See also the previous posts:
• Interiors – July 18, 2019
• Photo of the Day – August 27, 2015
• Photo of the Day – November 12, 2012
• Photo of the Day – June 22, 2018
• Photo of the Day – December 14, 2014
Image: Michael J. Bayly.
Thoughts & interests of a queer seeker of the Divine Presence;
of a “soul dancer,” seeking to embody with grace and verve
the mystico-prophetic spiritual tradition
All of us, whether we consider ourselves activists or not, must recognize that our oppression, like a wall, is two sided, not one sided. Our focus must be turned inward and outward at the same time, but the only way we'll be able to hold both in mind gracefully is if we stop clinging to thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that limit our attention and cause suffering. This is why self-control and self knowledge are inherent in our Power. We have to examine the ways in which we participate in our own oppression.
How many of us have walked down Main Street or through the park with a partner and not grabbed our beloved’s hand? For how many candlelit dinners in fine restaurants have we settled for eye contact from opposite sides of the table? How much of our time do we spend with the eyes in the back of our heads wide open, afraid to fully express our selves for fear of attack?
The answers? Too many. Too much.
Start small and just challenge yourself to observe the ways you think. In the examples just given, although there is an atmosphere of oppression that is sometimes present in public, and certainly there are situations in which it would be unsafe to do so, most of us actually oppress ourselves by not grabbing that hand, cupping that waist, offering that peck or special smile, or by only frequenting queer establishments. We do the oppressors’ hardest work for them by allowing ourselves to be boxed in. We assume the worst and that keeps us from our best.
A great example of claiming space is also one of my favorite memories from when the Rev. Fred Phelps’ family visited Ann Arbor, Michigan, in February 2001. My partner dropped me off near the University of Michigan early so I could prepare for my silent prayer vigil sitting among the Phelps family holding their "God Hates Fags" signs.
The first thing I saw after I got out of the car was an image more powerful than watching hundreds of same-sex couples make-out in the university commons later that day, more powerful than any speech I heard: I saw two young, punk men striding confidently across South University Avenue holding hands. What I didn’t see was any hint of self-consciousness, maybe a bit of defiance, true (the green mohawk was a clue), but I didn’t see a sideways glance, not a hesitation. Just the inspiring courage to walk the world without masks.
Rhone Fraser was born on October 12, 1979. He is a widely respected literary critic, journalist, advocate, playwright, and academic. Dr. Rhone Fraser identifies himself as gay, Marxist, and Christian, “without contradiction.” [NOTE: Fraser no longer identifies as a Marxist but as a Garveyite.]
Rhone Sebastian Fraser was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jamaican immigrant parents. His mother is a registered nurse, and his father is a pharmaceutical manager. Fraser’s family moved to White Plains, New York, when Lederle Pharmaceuticals hired his father.
Fraser’s mother read to him as a child, and later told him he was reading from the age of two. He was raised in the Episcopal Church, and attended Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Valhalla, New York, until the age of ten, when his father’s job moved his family to Wesley Chapel, Florida. While there, Fraser played basketball in high school and junior high, and joined the National Honor Society at Zephyrhills High School. He also performed in drama productions of Everyman, directed by influential drama teacher, Greg Burdick.
Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, which inspired his love for the theater. Fraser graduated from Zephyrhills High School in 1997, and Yale College in 2001. He discovered his love of Black literature while performing the role of Meridian Henry in a Yale production of James Baldwin’s play, Blues for Mister Charlie.
Fraser has admitted that he did not have a sexually gratifying experience until he was 28, due in part to his own homophobia taught by his religious upbringing. He did not consider himself to be truly “out” until he told his father and mother personally in November of 2011.
Jason Latty [right], in 2011. Fraser now works as general secretary at the organization founded by Latty, Caribbean Alliance for Equality (CAFE), which is devoted to ending homophobia in Jamaica and the greater Caribbean.
Fraser taught eighth grade earth science at Augusta Lewis Troup Middle School in New Haven, Connecticut, until 2003. He was invited by then-principal Valerie Reidy to teach Regents chemistry and forensic science at the Bronx High School of Science until 2004, when he moved to Florida to continue his graduate education. Fraser applied to medical school and law school to no avail, yet flourished in broadcast journalism at Pacifica radio’s WBAI program, Tuesday Arts Magazine. He interviewed and produced segments with a range of journalists, scholars, and artists, including Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Bobby Seale, Yolanda Adams, Juan Williams, Tavis Smiley, Ellis Cose, Randall Robinson, Jasmine Guy, Marcus Gardley, Tonya Pinkins, Phylicia Rashad, Shola Lynch, Amy Goodman, Dr. Charles Ogletree, and Boris Kodjoe.
While in Tampa, Dr. Fraser also read on Friday evenings for WMNF Evening News. In 2005, he started the Master’s program in Africana Studies at the University of South Florida, and wrote his first documentary play, Living Sacrifice: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, that was read at the ROAR Anniversary celebration in Hamer’s hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi, in August of 2005. In 2007, Fraser earned his Master’s degree and began the Ph.D. program in African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A year later, he completed his second play, A Sound Mind, based on a group of influential young ministers of the Gospel he met called Odd Generation.
After attending a 2008 production of Leslie Lee’s play, Sundown Names and Night Gone Things, based on Richard Wright’s experiences in 1930s Chicago, Fraser committed himself to writing historical drama, and began taking playwriting classes taught by Lee, the former artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company, at the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center from 2008 to 2010. With Lee’s supervision, Fraser completed his third play, Negro Principles, about the personal and political life of A. Philip Randolph and Lucille Green Randolph during one week in Harlem in 1928.
In 2011, Fraser was personally selected by Philadelphia mayoral candidate Diop Olugbala as education chair in Olugbala’s unsuccessful campaign against current mayor Michael Nutter. He also chaired the campaign’s effort to appeal to LGBTQ voters. Frasier supports third party movements such as the Green Party and the Workers World Party.
On July 27, 2012, Fraser defended his more than 420-page dissertation and earned his Ph.D. The dissertation, “Publishing Freedom: African American Periodical Editors and the Long Civil Rights Struggle, 1900-1955,” focuses on three periodical editors – Pauline Hopkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Paul Robeson – and how their writings influenced the Black freedom movement in the twentieth century. He is excited about promoting the work of these Black writers, and especially the work of journalist-playwrights Alice Childress and Lorraine Hansberry, whose plays, Fraser argues, came from the periodical Freedom, inspired by Paul Robeson. He believes that works by Childress and Hansberry are the unsung foremothers of the Black Arts Movement.
In 2013, Dr. Rhone Fraser produced a reading of his play, Unity Valley, based on the actual 1803 pamphlet by Quaker merchant David Barclay called “An Account of the Emancipation of Slaves from Unity Valley Pen, Jamaica.” The following year, Fraser was honored to speak at, and direct shorts of, Leslie Lee’s plays at the memorial for Lee, hosted by the Signature Theater and featuring Woodie King, Jr. and Douglas Turner Ward.
Starletta DuPois, Zuhairah McGill, Brian Anthony Wilson, Caroline Clay, Alexander Elisa, Carlene Taylor, Shayne Powell, Norman Marshall, and many other notable actors. The series featured a new historical drama written by Ted Lange about John Brown and his collaborator Osborne Anderson entitled The Journals of Osborne Anderson, a gathering which Lange himself attended.
In 2015, Dr. Fraser joined the faculty of the Department of English at Howard University, where his teachings featured Between the World and Me, a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates that he said changed the course of his life. He believes this is the first mainstream publication that spoke to him directly, because he related so much to Coates’ thoughts on manhood, and the fact that he and Coates are fellow Librans and there are similarities between his Aquarian father, Anserd, and Coates’ father, Paul. In September 2017, Fraser was invited to lecture at Pacific Lutheran University about his critical response to Between the World and Me, during which Coates was compared as a journalist to the likes of Ida B. Wells, Pauline Hopkins, Hubert Harrison, and Marcus Garvey.
In 2016, Dr. Fraser organized a panel, “Marcus Garvey: 100 Years Later,” about the historical significance of journalist Marcus Garvey, who sailed to the United States exactly one hundred years prior. The gathering at the Left Forum included historians Horace Campbell and Jeffrey B. Perry. That October, the son of Marcus Garvey, Dr. Julius Garvey, called Fraser and asked him to join a lobbying effort, organized by Howard University’s Dr. Goulda Downer, to get then-President Obama to grant Marcus Garvey a posthumous presidential pardon. Dr. Fraser committed himself and got others to write and tweet weekly to President Obama for the pardon, which was ultimately not granted.
On January 1, 2017, Dr. Fraser completed his fifth play, The Original Mrs. Garvey. The work is based on two biographies of Amy Ashwood Garvey, the first wife of Marcus Garvey, by Lionel Yard and Tony Martin. He has lectured about Amy Ashwood Garvey at the Francis A. Gregory Library in Washington, DC, at Howard University, and at a U.N.I.A. Division #330 meeting.
Dr. Fraser considers his dramatic works much more nourishing than the stale and bland diet promoted by the mainstream. His says his plays are “gems waiting to be discovered” for any play director ready to be challenged and develop them. They are works which come from many influences, including his Temple University dissertation adviser, Dr. Heather Thompson, who won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in History for her book Blood in the Water, about the 1971 Attica prison rebellion. The book was optioned and selected by TriStar Pictures last year to be produced as a film by Amy Paschal and Rachel O’Connor.
Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins Society and the Toni Morrison Society. Fraser completed scholarly book reviews about the work of novelists Paule Marshall and Elizabeth Nunez [right]. The Journal of Pan African Studies is publishing a special issue on the fiction of Nunez, edited with an introduction and a critical article by Dr. Fraser. He is also completing a manuscript for publication which is a literary criticism of the four novels by the Boston-based journalist and dramatist, Pauline Hopkins.
Fraser appreciates all novels and nonfiction by Professor Ishmael Reed. He presented a paper about the novels Batty Bwoy by Max-Arthur Mantle and Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn at a conference organized by Antoine Craigwell called “In My Mind,” dealing with mental health in the queer community of color.
Fraser, true to the values of Lorraine Hansberry and Malcolm X, makes Black liberation from race and class oppression a priority in his dissertation and his historical drama. He sees this as the root of all oppression, including homophobia, and ties themes of liberation theology into all his plays. He is featured in the “Modern Day Black Gay Project” by Donja Love.
Like the thinkers he studies and teaches about, Fraser eschews the two-party system, and supports the formation of a political party that supports the interests of the working class and not the current ruling capitalist class named by George Jackson in his book Blood in My Eye. Fraser supports the kind of revolutionary nationalism endorsed by Malcolm X and Jackson, and is increasingly resistant to reforms to the current two-party system because of its clear advancement of austerity and increasing mass incarceration of Black youth.
Fraser is also a staunch supporter of army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, whom he believes is an important example for all other U.S. soldiers to follow, because she challenges the repression of the U.S. military, and the military dictatorships across the globe that they support.
Frantz Fanon to understanding the endemic homophobia in Jamaica, and is working with CAFE to further that.
Fraser was disappointed in Jamaican church leaders rallying hundreds against the repeal of anti-buggery laws, yet being unable to rally against the Jamaican Minister of Agriculture’s sale of thousands of acres of Jamaican land to the Chinese government. On his blog, Edifying Debate, Fraser has described this as behavior of a tragically “colonized bourgeoisie” (to borrow Fanon’s term).
As a Marxist, Fraser is also suspicious of the American government’s use of “pinkwashing,” a term coined by Jasbir Puar to express the promotion of gay rights as only a cover for supporting corporate interests that enforce racist practices, such as Shell Oil, which prides itself on being tolerant, yet has a history of supporting a military dictatorship in Nigeria. As a Christian, Fraser is also highly critical of the lack of political education and consequent ignorance that the Western church promotes, in order to privilege homosexuality as a moral issue instead of what he sees as the more serious problems within the United States: militarism, austerity, and mass incarceration. He is a staunch supporter of a Free Palestine, and supports the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
James Baldwin’s teachings, “it is our responsibility to support revolution of this morally decaying system, while at the same time teaching those who are uncritical supporters of American hegemony about its racist and capitalist nature in order to ultimately dismantle it.” According to Fraser, part of this means rejecting hetereonormativity, not just for its own sake, but to restore the leadership of women to its rightful place in human history, and to stop the increasing concentration of wealth and power that denies most people the right to self-determination.
Dr. Fraser makes his home in the Philadelphia area. He says he has yet to have the pleasure of meeting his life partner, however by loving himself and the intellectual path that life has allowed him, he believes he will find that special someone.
The idea of platonic boyfriends/girlfriends/partners and “Boston marriages” (a 19th-century phrase describing two women who shared a life and lived together without the support of a man) has been around for a while. Back in the day, sometimes these relationships were actually sexual relationships between folks who couldn't be out as gay because it was illegal, socially unacceptable, and dangerous. But sometimes they were intimate non-sexual friendships.
A more modern umbrella term for these relationships is queerplatonic. The word was coined, defined, and redefined by asexual and aromantic people to describe a relationship that is not romantic, but emotionally closer than what we generally think of as friendship. The “queer” part is not about sexuality, but about the queering of our ideas about what relationships look like. As writer and activist Shon Faye puts it, “Queer is about removing labels and replacing them with a question. It is a side eye and a challenge back to mainstream society and politics. It says, 'I don't know the answer, but why are you asking the question?'” Queering relationships is rejecting the restraints of convention, but it's also liberatory truth-finding. It allows us to look at a relationship (and so many other things) stripped of preconceptions and ask, What is this really? What are the components? What is happening inside of it? Anyone of any sexual orientation, gender, or other relationships status can be in a queerplatonic relationship.
Having more language and examples that articulate a way to be in relationship with others outside conventional understanding is affirming because I have, and want more, relationships like that. Even though I'm not aromantic or asexual, the paths people with those identities are forging to be wholly who they are makes room for the rest of us too. People are living into identities that aren't accepted or even recognized by society at large. Their insistence on self-definition creates space for all of us to be self-determined in our identities.
. . . “I think of my family as a queer family even when it's full of straight people. This is an unconventional approach to family,” Gabi, who is queer, transgender, and genderqueer, told me, reflecting on the idea that “queering” is about bucking convention — not just for its own sake, but because it's what actually works. They told me, “I love the defiance of the bumper sticker 'Not gay as in happy but queer as in fuck you.'”
. . . Perhaps part of our challenge in thinking expansively about our friendships is that we're limited by the word friend. Like community, the word friend has come to be so broad as to have lost meaning. We can have thousands of “friends” on social media, including people we have never met and make no effort to know. Friend can describe a work acquaintance whose personal life you know nothing about or a close intimate with whom you share history and your realest self. There are beautiful words in languages other than English that get at some of the richness and variety of friendship, like the Gaelic phrase anamcara, which literally translates as “soul friend”; or the Aramaic havruta, which means “friend” and, depending on your brand of Judaism, can mean a person with whom you study the Torah or someone with whom you engage in self-education; or the Japanese nakama, which can mean “buddy” or “people who you can trust in all things.” And then there is the Black American practice of applying familial words to friends who are like family, like auntie or brother. Knowing that there are other words supports my ability to see the possibilities that were previously obscured to me even if I never use them.
While part of what I'm working toward is flattening the relationship hierarchy, I'm also clear that my friendships are part of what keep my marriage working. I get a range of love, affirmation, attention, inspiration, perspective, and engagement that isn't dependent on my husband or the state of our relationship. My husband, as wonderful as he is, does not have much to offer me when it comes to some things that are important to me, like narrative change strategy or Black feminist liberation (and I don't have much to offer him when to comes to music creation or particle physics). When I am pissed at him, my friends allow me to vent, but also move me toward empathy and reconciliation. And there is a deep joy and rightness with the world that I get from sitting in the presence of my closest girlfriends, loving one another, laughing, eating, drinking, and being unapologetically ourselves, something that no man will ever give me.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Title VII decision protecting LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination is a reason for all Catholics to celebrate. While pro-LGBTQ Catholics, who are the overwhelming majority in the U.S. church, will obviously applaud this decision, even Catholics who take a negative stance toward LGBTQ people should welcome this decision because it is absolutely in agreement with Catholic teachings about the human dignity of LGBTQ people, anti-discrimination, and respect for workers’ rights.
Unfortunately, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops does not agree. Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles denounced the decision in a statement, saying, in part:
I am deeply concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively redefined the legal meaning of ‘sex’ in our nation’s civil rights law. This is an injustice that will have implications in many areas of life. . . . No one can find true happiness by pursuing a path that is contrary to God’s plan.
Every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and, without exception, must be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Protecting our neighbors from unjust discrimination does not require redefining human nature.
What Gomez doesn’t realize is that such a “legal redefinition” actually helps in the goal of “Protecting our neighbors from unjust discrimination. . . .” He commits the error that the bishops conference has continually made by viewing all LGBTQ issues through the lens of sexuality instead of through the more basic and correct lens of human rights and dignity.
Moreover, for decades upon decades, and with increasingly mounting scientific and social scientific evidence, the bishops have been exhorted to listen to the voices of LGBTQ people so that they can learn how these individuals experience and discern “God’s plan” for themselves, instead of being constrained by an abstract philosophical model.
Even Catholics opposed to marriage equality for lesbian and gay couples should be rejoicing that the Court’s decision is in line with Catholic teaching on homosexual people that “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358).
Even Catholics who do not support transgender people should be rejoicing that their dignity and humanity are upheld by this ruling. As the U.S. bishops have stated: “Human personhood must be respected with a reverence that is religious. When we deal with each other, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the presence of something holy and sacred. For that is what human beings are: we are created in the image of God.” (Economic Justice for All, 28)
As Pope Paul VI said, “All people have the right to work, to a chance to develop their qualities and their personalities in the exercise of their professions, to equitable remuneration which will enable them and their families “to lead a worthy life on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level. . .” (Octogesima Adveniens, 14)
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that this decision will protect the rights of LGBTQ workers employed in church institutions. Church agencies often hide behind religious exemptions to discriminate against LGBTQ workers in their employ. It is shameful that Catholic bishops and administrators do not themselves live up to their own teachings in regard to LGBTQ non-discrimination and workers’ rights.
As with other LGBTQ issues, it is sad that the Supreme Court is ahead of the Catholic Church when it comes to employment non-discrimination – a policy which should Catholic teaching speaks of eloquently in its words, but fails miserably in putting into practice.
So, while Catholics of all political persuasions can rejoice that the U.S. Supreme Court supported LGBTQ workers in a manner consonant with Catholic teaching, the work for justice and equality inside the Church will continue.
“Happy Pride!” is a phrase I would have uttered thousands of times starting June 1, the first day of Pride month. I had some damn high hopes for Pride in the year 2020. I published my first book, Our Gay History in Fifty States, and planned an amazing whirlwind book tour, advocating for the inclusion of a more diverse rendition of our community’s history. I envisioned myself demanding more states join the ranks of California, Colorado, New Jersey, Illinois, and Oregon in requiring the teaching of LGBTQ+ history in schools. I had a goal to get 1,725 of books donated to LGBTQ+ youth-focused learning centers across the country, especially in conservative states and counties, so that kids there know that they are seen, valued and part of a rich community that has contributed so much to this country.
However, my plans were hit with a one-two punch: First Covid-19, and then the murder of George Floyd.
I am a Black man in Minneapolis and my world stopped on Memorial Day. The Black community is crippled with grief and anger, but not disbelief. We’ve seen this story before: We watched Ahmaud Arbery murdered by vigilantes. We followed the trial of Trayvon Martin’s murderer as the state let him walk free. Our eyes were glued to the video of Eric Garner in New York gasping for his last breath crying out, “I can’t breathe.”
George Floyd said, “I can’t breathe” too. And yet, we are here, still unable to breathe. The Black community, my community, is being snuffed out and nobody cares.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march, which began as a commemoration of the events of June 28, 1969, when, empowered by the Black Power, women’s liberation, and anti-war movements, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn said “enough is enough!” Black, brown, transgender, and gender non-binary people spearheaded the resistance. A revolutionary riot lasted six days. There were both peaceful protestors and defiant rioters. There was unrest. There was violence. There was property damage. And people went to jail.
Today, the country celebrates their contributions, even though none of them were celebrated at the time. Stonewall, like every riot in our country’s history was sparked by a push back against police violence and brutality.
Today, as I stand in Minneapolis, I ask, where is the groundswell of LGBTQ+ community warriors now when my Black community is under attack? Peaceful Black Lives Matter protests occurred at Pride parades across the country have been met with boos, jeers, and social media rants. This is what happens when we fail to tell the history of our movement, including who was involved from the very beginning. This is what occurs when we fail to ensure that Black, Brown, and Indigenous voices are part of our leadership structure and have an equal voice. Without diverse voices and leadership, people believe the false narrative that white gays and lesbians secured gains on their own without the rest of us.
We proclaim that the lights of the cosmos unite all people on the planet in a great oneness. As the fiery stars, the intense sun, and the reflective moonlight shine on us, so they bathe each one who dwells on this beautiful sphere of life with a great illuminating energy.
We proclaim that there is an unquenchable fire shining within each person, a light that is strong, deep, and enduring. It is the vigilant fire in the hearth of the soul, maintaining hope and truth amid life's many ups and downs.
We proclaim that the fire of those who have gone before us has never left this earth. We are heartened by the truth that their sacred fire has become an eternal light that leads us on, a fire continually blessing us, encouraging us, affirming us to live our life to the fullest for our own benefit as well as for the good of all humankind.
We proclaim that the fire within cannot be contained. It seeks to move out, to permeate, to enter into every place that lacks passion and vitality. When the inmost self is opened with love, trust, and confidence, an energizing and healing light shines forth to fill the corners of the world.
We proclaim that there is a divine fire within us that is immeasurably loving, inconceivably caring, consistently non-judgmental, and enormously passionate. This light will never give up on us. It will cherish us into eternity.
We proclaim that the light within us is beautiful, precious, and wild. We urge everyone to do all they can to tend this fire, to care for it with courage and kindness. Let the inner light shine forth radiantly so all will benefit from the power of this immense warmth and goodness.
I woke up to the morning sky first
Baby blue just like we rehearsed
When I get up off this ground
I shake leaves back down
to the brown, brown, brown, 'til I'm clean
Then I walked where I'd be shaded by
the trees by a meadow of green
For about a mile I'm headed to
town, town, town, in style
With all my favorite colors
All my favorite colors
My sisters and my brothers see them like no other
All my favorite colors
It's good day to be, a good day for me,
a good day to see my favorite colors
My sisters and my brothers,
they see them like no other
All my favorite colors
Now take me to the otherside
Where the baby blues birds fly
In grey clouds, or white walls,
or blue skies we gon' fly, feel alright
Now we gon' woo ooh woo ooh woo ooh ya
They sound like woo ooh woo ooh woo ooh ya
The least I can say I anticipate
a homecome parade as we renegade in the morning
All my favorite colors
All my favorite colors
My sisters and my brothers see them like no other
All my favorite colors
All my favorite colors
All my favorite colors, yes ma'am
My sisters and my brothers see 'em like no other
All my favorite colors
It's good day to be, a good day for me,
a good day to see my favorite colors
My sisters and my brothers, they see them like no other
All my favorite colors
The cinematic [video] – a powerfully intimate, Melanin-packed depiction of the joys and hardships of life colliding – was directed by Kristian Mercado, fresh off his Best Music Video win at this year’s SXSW Film Festival for Hurray for the Riff Raff’s “Pa’lante.”
“I really wanted to capture how powerful the sounds and vocals of Black Pumas are,” says Mercado. “I’m driven by emotion and felt a strong connection to the music. I was on a trip in Florida at Banana Records, when I heard ‘Colors’ playing. I was instantly moved and asked tons of questions about who they were. It was such a powerful song and experience that I sought out to do the music video for the song. We shot the whole film in the Bronx, wanted to show the Bronx as a place that was alive and vibrant. We wanted to celebrate family, connections, movement, and life. We explored the idea of the Bronx as a living garden, always growing always moving forward, and finding a cinematic landscape in places people often ignore.
“[Lead singer] Eric [Burton] and I spoke in great length about perspective and growing up, and how sometimes it’s a complicated experience,” says Mercado. “And we want to capture the feeling that is both beautiful and sometimes imperfect. We wanted to show both the joys and hardships of life colliding and expressing things in movement with images colliding together. Black Pumas are an extraordinary band and the visual needed to share the timeless quality of the song.”