Seattle Revival of ‘The Mikado’ Insists on Bringing Yellowface Back With It

Seattle Revival of 'The Mikado' Insists on Bringing Yellowface Back With It

mikadoposter_071714.jpgYellowface is nothing new. But people seem unable to leave it behind as an embarrassment of the past. The Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with a production of the operetta duo’s classic “The Mikado.” Except, writes Jeff Yang over at CNN

It is the most frequently staged of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas and a perennial favorite of the Society. Every time, they have done it the same way: As a photocopy of the Victorian original, with Caucasian actors wearing garish facepaint and outfits that cartoonishly approximate traditional Japanese garb.

[T]hese “traditional” productions — yellowface productions — of “The Mikado” have to end.

They are the deep-drilled root of the yellowface weed: the place from which the scourge keeps springing back, even when its surface expressions are plucked. There are older examples of yellowface in entertainment than “The Mikado,” but none so popular, and certainly none that have been as popular among mass audiences for as long — 129 years and counting.

I want to be clear that I’m not saying that “The Mikado” shouldn’t be performed at all.

Its biting satire and splendidly silly stage play make it quite possibly Gilbert and Sullivan’s greatest work. But when it is performed by an all-white troupe of actors dressed and made up as Asians, it shifts from a brilliant comedy of manners to, as Asian-American actress and blogger Erin Quill says, a “racist piece of crap.”

Read the rest of Yang’s piece at CNN.

TAGS: yellowface

Casting Call for ‘Straight Outta Compton’ Biopic is Really Racist

Casting Call for 'Straight Outta Compton' Biopic is Really Racist

The casting call for an N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” was released yesterday, and it’s awful:

SAG OR NON UNION CASTING NOTICE FOR FEMALES-ALL ETHNICITIES- from the late 80’s. Shoots on “Straight Outta Compton”. Shoot date TBD. We are pulling photos for the director of featured extras. VERY IMPORTANT - You MUST live in the Los Angeles area (Orange County is fine too) to work on this show. DO NOT SUBMIT if you live out of the area. Nobody is going to be flying into LA to do extra work on this show - and don’t tell me you are willing to fly in.


A GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair - no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: A GIRLS

B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: B GIRLS

C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: C GIRLS

D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: D GIRLS

This is how bad films are made. 

(h/t Gawker)

Dolores Huerta Talks About Becoming an Organizer

Dolores Huerta Talks About Becoming an Organizer

At 84 years old, Dolores Huerta has spent the better part of 50 years working and supporting community organizers. In this recent interview with a San Diego news station, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers shows that she’s still approaching life with the same strategic thinking that’s made her one of the most well-known labor leaders in the country.

Video: Bruce Lee Meets the Guy Who Got a Groupon for Karate Class

Video: Bruce Lee Meets the Guy Who Got a Groupon for Karate Class Play

Brooklyn 8th Grade Metal Band Lands $1.7 Million Record Deal

Brooklyn 8th Grade Metal Band Lands $1.7 Million Record Deal

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Three Brooklyn 8th graders — guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse, bassist Alec Atkins and drummer Jarad Dawkins — got together to form Unlocking the Truth, and  Sony has signed the tweens to a two-record deal worth $1.7 million. 

Here’s more from Consequence of Sound:

According to the NY Daily Newsthe group was discovered performing in Washington Square Park back in 2012 by Steve Jordan, drummer for Eric Clapton. That led to gigs playing across the country, including opening for Guns ‘N’ Roses in Vegas, a current spot on the Vans Warped Tour, a gig with Queens of the Stone Age next weekend, and even an opening slot on Coachella’s main stage. “What started out as play dates went to Times Square and now this,” said Dawkins’ mother, Tabatha. “It’s been one great thing after another.” For you concerned mothers out there, don’t worry; Dawkins said the boys are all solid students. “School work comes first. If their school work is not done, they don’t play.”

What makes this story unique is that these kids are young. Really young. But they’re also black musicians in a genre that’s long been seen as mostly white. Let’s just hope that the pressure to produce doesn’t get the best of them. 



TAGS: Kids music

‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ Musical’s Broadway Run Cut Short

'Holler If Ya Hear Me' Musical's Broadway Run Cut Short

“Holler If Ya Hear Me,” the Broadway musical directed by Kenny Leon that is based on the life and music of 2pac, is ending its run on Sunday after lackluster sales.

From the New York Times:

In a statement on Monday night, one of the lead producers, Eric L. Gold, blamed the show’s closing on “the financial burdens of Broadway” and added, “I was unable to sustain this production longer in order to give it time to bloom on Broadway.” Mr. Gold also recently told Variety that he made a “rookie mistake” by underestimating the amount of capital necessary to keep the $8 million show running.

While some Broadway shows rely on budget reserves to muddle through slow weeks, “Holler” struggled from the outset. The production never brought in more than $175,000 a week in gross revenues, becoming one of the worst-selling musicals of recent years. Last week the show grossed $154,948, or 17 percent of the maximum possible amount, and only 45 percent of its seats were occupied.

It’s sad news, but especially troubling for what this could mean for the future of hip-hop on Broadway. “If we don’t succeed, it’s going to be difficult to do another rap or hip hop show on Broadway,” Gold said in an interview with Times. 

All-Star Game to Pay Tribute to Glenn Burke, First Openly Gay MLB Player

All-Star Game to Pay Tribute to Glenn Burke, First Openly Gay MLB Player

There are now enough openly gay professional athletes in America that the phrase “LGBT Sports Movement” has entered our cultural lexicon. Brittney Griner, Jason Collins, Michael Sam — they’re all pioneering black gay athletes whose bravery deserves attention. But so too does Glenn Burke, a Major League Baseball player who came out of the closet during the 1970s. Now, 40 years after Burke’s coming out and 20 years after his death from AIDS, Major League Baseball will publicly honor him at this year’s All-Star Game.

“He was a pioneer, and should be recognized,” said Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney, speaking to the New York Times.

But that recognition was a long time coming.  Burke’s career was cut short by injury — and ignorance. “Deep inside, I know the Dodgers traded me because I was gay,” he said in a 1982 Inside Sports profile about being traded from Los Angeles to Oakland. 

Al Jazeera’s Gregg Levine noted:

Glenn Burke was also gay. He wasn’t “out” by any definition — certainly not a contemporary one — but he didn’t do some of the things other closeted players at the time would do. He didn’t go out “girl hunting” with teammates on road trips. He didn’t marry a woman for appearances (even though the Dodgers offered to help him financially if he did). He didn’t avoid the spotlight, though he once said, looking back, he thought it would be easier to be a mediocre player that few people recognized.

Burke, instead, wanted to excel. Beyond his natural competitive spirit, he reportedly hoped his success and fame would be big enough to allow him to live openly as a gay athlete.

The league has invited Burke’s family to this year’s All-Star game in Minneapolis, where they’ll witness the first official dedication to the movement that he started. 

(h/t The New York Times)


Aaron McGruder and Adult Swim Team Up for ‘The Hooligans’

Aaron McGruder and Adult Swim Team Up for 'The Hooligans'

Aaron McGruder is one busy man. The creator of the hit comic and animated series “The Boondocks” announced this year that he’s also working on a new show on Adult Swim called “Black Jesus.” Now comes news that there’s another show in the works, this one the “Hooligan Squad” about an American insurgency in Japanese-occupied San Francisco.

“With ‘The Boondocks’ and the upcoming “Black Jesus” series we consider Aaron very instrumental in the success of Adult Swim and this deal is the continuation of a great partnership,” said Mike Lazzo, executive vice president/creative director of Adult Swim.

For his part, McGruder noted that “it’s a rare thing to have a network home. Even more rare is a home that wants to see you grow and expand as a creator. Adult Swim is headed to new horizons and I’m happy to be along for the ride.”

Earlier this year there was some talk of trouble between McGruder and the network after it was announced that he wouldn’t be involved in the last season of his signature show “The Boondocks.” But it looks like all is well. Get ready to laugh.

(h/t Shadow and Act)

New Video Series Honors Today’s ‘Queer Black Visionaries’

New Video Series Honors Today's 'Queer Black Visionaries' Play

We know our black queer heroes. They’re the Audre Lordes, Marsha P. Johnsons and Richard Bruce Nugents of the world. But filmmaker Katina Parker is on a mission to tell the stories of today’s queer black leaders with a new web series called “Truth.Be.Told.” The North Carolina-based filmmaker has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help raise money for the series, which has already featured powerfully told stories from poets, educators and filmmakers across the country.

Take a look:

Stacyann Chin, Tony Award-winning writer and mother

Kai M. Green, writer, filmmaker and transgender activist

Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, co-creator of the Mobile Homecoming Project

The fundraising campaign ends on August 9 at 11:59pm PST and is a truly refreshing take on the people who are fighting and living for justice in queer black bodies. To date, more than 50 people have committed to being interviewed for Seasons 1 and 2. Confirmed participants include the aforementioned in addition to Emil Wilbekin, editor-at-large for Essence magazine; Patrik-Ian Polk, creator of Logo TV’s Noah’s Arc; B. Slade, a singer formerly known as Tonéx; Toshi Reagon, singer/songwriter; Mia McKenzie, creator of the Black Girl Dangerous blog; Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler filmmaker/transgender rights activist; Karamo Brown, Oprah Winfrey Network host, model and actor and Justin Robinson, founding member of the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops.

TAGS: LGBT Queer video

Iggy Azalea’s Theft of Southern Black Women’s Culture

Iggy Azalea's Theft of Southern Black Women's Culture

What do you do with an artist like Iggy Azalea? She’s a white Australian emcee who’s currently got one of America’s most popular rap songs in “Fancy,” a swagger-packed ode to Southern crunk. But, as Brittney Cooper points out at Salon, white artists don’t have to appropriate black culture to be good rappers. And Cooper calls out black male rappers like T.I. for promoting a white female artist like Iggy Azalea over black women:

Forty years ago, Black male race leaders told us that race was the only thing that mattered, feminism be damned. Now in this political moment of My Brother’s Keeper, in the cultural arena, rap crews like Lil Wayne’s Young Money Cash Money and T.I.’s Grand Hustle Entertainment throw their weight behind white women rappers without a second thought. From this, Black women are supposed to conclude two things: 1) race does not matter, except if you are a Black man and 2) if Black men do anything for any woman, it’s the same as being hospitable and/or progressive to every woman.

By riding for white female rappers to the exclusion of Black women, Black men collude with the system against Black women, by demonstrating that our needs, aspirations and feelings do not matter and are not worthy of having a hearing.

Read more over at Salon

Native Baller Shoni Schimmel Has WNBA’s Top-Selling Jersey

Native Baller Shoni Schimmel Has WNBA's Top-Selling Jersey

Shoni Schimmel came to national prominence last year when she and her sister led Louisville to the NCAA Women’s Championship basketball game. Both sisters are members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Since going pro, Shoni has become one of the highest profile Native athletes in the country. Just how high profile? Enough that the Atlanta Dream rookie has the top selling replica jersey in the WNBA, beating out stars like Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner. 

Schimmel has also been voted a starter for Saturday’s WNBA All-Star game. 

(h/t Oregon Live)

TAGS: Getty Images

Los Rakas Pays Tribute to Families Torn Apart by Deportation

Los Rakas Pays Tribute to Families Torn Apart by Deportation Play

Los Rakas, an Oakland-based Panamanian-American hip-hop duo, is out with a new video that looks at America’s broken immigration system. In “Chica de mi Corazon” directed by Nelson Navarrete, a boy makes the dangerous journey to the United States in search of his mother. The music is especially timely in light of the thousands of child migrants who’ve been thrust in the American media’s spotlight. 

The duo write:

“We see what can happen when people are forced from their homelands because of poverty and the dangerous risks they must face. Through the hardship and struggle, the videos celebrate these stories and the mothers around the world who risk it all for their families. This is just one immigrant romance and tragedy, a soundtrack for the world we are currently living in.”

The video is the second part of a cinematic series that focuses on the push-and-pull factors of immigration. The first one, “Sueño Americano”, was directed by the Perez Brothers. 

Here’s the English translation for “Chica de Mi Corazon”:

Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
This happened a few years ago
When I was in the land of PanamaShe was a very special girl
For me that was the most beautiful girl
I was coming over here
You could see the happiness in my face
But I was sad at the same time
Mami I love you without you I’m not happy
Mami I’m not lying or making up stories
I love you, I like you and I respect you
I want you at my side to fill you kisses
You’re the woman I always see in my dreams
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart
Remembering the past
And the moments when we were close
Girl I had you by my side when I was little
This distance has me exhausted
Looking at the moon
Girl if I could I’d leave
And only dedicate myself to your capture
You’re my soul, my queen without a doubt
Mama, it’s been 10 years that I can’t see you
I can’t kiss you
This distance is killing me
I miss you
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
Girl of my heart
I dedicate this song to you
Come back soon to my heart
To my heartTo my heart
Come back soon to my heart
To my heart
To my heart
Come back soon to my heart

And for Sueño Americano:

Estos manes no conocen nada de mí
Ni saben lo que he tenido que hacer para vivir
La vida en América no es como creí
Ni menos como piensan
Los que no viven aquí
Es dura
Compa esto no es Panama
Que si no tienes algo
El vecino te lo da
Acá si quieres algo tú lo tienes que buscar
Y si no hay trabajo entonces tienes que pecar
Porque renta es cara la ley es mala
Sin papeles tú no eres nada
Ni como humano te tratan
Esto es un mensaje para toda mi raza
Hey nada es como antes
Las cosas han cambiado
Pero hay que hechar para alante
Yo soy inmigrante y se me trata a mí
Como si soy maliante
Sueño americano
Es el sueño americano
Así es el sueño americano
Es el sueño americano
La circunstancia me limita
No puedo ir pa’ college
Porque no tengo mi green card
Ando sin trabajo y la mente negativa
Tramando lo que sea para llegar hacia la cima
Tú me entiendes?
Ya no soy el mismo joven inocente
America me convirtió en delincuenteParkiando con los manes que roban y venden
Tomando, fumando, actuando indecente
Y mi mama ‘ta cansada ayer me llamó
Dice que no puede más
Que a dios todo el día le resa
Para que me vaya bien
Y nunca me vaya mal
Y los ojos se me empiezan a aguar
Me necesita y ni la puedo ayudar
Perdoname mama
Pronto yo y Rico vamos a estar en la fama con lana
Hey nada es como antes
Las cosas han cambiado
Pero hay que hechar para alante
Yo soy inmigrante y se me trata a mí
Como si soy maliante
Sueño americano
Es el sueño americano
Así es el sueño americano
Es el sueño americano

Are Black Men Really ‘Bigger?’

Are Black Men Really 'Bigger?' Play

The team behind “Dear White People” is back with another PSA to help everyone tackle their stereotypes about black folks. 

Junot Diaz on Success and Catastrophe

Junot Diaz on Success and Catastrophe

Junot Diaz is a widely popular writer, probably one of the most influential of our generation. So he should feel pretty settled, right? Wrong, according to a recent interview with the Financial Times in which the author sheds some light on the financial realities of the publishing world.

So has success liberated him? “I have that deep-seated fear of catastrophe that a lot of immigrants have,” he replies. In the 11 years between Drown and Oscar Wao, his after-tax income from book sales was just $50,000 in total. Things have improved but he continues to teach at MIT. He likes the students, who he says are better for not wanting to be novelists, unlike those in other creative writing classes. “If you think learning salsa is your future, you’re going to be pretty insufferable in salsa classes.”

The author goes on to talk about his MacArthur Genius Grant, the Pulitzer and being a slow writer. Read more

Aloe Blacc Uses Images of Detroit (And Lots of Product Placement) in New Video

Aloe Blacc Uses Images of Detroit (And Lots of Product Placement) in New Video

If there’s one thing that Aloe Blacc’s team knows how to do exceptionally well, it’s how wring corporate endorsements from his new album. The singer released the video for his song “Hello World (The World is Ours)”, which also happens to be the FIFA World Cup anthem. In it, director Shane Drake draws heavily on images of downtrodden Detroit, mixed in with a prominent image of Beats headphones. (Beats Music helped build anticipation for Blacc’s latest album when  his song “The Man” was featured in a commercial starring NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.) Take a look. 


R. Kelly’s Ex-Wife Has the Most Wonderful Things to Say About Their Transgender Son

R. Kelly's Ex-Wife Has the Most Wonderful Things to Say About Their Transgender Son

You can’t beat a mama’s love. When word hit the interwebs that R. Kelly had a teenage transgender son, Jay, the news was reported scandalously in some parts of the black blogesphere. But both of Jay’s parents have been hugely supportive, as this VH1 interview with Jay’s mom, Drea, proves:

All I can say about Jay is he makes it so easy to be a proud mom. For parents, we need to realize, [our kids] have their own journey. Parents get it wrong when they don’t support their children. They have to go out and fight every day and face this world. The first battle should not be at home. I think that a lot of children in the LGBT community don’t succeed because the one thing they need the most is foundation. I just tell Jay all the time, baby you won the war. You’re gonna have a lot of battles but you won the war. Mama accepts and loves you for who you are. Your family does. My dad is a retired military naval officer and all he said was, “I’m gonna mess up sometimes and [use the feminine pronoun] ‘she’ but I’m gonna eventually get the ‘he’ thing. Just give grandpa some time. I’m gonna get it dude.” That was it.

Read more.

LeBron James’ Reunion With Cleveland Touches on Midwest’s ‘Brain Drain’

LeBron James' Reunion With Cleveland Touches on Midwest's 'Brain Drain'

After weeks of holding the sports world hostage, LeBron James has finally announced that he’s returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. In a touching letter published in Sports Illustrated, James listed the intensely personal reasons for wanting to return to the place that raised him and, in the process, managed to sound like most young folks of his generation who want to make an impact.

 I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

In this, James isn’t exactly alone. Census data indicate that the state of Ohio may finally be reversing a decades-long brain drain as young people between the ages of 20 and 34 remain in the state. (James, who is 29, likened the four years he spent in Miami as “almost like college for other kids.”)

Cleveland is known as a city that’s suffered countless heartbreaks in sports, chief among them James’ 2010 decision to take his talents to South Beach. But that heartache has often meant more in a city that’s also been decimated by industrial decline. When the Republican National Committee announced that it had chosen to host its 2016 convention in Cleveland, a spurned Dallas Morning News’ editorial board wrote, “Still, no matter how much fun you have, when you wake up, you’ll still be in Cleveland.”

But it looks like more and more, Cleveland is the place to be. 

Don Cheadle Thanks Fans For Making His Miles Davis Project Happen

Don Cheadle Thanks Fans For Making His Miles Davis Project Happen

Don Cheadle thanked fans this week after raising more than $325,000 for his project on the life and work of Miles Davis. The film is called “Miles Ahead” and has been in the works for years, but it finally got the financial support it needed thanks to this successful round of crowdsourcing on Indiegogo. Cheadle will direct the project and also star in it as Davis.

In an interview with Shadow and Act last month, Cheadle described how he came up with the idea:

The project first had traction in 2008 when Miles was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his nephew told reporters that I was going to be playing him in the movie, which was the first I’d heard of it. People started calling to try and put the movie together because the family had given their blessing for me to be in it. I started working with writers and at that point it became clear that the take on the story that I wanted to do was going to have to be controlled by me. I couldn’t really translate it to someone else and have it come off in the way that I wanted and needed it to.

So we had a script very early that we went out with, and a lot of people bid on it and several studios had optioned it. And then the world collapsed - the financial crisis hit and a lot of those mini-majors went out of business. We were kind of left without a home at that point, which turned out to be, for us, a good period of time because we pulled the movie back and restructured it and brought on Steven Baigelman (“Get On Up”, “Feeling Minnesota”) who I co-wrote the movie with, and created a different story.

At that point we went out again with it, and again had a lot of bites and a lot of places that were trying to put it together. And we just finally settled on making it with the financier that we have now, and are again in earnest targeting a start date and casting it, and now we’re four weeks out.

Read more at Shadow and Act

Azealia Banks Quotes ‘The Color Purple’ After Being Dropped From Label

Azealia Banks Quotes 'The Color Purple' After Being Dropped From Label

It’s a tired but often used analogy that black artists are slaves to their record-label overseers. Nina Simone wrote in her memoir, “I Put a Spell On You,” that she probably lost a million dollars in royalties because of the contract she signed as an impressionable young artist with Bethleham Records. Lupe Fiasco famously battled it out with Atlantic Records for years before the label finally released his third album “Lasers.” And, of course, there’s A Tribe Called Quest’s infamous warning: “Industry rule number 4,080, record company people are shady.”

Now, after years of delays and creative differences with her label Interscope/Polydor, rapper Azealia Banks has finally is free of her record label. Banks seems ecstatic about the news because now she’ll be able to record and release music on her own, including her debut album “Broke With Expensive Taste,” which has reportedly been finished for more than a year. 

To celebrate the occassion, and point out the power dynamics at play, Banks quoted “The Color Purple.”

Not that Banks has done much to endear herself to fans in the years that she’s been fighting with her label. She’s gotten into several high-profile Twitter beefs with everyone from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton to fellow rappers Angel Haze and T.I.

Let’s hope that she’ll finally be able to let her music do the talking. 

(h/t Music Times)

For Asian-American Men, A New Definition of Sexy

For Asian-American Men, A New Definition of Sexy

Comedian Kristina Wong recently gave a commencement address at UCLA’s Asian Pacific Islander graduation. In it, she talked about what life was like when she was an undergad at the school, navigating her way through tough classes, professional aspirations and the demands of being an Asian-American woman in higer ed.

In a bit about the emasculation of Asian-American men, Wong re-defined what she considers sexy. From her speech:

Let’s address first of all, the emasculation of Asian men and how the media “doesn’t consider Asian men sexy.” Where the hell is the world getting these ideas that Asian men aren’t sexy?! I want to see the young Asian-American men of your generation model healthy masculinity that’s not being reflected in mainstream America.  I want the future of Asian men to show that what’s sexy is respecting a woman’s boundaries, dismantling patriarchy, fighting for social justice, all while coding the heck out of a computer program!  That’s what’s sexy! Asian-American men, are you going to be the new face of sexy?

Watch the 20-minute speech above, or read the full text after the jump. 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30