By Charles Hallman
Angela Tucker two years ago pitched her series idea on challenging racial stereotypes of Blacks. The third season of Black Folk Don’t premiered December 2 on BlackPublicMedia.org, the National Black Programming Coalition (NBPC) website.
“Season three is going to spark conversations in homes and offices around the country as well as online,” predicts Black Public Media Digital Media Director Nonso Christian Ugbode. “People take sides and even question the audacity of the assertions that are raised in the show.”
A writer, director and producer, Tucker wrote on her blog a couple of years ago that she prefer “[regular Black] people that had original points of views and were articulate” rather using “being Black” experts. “At first, we were going to reach out to people via social networks… But then I decided to do it the old fashioned way. We polled people on the streets.”
After filming the first season in her native New York, and the second in New Orleans, Tucker’s Black Folk Don’t now heads to California.
“Black people are far from the majority in California and that intrigued me,” she said in a press release. “I found that people in Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco had such diverse views of the world, leading to a real clash of ideas this season among the interviewees.”
In a recent MSR phone interview, Tucker says the inspiration for her series actually is somewhat based on her years growing up.
“I’ve heard the term ‘Black folk don’t’ while growing up, but I swim, camp, and do all these things that a lot of Black people don’t necessarily do en masse.” As a result, the director-producer said that she wanted her web series to “interrogate that idea of where does this idea that Black folk don’t do a variety of different things,” using both a “satirical and serious” approach, she continues. “What does it mean if we don’t do these things?
“I think that we do have a very limited idea of what being Black is,” says Tucker. “What always surprises me is whenever I want to do a topic, I can always find a modest number of people who do this thing [related to it].”
Thus far, Tucker says that her series haven’t produced too many surprises. “I’m typically not surprised because I know I am going to find people who are on opposite sides of the spectrum,” she explains. “You literally don’t know what people are going to say. People give me topics all the time — I try to pick some topics that pertain more specifically to the location: for example, our first episode this season on go green, that’s a perfect topic for the Bay Area because people are very green in the Bay Area. I try to think of topics that pertain to the location.”
An award-winning documentary producer, Tucker says shooting Black Folk Don’t “is challenging,” she points out. “The first season I shot it in New York, and that was easy. I’m from New York and lived here my whole life. I could just e-mail to a bunch of friends, and go into the streets and get people — that was easy. Once I left New York, it became much more difficult.
“I now have it down in terms of the way I need to do it. [But] editing it actually is the fun part — trying to get it down so it won’t be too long.” Tucker adds that the hardest part is making sure that she finds a good variety of people as respondents to her questions, she surmises.
Finally, Black Folk Don’t is shown on BlackPublicMedia.org, YouTube, PBS.org as well as at blackfolkdont.com.
“I thought Season Two was a little heavier so I wanted season three to be a little funnier,” concludes Tucker. “I think that’s what people like about the series is the diversity of people. And we want to keep that.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]