Kinfolk Collective explores untold narratives of the African Diaspora through speculative film ‹ The Visibility Project

Julian Walker, co-founder of the Kinfolk Collective.

In an aesthetically stunning scene from a film titled ‘Third Timothy,’ a young Black boy fills two glass bottles with water from a waterfall in the woods. The trees are bare and the sky is grey. Barefoot, the boy walks slowly on wet rocks trimmed with damp autumn leaves.

The boy aims to peddle the bottles as holy water with his brother. Together, they travel the rural South selling fake holy water to people desperate for miracles in hopes of escaping their abusive foster home to live with their uncle. The boys witness preachers in their community take collection for the church and use it for their personal gain, influencing them to take advantage of people to make better lives for themselves.

Third Timothy’ was written and directed by Julian Walker of the Kinfolk Collective, a group of filmmakers out of Chicago who “trace the overlaps and commonalities between members of the African Diaspora.” Walker co-founded the collective with videographer Darren Wallace.

Walker grew up in a community heavily influenced by Christianity. Watching corrupt preachers use collection funds for their personal benefit prompted him to make the film. ‘Third Timothy’ aims to explore social issues in the Bible Belt, specifically racism, religion, corruption and poverty. “There are many depictions and conversations surrounding the idea of crooked pastors,” said Walker, “but how many have you seen explore the effects of their actions on young people? How many times have you had an 11-year-old boy try to sell you holy water? I intend to take a fresh approach to the ‘crooked preacher’ issue by showing these situations and more in ‘Third Timothy.’

The Kinfolk Collective also have a number of other projects, including an Artist Portrait film about Chicago-based rapper Tree called ‘Damn Near Made It,’ and an experimental short called ‘Bluebird’ featuring a reading of the Charles Bukowski poem by the same name. Their latest project, ‘Savage vs. The Void,’ premiered on April 25, 2014 in Chicago, and explores the feelings Wallace experienced after the execution of Troy Davis. Watch more short films by the Kinfolk Collective here.


Kinfolk Collective explores untold narratives of the African Diaspora through speculative film ‹ The Visibility Project.


On Moya Bailey, Misogynoir, and why both are important ‹ The Visibility Project

Known for creating the termMisogynoir, Bailey defines it as the intersection of racism, anti-Blackness, and misogyny that Black women experience. The term is specific to Black womanhood, as Misogynoir cannot be experienced by women of any other race, but can be perpetuated by people of any gender or race.

On Moya Bailey, Misogynoir, and why both are important ‹ The Visibility Project.

Same Ol’ Tropes: ABC’s new series, ‘Selfie,’ with John Cho and Da’Vine Joy Randolph falls short ‹ The Visibility Project

It’s pilot season, and ABC is adding even more color to the TV screen. In addition to ‘How To Get Away with Murder,’ ABC recently added ‘Selfie,’ a comedy written by ‘Surbagatory’ creator Emily Kapnek, to their Fall 2014 roster. ‘Selfie’ will star Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), John Cho (Harold and Kumar, American Pie, Sleepy Hollow), and co-star Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Ghost the Musical).

The protagonist, Eliza Dooley (Gillan), is a social media obsessed 20-something with perpetually pursed lips, 263,000 online followers and no real friends. Following a humiliating public breakup, she decides she would rather form relationships with the people around her instead of ‘friending’ people on the Internet. She hires co-worker and marketing expert Henry Higenbottam (Cho) to rebrand her image.

Same Ol’ Tropes: ABC’s new series, ‘Selfie,’ with John Cho and Da’Vine Joy Randolph falls short ‹ The Visibility Project.

Diane Humetewa, first female Native judge on federal bench ‹ The Visibility Project

Diane Humetewa made history in Arizona on Wednesday as the first Native woman federal judge elected to the U.S. District Court. She was voted in unanimously in a 96-0 vote and will fill one of the six vacancies on the federal bench. Humetewa is the first woman and the third Native in American history to be confirmed as a federal judge.

Diane Humetewa, first female Native judge on federal bench ‹ The Visibility Project.

Through the looking glass: Rola Nashef’s ‘Detroit Unleaded’ highlights Arab-American communities ‹ The Visibility Project

Detroit has enjoyed a lucrative film industry for years. Several successful movies and television shows have been filmed in Detroit; ‘8 Mile’, ‘Dreamgirls’, ‘Martin’ and ‘Sister, Sister’ to name a few. Thanks to Lebanese-American independent filmmaker Rola Nashef, we can add another stellar comedy to the list.

detroit unleaded- rola nashef headshotWritten and directed by Nashef, ‘Detroit Unleaded’ is a romantic comedy about two Arab-Americans living in the Motor City. Sami (EJ Assi) skips going to college after his father’s death and takes over the family business, a gas station and mini-mart in the east side of Detroit. He falls for Naj (Nada Shouhayib) when she appears in his late father’s gas station selling phone cards. Naj also works closely with her family, selling phone related materials with her overprotective older brother, Fadi (Steven Soro). To spend time together, Naj joins Sami literally and figuratively behind ‘The Cage’ – the bulletproof glass windows of the gas station.

‘The Cage’ found its place in the film after Nashef noticed Arab-American men working in gas stations throughout Detroit. In an interview with The Sag Harbor Express, Nashef says, “It just kept repeating in my head: Is this really what they immigrated here for?” Is this really the American Dream, to sit in a bulletproof cage? … There are a lot of places that trap people and keep them from doing what they want in their lives. It is a metaphor for how we constantly are put in boxes or create boxes for ourselves.  [‘Detroit Unleaded’] is about breaking out of that box.”

In the film Nashef tells a story about the Arab-American community she grew up with. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, Detroit has a large population of African-Americans (82.7 percent), and both communities give the movie its characters and context. Because Nashef wanted show the relationships between Black and Arab-American people in Detroit, many of the customers in ‘Detroit Unleaded’ are Black.

Though race plays an important role in the film, another driving theme seems to be economics. In a guest post published on Indiewire’s Women and Hollywood, Nashef writes, “Through close observations within my own family and circle of friends, it always seemed that men were under a great deal of pressure to make money and support their families. And this economic responsibility seemed to trap them in a life they did not dream of or want… This was probably the first time in my life that I identified economics, rather then gender, as the real ‘cage.’”

With Nashef joining the roster of filmmakers from Detroit, (Francis Ford Coppola, Gene Reynolds) we can only hope to see more films with such a unique viewpoint. Nashef is working on another comedy called ‘Nadia’s House,’ about four Lebanese women trying to get married.

Detroit Unleaded’ is now available on DVD and iTunes.

Through the looking glass: Rola Nashef’s ‘Detroit Unleaded’ highlights Arab-American communities ‹ The Visibility Project.



Beyond a Black History Month

Beyond a Black History Month

Today I will be on a panel on Al Jazeera’s The Stream talking about Black History Month! Click on the link in the title to watch – it’s today, Monday, February 4, at 2:30pm EST!

Edit: If you missed the live show, you can catch it here!

You Should Know About: Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks

Photo Courtesy of

WHO: There’s a new female rapper/singer in the game and she’s spitting her way into the hearts of today’s hip-hop fiends. Azealia Banks, a newbie from Harlem, is the new up-and-comer in the music industry. With the exception of her Youtube tracks “Seventeen” and “Gimme A Chance” under the moniker Miss Bank$, she dropped her first official single, “212” last year featuring a beat from Lazy Jay. After that came “Liquorice,” a catchy tune with a spanking-fresh music video where Banks boasts about attracting White boys despite having dark skin. Banks sings on the hook:” Can I catch your eye sir / Can I be what you like? Yeah… / I can be the right girl / Tell me if you like your / lady in my, my color / can I be your type? Yeah…”

Banks’ debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, is due in September on Interscope/Polydor Records. Although many people refer to her as a rapper, she prefers the term “lyricist.” She wrote on her blog:

“I never was…. and as soon as I started paying attention to b******t urban media, I started getting myself in trouble. From now on I’m a vocalist, and will not be associating myself with the “rap game”… or whatever the f**k that means…”

WHY: The quote above may be referring to her highly-publicized confrontations with White female rapper Iggy Azalea. XXL reports that in April, Banks tweeted, “How can you endorse a white woman who called herself a ‘runaway slave master’? Sorry guys. But I’m pro black girl. I’m not anti white girl, but I’m also not here for any1 outside of my culture trying to trivialize very serious aspects of it.”

Unfortunately for Banks, race is always going to play a part in her career. A Google search of Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea will bring up plenty of interviews with Iggy about her beef with Banks, and her word is backed up even more by her rap mentor T.I., who signed her to Grand Hustle Records in early March of this year. But Banks doesn’t shy away from the controversy. Racialicious’ write up of Azealia Banks as the Crush of the Week points out, “Sexual braggadicio? Check? And hold on…did she just check Diplo and his I’m-not-an-cultural-appropriator-because-I-date-the-women-of-color-I-take-credit-for a** (and any other white person who thinks they get a Racism Pass because they sex it up with folks outside their race)? Totes check.”

WHEN: Banks’ album is due in September, but if you can’t wait that long, stay tuned for her mixtape Fantasea, to be released on July 4, and check out her 1991 EP, released May 29.


Azealia Banks – “Slow Hands (Interpol Cover)”