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Source: Elton Anderson / Creative Services / iOne Digital

The dynamic work of John “Dr. Teeth” Tucker, Najja Moon, and Third Horizon propels the visibility of creatives of color as a whole, on gallery walls and silver screens alike. They embody what it means to be on the cutting edge of culture, which you will see in the three features below.

We have entered a special time. Black people have more control over their storytelling —as well as the outlets they speak through— than they ever have. In the past, we have had to rely on white, incorrect, and mainstream depictions of our lives, or settle for poorly promoted Black works. But now, we are able to fashion honest, powerful, and popular presentations of Black life, thanks to the power of technology and the advent of the internet. These narratives, which are true labors of love, are expanding beyond the Black community and are challenging how the world views us. It is exciting to witness.

In honor of this historical notch on the timeline, iOne Digital attended the American Black Film Festival and corralled the best and brightest creatives/influencers who are leading this movement. ABFF expands the scope of filmmakers/television content creators/thinkers by showcasing the diversity present within the Black community and sharing it with their massive audience. Together, the ongoing series Cassius and ABFF has orchestrated will change the game.

“Corporate America’s White gaze prevented it from seeing the huge opportunity that stories rooted in Black culture represented”

Inspired by the worldwide adoration and analysis Marvel’s Black Panther received, iOne attended this summer’s ABFF and accrued a wealth of folks who have visions that can, and will, impact the globe. The people selected have chosen to offer up their personal experiences as not just inspiration, but as something to be shared in full in their work. No matter how close to the chest, mentally altering, or painful some of the occurrences were, the Creative Class put their experiences into their crafts for the sake of proper representation. These individuals are selfless, bold, and free of fear. We can’t help but appreciate them.

This carefully chosen group are more than their productions though. They are morally upright, aware thinkers who have the insight to speak on marginalization. Each member has their own voice that correlates with iOne’s mission for this endeavor. We understand that not everyone with talent is capable of expressing thoughts on the political, social, and economic status of America, but our creators are because they have lived it. They know how important it is to use their voice for the betterment of society.

“We are in the middle of a new creative Renaissance where people of color are leading large-scale projects in film, music, and television,” said Creators of Color founder and Creative Class co-founder Elton Anderson. “As we climb, we must also remember to lift up the next generation of creatives! Particularly those creatives that work behind the scenes because they will one day become the decision makers. When we are all lifted and lifting each other that’s when a greater shift can and will occur.”

For Detavio Samuels, president of Urban One, hand-selecting innovative creators of color is something that he is no stranger to. As the man behind some of the biggest Black media brands in the game, such as Bossip, MadameNoire and HipHopWired, one of the things that inspired Samuels was the prominence of the White gaze and how it was dominating the way stories were told.

“Corporate America’s White gaze prevented it from seeing the huge opportunity that stories rooted in Black culture represented,” he said. “[S]o we needed people like myself and targeted brands like TV One..to ensure Black people could see themselves in media.”

CASSIUS decided that the best way to approach an adventure this necessary and extensive was through journalism. The written word has a unique, unmatched power that when operating at its best, manages to pull out the raw truth. Our method allowed the skilled members of the Creative Class to masterfully articulate their stances while giving glances into how these ideas tie into their work.

“We are in the middle of a new creative Renaissance where people of color are leading large-scale projects in film, music, and television”

We anticipate that our drive for pushing authenticity will not only be understood but also enjoyed. We fully committed ourselves to this project because we know that the Creative Class deserves a wider audience, and also because Black content and thought is the true crux of culture. Hopefully, this series opens people’s eyes and makes them more attentive of all of the talent and mental fortitude that lies within the Black creative community.

 

Nominate yourself or someone you know who embodies the spirit of the CASSIUS Creative Class series by emailing creativeclass@ionedigital.com.

 

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