Colorlines

‘Aunt Jemima’ Heir Sues Quaker Oats for $2 Billion in Royalties

'Aunt Jemima' Heir Sues Quaker Oats for $2 Billion in Royalties

Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup is one of the most ubiquitious brands in America, which makes it hard to remember that it’s based on a caricature of several black women — but one in particular. 

Anna Short Harrington was selected for the role of “Aunt Jemima” in 1935 and Quaker Oats trademarked her image and likeness in 1937. According to For Harriet, she was selected because of her own pancake recipe, which was then recreated for store shelves. When Harrington died in 1955, her family says that Quaker Oats was listed on her death certificate as her employer, but the company denies that she was an employee.

Her great grandson, D.W. Hunter, is now suring Quaker Oats for $2 billion plus punitive damages because the company has refused to their share of royalties for using Harrington’s recipe and image.

From The Wrap:

The suit further alleges a racial element to the exploitation of Harrington and the other women who portrayed Aunt Jemima, going so far as to accuse the company of theft in procuring 64 original formulas and 22 menus from Harrington. It further alleges that Harrington was dissuaded from using a lawyer, exploiting her lack of education and age, so that thecompany could not pay her a percentage of sales from her recipes.

Read more at For Harriet and CNBC.

La Santa Cecilia’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ Looks at Migrant Work

La Santa Cecilia is a Grammy-winning Mexican-American band based in Los Angeles that’s been open about how their music is influenced by the struggle of migrants in the U.S. In their latest video, the band does their own re-make of the Beatles 1967 classic “Stawberry Fields Forever” and takes viewers on a colorful backwards journey of consumer strawberries from the kitchen table to California’s Central Valley.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the original:

(h/t Latino Rebels)

Azealia Banks’ First Post-Label Music Video is Dope

Azealia Banks' First Post-Label Music Video is Dope Play

After invoking the ghosts of “The Color Purple” when she was let go from her label a few months back, Azealia Banks is eager to drop new music on her adoring fans. 

In an exclusive interview with BuzzFeed’s Naomi Zeichner, Banks said that can’t wait to release her debut album “Broke With Expensive Taste” so she can move on to a new project. “Now that I’m off the label it’s a bit of a shock, because now it’s like, ‘Oh shit, it’s real now.’ I mean, even though I’ve been doing it myself the whole time anyway, now it’s gonna be more pressure,” she said. “I have to do it myself, I have to hire all the people, I have to find all the stuff, I have to pay all the producers, I have to do everything. It’s fine, I actually don’t mind. I have a good team, lawyer, manager.”

And it looks like she’s off to a good start. Banks dropped the video for the new track “Heavy Metal and Reflective” on August 5, featuring that signature heavy baseline and some of the best lyrics she’s rapped since “L8R.” The video was directed by by Rob Soucy and Nick Ace and features Banks escaping a kidnap attempt with her biker gang.

Read more at BuzzFeed.

PSA From ‘Dear White People’: The Best Athletes Aren’t Always Black

PSA From 'Dear White People': The Best Athletes Aren't Always Black

Here’s the latest PSA from the cast of “Dear White People.”

(h/t Global Grind)

Video of Jeremy Lin Dunking on His Mom Goes Viral

Jeremy Lin took to Instagram recently to get his fans to participate in an online dunk contest. He included video of him dunking on his family — including his poor mom, who’s clearly been through this before. 

TAGS: Jeremy Lin

Maya Angelou Spoke of W.E.B DuBois in One of Her Last Interviews

In one of the last interviews she gave before her death earlier this year, Maya Angelou joined scholar Arnold Rampersad and poet Elizabeth Alexander on American Public Media to talk about W.E.B. DuBois’ legacy.

Angelou said of DuBois, “For a black man at that time to teach and to learn and to study under those circumstances when people were being lynched…what Dr. DuBois showed is that he had enormous courage.”

The interview is about 51 minutes long; but Angelou’s segment starts at around 48:55.

(h/t New Black Man)

TAGS: Maya Angelou

Listen to FKA Twigs Perform 3 Songs on BBC Radio

FKA Twigs (aka Tahlilah Barnett) is a 26-year-old British songstress who’s already been praised for her “futuristic vision of R&B.” Her sultry voice is just one part of her allure. Another part is the way she packages her music in carefully choreographed videos. 

She’s already got two releases under her beat: “EP1” and “EP2,” and on August 11 she’s set to drop “LP1.” She recently did a half hour radio appearance with BBC Radio 1 and performed three songs from her upcoming album. 

(h/t Stereogum)

TAGS: FKA Twigs

Brittney Griner Talks About Living in China

Brittney Griner Talks About Living in China Play

If there’s one thing that really sets WNBA stars apart from their NBA counterparts, it’s the fact that most of them have to play basketball year-round in order to pay the bills. Brittney Griner, the face of the league, is no exception.

Last Spring, ESPN’s Kate Fagan caught up with Griner as she tried to adjust to life in China. Now, here’s a clip from the new ESPN documentary “Britney Griner: Lifesize” in which the star talks about her time in the country.

Indian-Americans Don’t Want Dinesh D’Souza Anymore

Indian-Americans Don't Want Dinesh D'Souza Anymore

Jaya Sundaresh is tired of trying to make sense of conservative Indian-American commentator Dinesh D’Souza, so she’s offering up a Dave Chapelle-esque deal. No strings attached. Here’s why:

Put simply, D’Souza is the best of the best. He’s the crown jewel of Indian America, and trust us, he’s all yours. He’s a proud graduate of Dartmouth Univeristy, which is totally not a frat-infested wastehole. He worked for the Reagan White House, as a policy advisor. He did that right out of college, too. Such a smart boy! Oh, and he might have been born in Mumbai, but this brown beefcake is all-American, baby. He was proudly naturalized as an American citizen in 1991 and has been demonstrating his love for America ever since.

Dinesh doesn’t just take a rosy view of America, he really likes white people. Like, all white people. (Hear that, guys? That’s you!) Colonialism was A-OK in his book. The problem with African colonialism is that it didn’t last long enough, according to Dinesh. And India’s colonization by the British, well, that was just necessary, as it helped India progress into the modern age. So you definitely won’t get any of that annoying white guilt if you hang out with him. Heck, if you steal anything from him, he’ll probably just thank you for trying to civilize him!

Read more at the Aerogram

Here’s How NFL Owner Dan Snyder Bought Off the D.C. Media

Here's How NFL Owner Dan Snyder Bought Off the D.C. Media

It’s hard to imagine why it’s taken 16 years for the media to finally get up in arms against Dan Snyder’s entrenched refusal to change the racist name of the Washington, D.C., football team. But a new Deadspin piece by Dave McKenna sheds some light on Snyder’s manipulative tactics that predated his recent launch of a preposterous promotional website:

When the team was losing the public relations battle with star player LaVar Arrington over a 2005 contract negotiation, [WRC Sports Director George] Michael took the lead in trashing the beloved player as lazy and unintelligent until the fans turned against Arrington. He had members of WRC’s news crew pose as working journalists while staffing the 30-minute infomercials produced by Redskins Broadcasting, which had names like “Redskins Nation” and “Redskins Late Night” and were aired during time Snyder bought on the station and on others in the market. (Click here for a Snyder-produced promotional video for team-owned productions featuring future ESPN anchor Lindsay Czarniak and future NFL Network face Dan Hellie.) Michael never disclosed his or his station’s contractual ties to the team on the air and, more sleazily, tried to hide them by directing viewers who wanted to provide feedback to an email address with an “nbc.com” address, though the network had no hand in the shows’ production.

Read more at Deadspin

Venus X, Álvaro Díaz Talk Music, ‘Latino Double Consciousness’

Venus X, Álvaro Díaz Talk Music, 'Latino Double Consciousness' Play

There’s no doubt that the Internet has fundamentally shifted how this generation makes and listens to music. Sure, there’s Spotify and Pandora, which have changed the way we consume culture. But there are also countless DJs and MCs who’ve sampled sounds from across the globe thanks to the accessibility of online beats.

In this video from Remezcla’s Cultura Dura’s tour, Venus X, Füete Billēte and Álvaro Díaz talk about how today’s music has been influenced by the Internet and Latino double consciousness. 

(h/t Remezcla)

Watch Tyga’s Mom Read His Lyrics on Late Night TV

Watch Tyga's Mom Read His Lyrics on Late Night TV

Tyga, the 24-year-old rapper from Compton whose song “Rack City” became a huge hit a few years ago, has plenty of fans. No doubt his mom is one of them. But how awkward is it for his mom to actually read the lyrics to her son’s turn-up anthem? Really, really awkward, as shown on this clip “Words From Your Mother” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

‘Forgotten Four’ Tells the Story of Pro Football’s Integration

'Forgotten Four' Tells the Story of Pro Football's Integration

It’s hard to imagine now that there was ever a time when American football didn’t have a strong pressence of black athletes, but it wasn’t until 1946 that four African-American players broke professional football’s color line. Now a film that’s set to debut next month is out to tell their stories.

The men in question are Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Marion Motley and Bill Willis , four little-known players who integrated the game one year before Jackie Robinson did the same for Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The film is scheduled to premiere on EPIX on Tuesday, September 23 at 8 p.m. ET, but you can watch the trailer above.

(h/t Shadow and Act)

Brooklyn Museum Just Got a Lot Cheaper

Brooklyn Museum Just Got a Lot Cheaper

Lots of Brooklynites have already taken advantage of Brooklyn Museum’s First Fridays, the Target-sponsored monthly that features live music and free admittance for visitors. Now the museum has announced that starting on September 3, it will offer free admission for visitors under 20.

It’s a timely move. Eighty percent of America’s museum-goers are white, despite a rapidly changing racial demographic, according to data from the National Endowment for the Arts. Experts point to the fact that the cost of entry is usually prohibitively expensive. 

In a statement released by the museum’s director Arnold L. Lehman said that the move is in line with its mission:

I am delighted that we are able to expand our access to younger visitors by increasing free admission for those ages nineteen and under. This younger audience segment represents the future of all museums, and we must do everything possible to make it easier for them to visit. At the same time, the economic reality of inflation makes necessary this modest increase in our suggested admission fees for other audience segments.

(h/t Hyperallergic)

Gene Luen Yang Helps Revive the First Asian-American Superhero

Gene Luen Yang Helps Revive the First Asian-American Superhero

Award-winning comic Gene Luen Yang has a new graphic novel out with Sonny Liew called “The Shadow Hero.” It’s based on a little-known character named the Green Turtle from a 1940s Chinese-American cartoonist named Chu Hing. The new novel is the sort of revisionist history that’s also a cause for celebration; 27 artists did their own renderings of the Green Turtle to celebrate the occasion. 

Yang spoke with GalleyCat’s Maryann Yin about his research for the new project, and it’s a fascinating look at the world and history of race and publishing in comics:

Q: Can you describe your research process for this project?


A: The main character of The Shadow Hero is a superhero called The Green Turtle. He is not our character. The Green Turtle was created in the 1940s by a Chinese American cartoonist named Chu Hing. Rumor is, Chu wanted his character to be a Chinese American but his publishers wouldn’t let him do it. He reacted very passive-aggressively. If you look at the original Green Turtle comics, the main character almost always has his back to the reader. Supposedly, Chu did this so that he, and his reader, could imagine the hero as he intended, as a Chinese American.

I began my research by reading Chu’s Green Turtle stories. They were the lead feature in a short-lived series called Blazing Comics. Like so many obscure superheroes from the 1940s, the Green Turtle is now in public domain. You can legally download scans of all the original comics from websites like The Digital Comics Museum.

Once our story began taking shape, I read a lot about early American Chinatowns. Even though our characters live in a fictional Chinatown, I wanted it to feel real. Sonny, too, did a lot of visual research on the Chinatowns in both New York and San Francisco.

Read more

(h/t Angry Asian Man)

Laverne Cox Brings ‘Orange is the New Black’ to Conan O’Brien

Laverne Cox Brings 'Orange is the New Black' to Conan O'Brien

Quick, somebody give Laverne Cox her own show. She’s killing it. 

(h/t Team Coco)

A Possibly Whitewashed James Brown Film Pulls in $14 Million at the Box Office

A Possibly Whitewashed James Brown Film Pulls in $14 Million at the Box Office

“Get On Up,” the film chronicling James Brown’s life and starring Chadwick Boseman, did well enough at the box office on its opening weekend. The film took third place behind “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Lucy,” pulling in $14 million. According to USA Today, it also earned solid scores from 77 percent of moviegoers.

Interestingly, the film also stars some of contemporary black music’s heavyweights like Jill Scott and Black Thought. Scott, who plays Brown’s wife Didi Brown in the film, sat down for an interview with Global Grind and talked about what a struggle it was to really love the real-life James Brown because of “all that ego.”

But much of the talk surrounding the film has centered on the race and politics of the production team that made it happen. Gregory Allen Howard, an award-winning screenwriter, published a scathing look at the industry’s white gaze into black political life in a Huffington Post op-ed. The movie may be profitable, and even likeable, but it’s the result of a dangerous Hollywood formula:

Indeed, all the producers, writers, and the director of the James Brown movie are white. No black people were hired until a few weeks before the cameras started rolling, the actors. In fact, several of the people involved in this whitewash are British. The Brits have a fetish for black projects.

This is the Donald Sterling message: don’t bring them to the game. There are over fifty black iconic biopics and black-themed movies in development in Hollywood, including multiple Richard Pryor projects, five Martin Luther King projects, multiple Marvin Gaye projects, and civil rights projects, and only one or two have an African American writer. Our entire history has been given over to white writers.

Read more at Huffington Post

Katy Perry on Cultural Appropriation: ‘I Guess I’ll Stick to Baseball and Hot Dogs’

Katy Perry on Cultural Appropriation: 'I Guess I'll Stick to Baseball and Hot Dogs' Play

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Katy Perry pretty much blew off a question about cultural appropriation: “I guess I’ll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that’s it,” she told the magazine. “I know that’s a quote that’s gonna come to f-k me in the ass, but can’t you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don’t know.”

Perry has been widely criticized for appropriating black culture in numerous songs and music videos. She released the video this week for “This Is How We Do” in which she rocks fake nails and green hair extensions — her idea of a ‘hood chick, I guess.

(h/t Clutch)

New Laker Jeremy Lin’s Still Got a Great Sense of Humor

New Laker Jeremy Lin's Still Got a Great Sense of Humor

Despite putting up pretty consistent numbers with the Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin has become somewhat of a punchline to some NBA fans. That’s especially been the case now that he’s been traded to the Lakers, a franchise that’s deep into its rebuilding phase.

But if this video with Philip Wang, AJ Rafael, and Harry Shum Jr. is any indication, Lin’s taking it all in stride. 

(h/t Bleacher Report)

Actor James Shigeta and Hollywood’s ‘Stigma of Asian Leading Men’

Actor James Shigeta and Hollywood's 'Stigma of Asian Leading Men'

Actor James Shigeta died this week at the age of 85. He was known for winning a Golden Globe and for his leading role in 1961’s “Flower Drum Song,” but never again acted in a leading role. 

“He was so handsome, debonair,” fellow actor James Hong told the Washington Post. “But there was the stigma in Hollywood about Asian leading men.”

It’s a stigma that still exists today. “It’s changed in Hollywood, but only so much,” Japanese-American actor Masi Oka told The Hollywood Reporter. “You can’t get Asians cast in leads yet. Maybe as a second lead, but the lead is still going to be Caucasian or African-American. But Hollywood is fickle, it follows trends. If a show or a film did well with an Asian lead, then it would take off.”

Earlier this year, New America Media’s Andrew Lam cited the “Bamboo Ceiling” as a leading factor in the growth of Asian and Asian-American actors in new media:

And while they may not be signing big Hollywood deals, they are creating a kind of horizontal, post-modern conversation that is challenging the Hollywood notion of what talent looks and sounds like. These social media and reality personalities are beyond anything imagined by the big money producers, and they are giving old Hollywood a run for its money. 

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