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Black Media You Should Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is usually a time of togetherness. Dad, Grandpas, and Uncles screaming at the TV as his team misses another touchdown. Mama, Grandmas, and Aunties chastising the kids for nibbling on the sides. All the kids – oldest to youngest – teaching each other the latest TikTok dances and posting filtered selfies on the Gram. But this year’s circumstances eliminated any possible cheek-pinching and sloppy kisses from the fam.

This doesn’t mean people are tossing aside turkey (or chicken) and all those wonderful side dishes. Having a small circle of (COVID-free) friends or immediate family over is still a slim possibility with social distancing and Zoom.

This year, you can tap into the Black experience by being appreciative of outstanding Black media of all shapes and sizes. With that said, I decided to highlight some outlets keeping us informed and entertained on Turkey Day.

Black News Organizations and Publications

These publications and websites provide news and views without all the shade (maybe only in small doses).

Blavity – grabs you all things Black media-related from news to beauty to tech

Mogul Millennial – supplies Black entrepreneurs with news, views, and resources

The Grio – gives you news of the day through the lens of Black America

Atlanta Black Star – gives daily news for Black America across different platforms

Rolling Out – speaks on Black news and culture with a Hip Hop slant

CRWNMAG – taps into the Black lifestyle and hair culture

Watch the Yard – speaks to the HBCU culture and experience

Essence – gives a voice to Black women across all lifestyles and perspectives

For more Black voices still in traditional print, here is a directory of different Black publications nationwide. For anyone looking to break into publication, here is news of a new fund supporting Black writers and journalists.

Black Podcasts

These podcasts are just as diverse as the diaspora itself.

Still Processing

Black Men Can’t Jump [in Hollywood]

Code Switch

The Read

Back Issue

Okay Now, Listen

Melanin Animated

The Black Film Space Podcast

Jemele Hill is Unbothered

Strong Black Lead

Black N’ Animated

Toon Lore Done Right

For more Black voices in the podcasting space, here is a list of podcasts covering all the different facets of Black culture.

Black Film and TV Platforms

These platforms provide much-needed outlets for Black creatives.

aspireTV

kweliTV

UMC (Urban Movie Channel)

Blacktag

While eating your dinner this Thanksgiving, why not watch, read, and listen to some of these Black media outlets.

Mixed Feelings Over a Creative Future

As 2020 barrels toward an unpredictable ending, being a Black writer has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Angry. Sad. Anxious. Joyous. Depressing. Exciting. Frustrating. But recent developments have been made me hesitantly optimistic.

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My creativity as a writer has been tested so many times this year. For me, 2020 was supposed to be my year, but God has other plans (not only for me but the world in general). I’ve witnessed Black body after Black body become viral sensations as the American mainstream finally recognized (not accepted) how racist the US truly is. So many times, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration and angry. I tried to write about it, but my mind and spirit wouldn’t let me. It was too tiring to use my words to educate or express my thoughts on the Black American experience.

Along with America finally (if only superficially) addressing racism, COVID-19 decided no one was going to have any fun in the first year of this new decade. Again, my thoughts and feelings couldn’t come together to speak on the fun destroyer. I experienced an overwhelming depression that led me to channel my feelings into overeating. Despite being an introvert, I found lockdown to be isolating and anxiety-filled as this pandemic brought this never-ending cycle of openings and shut downs. I’ve been isolated from my family for months with social media and phone calls being the only form of contact. Despite writing for months, I’ve felt no motivation to tend to my personal writing. I hope to change that in the near future.

But the past few weeks have taken the cake. Between the clusterfuck known as the presidential election and an unexpected car accident, I have been having a hard time. Watching this country be divided between red and blue, Black and White, and men and women has been surprising yet typical after the election. Seeing the Orange Man defeated after four years of nonsense was bittersweet. Part of me was joyous to return to a bit of normalcy while the other part of me knew udder chaos was bond to break out. The social media meltdowns were better than primetime television.

On the other end, my car accident left me with mental, emotional, and physical pain I will have to deal with you a while. Despite having an attorney and an orthopedist, the process hasn’t been easy. I still have to deal with things that out of my control. My frustration and annoyance has been on an all-time high.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Despite all this turmoil, my creativity has never stopped. My mind is constantly filled with ideas of pieces I want to write. Hopefully, my plans for the rest of the year will pan out. Screenwriting is definitely in my sight as I plan on revising quite a bit over Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Working on Valarie, Brothas, and the untitled action adventure will be my main focus before 2020 ends. I feel inspired to work on a piece or two (one fiction and one nonfiction). I will see more coming from me in 2021.

Since taking my break, my freelance work has increased as more and more contract work continues to come in. While it can be overwhelming at times, I won’t want it any other way. I love being busy. I might even have even more work around the corner if some connections work out.

On the school front, the Fall semester is coming to an uncertain close. Dealing with COVID-19’s impact on education has made everyone involved feeling overwhelmed, despondent, and anxious. If recent news and emails are anything to go by, these circumstances won’t be going away any time soon. Hopefully, by Fall 2021, school will have dealt with the “new normal.”

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Working Hard for Me

As a writer, sometimes, juggling all the facets can be tiresome. The more I forge my path, the more life ebbs and flows. Being a freelancer and business owner can be daunting and rewarding. I feel my world is opening up while slightly swallowing me at the same time.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Working as a copywriter and journalist has been satisfying and trying at various points. I love the work and using my craft to help someone else – it’s so rewarding. But in the same breath, I’ve found balancing multiple opportunities to be somewhat exhausting especially when it comes to my other responsibilities. I hope my other potential gig relieves the situation rather than adding to it.

Like I mentioned before, my other two clients have been a little MIA so we’ll see where those opportunities go given the COVID-19 situation.

I see screenwriting in my near future. I hope to block out the next month or so to dedicate myself to writing more. I hope to start shopping for an agent or manager within the next year or so. While I wait on feedback from my first two projects, I hope to start revising and rewriting my action-adventure screenplay by late October/early November. I hope to finally tackle my personal piece by year’s end.

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Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

When it comes to my professor job, I’ve finally made peace with teaching online and the highs and lows that come with it. I’ve learned how to not only communicate better with my students but with other faculty as well. I still miss interacting and communicating with students, faculty and staff one-on-one. I hope in the future to walk around campus – outside and COVID-free.

But I don’t see the pandemic subsiding any time soon. I was hoping to teach on campus next semester but my assignment says otherwise. Let’s hope 2021 is a better year for everyone all around!


Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

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Writing and Changing… and Changing and Writing

As a writer, sometimes, your goals can evolve based on your needs. While my core goals are still the focus, some of the immediate ones are being met in new and unexpected ways.

Lately, I’ve turned my attention from script writing to journalism and copywriting. Within the past few weeks, I began doing marketing and advertising copy for the blogging service Content Cucumber. So far, the experience has gone pretty well. I actually enjoy the work I’m doing as it allows me to do my favorite thing as a writer – tell a story. Through the agency, I have a steady stream of clients coming weekly. It’s nice to use my writing talents to improve someone’s company outreach rather than create content for click-bait. I might have another gig in the wings (fingers crossed for that one).

I’m still working with CBR for now. I hope to continue my journalistic journey as I pursue more positions. I want to tackle more pressing contemporary issues across various arenas at some point. I’m still waiting to hear about my status with one or two clients, but I know it’ll be awhile given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

Within the next few weeks, I plan to pick up my screenwriting again. I’m still waiting on some feedback from one or two beta readers. Hopefully, by the time November arrives, I’ll be in the process of rewriting for the umpteenth time. While I want to focus on my first two projects, I hope to start revising and rewriting my action-adventure screenplay by the end of the year. Along with screenwriting, I plan on finally writing a personal piece I’ve been thinking for a while.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

On the school front, my classes are barreling towards our first test. I’m still working out the kinks when it comes to teaching online. The effects of COVID-19 has impacted my students as well as fellow faculty in this early stage. Things may return to normal next semester, but given the trouble many college campuses are having, it might be stretch, to say the least.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Writing to Survive in 2020

2020 has been a trying year, to say the least. As a freelancer, growth, and change have become my mantra when it comes to expression. But survival has become my motto as the year has brought continual blows.

As a writer, survival has become a way of life as I chose to take my career into my hand. Unbeknownst to me, 2020 would rain on my parade quite a bit with the catastrophic situation after situation. It put me in an awkward position as I tried forging a freelance career. Surviving came before my craft as I began experiencing difficulties when it came to finding and maintaining freelance work. I began doubting myself and my abilities.

This affected all aspects of my writing. Coming back to do this blog was a challenge in itself as I had gotten stuck in a certain style of writing. This blog was my way of surviving while my contract work started falling (and in some cases, draining me). This place became my haven and purpose when it came to expressing myself. I felt stifled in other areas of my life. But my voice came back as soon as I started writing this blog again.

Another thing that brought me joy is my screenwriting. Despite taking a break at this time, writing my projects has given me a sense of peace (as well as some anxiety). Writing dialogue. Planning out scenes. Developing characters. That’s my thing. It’s my calling, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I wait for some feedback, I’ll get back into scriptwriting before NaNoWriMo happens.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet. Recent social media campaigns are starting to pique people’s interest. I recently started a new writing job with another possible one on the horizon.

On the school front, the Fall semester has been quite a ride so far. Getting used to teaching online and new students have been an undertaking, to say the least. The effects of COVID-19 has impacted my students as well as fellow faculty in this early stage. If recent news and emails are anything to go by, these circumstances may be in place for a while.

As a Black male trying to enter the entertainment industry, many inspirational figures are working in front of and behind-the-scenes of Hollywood. Ava DuVernay. Ryan Coogler. Justin Simien. Geoffrey Fletcher. John Ridley. Spike Lee. John Singleton. Denzel Washington. Angela Bassett. Laurence Fishburne. Halle Berry. Will Smith. Martin Lawrence. Eddie Murphy. Chris Tucker. And these are just a few of many.

For me, Chadwick Boseman fell into that category. Hearing about his secret cancer diagnosis and untimely death helped me to come up with this week’s blog. Boseman was the true definition of a hero and survivor. Besides being an outstanding actor, Chad was an activist and humanitarian who gave his all to everyone and everything. He did everything in his power to provide entertainment for the masses in his final years. He got the chance to play some of history’s most iconic figures — Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall.

But his most impact role has to be T’Challa aka Black Panther. From the moment he appeared in Captain America: Civil War, he made a huge impression leaving audiences (including myself) wanting more. Then, Black Panther premiered in 2018. To say the movie was a moment is an understatement. Chad and that movie were a cultural shift that Hollywood big wigs are still trying to understand and replicate. He was an inspiration to millions especially for young Black boys who had only a few chances to see a Black superhero in full action (shout out to Blade and Spawn). Now, looking back, this amazing human being was creating escapism for the masses while facing the battle of his life.

The legacy he has left behind will last for decades to come. For me, there is only one T’Challa. So I say to my fellow South Carolinian Chadwick Boseman — may God bless you in your afterlife journey and that you are gone but never forgotten.

Read my 2018 Paste Magazine piece on Chadwick Boseman and the history-making Black Panther.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Growing and Moving

As an artist, the act of art is all about shifting and growing as one continues to evolve. This year has proven to me that growth and change are necessary when it comes to purpose and dedication.

As a writer, I’ve noticed more and more that my writing needs a purposeful end goal. As evident by some of my recent posts, something has awakened in me when it comes to raising awareness. I feel my job as an artist is to spotlight both the good and bad of the world through storytelling. Writing those pieces on microaggression fulfilled me in a way that I only feel when writing my screenplays. I have to admit only a few news pieces have made me feel that way in recent months. This realization has created somewhat of a crossroads for me.

I highlighted in a past post about the current situation I’m dealing with a current contract job. That job has tested me not only as a writer but as a loyal employee. I took a break to reassess some things, but I feel I may be coming to the end of the road for me. But I’ll reveal my decision at a later date.

I know as an artist my evolution is an ongoing process that will never end. I once heard at a conference that creatives face a career shift every ten years. I’m actually in the midst of mine right now.

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

In regards to purpose, I’ve taken a mini-break from my screenwriting as I contemplate the direction of going forward with some of my work. Writing Losing Valarie has been a roller coaster as I constantly go back and forth about the direction of the story. Lately, I’ve been mulling over some ways to make it more current and update given its target audience. With technology playing a big role in the plot, I’ve tossed around some ideas about my teenage characters and its usage.

The hangup for my other series Brothas has been incorporating the parents more into the story while drawing from my real life. As my parents (more specifically my mother) were an integral part of my childhood, I feel incorporating a good moral base and relatable stories are essential.

As I continue to rewrite and restructure both shows, I’m still reaching out for more feedback on my scripts.

Soon, I’ll be hopping back into my unknown pilot. I want to do one or two more pass-throughs before I feel it is ready for feedback. With that said, it really is all about grinding it out to I get it right.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet.

The final countdown to the start of school has begun. The set-up for my Fall courses is pretty much set as next Monday inches closer and closer. Despite looking forward to teaching on campus, I’m preparing to teach my students online. From my perspective, I feel the school year will be vastly different from last year. COVID-19 has thrown the educational system for a loop just like every other industry.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Focusing and Refocusing

Rewriting brings about something many writers never speak on – focusing or re-focusing your work to deal with issues from the writing process.

Getting a clear focus is something I’ve been contemplating. For Losing Valarie, the revising and editing process has brought forth issues dealing with the continuity and a defined plot. The plot has always been secondary to my characters, but now, I see the two go hand-in-hand to make for the best story. Continuity has become another issue for me as I try to keep my story from verging from its original course. The latest revision requires me to fine-tune some key elements while adding some more contemporary elements for my teenage characters. This comes after getting some much-needed feedback. I’m still seeking more outside advice to make things better.

crop artist with new sketchpad in park
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Along with Losing Valarie, I received some much-needed feedback on Brothas from a fellow writer. It was nice to hear from a mother’s perspective as the show deals with two little boys. My script revisions deal with addressing some areas of continuity and plot. At the core of the series, I deal with a loving family. Making the parents a bigger part of the story is something I’m working on. Again like Losing Valarie, I’m still seeking feedback on the story.

I’m still in the process of working on my unknown pilot. I want to do one or two more pass-throughs before I feel it is ready for feedback. With that said, it really is all about grinding it out to I get it right.

busy young african american man with dreadlocks working on laptop in street cafe
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet.

With the start of school days away, I’m in the deal of setting up for the Fall semester as plans continue to evolve and change during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite looking forward to teaching on campus, I’m preparing to teach my students online. From my perspective, I feel the school year will be vastly different from last year. I can feel the landscape shifting on so many levels.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

The Art of Re-writing

As a screenwriter, many times I’ve been told that the real write begins with the rewriting and revising process.

Rewriting can sometimes be daunting for me as I begin the process of reworking and revising these works I’ve spent years on. For Losing Valarie, the revising and editing process has been going on for years as I constantly come back to it to see if there are any new approaches or ideas I can apply. Going from an hour-long live-action drama to a half-hour animated dramedy has been a gift and a curse for me. In this latest revision, I have been trying to interject some more humor while ramping up the intensity given these are teenage characters. I have re-written and re-written this work so many times at this point I need to start reaching out to outside sources for some real feedback.

crop artist with new sketchpad in park

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Much like Losing Valarie, Brothas has been a labor of love for years as I try to translate scenarios from my own experience into a more streamlined kid-friendly series. I have continued to be insular with my work as I fine-tune my work. Again like Losing Valarie, I am at the point where I want some outsiders to see my work.

While those two may be ready for others to read, I’m still working on my unknown pilot. I want to do one or two more pass-throughs before I feel it is ready. With so much, it really is all about grinding it out to I get it right.

busy young african american man with dreadlocks working on laptop in street cafe

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Aside from forging my own path, screenwriting competitions are still in my front view. Even though, there is some trepidation as many require an entry fee. I have to decide whether I need to pay my bills or enter this contest. Hopefully, these next round of entries will yield some results.

I’m still working on getting more freelance work as some of my clients begin to get back on their feet.

While I continue to focus on writing, I’ll be concentrating on my professor’s job as I prepare for next Fall semester as we deal with this ongoing pandemic. I prepare to teach my students online instead of in the classroom.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Pushing the Narrative

As the world faces some difficult choices in an age of social and societal changes, writing is now more important than ever 

As I mentioned last week, I now have an outlet to make my creative dreams come true as a content creator through Patreon. I’ve been stockpiling scripts for some years now I plan to finally do something with them. Making animated content for the marginalized and underserved is all about the long game for me. I love to experiment with genres such as children’s programming, action-adventure, slice-of-life, and teen dramedy, just to name a few. As a Black screenwriter, I want people across multiple generations to be able to enjoy the medium for decades to come.

crop artist with new sketchpad in park

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

As seen on my website, my two main projects – Brothas and Losing Valarie – have been in the works for years. They both came from a need that wasn’t being met. The teen dramedy Losing Valarie has festered in my mind for years under different names and concepts before becoming an Election-meets-Mean Girls-meets-Scandal hybrid – with a Black female lead, of course. Brothas was born from the void left by shows like The Backyardigans and Little Bill. As a children’s show, the series is inspired by my own life as it follows two Black brothers and their family living an average life filled with imaginative adventures.

I still have one or two more projects I want to write pilots for by the end of the year. One revisits a Disney-esque story from my undergrad studies while the other is an action-adventure series centered on two brothers (see a theme here) as they take up crimefighting to find their missing parents. Along with animation, there’s also a live-action musical series I have played around in my head (it may stay live-action or turn into adult animation?). Only time will tell with that one.

busy young african american man with dreadlocks working on laptop in street cafe

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Aside from forging my own path, I’m still entering screenwriting competitions as a way to get my work out there. I’ve worked on my spec script a little more to help smooth out dialogue issues and timing. Hopefully, these next round of entries will yield some results.

While I continue to focus on writing, I make some necessary adjustments to my course for this coming Fall semester. Within the next week or so, I’ll be concentrating on creating the best course for my students as we deal with this ongoing pandemic.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

Using My Words for Change

I’m a firm believer in being the change you want to see. You can’t complain if you don’t have a solution to the problem, and for me, my solution is using my words.

When I say “using my words,” I mean putting pen to pad (or in most cases, fingers to keyboard) to create the change I want to see. For many years, I have written about the lack of representation on film and television (especially in animation). As I mentioned in a previous post, I am moving forward to forge my own path as a content creator. I have scripts, designs, story bibles, and so much more ready to go, and I’m tired of waiting. So I decided to create a Patreon page to help me fund my work. I want to be able to recruit other creators of color (especially Black ones) to help make animated content for the marginalized and underserved. In order to do that, I need funds to help me fund my projects and pay people properly, and that’s where Patreon comes into play. 

With the masses clamoring for film and television that represents them, I think about the little boy in South Carolina who only saw sprinkles of himself here and there when it came to animated shows. I’ve had certain ideas floating around my head for years with some of those can be seen on this website (check my “Multimedia Art” menu for more). I want to do comedies, dramas, action-adventure, mystery, sci-fi and so much more. I feel animation is the best medium for that with Hollywood turning to it in the face of COVID-19. For me, this is the perfect time to strike.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

While I seek independence for my creativity, I am looking for other opportunities as a writer to highlight my talents. I am tweaking the spec script I wrote a month ago in preparation for an upcoming writing fellowship as well as some other writing competitions. Letting it rest for a while has really given me some clarity into what works and what doesn’t. Giving my work some time to breathe usually helps me and it in the long run. Every script helps me to hone my craft as a writer just like this blog.

My personal writing is still coming together while my professional writing is starting to pick up again. The pandemic put a stop to my freelance work for a while, but I’m now getting some offers. I have some clients starting to reach out again. Some new opportunities didn’t pan out, but I’m still grinding to expand my client base.

architectural photography of brown and gray house

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

While I continue to focus on writing, I am getting ready for the next school year as I prepare to teach two classes in August. COVID-19 had caused some necessary adjustments to make the campus safe for students, faculty, and staff. So my syllabus and coursework will have to reflect that. Within the next week or so, I will concentrate on creating the best course for the Fall semester.

Watch this space for more on my writing journey.

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