Colorlines

J-Live Drops Song Against Police Brutality Called ‘I Am a Man’

Brooklyn-based M.C. and high school teacher J-Live just dropped what Okayplayer called his “most meaningful and heartfelt track ever.” The song is called “I Am a Man” and takes aim at police brutality. It’s also the latest song from his new LP “Around the Sun,” available on Bandcamp. Check out the new track below.

 

Watch George Clinton Talk to Questlove About Funk Music

Funk music pioneer George Clinton will be in conversation with Questlove tonight at 6:30pm at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  From the Schomburg:

The funk musician George Clinton shares stories about his life and career on the occasion  of the publication of his new book, [“] Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? A Memoir.[“] Clinton will be in conversation with the Roots’ drummer, DJ, writer, and producer Questlove.
Grammy award-winning artist George Clinton was the mastermind behind Parliament and Funkadelic, the two bands that virtually defined the funk genre. Clinton began recording solo in 1981, and has earned widespread recognition for his contributions to the music world. 

New York City Mural Honors Mothers Who Lost Sons to Police Violence

New York City Mural Honors Mothers Who Lost Sons to Police Violence

New York City visual artist Sophia Dawson decided to pay her respects to black and Latino mothers who lost their sons to police and extra-judicial violence. In a new mural called “Every Mother’s Son” on the Lower East Side, Dawson honors Kadiatou Diallou, Mamie Till, Constance Malcolm, Margarita Rosario, Gwen Carr, Lesley McSpadden and Iris Baez.

Dawson told Ideal Glass:

My art is a tool to bring people from different ethnicities, social statuses, beliefs and backgrounds together, to educate them and to develop a dialogue between them and the characters I depict. I want to highlight the significance of these figures and the relevance of their struggle today. They have been intentionally excluded from mainstream American History and their stories must not be forgotten… I always start working from black, as a conscious artistic exercise but also as a statement: it represents my opposition to the art education I received in institutions where I was taught that art had to begin on a ‘pure and white’ surface.

 

Every mother’s son. Complete. Made possible by @idealglass

A photo posted by Sophia (@iamwetpaint) on

(h/t For Harriet)

New Video Series Shows How Comedians of Color Turn Pain Into Laughter

Tanzina Vega and Channon Hodge of the New York Times launched a new video series today called, “Off Color.” It takes a look at how some today’s hottest comedians of color use race in their material. In Hari Kondabolu’s words, “It’s incredible how we recycle pain and turn it into laughter.” He’s featured in the new series, along with Kristina Wong, Issa Rae and Lalo Alcaraz.* Check out their interviews below. 

Hari Kondabolu:

Kristina Wong:

Issa Rae:

 

Lalo Alcaraz:

*Post has been updated to correct spelling of Lalo Alcaraz’s surname. 

Russell Wilson Doesn’t Care What You Think About His Blackness

Russell Wilson Doesn't Care What You Think About His Blackness

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson really isn’t moved by this newfound fascination with whether he’s “not black enough.” Amid reports of locker room strife and alleged complaints from other black teammates that put his racial identity into question, Wilson told reporters:

“I think it was people trying to find ways to knock us down, but we just keep swinging and keep believing in each other. We keep believing in the people that we have in the room and we keep believing in the coaching staff. We keep believing in our fans, we keep believing in each other and there is no doubt that we are together. There is no doubt that we are more together than ever before.

“And so, in terms of me, the ‘not black enough’ thing I think you are talking about, I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know. I believe that I am an educated, young male that is not perfect. That tries to do things right, that just tries to lead and tries to help others and tries to wins games for this football team, for this franchise. And that’s all I focus on.”

That didn’t stop NBA legend and current sports analyst Charles Barkley from blaming black folks in an interview on Philadelphia radio. “For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. It’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community.” 

But as Gina Torres writes at For Harriet, “there is no single definition of  ‘black people.’ Torres continues:

“Black people—including African-Americans and other descendants of the African Diaspora—are not a monolith. We are all shaped by our various experiences, socioeconomic backgrounds, and geographical location. But given the fact that mainstream society often uses the behavior of one Black person to represent us all, Barkley’s broad generalization is extremely myopic and disappointing. His statements allow for non-Black people to sign off on this highly problematic sentiment.”

Whenever a premiere NFL team hits a rough patch and loses a couple of games, there’s talk of trouble in the locker room. Obviously, this attack on Wilson seems deeply personal, but chances are, if his team keeps winning, the talk will die down significantly. 

Erykah Badu Talks ‘Completing the Cypher’ With Childish Gambino

Okayplayer TV caught up with Erykah Badu after a recent performance with Childish Gambino at Berkeley’s Greek Theater. She talks about intergenerational artistry, calling Gambino one of her “frequency heroes.” Watch the full interview below. 

Palestinian Vocalist Merna Has New Song Produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Born in Palestine and raised in Toronto, singer Merna made a name for herself by creating music for other artists including DJ Jazzy Jeff and James Poyser of The Roots. But now, she’s breaking out on her own with a new album, “The Calling.” 

“Musically, I always aim to break my own ground and delve a little more into my history and things that I’ve been influenced by,” the singer said in a press release. “For example, there are sounds and rhythms on this album that are African and Arab inspired. Not a lot of people know that my first ever band in Abu Dhabi was a rock band, and that I’m classically trained in piano.”

Below, check out live performance of the song’s lead single, “A Little More,” which was produced by Ali Shaheed Muhammad. 

San Francisco’s New Spray-Painted Carlos Santana Mural is Amazing

Long before Dropbox’s tech bros invaded San Francisco’s Mission District and made headlines for picking fights with neighborhood kids, legendary guitarist Carlos Santana called the historic neighborhood home. Over the weekend, the city’s art commission paid respect to one of its most beloved sons by unveiling a new spray-painted mural by fellow hometown artist Mel Waters at the corner of 19th and Mission. Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mindy Kaling Is Not Malala Yousafzai

Mindy Kaling Is Not Malala Yousafzai

Mindy Kaling is a 35-year-old Indian-American writer and creator of the hit show “The Mindy Project.” Malala Yousafzai is a 17-year-old Pakastani activist who just won a Nobel Peace Prize for championing girls’ education. They’re not the same person. But the New York Times unearthed an embarassing episode from this month’s New Yorker Festival:

As she stood by the banquettes, a tipsy man in his 80s cornered her and showered her with compliments, apparently mistaking her for Malala Yousafzai. “Congratulations on your Nobel Prize,” he said, before expressing wonder at how well she had recovered from Taliban gunshots.

Ms. Kaling was speechless. “Did he really think I’m Malala?” she said when he was safely out of sight. “And that if I were, I’d be at the Boom Boom Room?”

Still, she thought it was pretty funny: “That’s the best thing that’s happened all night.”

But, you know, this sorta thing happens all the time. Casual racism — guess there’s not much to do but laugh it off, right?

(h/t Vox)

TAGS: Mindy Kaling

Janay Rice Speaks Out About Those Racist Domestic Violence Halloween Costumes

Janay Rice Speaks Out About Those Racist Domestic Violence Halloween Costumes

Over the weekend, some awful human beings decided to dress up like Ray Rice — blackface paint and all — and poke fun at his brutal assault on his then-fiance, Janay, that got him kicked out of the NFL. Here’s one that appeared on TMZ:

rice_reddit_102614.jpg

Keith Olbermann has since started retweeting others:

blackfacehalloween_102614.jpg

Janay Rice, the woman at the center of the controversy, spoke out on Twitter:

Watch Spike Lee’s Documentary on Mo’ne Davis

Watch Spike Lee's Documentary on Mo'ne Davis Play

Spike Lee directed a documentary on 13-year-old pitching phenom Mo’ne Davis for Chevrolet that gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the teenager’s path to stardom at last summer’s Little League World Series.

Lupe Fiasco Releases New Track ‘Haile Selassie’ Feat. Nikki Jean

Lupe Fiasco Releases New Track 'Haile Selassie' Feat. Nikki Jean

Lupe Fiasco is gearing up to release a new mixtape called “Lost in the Atlantic.” He dropped the track “Haile Selassie” on Friday featuring singer Nikki Jean, who fans may remember from 2007’s “Hip-Hop Saved My Life.”

(h/t Hypetrak)

Roxane Gay: White Men Don’t Get Same Level of Online Harassment as People of Color

Roxane Gay: White Men Don't Get Same Level of Online Harassment as People of Color

Culture critic and English professor Roxane Gay sat down with the Chicago Tribune’s Christopher Borelli to talk about the whirlwind of a year she’s had since publishing her first collection of essays, “Bad Feminist.” Gay talks about the delicate line she walks between engaging online audiences and facing tons of racist and sexist harrassment. 

White men don’t receive the same level of (expletive) that women and people of color do online. They don’t see the harassment. Of course they see a yes-man culture. They’re not having their physical appearances — “You’re ugly,” “You’re fat” — brought up. They are not even aware of the real world. It’s adorable. Writing about literary culture, they seem to be protecting literary truth. They have good points: Critical rigor is important, what the Internet is doing to rigor is not small. I would just to like to see an awareness that others live in this world, that the subject is about more than a notion of literary integrity.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune

Racial Diversity Among America’s Working Artists Virtually Non-Existent

Racial Diversity Among America's Working Artists Virtually Non-Existent

It’s hard to make a living off of your art, but that’s especially true for artists of color, according to the Roberto A. Ferdman at Wonkblog:

Nearly four out of every five people who make a living in the arts in this country are white, according to an analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data by BFAMFAPhD, a collective of artists dedicated to understanding the rising cost of artistry. The study, which surveyed more than 1.4 million people whose primary earnings come from working as an artist, represents a broad population of creative types in the country, and reveals a number of troubling truths.

The study digs a bit deeper, finding that 80 percent of people with art school degrees are white. That’s important when you’re talking about gaining access to the institutional structures — faculty connections, business direction — that are often pre-requisites for a successful professional career. So as the country grows more diverse, its crop of working professional artists remains stubbornly white. Read more at Wonkblog

Smart People Listen to Radiohead, Dumb People Listen to Beyoncé, Says Racist Study

Smart People Listen to Radiohead, Dumb People Listen to Beyoncé, Says Racist Study

Software developer Virgil Griffith set out to see if there is a correlation between the type of music people listen to (based on the most “liked” performers on Facebook at more than 1,300 American colleges) and their SAT scores. The study’s been making the rounds, on and off, for the past five years, but it popped up again recently because Griffith posted a new chart. And, as Emma Silvers points out at SF Weekly, the findings aren’t just unscientific; they’re racist.

Let’s see, T.I., Lil Wayne, and the entire history of gospel, hip-hop, and reggae are all the province of morons? Whereas people who listen to Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead, and Guster are the folks you should want in the operating room should you ever need brain surgery? Nope, definitely not a giant, racially loaded can of classist assumptions and privilege-worms to open here. Absolutely no correlation between the dominant ethnic makeup of America’s most exclusive private schools and the fact that apparent hordes of the country’s most promising minds — actual young people, presumably — have listed Counting Crows as one of their favorite bands on Facebook. 

Here’s Griffith’s latest chart:

music-smart-dumb.jpg

Did ‘Dear White People’ Miss the Mark on Casual Racism?

Did 'Dear White People' Miss the Mark on Casual Racism?

Justin Simien’s debut film “Dear White People” has won over plenty of fans with its satirical approach to race, an approach that depends heavily on showcasing outrageously racist acts. But what about the subtle microaggressions that happen every day? Carimah Townes writes at Think Progress that it’s a major oversight of the film:

The film would’ve been more interesting if microaggression carried the same weight as explicit racism, given the nation’s ongoing discussion of race relations. Many argue that we live in a post-racial America, and that argument is largely predicated on what racism looked like in the country’s past. No, slavery doesn’t exist any more, and Jim Crow laws no longer keep black people from occupying public spaces. But to say that racist attitudes no longer color American society, a microaggression in and of itself, ignores casual acts of racism that occur every day. The purpose of the film was to highlight the experiences of a lot of black people, but aggressive, in-your-face racism overshadowed — and minimized — the profound effects that microaggressions have on them.

Dee Rees Talks About What Inspired Her Bessie Smith Biopic

Dee Rees Talks About What Inspired Her Bessie Smith Biopic

It’s been three years since Dee Rees debuted her critically acclaimed film “Pariah” at the Sundance Film Festival. In the years since, she’s been busy working on a TV biopic of American blues legend Bessie Smith. Queen Latifah will play Smith in the film, which is slated for an early 2015 release.

Lisa Schwarzbaum from the Directors Guild of America spoke with the young director about how she prepared for the project, and Rees talked about her grandparents:

To convey her vision, to HBO executives as well as to her cast and crew, Rees created collaged inspiration boards full of photos (particularly from the 1930s South Carolina portraiture work of Richard Samuel Roberts and from the photo book Juke Joint by contemporary Mississippi photographer Birney Imes) and color swatches to create a visual style she articulates precisely. “The first act is grays, blacks, browns, the color of insecurity,” she explains. “In the second act, it’s metallic colors, colors that are almost not from nature, oranges you wouldn’t believe. And then in the third act, the colors are more from nature, like peach, greens, earth tones. I wanted a lot of conflicting textures, looking through things.” In fact, Rees can whip out a smartphone showing her combinations. She also kept beautiful old photos of her grandparents and great-grandparents “on my ‘shrine’ during production.”

Read more.

Little League Star Mo’ne Davis Stars in World Series Ad

Little League Star Mo'ne Davis Stars in World Series Ad

It’s already been one helluva ride for Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year-old girl whose 70 mph fastball caught the country’s attention during last summer’s Little League World Series. She’s gotten tons of attention, especially from some of today’s biggest sports stars. During last night’s opening Major League World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals, Davis appeared in a commercial for Chevy, and it’s got a lot of folks talking:

Should a 13-year-old already be starring in a corporate commercials touting her athletic ability? The NCAA thinks it’s okay. Davis has already spoken publicly about wanting to pursue a college sports career, and UConn’s legendary coach, Geno Auriemma, even got in trouble for congratulating her earlier this year. 

Dear White People’s Naomi Ko: ‘People Don’t Think Asian-Americans Are Capable of Protest’

Dear White People's Naomi Ko: 'People Don't Think Asian-Americans Are Capable of Protest'

Naomi Ko, the Korean-American actress who’s gaining attention for her supporting role in Justin Simien’s “Dear White People,” spoke with Kylee McIntyre of the Visibility Project about her frustration with the model minority myth and what she hopes people will see in the critically acclaimed film. Ko’s part was pretty small, but it was pivotal: Her character, Sungmi, encourages black students on campus to unite with other groups of color to protest a racist frat party.

“People don’t think Asian Americans are capable of assembly and protesting […] that’s part of the whole model minority stereotype: Asians do really well and assimilate and become doctors and pay taxes and vote Republican,” Ko says. She rolls her eyes a little and hits me with a no-nonsense look. “That’s not what we do.”

“What Dear White People’ made me [realize] was not necessarily what it meant to be a woman, Korean-American, person of color. I’m already confident in that,” says Ko, who remembers being brought up in the “first wave” of Asian American identity. “Like, figuring out what it means to be Korean or American or Korean-American? That annoys me.”

Read more at the Visibility Project

The NBA’s Official Anthem This Season is by Kendrick Lamar

The NBA's Official Anthem This Season is by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar got a huge endorsement this week when the NBA announced that his song “i” will be the official anthem of the 2014-2015 season. From Hypetrak:

The song can already be heard in the new NBA On TNT spot, and will be featured in the league’s commercials throughout the year. On top of that, K. Dot will headline a special fan fest/viewing party outside The Q for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opening game against the Knicks on October 30. “i” has previously been featured in the trailer for Chris Rock’s Top Five movie, which was co-produced by Rock, JAY Z and Kanye West.

Lamar’s major-label debut, “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” won tons of critical acclaim after it was released in 2012. His next album is due out later this fall.

 

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