INTRODUCING 'SMART BLACK PEOPLE'
A little seen film I made in 2005 with a slew of insightful folks talking the 1980s
In 2004 I published a book title, ‘Post-Soul Nation,’ with the very Tom Wolf inspired subtitle - The Explosive, Contradictory, Triumphant, and Tragic 1980s as Experienced by African Americans (Previously Known as Blacks and Before That Negroes.) The book was time line of key ‘80s events: Rev. Jesse Jackson’s two runs for President, the introduction of crack cocaine, the ravages of AIDS, Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, General Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, MTV etc etc. The book was actually an expansion of a concept I’d started in a previous book, Buppies, Bboys, Baps & Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Culture.
In 2005 I organized two panels, one in Harlem and the other in Beverly Hills, filled with writers, filmmakers, musicians and business people who had played some role in shaping the ‘80s or were shaped by it. Among the notables were filmmakers Reggie and Warrington Hudlin, hip hop figures Kool Moe, Russell Simmons and Bill Stephney, writers Lynell George, Barry Michael Cooper, Michelle Wallace, Trey Ellis, composer/bassist Marcus Miller and the late musician/critic Greg Tate. I video taped both panels and printed up some dvds under the title Smart Black People. Unfortunately I was far from retail saavy so the Dvds mostly sat in storage and the film itself wasn’t screened widely.
So one of my goals in 2023 has been to make a lot of the visual companions to my literary more widely available. I started an Urban Romances store on Vimeo and the first thing made available for purchase or rent was my 2011 film about the Fort Greene black arts community Brooklyn Boheme (https:vimeo.com/ondemand/brooklynboheme).
There’s also a promo code where you can buy/rent both films at a discount price and get an autographed dvd, which includes an essay about the film and book. On the Urban Romances page there are also several bonus interviews with folks who participated in the Harlem panel.
So its a bounty of content built around the ‘80s as a social, cultural and political turning point. It was the decade I came of age in and shaped my adult life. I’m sure it did the same for many of you.
I’ve finally uploaded Smart Black People on vimeo( https://vimeo.com/ondemand/smartblackpeople) for rent and purchase. Since the two films
The trailer for Smart Black People.
Inside sleeve of the DVD for Smart Black People.
Thank you for this! My coming of age story is also '80s. Artifacts about black peoples lives like this are so needed. I have journals dating back to '79, so I appreciate artifacts discussing social and cultural of that moment. If we don't tell our stories who will? Have you submitted some of your materials to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture?