Lindsay Johns

Escape from the hood

The author of the bestseller Between the World and Me and recipient of a MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ last year, Ta-Nehisi Coates is a much-lauded African-American journalist on the Atlantic, best know for his trenchant 2014 essay making the case for reparations for black Americans. A bona fide heir to the mantle of ‘hip-hop intellectual’ (last

Why James Elroy Flecker deserves our attention

This month sees the Swiss alpine resort of Davos play host to the annual World Economic Forum summit, but it also marks the centenary of the death of one of England’s greatest Edwardian poets. The worship of Mammon and the ascent of Parnassus are traditionally not easy bedfellows, but the two are linked by the

By all means protest against Exhibit B, but do not withdraw it

Having met with an equal mix of critical acclaim and revulsion at the Edinburgh Festival, Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B – based on the ‘human zoos’ and ethnographic displays of the late 19th century – opens today at the Barbican. I have not seen it yet, but as someone with coloured South African heritage – well aware

In praise of Den-zel

His Christian name is only two syllables, with the stress (following the African-American pronunciation) on the second. Two syllables that are a byword for urbane cool. A mellifluous shibboleth – the quintessence of all that is decent and upstanding. You see, I’ve grown up on Denzel’s films. From boyhood to manhood, from teenage recalcitrance to adult responsibility,

The song that fought apartheid

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Mannenberg, the seminal album by the Cape Townian jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand). Recorded against a backdrop of forced removals as the apartheid government evicted Coloured families from District Six, the title track was inspired by and named after the township

Trading Places at 30 – one of the funniest films of all time

Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of what is, in my opinion, one of the funniest films of all time: Trading Places. Starring comedic demigods Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, together with Jamie Lee Curtis and Denholm Elliot, this 1983 critical and commercial success is an amusing and trenchant satire on race,