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Back in the maudlin days of this blog it was hard to imagine some of the wonderful things that have happened in my professional life over the past few years. The only things to report were the reality that those things were decidedly not happening. I started to make the posts here less personal, more bland.

But what’s the point of having a weblog if you never actually say anything?

And so I started writing more personal stuff again, even if there was no anticipation that it would ever lead anywhere. The direction of my career has, in fact, never ceased to be a point of deep misgiving, even if, against all odds, the wins have started to stack up here and there. So, in the spirit of that confused young man, and his slightly-less-confused older self, I share the following:

Bradford Young, Haile Gerima, Ava Duvernay, Daniel E. Williams, Raafi Rivero at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Last week I appeared on a panel at the newly-opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in support of mentor and all-around mensch Haile Gerima, whose film Sankofa was recently restored. The night was the first screening of Haile’s retrospective. It was thrilling to see the restoration of a seminal black film on what the Museum itself calls the best screen in the world.

Being included on the panel was an honor. Also supporting Haile were Daniel E. Williams, another former professor of mine, Oscar-nominees Bradford Young – a friend and former classmate – and Ava DuVernay, who led the Academy’s efforts to restore the film. It felt great to be part of such a special event. And, it must be said, my outfit was on point. I even got the biggest laugh of the night.

film director Haile Gerima, who was recently honored at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

In 2017 I took this picture of Haile at his office in DC. He was seated in his customary position: in front of the Avid, working on his next film. The photo is a reminder that there is only the work. The accolades, if they come, come on their own time.

My film 72 Hours: a Brooklyn Love Story? also screens at the Academy Museum as a part of the retrospective – an honor unto itself. Stream it on Amazon here.

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According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the word lucubrate means “to write or study, especially by night.” It comes from the latin root lucubrare which means to work by lamplight. There’s a pejorative tone to how the word is used in present-day English as the New Oxford notes that lucubrations, usually plural, describe “a piece of writing, typically a pedantic or overelaborate one.”

Maybe it’s because lucubrating is what I do, but I’ve always thought of the word as being closer to its original meaning. Even better, embedded inside, like a filament, is lux, lucis — the latin word for light.

The image of someone contemplating a thing past the time when others might have stopped – often in dim light – is a wonderful thing to encapsulate within a word.

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Waking up to news of the police killing of Daunte Wright, 20, in a town near Minneapolis sent my emotions through the spin cycle. These events are both regular and unpredictable. As a rapid response, I created a jersey design within Instagram’s stories feature.

Later in the day I learned that the artist Karine Varga, who often uses the New York Times as fodder, created a Daunte Wright jersey out of my recent Times cover, mashing up the one from the story with a physical copy of the Times.

One of the most difficult parts of working on Unarmed is that the jersey designs themselves are reactive. As someone who prefers to be proactive, who prefers action over inaction, this lack of control is the worst part. Still, several people wrote to me and one called yesterday, each echoing a phrase I’ve heard many, many times, “keep going.”

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Well, I probably won’t get to write a headline like that again. Journalist Ben Osborne made me comfortable enough to speak in my own language, to cry, and to wax on the talismanic quality of jerseys in my life, and then set it all up with a feathery sentence like this:

Sports also carry the nostalgic symbolism of youthful innocence. “One of the best moments was always when you got your jersey, your number. I’d just want to wear it all the time,”

Over the years I’ve done press for a number of projects. Some interviews leave me feeling that the person missed the point of even talking to me. Not this time. Check out the lede:

And it looks great in print.

Read the full story here.

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Here’s a short documentary about the Fall Tour I did with Unarmed. It streamed as part of the YouTube Originals special Black Renaissance, alongside segments by Barack and Michelle Obama, Anderson.Paak, Killer Mike, Stacey Abrams, and other luminaries – a great honor. The segment played at the 55-minute mark, directly after a meditation on protest in sports voiced by Jemele Hill. Black Renaissance has now topped 3-million views.

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© 2006 – 2024 Raafi Rivero.