Whisper Not: Question Bridge Diversity and the Black Male Narrative
1 month ago
How Question Bridge is Working to Eradicate the Single Story
The Brooklyn Museum is the current host of Question Bridge: Black Males, which made a debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The transmedia project is co-directed by artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair.
The era of President Obama has re-opened the floodgates on public discussions on “Blackness” by Black people. It seems that not since the Spike Lee films of the late 80’s and 90’s and certainly not since the late filmmaker Marlon Riggs final work Black is Black Ain’t (1995) have the voices of Black male power and vulnerability been so strong. Question Bridge: Black Males captures the multitude of stories and perspectives as co-director Hank Willis Thomas states “of men who are separated by class, geography, and philosophical differences.”
On the evening of the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday, sponsored by Target, the museum was packed and scheduled with events all designed to highlight the beauty and diversity of Blackness and Black masculinity. The all Black Brooklyn based band Game Rebellion performed. Additionally, Shantrelle P. Lewis, curator of the Dandy Lion: Articulating a Re(de)fined Black Masculine Identity currently on view at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, gave a talk that addressed the visual impact of Black male stereotypes from images in D.W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation (1915) and the image of the “big Black male as thug” (or brute) to her current work that addresses how Black men are re-positioning themselves in society.
Nothing was more amazing to observe than the exhibition itself and the museumgoers viewing Question Bridge: Black Males. There were people, men, women, families, of various ethnicities and cultures piled up as if the gallery space had been converted into one public living room. People were sitting on the floor, standing, and squeezing in wherever they could to watch and listen as if this was something that they had never seen or heard before, and it is likely they hadn’t, not in this capacity.
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