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Analysis: When Blackness becomes cosplay

September 12, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

For this week, we discuss the professor who lied about being Black, mull over the Oscars' new diversity requirements and look at the flooding in Sudan. Plus, recommendations: an excellent 1996 film on Netflix and a book full of joy.

(CNN)For this week, we discuss the professor who lied about being Black, mull over the Oscars' new diversity requirements and look at the flooding in Sudan.

Not only did she potentially take a spot from a Black academic -- she magnified damage to students.

In her own way, Krug breathed new life into the notion that it's somehow easier to be a Black person in the academy.

For years, Krug treated Blackness like a costume that she could slip on, and she exploited it for her own advantage -- and with a terrible fake accent!!!

In an old bio, she allegedly described herself as "an unrepentant and unreformed child of the hood. " There's a lot going on there, in how that's how she tried to "legitimize" her supposed Blackness.

For Black people, being Black isn't optional.

Also, given the knotty history of colorism in America, it stands out to me that Krug chose to be a light-skinned Black woman.

Or put it like this: The movie stands out because it grants its Black characters, and in turn Black viewers, empathy and complexity, two things that shouldn't feel as rare as they do.

"Set It Off" debuted during a wave of "hood films": John Singleton's "Boyz n the Hood" and "Poetic Justice," Ernest Dickerson's "Juice," Allen and Albert Hughes' "Menace II Society. " For audiences at the time -- in the aftermath of the videotaped Rodney King beating -- these movies were revelatory, illuminating Black suffering without coming off as didactic or dismissive.

Sure, these films can be violent, and maybe reinforced some stereotypes about Black life to White viewers.

As America wrestles again with the role of race in society, I'm reminded of how movies like "Set It Off" transformed the way Hollywood views Black America -- and how important it is to see that transformation in the real world, too.

Leah recommends: 'The Book of Delights' by Ross Gay

The poet spent a year writing mini-essays every day on the things that brought him delight -- from the bounties of his garden and seeing a hummingbird, to watching as two people shared the burden of a heavy laundry basket.

In the midst of a pandemic that requires relative social isolation, the continued genocide of Black and brown people, millions out of work -- and all that's before even getting to the international headlines -- it's easy to slip into despair.

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