‘An Extra Day to Be Black’

Artist Michael Paul Britto poses with his creation African Klan Suit #2 (Hypnotic), 2010.
Photo courtesy Black Public Media

This being a Leap Year, 2024 offers “An Extra Day to Be Black,” a classic documentary that came to Black Public Media’s AfroPoP Digital Shorts series on Monday.

The film, which streams on Black Public Media’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/@BlackPublicMedia), sees the provocative contemporary artist Michael Paul Britto musing about what he will do on Feb. 29 during Black History Month.

Britto, whose family has roots in Curação, uses art to agitate on matters of race, politics and cultural awareness. Video is his primary medium, but he also works in digital photography, sculpture, collage and performance.

In the film, he discusses his art, which includes a piece capturing “window culture” in New York City, the throwing up of a window to yell out at one’s neighbor, which he experienced growing up in Harlem.

He talks about his mother’s substance abuse, and how the video camera was a tool for coping.

“While growing up I was always drawn to art and music,” Britto told Caribbean Life exclusively on Monday. “I remember my grandmother taking me and my siblings to the different museums around the city. I used art and music as an escape from a traumatic upbringing.”

He said he just recently begun to connect with his roots in Curação.

“Over the past two years, I’ve visited the country and connected with family,” Britto said. “I definitely see future projects being influenced by my new connections with the island and family history.

In celebrating an “Extra Day to Be Black” this year, Britto said he is “going to wear my most blackity black black outfit, while listening to the most blackity black black music, while enjoying the most blackity black black meal in preparation for the creation of art works that will comment on and challenge what it is to be a person of color in these United States of America.

Black Public Media Director of Programs, Denise A. Greene said that “Christian and Michael’s collaboration gives us something to think about.

“The notion of an extra day to be Black is absurd and hilarious,” she said. “It forces you to examine what Black History Month has become, while we still celebrate our creativity and excellence.”