Things to Do

Obama’s Memoir, Native Cinema, and Frida Kahlo: Things to Do in Washington, November 16-18

Plus: Meet the founder of kweliTV.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hi everyone!

We’ve got book talks, Native cinema, and Frida Kahlo.

Learn about Frida’s art and life this week.

Here’s what you should check out this week:

Find inspiration: Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered the moving sermon at Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding last year, will chat with NPR’s Michel Martin in a virtual event from the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bishop Curry will talk about his new book, Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times, and offer advice and inspiration for how we can get through the pandemic. Monday 11/16 at 7 PM; Free, register here.

New book alert: Barack Obama’s highly anticipated new memoir, A Promised Land, is coming out on Tuesday. Local bookstores are taking pre-orders and stocking up for what they expect will be a big seller. Continuing its longstanding tradition, Kramers will have a special midnight release opening at 11:45 PM today (with temperature checks and masks required).

Behind the scenes: Explore the wondrous and tragic life of Frida Kahlo with art historian Nancy G. Heller in a virtual event from Smithsonian Associates. She’ll walk through the many influences on Kahlo’s paintings, including Kahlo’s bus accident and marriage to Diego Rivera. Tuesday 11/17 at 6:30 PM; $30, buy tickets here.

What to watch: Now in its 20th year, the National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase is kicking off this week entirely online. See works from Native and indigenous filmmakers across the hemisphere, such as nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, which focuses on the aftermath of a white farmer shooting a Cree man in Saskatchewan. In addition to the films, there will be Q&A sessions with some of the filmmakers. Wednesday 11/18 through Friday 11/27; learn more here.

Vote on something fun: We will soon be able to talk about DC’s favorite celebrity without having to come up with different ways to say “baby panda.” Small furry friend! Tiny paws! The National Zoo has released four names that they’re asking the public to vote on. Happy voting!

Brain training: While I’ve slowly allowed my brain to melt during pandemic times, my coworker Mimi Montgomery has been at home working on her mental fitness. Read her funny account of what happened when she tried a brain-training program.

Funny moment: I know it’s controversial to say, but I’m an Adam Driver fan. ? If you’ve been following John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, you’d know that Oliver has been thirsting over the tall drink of water that is Driver this whole season. Yesterday, Driver Facetimed into the show to basically ask Oliver WTF was wrong with him. The hilarious clip brightened my day, so maybe it’ll brighten yours, too.

Something new: 

New streaming service? I’m listening…
For our November issue, I had the chance to talk to Alexandria-based DeShuna Spencer about kweliTV, her Black-focused streaming platform that has been called “Black Netflix.” Here’s an excerpt from that story:

DeShuna Spencer knows media: She has been a newspaper reporter and a magazine owner, a radio host and a marketing executive. Perhaps you read the social-justice publication she founded, emPower, or heard the weekly radio show she used to host on DC’s WPFW. But these days, the Alexandria resident is finding success with a different medium—television. In 2016, Spencer launched the video-streaming platform kweliTV, which is devoted to the work of Black creators, both in the US and around the world.

Now, with the increased interest in Black voices in the wake of this summer’s protests, kweliTV is seeing a big boost. Subscriptions have more than doubled since April, and the service offers 400-plus films, documentaries, and TV series. “There’s been an evolution of people wanting to support Black stories and understand Black stories,” says Spencer, whose service costs $5.99 a month and is available via Roku, Apple TV, and other common streaming vehicles. “People are embracing our mission.”

She came up with the idea for kweliTV one night while flipping through channels at home in Alexandria, where the Memphis native moved in 2005 to try to find a media job. There was so much on TV to choose from, but where were all the Black voices? “I knew I wanted to create something that showed a different lens about the Black experience that we may not see in media,” says Spencer. “We want to have the type of programming to counteract the representation of Black people being criminals.”

Read the full story here.

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Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.