‘The Sellout,’ by Paul Beatty

Novel, 2015 Terrific, fast-paced novel, in which black identities, cultures and essences are examined and explored with and through old minstrel actors, vanishing city names in Los Angeles ghettos and various intellectuals and bus drivers, fighting questions of who they are and how they should behave. A real gritty and trippy ride, with some great angles and attitudes along the way; the questions of other … Continue reading ‘The Sellout,’ by Paul Beatty

‘Us,’ directed by Jordan Peele

Movie, 2019 Horror film with what feels like a social conscience, in which a family is attacked by a downtrodden, subterranean doppelganger family. The mixture of horror, psychology and social comment feels heavy-handed and confused in places, and the tension not necessarily as ramped up as it could have been. Otherwise, there are nods, here and there, or apparent nods to a load of different … Continue reading ‘Us,’ directed by Jordan Peele

‘Love of the Game,’ by Ricky Hill

Non-fiction, 2021 Account of professional footballer and coach Ricky Hill, and how his success at battling racism as a black player taking his first steps in the professional game in the mid 1970s hasn’t translated into appointments in the British managerial and coaching side of the game. While Hill is eloquent and the issues he raises have more than a feeling of truth about them, … Continue reading ‘Love of the Game,’ by Ricky Hill

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, directed by Stanley Kramer

Movie, 1967 A rather dated film exploring racial tensions in a liberal family, which feels very much like a one-location play adapted for film suing a flat, linear approach to its characters and their issues. Ultimately, there’s a happy ending and a resolution which you can see coming a mile off. Quite effective and moving for it though. The real interest is in race and … Continue reading “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, directed by Stanley Kramer

“Get Out”, directed by Jordan Peele

Movie, 2017 Enthralling horror film which manages to combine some really cheesy tropes with the odd jolt and some strong, powerful themes. As such, serious issues around race and identity are raised within a puff of an entertainment, which is no mean feat. There are, too, a number of surprises and plot twists which may be fairly easy for horror fans to spot, but which … Continue reading “Get Out”, directed by Jordan Peele

"John Coltrane," by Martin Smith

Non-fiction, 2003 A book focusing on the socio-political environment into which John Coltrane emerged in the 1950s and 60s. There are touches of biography and descriptions of the music, though this book’s simplicity is its main strength and weakness; the idiocy of racism is writ large, in black and white, although at other times, the simple language struggles to reflect the lyricism and complexities of … Continue reading "John Coltrane," by Martin Smith