Get On the Bus

Get On the Bus | “Black-on-Black Love Story”


I found Spike Lee’s 1996 film Get on the Bus to be an interesting, although not satisfying, look at Black American masculinity in its multitude of forms in the mid-1990s. One aspect of the movie that stuck out most for me was the depiction of queer (in this case, gay or MSM) identity. I was particularly interested in the character of Kyle, played by Isaiah Washington, a black, gay republican whose relationship difficulties play out on the bus over the course of the movie. One detail I noticed during the screening is the book that Kyle is reading during the road trip. shot2

The book is called B-Boy Blues: A Seriously Sexy, Fiercely Funny, Black-on-Black Love Story. Referred to by most simply as B-Boy Blues, the book was the debut novel of writer James Earl Hardy. The novel tracks the love affair of Mitchell Crawford and Raheim Rivers, two young Black gay men in the early 1990s. More broadly, B-Boy Blues is  “about the lives of black gay men in New York City [and] is unabashedly and unapologetically written for the African-American male. Rough, sexy, humorous, and authentic, B-Boy Blues is a first-rate love story.”

Many black queer folks talk about the impact that B-Boy Blues had on them– especially the significance of being able to read a love story about someone who looked and talked and loved like them. I’ve attached an article here that I think describes pretty well just how important this work was at this particular period in time.

B-Boy Blues was published in November of 1994, less than two years before the release of Lee’s Get on the Bus.

I probably wouldn’t have noticed B-Boy Blues in Kyle’s hand had I not read the book before. I’m glad that I did though, because Lee’s inclusion of the novel in his film says something about black gay men’s culture in that particular moment– or at least the way that it was being represented in media at the time. Hardy’s B-Boy Blues brought the very siloed conversation of different expressions of black gay identity (i.e. anything other than effeminate expression) out into the mainstream. In some ways, this made the representation of Black gay identity that was Kyle’s character (a macho military-serving, Black, gay, republican on his way to see Farrakhan) possible.


SLJoints Final | “Get on the Bus” and “Malcolm X”

by Sarah, Jeanne (@leej), Matt (@mattbuon), and Tyler (@tzb2016)

Spike Lee’s opening credit sequences are a hallmark of a Spike Lee joint. These sequences are the first opportunity for Lee to get a point across, set the tone for the arch of the film, and “set the table for what the film is to be about” (Wickman n.p.). We chose to employ a commentary video style over the opening credits for Get On The Bus and Malcolm X with the goal of understanding how the visual, aural, and/or editing in these sequences contribute to Lee’s overall argument in each respective film. (more…)

Black Sell-Outs


Willie D has recently taken a shot at some of his own people for “cooning.” He criticized Charles Barkley for talking down on his own race in order to please white people. Willie D claims that Charles Barkley was bought out and turned his back on his people for money from TNT. The money and the fame Charles Barkley has accumulated caused him to forget where he came from. He then proceeded to say “you kissed a man in the mouth for real dudes that’s a no no, when you gonna come out the closet you fucking homo,” questioning Barkley’s sexuality. He called Barkley a “dumb nigga” for commenting about slavery not being that bad.

He later proceeded to call out Steven A Smith for and Raven-Symone for “cooning for capital.” He also attacked a lot of other media personality.

I strongly suggest we listen to this song. We can see that even the year of 2016 we still have conflict on “how to be black in America.” What acceptable before for both black men and women. This song can be compared to many movies that we have seen such as Bamboozled, Hollywood Shuffle, and Get on the Bus.

Most importantly, I feel like this song is a great response to Chiraq. Especially since I just saw a documentary done about destroyed black lives. Basically, Spike is saying when black people kill each other we shouldn’t take it serious. Instead we should be satirical about it.

Get on the Bus | Seeing Through Blue

The colour blue in Get on the Bus is closely linked to a way of seeing, and more specifically a way of seeing through.

We first encounter blue through X’s handheld camera. Here, Lee intersperses brief shots of the men on the bus, as X sees them through the lens of his camcorder, into the “normal” film footage. The question X invariably leads with as he sticks his camera in their faces is “why are you going to the Million Man March?” As the men answer, frequently sharing a deeply personal story as they do so, the colour blue becomes associated with this idea of seeing through the men, beyond who they present themselves to be, into an inner space where they reveal intimate memories and experiences.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.25.15 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.25.54 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.26.50 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.27.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.29.40 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.19.06 PM

The blue of X’s handheld camera introduces us to notions of privacy and vulnerability, and subsequently Lee’s own cinematography becomes tinted with blue during especially vulnerable and intimate moments.

At a rest stop, blue appears when Jeremiah ducks into a bathroom to take a handful of pills:

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 4.23.15 PM


Jeremiah”Wright” Washington



Praying to the Creator

Could Jeremiah Wright’s character be influenced by the works or Jeremiah Wright?

In 1995, Jeremiah Wright delivered a prayer at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. In the movie, we always see Jeremiah Washington initiate prayers.

Jeremiah Wright was a pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ from 1972 until 2008. He is a well-known preacher and was the ex-pastor of President Obama.

Barack Obama adapted his phrase “audacity to hope” to “audacity of hope” and used it as a title for his 2004 keynote address and the title of his second book.

Jeremiah Wright is most known for his relationship ending comments about President Barrack Obama back in June 2009. Jeremiah told news reporter that Obama was being controlled by “them Jews” and that he was unable to talk to Obama because they weren’t going to let Obama talk to him. He basically exposed the fact that Obama isn’t in control of his own position as present and in reality he has no power. He’s just doing what Jewish Zionist tells him to do.


These remarks reminded me of the chicken comment that Malcolm X (in the movie) made about the President’s assassination. Shortly after the Nation of Islam turned their backs on him. Here’s what President Obama did:

One comment said “Obama sold out his Reverend of 20 years to be elected president. He did it to appease white people.” How do you feel about this comment?

Get On The Bus: Black Male Discussions

The above link is an article that showed up on my newsfeed a few weeks ago.  It highlights something that myself and I’m sure many other black women have talk about, felt, heard about, and discussed, which is the lack of awareness of the male privilege that black men enjoy.  The machismo among the black men that I have been around is all-consuming and in most venues, accepted.  It affects every part of the black men I know’s lives from dating to academics to sports- its evident.  The article above notes that though black men undoubtedly face structural barriers, it should not be lost on them that they too possess privilege that they can either ignore or use to help black women who do not enjoy the same advantages. Even at Amherst, it is clear (to me at least) that black women struggle to fit into the dominant culture more than black men.  I tried to pick just one line to quote, but I think the whole article says what I (having an older brother and being in the presence of  black men often)  have wanted to say for a long time.  And perhaps the men on that bus should read it as well.


I’d love to hear thoughts on this!