The Cave

Invisibility Blues

FOR ALL ITS REPETITIVE valorization of the campy ’50s and the glorious ’60s in film and TV, Hollywood has yet to have its own Civil Rights Movement. This legacy means that viewers are inevitably unable to locate any substantive treatment of black agency even in those films and TV shows that ostensibly focus on black topics. Instead, what you’ll find lately—which is, I suppose, much better than nothing—is black music.

During the ’50s in Harlem, Charlie Parker’s trickster alto sax provided the catalyst for bebop and for the counter-cultural scene that developed around it. By the time cultural nationalism and Black Power rolled around in the ’60s, Bird had become a cultural icon among black intellectuals and artists, equaled in stature only by Billie Holiday and John Coltrane, not only for his art but for his political anger. Even when his music, his natty style in dressing, his existential

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