In addition to activism that presents itself as protests, boycotts, and the spread of information, I think it is of the utmost importance that we put our money and attention where our mouths are. There are so many Black creatives that aren’t given the attention they deserve, and if you truly are an activist, I believe that giving them support is what should be a priority. In this fight, you should be way more passionate about your love for Black people than your hatred for the system.
To make it all a bit easier to start, I’ve created a sort of masterlist of my favorite Black owned fashion brands, musicians, authors, and movies centered around the experience. This list isn’t too long, so I always recommend doing your own further research. But I hope this may be a start.
SHOPISRAELLA ( https://shopisraella.com/ )
instagram: @ shopisraella , @ _israella
Owner: Israel Simmons
Similar to: Forever 21, Shein, Zara
Price Range: $-$$
SHOW SOME LEG ( https://showsomeleg.co/ )
instagram: @ showsomeleg
CEO: @alittleoflauren on twitter
Similar to: Lululemon, Ivivva, Fabletics, Athleta
Price Range: $-$$
TL Swim ( https://tlswim.com/ ) @tl_swim
Owner: TiAra LeChay @tiaralechay
Similar to: Frankie’s Bikinis, Zaful
Price Range: $-$$
Riot Swim (https://www.riotswim.com/ ) @riotswim
Founder: @thefull_monti on instagram
Similar to: Triangl, Frankie’s Bikinis
Price Range: $$-$$$
Molly Luxe Boutique ( https://www.shopmollyluxe.com/ )
Based in Hawaii
Similar to: Fashion Nova, Shein, Forever 21
Price Range: $-$$
Galerie.la ( https://galerie.la/ )
Founder: Dechel Mckillian
Similar to: Reformation, Madewell, Anthropologie
Price Range: $$-$$$
bonus points: they’re sustainably made!
I’m a big Frank Ocean fan, and he gives me that same energy in a way. Also a sprinkle of Daniel Caesar.
my favorite song: love song
Chloe x Halle
THE NEW IT GIRLS!!!!!!!! Their raw TALENT is so impressive and the songs are a catchy pop/R&B mixture that is really easy to get stuck in your head. I love these girls so much.
STREAM UNGODLY HOUR NEW ALBUM OUT NOW!
Big inspiration from Bootsy Collins and Doobie Brothers in my opinion. Lots of bass and overall quite “groovy” music. Kinda makes me feel like I’m in the 70s, which I love.
my favorite song: them changes or dragonball durag
They’ve got a voice that reminds me of Tyler the Creator, and the beat/harmony is reminiscent of Anderson .Paak. to me. Pretty good combo!
my favorite song: gimme gimme or wasted
She really puts heart and soul into her music and poetry, and is a strong face of Neo-Soul music for me. Really beautiful lyrics and flow. In addition to music, she also runs a book club, which I am a proud member of.
my favorite song: song 33
A Chicago rhythm that puts me in the mind of Chance the Rapper’s Coloring book but….much better. The upbeat music mixed with his appealing voice makes you want to sing along, even if you don’t know the words yet.
my favorite song: sinner
This genre of “indie vibe pop” music makes me think of people like Vampire Weekend, Wallows, and Rex Orange County. And I love all those artists. But hey, indie can be more than just white people can we please stop having to go over this. I think Jelani is my new favorite artist.
my favorite song: the garden
Beats remind me of JID or Smino. I think I spent the longest time out of my research listening to all of his music just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. In his major label debut “Is He Real?”, the hard hitting, clever bars have layers leading to a deep conversation about morality, humanity, and higher power. TL;DR, i like it.
my favorite song: 24
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A letter written in 3 parts to his son, Samori. Through anecdotes and internal feelings, Coates shares with his son what it feels like to be a Black man in America. Short reading, but still extremely powerful.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Throughout this incredible work of Science fiction, Butler forces the reader to consider how much slavery impacts American society in the modern day, and the generational trauma that comes with it.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Letter written in 2 parts to his nephew. Another reflection on life in America as a Black man, as well as Baldwin’s experience with the Nation of Islam. ~120 pages, incredible read.
Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim
A collection of essays and writings from Black women. Just reading through the pages inspired me, and motivates me to achieve my greatness. If you’re looking for a reason for me to sell you on reading, I challenge you to name 5 modern female Black authors off the top of your head.
She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore
A magical realism tale that tells of the African diaspora and the influence of colonization, whether you consider it to be negative or not. I’m usually not one to recommend this genre, but this book exemplifies LITERAL Black girl magic so….pretty cool I’d say!
Here for it by R. Eric Thomas
Personal essays that explore what it felt like to grow up as the “other” in academic white suburbia. Topics explore sexuality, code switching, and reclaiming what it means to be ones’ self in a world where it feels condemned.
DIRECTORS AND/OR FILMS
I think this part is important because there are a lot of White savior movies that are taken to be some type of groundbreaking beautiful thing. When I say this, I mean The Help, Greenbook, Freedom Writers, and lowkey… The Blind Side. Don’t treat these as movies that are somehow representative of the Black experience and how solidarity between races is simple to accomplish. Not to say these aren’t well made movies that are entertaining, but it portrays White people as a necessary helper that brings Black people out of their otherwise destitute situation. stupid right. Long story short, there’s better movies to watch. (side note, some of my recommendations aren’t Black directed, but I still think they’re worth a watch.) Some of my personal recommendations are:
13th streaming on Netflix directed by Ava DuVernay
Exploration of racial inequality and systemic oppression in the United States. This documentary focuses on the 13th amendment in particular, and how it leads to the disproportionate filling of prisons with Black bodies.
LA 92 streaming on Netflix directed by Daniel Lindsey and T.J. Martin
A documentary of the time period following the Rodney King trial in 1992 that led to the acquittal of four police officers that beat a black motorist viciously. In the wake of the acquittal, the city of Los Angeles saw days of protests, violence, and more, all explored in the documentary.
Remember the Titans directed by Boaz Yakin
A movie based on the true story of a newly integrated Alexandria, Virginia high school in 1971. In a city where high school football is more important than anything, the new school and city dynamic puts each individual to the test. While some may view this as a white savior movie, I think it is still an important look at the initial integration of schools, and a reminder that not everything was simple and easy and kind once races began instruction together.
The Hurricane directed by Norman Jewison
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a revered boxer, is wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to 3 life terms in prison. This is a really hard watch, but I feel that it’s important to include in this list because it shows how easy it is for Black individuals to be wrongfully imprisoned and profiled. Also, Denzel Washington is just a really good actor.
When They See Us directed by Ava DuVernay
Following in the same theme of wrongful imprisonment, this Netflix limited series explores the trials of the “Central Park 5”, who were wrongfully accused of the assault and rape of a jogger in New York City’s Central Park. The series spans over a quarter of a century, ending in their eventual exoneration. Another hard, but necessary watch.
Boyz n The Hood directed by John Singleton
A movie surrounding young Black men in South Central Los Angeles. Explores drug and gang culture, economic disparities, and how the perpetuation of violence in these communities leads to tragic results. I choose this film because it brings visibility to “the hood”, and visibility to the fact that the struggle to rise above these trying circumstances isn’t due to laziness or apathy, but due to the lack of systemic assistance and resources.
Do The Right Thing directed by Spike Lee
Explores how racial inequality drives and perpetuates conflict that hinders any possibility of rising above harmful circumstances. I think this movie calls for the viewer to check their own compliance with racism and prejudice, and how small acts can provide messages that speak harmful volumes.
The Last Black Man in San Francisco directed by Joe Talbot
In this (cinematically incredible) movie, Jimmie is a young Black man who wants to reclaim the house his grandfather built. This task sends him and his friend on an odyssey that highlights the gentrification and pushing out of original homeowners, especially of color in San Francisco. I loved this movie, and find it so important. I mean, just last week SF/Oakland was announced to be the fastest cities currently being gentrified. It’s past time we start paying more attention to this and strengthen our protection of marginalized homeowners.
Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins
A look at the 3 defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young Black man. This journey includes grappling with his own sexuality and masculinity, as well as the embracing of the community that helps to raise him to be the man he grows up to be.