This Week in Black Art and Culture: Black Producers Nab Nominations at 73rd Emmy’s and More

This week in Black art and culture, the 73rd Annual Emmy Awards nominations have been announced with history made for the second year in a row. Pyer Moss has debuted his first couture collection at Paris Couture Week. Cornel West has published a scathing letter of departure from Harvard Divinity School. Misha Green has signed a deal with Apple to develop for AppleTV+. The Fairfield University Art Museum (FUAM) has announced three fall exhibitions based around racial justice and influence.

73rd Emmy Awards Nominations Highlight Projects by Black Producers, Actors


Above: Barry Jenkins

The 73rd Annual Emmy Awards nominations have been announced, and several of the projects led by Black producers and actors have been honored by the television academy in important categories. Cedric the Entertainer, the King of Comedy, will host the formal ceremony in Los Angeles on Sept. 19, with Reginald Hudlin acting as one of the executive producers. HBO’s Lovecraft Country leads the way with 18 nominations, including best drama series actor (Jonathan Majors), actress (Jurnee Smollett), supporting actress (Aunjanue Ellis), supporting actor (Michael K. Williams), and guest actor (Courtney B. Vance).

For its last season, FX’s nominated drama series, Pose garnered nine nominations, including recognition for protagonists Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez. Mj’s nom makes her the first transgender woman to earn an Emmy Award nomination in a major acting category.

I May Destroy You, another top candidate, was nominated for limited or anthology series, with three of its nine nominations going to creator Michaela Coel, who was nominated for lead actress, writer and director. The Underground Railroad by Amazon, a drama directed by Barry Jenkins and based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, received seven nominations in total.

Amazon’s Small Axe, a compilation of films by Oscar winner Steve McQueen depicting London’s West Indian culture, was rejected, as was Amazon’s Them: Covenant. Teyonah Parris seems to be the lone actor missing from WandaVision’s main cast without a nomination. Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn, Paul Bettany and Kat Dennings all received nominations for their roles in the film. Despite being shortlisted in 12 categories, Beyonce’s Disney+ music film Black Is King did not receive any nominations, making its snub one of the year’s biggest upsets.

Here’s a list of other nominees: 

  • Uzo Aduba, Outstanding Lead Actress, In Treatment
  • Rege-Jean Page, Outstanding Lead Actor, Bridgerton
  • Sterling K. Brown, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, This is Us
  • Kenan Thompson, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Keenan
  • Trevor Noah, Outstanding Variety Talk Series, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Outstanding Competition Program
  • Leslie Odom Jr., Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Anthology Series or a Movie, Hamilton
  • Renee Elise Goldsberry, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Anthology Series or a Movie, Hamilton
  • Daveed Diggs, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Anthology Series or a Movie, Hamilton
  • Michaela Coel, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Anthology Series or a Movie, I May Destroy You
  • Cynthia Erivo, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Anthology Series or a Movie, Genius: Aretha
  • Barry Jenkins, Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series and Outstanding Directing for a Limited or Anthology Series, The Underground Railroad
  • Raphael Saadiq, Outstanding Music Composition, Lovecraft Country
  • Dave Chappelle, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, Outstanding Variety Special and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special, 8:46
  • Sophie Okonedo ,Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Ratched

Pyer Moss Invited to Debut at Paris Couture Week

Before it ever started, the Pyer Moss Fall 2021 Couture presentation created waves. After three false starts owing to Tropical Storm Elsa, the show was postponed until Saturday, according to the press, friends of the New York-based company, and celebrities such as Tracee Ellis Ross and Law Roach. He even let the general public into a portion of the crowd. Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond’s collection made him the first Black American designer to be invited to show in Paris Haute Couture by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. 

But to debut his collection, the Wat U Iz exhibition was held instead at Villa Lewaro in Irvington, New York at the mansion of Madam C.J. Walker, the Black beauty businesswoman who made history as America’s first female self-made millionaire. Elaine Brown, the former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, gave a passionate statement about freedom at the start of the event, followed by 22Gz, a rapper from Brooklyn’s Flatbush area, where Jean-Raymond grew up, giving a performance that would serve as the catwalk’s soundtrack. 

Then came the runway tributes, each a pop-art salute to a Black inventor’s creation. Frederick McKinley Jones (mobile refrigerator), Garrett Morgan (three-signal traffic light and safety hood), Lonnie Johnson (Super Soaker), Lyda D. Newman (hairbrush with synthetic bristles), Henry T. Sampson (pioneer in cellular technology), Amos E. Long, and Albert A. Jones (single-use bottle cap) were among the inventors featured in the Pyer Moss show. Jean-Raymond, who created Pyer Moss in 2013, told the Associated Press that he wanted his collection to honor the brilliance and originality of Black designers who had been neglected throughout history. 

Cornel West Departs Harvard Divinity School with Blistering Letter

Cornel West, a well-known civil rights activist, announced his departure from Harvard Divinity School in a blistering resignation letter, accusing the school of “spiritual rot” and labeling it as “decay and decline.” The professor of African American studies said in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday night that he took an untenured job four years ago in the hopes of “still ending his career with some semblance of scholarly vigor and personal respect.”

Requests for comment were turned down by Harvard University and the Harvard Divinity School. According to The Boycott Times, West, who had been a professor of the practice of public philosophy in the divinity department, revealed plans to quit Harvard in March. West told The New York Times the same month that he may have been denied tenure at Harvard because of his age and sympathy for the Palestinian cause, which he called a “taboo” topic at the university.

West, 68, holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard. He’s also taught at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary, Yale University, and the University of Paris. He already had departed Harvard in 2002, following a public disagreement with Lawrence Summers, the university’s president at the time. 

West’s letter was made public roughly a week after Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, who is Black, announced that she will join the faculty of Howard University rather than the University of North Carolina. Her decision was announced a week after the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees grudgingly voted to grant her tenure, overturning its earlier decision to deny it, sparking an out-of-control tenure battle marked by accusations of racism and conservative backlash over her participation in The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which re-examined America’s bitter slavery legacy.

Lovecraft Country and Underground Creator Strikes Major Deal with Apple

Above: Misha Green.

Misha Green, the creator of Lovecraft Country and Underground has struck a major deal with tech giant Apple to create and develop small screen programs for AppleTV+. Green’s hefty multi-year deal comes only one week after HBO canceled the highly anticipated second season of Lovecraft Country. The Underground co-creator even shared a geographical glimpse of the over 70-page bible that had been assembled for what was widely assumed to be a Season 2 not long after Deadline’s July 2 exclusive reporting on the WarnerMedia-owned premium cabler deep-sixing the series based on Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel. 

Green will be reunited with former Sony TV presidents Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, as well as former WGN Chief of Programming Matt Cherniss, who now heads Apple’s U.S. Programming, as part of the new Apple arrangement. Van Amburg and Erlicht previously collaborated with the renowned showrunner on WGN America’s Underground in 2017. Green is scheduled to helm a new Tomb Raider film, which will be her feature film directing debut, and also will act as a writer on two other future films, in addition to her multi-year deal with Apple TV+. The Mother is a thriller starring Jennifer Lopez, whereas Cleopatra Jones is a remake of the 1973 blaxploitation film.

Fairfield University Announces Three Exhibitions Covering Racial Justice Issues


Above: Robert Lugo, Good Trouble, 2020
Glazed ceramic and enamel paint

The Fairfield University Art Museum (FUAM), Fairfield, Connecticut has announced three forthcoming autumn exhibitions focused on themes of racial justice, racism, police reform, and Black history in the United States, which will run from Sept. 18-Dec. 18. The museum’s Walsh Gallery will host Carrie Mae Weems: The Usual Suspects, while the Bellarmine Hall Galleries will host two concurrent exhibits, Roberto Lugo: New Ceramics and Robert Gerhardt: Mic Check. 

Carrie Mae Weems: The Usual Suspects is a collection of current photography and video works that challenge preconceptions that link Black bodies to criminality. Two of the paintings in the Walsh Gallery show, All the Boys and The Usual Suspects, address the racial stereotypes at the core of the murders of Black men and women at the hands of police and confront the audience with the reality of judicial inactivity. People of a Darker Hue, a contemplative collection of film, found footage, narrative and performance honoring these deaths, is the exhibition’s third component.

Roberto Lugo: New Ceramics will be on display at the Bellarmine Hall Galleries. Roberto Lugo, a self-described “ghetto potter,” explores inequality and racial and social justice using porcelain, a material typically for the well-off. His work frequently borrows recognizable designs from European and Asian ceramic traditions, such as ginger jars, amphorae and teapots, but their hand-painted surfaces are inspired by street art and contain current imagery, such as celebrations of Black and Latino people.

Robert Gerhardt: Mic Check, a photography project by photographer and writer Robert Gerhardt, will be on display in the Bellarmine Hall Galleries. Gerhardt used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to follow and film protests in New York City over the past seven years. Photographs of protests in New York from 2014 through 2021 are included in this extraordinary collection of work. These honest depictions emphasize the demonstrators’ zeal, righteous rage and frustration. The term is derived from the cries of “Mic check!” which enlisted protestors in a game of “repeat after me,” a method that brought the masses together and allowed the speakers’ comments and orders to spread without being amplified.

– Compiled by Sumaiyah E. Wade

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