In 2020 I, like many of us, binged a lot of tv during our initial lockdown in the United States. I streamed all the typical platforms and searched for content either marked as Black or “urban” to see what I could find. Among some really good titles in the Nollywood genre and the classics (read anything Eddie Murphy) were some titles that were either not that great storywise read: predictable or purely recycled narratives of poverty, crime, and some trauma porn related to policing as a part of the major companies commitment to racial equity and BLM.
As a mother of two, I really look for media that I can watch with my children or laugh with not out of self-deprecation but actual joy. I was tired of the same old narratives and didn’t enjoy having to throw on another film about a white princess for my daughter or risk my son watching another film about how he might be racially profiled or become a drug dealer one day. I’d learned about kweliTV
so I decided to take a bold step and cancel all my memberships to the mainstream apps and subscribe to kweliTV in its place.
I tried to get my friends and family to join me and got varied responses so I told everyone I would report back. It’s been three months of watching only kweliTV and we are hooked! There is so much dope content on the platform by so many amazing independent and established Black filmmakers from all over the world. The library of short films, animation, documentaries, comedy, and web series is as diverse as we are as Africans all over the Diaspora.
As a community organizer and educator I understand the power in our ability as Black people to understand and own our power as individuals and as a collective. I believe in the power of the media to help us unlearn the stereotypes of who we are and learn just how expansive we are and what we can become. I love what kweliTV is doing and in the spirit of this new age of Aquarius where so much of the world is shifting and technology is our deepest connection, I am rounding up some of my favorite titles for the tribe. I’ll be sharing longer reviews in later blogs but here’s my personal #starterpack for you to #bingeontheculture.
Sirius Lee: The Problematic Time Transplant – Okay, so this series is laugh out loud funny! It follows Sirius Lee, a mad scientist type from Oakland in the 80’s, who finds himself in Oakland in the year 2020. In his quest to return back to his time he is also set on a path of understanding about some of his problematic faves and outdated ideas from “reefer” to what was formerly Black America’s favorite father figure. I watched the whole series back to back and it was a good time, seriously.
Missed Connections – One of the best things about kweliTV is the stories are for, by, and about us. Missed Connections is a perfect example. It follows a trans woman protagonist, played by Angelica Ross of Pose, who has a chance encounter with a kindred spirit for one night and we watch as they search to find each other again. By the end I was so glad to see a narrative that was not centered in trauma but love and Black Trans Joy. A must watch.
Ubongo Kids – This series caught my eye because my daughter who is 4 was already watching Akili and Me on YouTube, another space lacking content for and by us, and I immediately recognized it was by the same team of creators. This is perfect if you want something educational and fun that will also introduce them to a new culture as the characters are based in Tanzania and integrate some Swahili into their episodes, which children will pick up as they join the adventure!
Get A Job – As someone who is Cleveland born but was made in Chicago (if you know, you know) I have to give it up for Get A Job starring Chicago native Lil’ Rel Howry. I loved the comedic approach to the well known story of being passed over for a job and wanting to pursue your dreams and feeling like all the odds are against you. The laughs kept coming and especially how the film depicts the inner workings of Chicago politics was so on point. As an added bonus you get to hear a short set from Lil Rel before we all got to know him on the big screen.
Alright, that’s the #starterpack so don’t get caught up not knowing where to start. Go to kweliTV right now and subscribe so you can #bingetheculture.