issue 9: june 2016, Multi-media, Reviews
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A Rainbow Meditation on ‘In Common’ by Abondance Matanda

Princess Nokia recently tweeted about Positive Brainwashing like “putting divine esoteric symbolism in your videos instead of masonic ones”. Alicia Keys’ new video don’t seem to be on no Illuminati nonsense like the latter, and I love it for all the love it celebrates like self-love and black-love. Even though it’s shot in black and white, I hear all the colours of the LGBT flag when I watch In Common.

First off you’ve got the RED for LIFE, as in this video gives me so much life! Alicia’s army of messed up beauties stay fucking shit up throughout the whole video. Nominally you’ve got Niv Acosta, a captivating Dominican New Yorker who dances professionally, and identifies as queer, transgender and black. The world would rather not let one, let alone an intersection of them identities exist in peace or power, but niv says nah to all that and that gives me life.


ORANGE is the LGBT colour of HEALING. The expression of the little black kids dancing is a freedom song in itself, after so many black yutes get smudged out of existence, whether by marginalisation, police brutality or other systematic modes of destruction. It’s soothing to see them be carefree; it lets us dream that the future might look like them. To heal is to make whole, and only children and the childlike can complete the circles ancestors create for us to fill.

There is so much SUNLIGHT, so much YELLOW in the video which comes from the sounds of the song itself. The singer’s smile is as radiant as her video’s message, as told to The Fader: “celebrating our individuality, and how in the brilliance of our uniqueness, the magic of it all is at the core, we are all the same.” Nuff magic shines from the video and it is only one ray of artful sunlight that can strengthen LGBT people growing into themselves.


NATURE is in everything from how we look to how we behave and how anyone decides to manipulate their nature is entirely their choice. Your shade of GREEN is not mine. That’s why I appreciate the buzzcut white girl contorting herself away from blonde becky beauty ideals; the bantu-knotted babe flexing her complexion; the two black boys leaning on and lipsing each other. In Common’s creative team definitely achieved the diversity they intended to represent, and the relatability rings true with me but I wonder how less liberal people might relate to the video, if at all. Furthermore, does that (do they) even matter?

Anyway, I’m a Libra so I need things to be in balance and HARMONY. The BLUE of In Common for me thus comes from the two bone-breakers Khalil Williams and Xavier D. Their movement is so strong and vulnerable and cool. I assume their best-friendship has healthy dynamics that lets either bredda be themselves. My motherly black womanness yearns so hard for black boys to love themselves and each other so pls, just know seeing this kinda harmony does very good things for my spirit.


Speaking of SPIRIT, the PURPLE of In Common comes from the basic fact that it is a modern piece of visual art, a music video. Its very nature is a celebration of what is aesthetically pleasing and symbolically meaningful. Okay not every music video ticks them boxes but In Common deffo does. It is inspiring and reassuring and important that the same black women who were championing love and beauty and individuality with their art when I was a yute, are still doing so as I grow into a human being trying not to dilute these aspects of myself that society tells me are too strong.

Watch ‘In Common’ by Alicia Keys below if you haven’t already:

Abondance’s body’s been here about 17 years, but she’s probably been around longer than that. There’s bare melanin in her blood – from Congo, Uganda and Pakistan. She’s a Lunduner and a punk and a black girl who writes to breathe. She is a staff writer for Sula Collective.

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