Movie Night at the Omni: “Black Ain’t Black”

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Date(s) - 04/10/2015
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Omni Commons


Black is… Black Ain’t is a 1994 award-winning feature-length documentary by Marlon Riggs. It explores the multiplicity of expressions of African American identity with a backdrop of Creole cooking.

Synopsis: Riggs uses his grandmother’s gumbo as a metaphor for the rich diversity of Black identities. The film traverses the country interviewing African Americans young and old, rich and poor, Northern and Southern, rural and urban, gay and straight, as they discuss the numerous, often contested definitions of Blackness. Riggs mixes performances by choreographer Bill T. Jones and poet Essex Hemphill with commentary by noted activist Angela Davis, and cultural critics bell hooks, Cornel West, Michele Wallace, Barbara Smith and Maulana Karenga to create a flavorful stew of personal testimony, music, and history.

While Black Is…Black Ain’t looks at Black diversity, many speakers tell of their pain at having been silenced or excluded because they were perceived as “not Black enough” or conversely “too Black.” Black Is…Black Ain’t also provides a critique of sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, colorism and cultural nationalism in the family, church and other Black institutions.

Riggs himself is a participant in the film. He is shown in a race against time to finish the film, struggling with his precarious health and mortality. Riggs died of AIDS in April 1994 at the age of 37 before the film was completed. Adhering to Riggs’ notes, his colleagues on the production team completed the film.

Sponsored by Optik Allusions. Doors open at 6, screening at 6:30. Suggested donation of $5, and there will be complimentary popcorn as usual!

About Barbara MacLean

Barbara MacLean has worked as an academic and career counselor at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB), Merritt and West Valley Colleges and as a career counselor and manager of the Oakland One Stop Career Center, a public career and jobs center in partnership with EDD. She is a co-founder and editor of Planning Beyond Capitalism.

View all posts by Barbara MacLean →

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