Sure, it’s a little self-serving to devote an entire column to the importance of my own profession but the world of culture criticism is still overwhelmingly white
and I’m tired of seeing Black critics deemed traitors to our race just for daring to think critically about the work we’ve just experienced. Plus, it’s not just bad Black projects that need to be critiqued by Black writers (and no, Michael Che, a fair yet mediocre review
by a Black critic doesn’t mean that a publication is hiding behind that critic’s Blackness
; it means your shit is mediocre). The good stuff needs critique too. One of my favorite recent reviews was The Undefeated’s Soraya McDonald
’s stunning rumination on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
and the collision of “two Black Americas'' as she calls it. In her review, she examines the relationship between old vs. new, South vs. North, Levee (Chadwick Boseman) vs. Ma (Viola Davis), freedom vs. liberation and past vs. present. She does August Wilson’s masterpiece justice with masterful and poetic writing of her own, praising the nuance in his prose. A white critic couldn’t have done all of that. Oftentimes, art is supposed to be a mirror of society. And conversations surrounding art are only enriched and elevated by perspectives that capture the different facets of how it speaks to us. For too long, we've only been getting one viewpoint (read: old white men) — and our cultural understanding of art has been reduced because of it.