Lose Your Sister
By Lose Your Sister
Inspired in part by Saidiya Hartman’s “Lose Your Mother,” Lose Your Sister centers on Black feminist thought, pop culture, and diaspora with a focus on how Black people find their way back to one another interpersonally, artistically, and politically.
The Velvet Discourse: Dissecting the Janet Jackson Documentary
On this week’s epsiode, we discussed Janet Jackson’s Lifetime documentary, “JANET JACKSON,” which follows the life and career of the one and only Miss Janet Damita Jo Jackson, the youngest of the famous and infamous Jackson family. Zeroing in on the documentary’s choices in representing Janet’s career and life, we explored the implications of Janet’s story within the broader music industry and make space to acknowledge her undeniable influence on contemporary pop and R&B music around the world. Lastly, we considered how race, class, gender, sexuality, and abuse factor into the way Janet’s story is told and we wrestle with the role that sorrow, disappointment, and indebtedness play in the complex history of Black women musicians of which Janet is a formidable and unforgettable pillar.
February 20, 2022
Is This Your King?
On this week’s episode, wediscuss the biographical drama “King Richard” and its portrayal of the story of Richard Williams and his 78-page-plan to make his daughters Venus and Serena into world renowned tennis champions. Placing the film in conversation with HBO’s recent docuseries on Tiger Woods, and more, we explore how fame, racial capitalism, and industry exclusivity influence relationships between Black parents and their children within sports and other entertainment spaces. Connecting this phenomenon to the broader history of Black children positioned as vanguards for integration efforts, we ask what the cost is/has been in the development of young Black trailblazers.
January 01, 2022
She's Passing, Your Honor
On this week’s episode, we will discuss the Netflix film adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella “Passing,” directed by Rebecca Hall, which follows the story of Irene (played by Tessa Thompson), an upper middle class light skinned Black woman who reunites with a childhood friend Clare (played by Ruth Negga) who has been passing for white. Discussing how these women relate to one another as well as secondary character, we analyze how race, colorism, class, gender, and sexuality shape Larsen’s story and the choices Hall made in its adaptation. In closing, we ask questions about the effectiveness of the adaptation and consider the future of passing narratives.
November 28, 2021
That's So Octavia
To kick off Season 2 of LYS, this week we talked with the brilliant hosts of Zora’s Daughters podcast (Alyssa and Brendane) about none other than Octavia Butler’s 1993 science fiction novel, “Parable of the Sower.” Together, the four of us discuss futurity, age and identity during apocalypse, Black feminist thought, and the discourses of world building and world ending within sci-fi, as well as Black and indigeneity studies. In closing, we meditate on the resurgence and reprinting of Butler’s work, the popular narrative of Black women’s cultural clairvoyance, and the contemporary crisis of climate, housing, and labo(u)r in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.
October 29, 2021
Y’all Wanna Hear a Story?: Zola and the Rise of Black Digital Literatures
On this week’s episode, we discuss A24’s Zola (dir. Janizca Bravo), the highly anticipated film adaptation of the 2015 Twitter thread by A’Ziah “Zola” King — a series of 148 tweets recounting the tale of a Black stripper from Detroit who travels to Florida at the invitation of a white girl named Jessica in the hopes of making some money at clubs down South, only to find herself “lost in the sauce, lost in the game.” Drawing on the film’s relationship to the infamous thread, we reflect on our first encounters with the story and the significance ofTwitter as a storytelling platform. Additionally, we explore matters of race, gender, class, and whorephobia as they inform the reception of the “Thotessy” and the future of both Black digital literatures and sex worker narratives.
August 16, 2021
Washington Light Brights
On this week’s episode, we discuss the film adaptation of Lin Manuel Miranda’s “In The Heights” and the controversy regarding casting decisions as they reveal larger patterns of anti-Blackness and anti-Indigeneity in Miranda’s other work, and more broadly in media representations of Latinx identity. With an eye toward history and diaspora, this episode names the ways that the Native and the Slave have been dispossessed and disavowed respectively in the name of new identity formations in the Americas. Exploring the project of Latinidad as it is reflected in “In The Heights” and other popular works, we highlight the faults of representation politics. In doing so, we will contend with the narrative implications of storytelling that refuses specificity in favor of a kind of universality that illuminates little about the world its characters or its audiences occupy.
June 29, 2021
Watch the Throne: Meghan Markle and the Issue of Empire
On this week’s episode, we will discuss Oprah Winfrey’s recent interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the Duchess and Duke of Sussex. Exploring the issues addressed in the interview, this episode will expand on what goes unnamed in contemporary discourse regarding racism, anti-Blackness, colonialism, and the Royal Family. Thinking critically about the significance of Markle as both a victim of the Crown’s anti-Black legacy and a person of African descent who desired to be embraced by “the Firm,” this episode contends with complicity and collateral as crucial frameworks for understanding Markle’s position within the Royal family and furthermore, her unintentional influence on its impending fall from grace.
March 22, 2021
Marie and the Messiah
In this special double episode, we will discuss two films, the Netflix release Malcolm & Marie, as well as the latest biographical drama Judas and the Black Messiah. Starting with Malcolm & Marie, we will discuss the genre of romantic drama, character dialogue, white screenwriters, and the plight of the muse. After this, we will switch lanes and explore the highly anticipated Judas and the Black Messiah and explore how the film does and does not tell the story of Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton (aka the “Black Messiah”), or that of William O’Neal, the Black informant (aka “Judas”) who was blackmailed by the FBI to orchestrate Hampton’s assassination. Tying together this unlikely pair of films, we will wrap up the episode with a discussion of what it means to tell another’s story and how race, gender, and power dynamics play out in each film’s ability to ask and answer these questions.
March 01, 2021
Homegoing: Soul and the Black Afterlife
On this week’s episode, we will discuss the Disney Pixar film Soul as it relates to its representations of Blackness and the concept of the afterlife. Drawing on pop culture, current events, literature, TV, and film, on this episode we will explore Soul alongside Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, The Good Place, and more. By dedicating this episode to the recently departed actress Cicely Tyson, this episode sets out to honor Tyson’s promotion from elder to ancestor, and to center Black funeral traditions and visions of the afterlife.
February 15, 2021
The Last Racebender: Bridgerton & Colo(u)rblind Casting
On this week's episode, we will discuss the Netflix period drama Bridgerton which was written by Chris Van Dunsen and executive produced by Shonda Rhimes. Focusing on the show's character writing, this episode will explore themes of romance, sexuality, marriage, patriarchy, and consent. Zeroing in on the practice of race-bending in historical fiction, we will reflect o the show's supposed race blindness and larger critiques of anti-blackness and colo(u)rism within the series.
January 17, 2021
Kamala v. Combahee
This episode of LYS is a deep dive into the history of the Combahee River Collective, Black feminist thought, and the meaning of Kamala Harris’ historic appointment as the first woman and first Black person to be elected Vice President of the United States.
November 16, 2020
This episode of LYS dives into the HBO horror series Lovecraft Country with all its gore and glory. We discuss the show's issues with storytelling, racism, colo(u)rism, gender, homphobia and Black anger to ponder: what do we do when Black shows disappoint us?
November 02, 2020
On this week’s episode of LYS, we will discuss the NYT bestseller The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Focusing on the memoir genre, writing craft, music history, blackness, gender, and racial passing, on this episode we will explore the significance of American music legend Mariah Carey in popular culture.
October 19, 2020
I May Critique You
For our very first episode we discuss Michaela Coel’s critically acclaimed, tour-de-force series I May Destroy You and unpack its themes of sexual consent, community, Blackness and queerness.
October 04, 2020