Hood Tv presents a beautifully colorful display of traditional African styles with a modern flare. These vibrant adornments are a must see! Styled by Vivi a natural hairstylist, jewelry designer, and event creator.
bOBETTE eIZA debutes the Luxe “Hilda” Handbag Collection. A woman’s fashion choice is her self-expression statement. For many women, handbags are a personal accessory that compliments and completes her outfit. It’s a part of what makes fashion alluring. Newly launched luxury handbag label, bOBETTE eIZA, dominates with meticulous attention to style and details.
An avid New Yorker, Bobette Reid is the owner and designer of bOBETTE eIZA, which launched its first tote collection “Hilda“ this spring fashion season. The extraordinary collection can be described in two words: timeless sustainability. Named after her Aunt, the Hilda handbag is crafted in an assortment of vibrant of colors, paired with quality materials which make it wearable for all seasons. Materials are selectively hand-picked while paying close attention to details. Its functional design is versatile, making it an eye-catching temptation.
Structured, high fashion, with ample space, each design features top-zip closures, adjustable cross body straps, and multi-functional interior slip pockets for easy access to smaller items. Hilda is made from a variety of leather materials including hologram python, cow, and alligator embossed leather. The tote style handbag comes in one size, medium, and ranges in price from $3,195 to $3,298.
When asked which bag is her favorite, Bobette explained, “it’s very difficult to choose because I love them all. I intentionally designed the collection that way”. The extraordinarily classy Hilda tote is a must have accessory. It exudes opulence and beauty.
The stylish Luxe collection may be purchased at www.bobetteeiza.com and exclusive high end retail stores.
1. Redifining African Music.
2. Promoting African languages and culture through music.
3. Unifying all Africans together with a common knowledge of ONESS
4. Using his voice as an entertainer to reach out to the less privileged.
5. To make a remarkable impact that becomes a Legacy.
6. To satisfy your soul with undiluted sound and using music as a tool
7. To remain there for you
Through the Swazzilians (his fans), Swazzi is bringing Africa to the world. Signed to label Thugluvin Records, Swazzi is highlighting his newly released record after the release of his smash hit “Elele” produced by Dj Coublon. His new song is titled “Skolo”. It’s also produced by Dj Coublon. The video is directed by UK base Nigerian, Director Q. Check out the video below and be sure to follow him on social media at @OfficialSwazzi.
As a kid, Alan Gray always loved comic books and anime. He adored reading comic books and the depth of the storytelling. His father used to watch anime with him and they would bond over it. Alan began drawing in kindergarten and hasn’t stopped since. 5 years ago, the direction of his art changed.
“With me coming into knowledge of self and learning whats been happening to my people, I wanted to use my art to represent my community through the medium I love so much. I never had access to digital resources, so I always focused on perfecting my craft the old fashion way. I’m hugely inspired by the comic book artist I saw as a child, but anime has really influenced my style and storytelling.”