As a way to introduce this interesting new web series by Chicago based creative director, Kedar Coleman, by coincidence I had a discussion with a friend yesterday on whether there could ever be a definitive definition of what “Blackness” is, and we both agreed that, not only did we not have an answer, but also it would be foolhardy to try to attempt one.
The fact is that, to try to determine what constitutes “Blackness” is truly a foolish endeavor. It’s too complex and way too broad a concept for just one set of answers. And if you think you know what they are then you’re totally off the mark.
However, unfortunately, too many black folks go by some ill-defined set of rules created by who-knows-what as to what defines the very idea of Blackness. It’s a whole lot more than the ridiculous “Black folk do this, and Black folks don’t do that” sort of nonsense.
But one thing for sure is that “Blackness”, whatever it may be, is global, multi-layered and vibrant, and that is what Coleman tries to explore in “talkin’ Black(ness)” which he says is a series of short documentary films with the purpose of exploring “the complexity and vibrancy of the global Black experience,” adding that, “It is our intent to harness the power of the visual storytelling medium to help us achieve our larger goal of evoking pride, deep conversation, and new connections between the endlessly diverse identities and experiences that make up the Black/African Diaspora.”
The web series is part of a larger multi-media platform that Coleman has created, which he calls “Black is Global” (BIG), which he describes as a “digital media community devoted to highlighting and celebrating the breadth, beauty and complexity of Blackness by sharing untold and under-told narratives that we hope will contribute to a more nuanced portrayal of, and deeper connection between, the people (and places) that make up the Black/African Diaspora.”
Furthermore, he says that, what he and BIG believe are that: 1) We are the same, different, separate and together – at once; 2) Black is Global, though, unfortunately so is anti-Blackness; 3) There’s immense power in narratives. It’s imperative that we make it a priority to tell our own stories; and 4) All Black lives matter. Accordingly, the stories we share will be inclusive of voices and experiences all too frequently excluded from conversations about Blackness (i.e. women, poor, LGBTQ, non-academic etc.).
Along with the web series, Coleman has also established a BIG website (which you can check out here) on which you can watch all the videos produced to date, with new ones added regularly, as well as a blog, and profiles of persons of interest around the world actively involved in various professions, projects and passions, originally from countries like Togo, and Ireland and who are now currently living in places such as Hong Kong, Brooklyn and Denmark, truly defining the idea that Blackness is indeed global.
Check out one of the episodes from the series, profiling community activist and organizer, Page May, in Chicago: