Laura Mvula secured herself a place in my #blackgirlpantheon with this one. I spent some time gushing about this track here, but I’m really too bedazzled for words & very effing excited about April 23rd
I’ve written about Beldina before - back when she did her coverstories and mixed Dauwd’s ‘Ikopol’ with Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ and I found myself very into it. She dropped a new single and video & figured I’d write about her for Okayafrica.
Sidenote: When I’m writing about music, I read youtube comments. Some there have interpreted Beldina’s character in the video as a sex worker. I think that particular interpretation says a lot about how black women’s bodies are read, especially in relationship with white men’s bodies. It’s certainly an interesting conclusion to come to when the lyrics of the song are actually about how the speaker has found it hard to love/ be emotionally intimate in this relationship: ‘don’t come too close, I’ll push you away’ … ‘I’m the reason, my thoughts get in the way of what I feel for you.” She’s describing a complicated/fraught emotional state, but no - “this song is about prostitution”. Er, okay…
Coco Fusco | An Interview with The Black Audio Film Collective: John Akomfrah, Reece Auguiste, Lina Gopaul & Avril Johnson
John Akomfrah: People used the term representation for a number of reasons. The different uses give you a sense of the complexity of the trajectories involved. At one level people used it to simply talk about questions of figuration. How one places the Black in the scene of writing, the imagination and so on. Others saw it in more juridic terms. How one is enfranchised, if you like, how one buys into the social contract. What is England and what constitutes English social life? Some interests were broadly academic, but we were focusing on how to turn our concerns into a problematic, to use an Althusserian term, in the cultural field. We were interested in representation because it seemed to be partly a way of prying open a negative/positive dichotomy. It seemed to be a way of being able to bypass certain binaries.
Coco Fusco: Are you referring now to the negative and positive image debates?
JA: Yes, and its specifically English variant-which is obsessed with stereotypes, with grounding every discussion around figuration and the existence-presence and absence in cinema in terms of stereotyping. It was a way of going beyond the discussions which would start at the level of stereotype, then move on to images, and then split images into negative and positive, and so on. We wanted to find a way to bypass this, without confronting it head on. I think that the lobbies which were really interested in debates around stereotyping were too strong, to be honest. And we were too small to take them head on. In a sense the negative/positive image lobby represented all that was acceptable about anti-racism, multiculturalism, etc. It’s the only thing that united everybody who claimed they were against racism.
Everybody was talking about a non-pathology of racism. The Labor party activists would talk about it. So would the Liberals. For the anti-apartheid groups it was the limit-text, if you like. We sensed that it had political inadequacies, and cultural constraints, and that the theoretical consequences of it hadn’t been thought through. But we didn’t know exactly how to replace it. We did not want to try to set ourselves up as another interest group to combat the multiculturalists or the anti-racists.
Screenshot of my sister looking pretty via Skype last night. She was waiting for guests, but they took so long that she ended up eating the entire spread of vegan snacks she’d prepared for four. She then climbed into her pyjamas, unpinned her blue-tipped hair, took off her rings, and was like “they’re late, I’m going to bed”. She does not play.
It’s not as meditative as ‘Be Safe’ and lately I’m loving my #songsthatareprayers but, it’s almost spring (against the odds & despite this snow) and maybe it’s time to consider the terms on which I will emerge from hibernation. Lulu James’ leg-baring confidence makes me think: stride around, strike a pose, throw around the imperatives ‘come closer’ then ‘tie me’. Channel this black diva domineering; black diva vulnerability; black diva purring purposefully over a beat about the kind of love/life she wants. I’m into it.