Category Archives: Arts

She’s Everything and Everywhere: Riffs on Barbie and the Barbie Movie

Barbie deserved her own biopic. More than one billion Barbie dolls have been shipped and sold around the world since her premier in 1959, and factories in Asia are still spewing her out. From her hair down to the pink … Continue reading

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At the Feds

Shamar Betts had no previous criminal record but was sentenced to three years in federal prison for “inciting a riot” through a Facebook post he wrote after witnessing the video of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. He was also made … Continue reading

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There Is Only Old People Here. All the Children Are Gone

There’s no hope for a better tomorrow. There’s no vision or dream for a better reason. The paths are darkened by fear and evil forces that dwells in the darkness that roams the corners of the street. There is only … Continue reading

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Slaves—Our Ancestors

We give praise to those who came before us, fighting for the right to be free. Who were they? They are our ancestors, who suffered unendurable pain. Pain, from the snake-like whip that mutilated their flesh as it bit into … Continue reading

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Illinois Correctional System: What Is It Really?

The Public i is partnering with the Education Justice Project (EJP) to share writing completed by incarcerated students at the Danville Correctional Center. The EJP is a comprehensive college-in-prison program based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Through its educational … Continue reading

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Frustrations of Peer-to-Peer Education in Prisons

The Public i is partnering with the Education Justice Project (EJP) to share writing by incarcerated students at the Danville Correctional Center. The EJP is a comprehensive college-in-prison program based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Through its educational programming … Continue reading

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Music Curio: Improvisers Exchange Sheds Sonic Shreds

Improvisers Exchange exudes experimental sounds at the Rose Bowl Tavern every first Monday of the month from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Organized and directed by Jason Finkelman, Improvisers Exchange is a fluctuating eclectic ensemble of musicians, all of whom share … Continue reading

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Drag Shows in Champaign-Urbana: Interview with Amy Myers

“Drag is an art. It is a culture.” As a cis, straight woman, I did not fully understand the cultural importance of drag shows until 2019, when I was managing a community center that has a wonderful zine collection and … Continue reading

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Links

The Public i is partnering with the Education Justice Project (EJP) to share writing completed by incarcerated students at the Danville Correctional Center. The EJP is a comprehensive college-in-prison program based at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Through its educational … Continue reading

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Reckless Law, Shameless Order: Behind the Scenes

  One afternoon in April of 2021 Faranak Miraftab called me to ask if I was interested in holding an art workshop with formerly incarcerated artists in continuation of the “IDENSCITY,” a conceptual art space that I had been developing … Continue reading

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Feminism, the Environment and Stolen Land: Socially Conscious Music from Africa and the South Pacific

Readers may remember my two previous world music reviews, in the February 2021 and Summer 2021 issues of the Public i. All of the music described here was reviewed in the great magazine Songlines. The music is available on Apple … Continue reading

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Two Stories from Statesville Prison

Saving Your Mind: Mental Health in the Age of Corona “This is some next-level shit. I thought I’d seen it all in my 20 years in prison,” said Murder (no real names used), my Quarantine Sanitation Specialist co-worker, as we … Continue reading

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Passing: Can One Ever “Pass”?

I recently watched one of the most beautiful and perhaps also one of the most significant movies I have seen in a long time. Passing, based on a 1929 novel by the Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larson (1891–1964), is a … Continue reading

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What’s Understood Need Not Be Explained

I’m curious to know, as a reading eye and listening ear, what are you expecting to hear from me? That the feds were somehow wrong, and Shamar was right? Or that he was justified in putting out some call to … Continue reading

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Filmmaker Raoul Peck: “Do We Wish for a Common History?”

Pristine wilderness. Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? A place untouched. But does the phrase “pristine wilderness,” connoting unsullied land, serve as a cultural myth that ironically reeks of genocide? Raoul Peck makes this case and many others in … Continue reading

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A Conversation with Urbana Poet Laureate Ashanti Files

The Public i recently talked to Urbana Poet Laureate Ashanti Files Please tell our readers a little about yourself. “I am a wife, mother, and registered nurse. I currently work in mental health and addiction services. I enjoy reading, writing … Continue reading

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Ubuntu, Hope, and Respect: Socially Conscious Music from the African Continent, the Indian Ocean, and North America

Music is often a reflection of struggles for social change, and a source for joy and hope for the future. This can be heard in the songs noted in my first music review article in the February 2021 issue of … Continue reading

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Slightly Out of Focus: A Review of One Night in Miami and Judas and the Black Messiah

For more than 70 years and over a century, respectively, television and cinema have presented demeaning images of Black people. And for equally as long, African Americans have responded with boycotts, pickets and alternative visions that “depict[ed] our men and … Continue reading

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The Quiet Strength of Bamboo: Three Wonderful Films from the Pacific to Stream

Add these three visually stunning and thoughtful films to your watch list. Each, to varying degrees, tells a story of indigenous culture from an insider’s point of view, and each offers the special pleasure of real people playing themselves in … Continue reading

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Black Art Politicized: A Discussion with Leslie Smith

I had the amazing opportunity to interview Leslie Smith, a board member of the Urbana–Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC) and the founder of Black Voices Theater Production. As someone who grew up in a household with a father who is … Continue reading

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