Black In The Day: Back To School Edition

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Welcome to Black In The Day, your bi-weekly serving of yesteryear’s magical, inimitable and unforgettable Blackety Blackness courtesy of Alexander Hardy.

 

As chirren, teachers, staff, parents, and administrators greet new year of adventure down at the schoolhouse, let’s take a look back pon some of the phattest and most memorable moments from Black academia’s past. When report cards and parent-teacher conferences roll around, you might might need some positivity to help keep hope alive.

Let’s start the moonwalk down Memory Lane with Spike Lee’s famous ode to collegiate colorism and intraracial hair hateration in Mission College’s dancerie, “Good and Bad Hair” from 1988’s School Daze. Though the film addresses apartheid, class issues, and misogyny with the help of a stellar cast of hella talented Chocolatey Wonders, it is the spite-filled salon showdown betwixt #teamlightskin and #teamcholocolatey that keeps me coming back to this movie because I love a grand dance scene. Long before she learned how to go to work on Myra’s feet, Tisha Campbell (Jane), She Who Would Become Whitley Gilbert, and the mostly fair-skinned Gamma Rays (the “Wannabe’s”) with “good hair” danced it out against the mahogany, natural haired so-called “Jigaboos,” trading brutal jabs and sickening 8-counts, proving that all skinfolk ain’t your kinfolk. That choreo is popping, though. Shoutout to Otis Sallid.

School Daze from Christopher Matthews on Vimeo.

That time Morgan Freeman’s Principal Joe Clark insisted students be able to sing the school’s song on demand, and Sams (Jermaine “Huggy” Hopkins) and the squad added Lawry’s and Blackness and breathed new life into an old joint warming Joe Clark’s cold heart and finally winning his approval.

Back in Pre-Skort Set America, before contending with Martin the Man-Child’s tantrums for a living, Tisha Campbell joined Whoopi Goldberg on a memorable episode of A Different World that tackled what was then a far scarier, more controversial issue in 1991: AIDS. During a scene in Dr. Jordan’s public speaking class in season four’s “If I Should Die Before I Wake,” we meet Josie Webb, a Hillman University student, bravely sharing her life story with her classmates via her eulogy as a class assignment. Unfortunately, HIV and AIDS are still vastly misunderstood and under discussed, and hopefully we see more compassionate portrayals like this to broaden the conversations around an issue that impacts all of us.

Once upon a time in The Age of Teen Summit, Madame Whoopi Goldberg, Lauryn Hill, Homeboy from City High, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Kathy Najimy, Tanya Blount, and the gang got together to create one of my favorite movies not involving Leeloo Dallas. Deloris Van Cartier paused her Vegas career to help the nuns at Saint Francis High School by teaching a music class and outsmarting that mean ol’ hateful Mr. Crisp, the raggedy school administrator with the scrunched-up face and dumpster juice-filled heart thrilled about the school’s closing, which would allow him more free time to create more ways to rob everyone of their Black joy. Enter: all the niggas I mentioned above. There are tears, motivational rappity raps, Yo Mama jokes, overalls aplenty, phat songs, and of course, the grand closer—the rightful winner of the 1994 Oscar for Best Song, “Joyful, Joyful.” Spoiler alert: Mr. Crisp dies in a horrible car crash after choking due to racism in a deleted scene. A shame.

Bonus: “Oh Happy Day”

What’s not to love about rappers performing with kids? With his graduation on the line due to failing his music class, Will has to perform alongside a squad of playground gangsters, collectively known as The Little Rays of Sunshine. Word on the curb is they’re going on tour soon, opening up for Chloe x Halle.

It was inevitable with friends named Cockroach and The Mouth that the sole male Huxtable offspring would get mixed up with people strung out on reefer. Well, in this cautionary tale, Theo tutored someone and got caught with homeboy’s Bluntvilles and Gorilla Glue and Claire was not having it.

Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman is a brilliant comedic actress and I’m still wondering who’s going to be the smart person to write and get coins for that “Raven stars as a left-handed roller skating lesbian professor by day and Nazi zombie slayer by night” romantic comedy situation with Tichina Arnold as a gem-dropping head of a secret agency run from inside a laundromat/dispensary where Dabnis Brickey is both the Surly Nigga Who Sells Tide Soap and the Enforcer. Anyway, she’s great.

That time The Sister of The Forgotten Judy Winslow got robbed at gunpoint for her Avirex jacket and she thought she’d feel safer carrying a gun.

And in case any of you are thinking about dropping out of school after your parents worked, took out another mortgage on the house, and sold their kidneys, teeth, and Mahalia Jackson World Tour merchandise and vintage Going Out Clothes to buy your Black ass an education, remember the Sondra, the Wilderness Store, and that $79,648.22 Claire wanted back.

Extra credit: This legendary scene from A Different World when the ladies of Gilbert Hall battled the ladies from Libby Hall at the step show. Shout to Miss Debbie Allen.

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