Chinaka Hodge on Thursday, Feb. 10th
Chinaka Hodge is an Oakland native, poet and playwright. She’s an M.F.A. candidate studying Writing for Film and TV at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her proudest accomplishment is being a reliable sister to six amazing and talented siblings.
A constellation of thoughts and memories brought me to the endeavor I’m taking on over the next 18 days.
1) A few years black, a mentor and close friend of mine, Hodari Davis, said his brother was piloting the idea of Black Future Month. He asked how I would commemorate such an occasion, how I’d honor the idea in a meaningful way. Who would be the folks I’d honor during the month; what would mark this as a different agenda than the one set by Carter G. Woodson when he founded Negro History Week?
2) We had a huge fire in one of my childhood homes about two years ago. It started fast, burned faster, and destroyed the better part of three floors. Since the fire originated in the part of the house nearest our library, a horrifying number of valuable texts were lost/bruised/destroyed by ash. One of the reference texts I always treasured most was The Journal of Negro History — a collection started by the aforementioned Woodson. Our volumes, procured by my father, was a brown, bound compendium of the quarterly publication. Pop’s set started in 1916, with the first publication, and ended roughly in 1989. Maybe 35, 40 books, if memory serves. I used to marvel at the last one on his shelf, assuming that the publisher had cataloged all that he considered important in the black experience. My eight-year-old self used to ponder What happens next?. I always wondered what the cutoff was, exactly what made it, and what didn’t. (The journal, in fact, is still in production, now listed as The Journal of African American History).
3) I like to throw parties. I had a little get together on the first floor of my dad’s (newly refurbished) place towards the end of 2010, some of the nation’s brightest minds gathered in our Oakland den to talk shit, play spades and dominoes and to dance to MJ the Experience for Wii. A few days later a different set of folks gathered in my mother’s living room to set goals and intentions for 2011. Two weeks later, in LA, my roommates and I had probably one of the best attended house parties in the View Park area, ever. At each function, I took note of the spectrum of skills, passions and intent. Basically, I’m quite certain that my people, my immediate circle of friends, is going to run the country in the rather near future. Collectively we’re academics, engineers, artists, filmmakers, activists, tastemakers, artisans, attorneys, industry heads and even a few fledgling bankers. In short, in the future, we’ll make significant impact on our chosen fields, and sooner than you think.
I think as a nod to Woodson’s idea, in response to Hodari’s question, in answer to my childhood questions of “what comes next” — I’d like to put some those friends into digital conversation with each other. I’ll begin by using the month of February 2011 to highlight 28 folks from the African Diaspora who will make history, not just ultimately, but some day soon. I’ll also try to make associations between Black Future and Black History.
We begin with Oakland’s own Davin Anthony Thompson, aka, DoDAT and his live performance of “Dat, Dat, Dat” as part of the Get:Live Sessions. The song is off of a concept album called Oakland in Blue which is entirely influenced by and sampled from Duke Ellington’s body of work.
Check out two videos below. One of Dat doing his thing and another featuring a live performance by Sir Duke and his orchestra. Tell me you don’t see some similarities. Oh, and in case you’re a nerd like me, and have to know everything about everything, the Duke song sampled in “Dat, Dat, Dat” is “Ko-Ko.”