Colorlines

Azealia Banks is Fed Up With Mainstream Music, Especially Those ‘Corny’ White Girls

Azealia Banks is Fed Up With Mainstream Music, Especially Those 'Corny' White Girls

Azealia Banks dropped her long awaited debut LP “Broke With Expensive Taste” as a surprise for fans last Thursday. Pitchfork’s Jeremy Gordon was there the next day to talk with the rapper/singer about the tortured road she’s taken since 2011, when she seemed primed for mainstream success only to flounder under Interscope for the next three years and get into a series of high profile Twitter fights.

Banks always has a lot to say about being a black woman in the industry. In June, shortly  before she was dropped from Interscope, she begged to be let go, writing on Twitter, “I’m tired of having to consult a group of old white guys about my black girl craft.” She was no less forthcoming with Pitchfork noting that even though some of her mess was of her own making, she got very little help cleaning it up.

Pitchfork: Two years ago, you told Spin that signing to a major label would be your one chance. 

Azealia Banks: At that point, I was really young and surrounded by a lot of older men who were working with me, that I was dating—a lot of older people I had to deal with. And having the male co-sign is something that people talk about a lot, especially with female rappers. Having been rejected by so many different people, I was just like, “Oh my God, I’m back in with these guys, this is my last chance.” But now I know how much it costs to go in the studio—I could make a thousand dollars and record for 12 hours and do whatever I need to fucking do. I don’t need these major label guys. These people are not my last shot. I know how to do this. I can do this. And thanks to Twitter, I can do it my own way, too.

She then goes in on the mainstream industry at large saying that having to deal with the career pressures and living in the digital public eye is “making me insane.”

Or it’ll be like, “We’re gonna pop off the white-girl rapper,” so we’ll have Gwen Stefani and Fergie, and then it’ll get worse and worse and worse. And you’re just like, “What the fuck is this?” The whole trend of white girls appropriating black culture was so corny—it was more corny than it was offensive. Trust me, I’m not offended: All the things I’m trying to run away from in my black American experience are all the things that they’re celebrating. So if they fuckin’ want them, have them; if they want to be considered oversexualized and ignorant every time they open their fucking mouth, then fucking take it. But more than that, the art is not good. These songs are not good. It’s like, “Oh my God, you’re doing this black woman impression, is that what the fuck you think of me, bitch? I need to meet the black woman that you’re imitating because I’ve never met any black woman who acts that bizarre.” It’s crazy that this becomes mainstream culture. All of America is celebrating shit like that. It’s so weird.

Read more at Pitchfork.

The World’s Getting a New Disney Princess Who’s Not White

The World's Getting a New Disney Princess Who's Not White

Disney is set to release “Moana,” its 56th animated feature, in 2016. And this time the princess is Polynesian:

Here’s more from Entertainment Weekly:

Moana is described as a “a sweeping, CG-animated comedy-adventure,” and takes place in ancient Oceania in the South Pacific. The film will tell the story of its titular character, a teenage girl and “born navigator” who “sets sail in search of a fabled island,” according to a summary from Disney. “During her incredible journey, she teams up with her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui, to traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore,” Disney reveals.

Read more

It’s a step in the right direction, but as Maureen Shaw wrote at Mic about merchandise sales and Disney princesses, the company’s got a long way to go:

Disney critics have long accused the company of racism and heterogeneity, and while the media powerhouse has made recent strides in diversifying its princesses, perhaps it’s not doing enough on the merchandise front. Did Disney manufacture equal shares of white versus non-white princess wares? Considering that two other princesses of color, Mulan and Pocahontas, didn’t even rank in the report, it’s an alarming possibility.

Read more

Video: Women of Color Speak Out About Street Harassment

Over at Jezebel, Collier Meyerson writes about that controversial Hollaback video on street harassment and new response from a group of women of color:

…black and brown women were excluded, as if we do not exist, or are not affected by street harassment when, in fact, we are more endangered by it. Black and brown women, women of color of size, and trans women are among our society’s most vulnerable. Black women are at a greater risk of domestic violence. For trans women, even leaving the house can be fraught with emotional and physical violence. Women of color, regardless of gender expression, have an extra layer of fear and anxiety when walking down the street. The Hollaback video’s omission of white men, and the omission of black and brown women, worked together in an sinister alchemy to reinforce centuries-old stereotypes about who needs to be saved and protected and who needs to be feared and controlled.

Hollaback did issue an apology, writing: “We agree wholeheartedly that the video should have done a better job of representing our understanding of street harassment and we take full responsibility for that.”

In the video below, several women of color talk about their experiences with street harassment, often at the hands of white men.

Azealia Banks’ Debut LP ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ Climbs U.S. iTunes Chart

Azealia Banks didn’t exactly surprise fans on Thursday when she dropped her debut LP “Broke With Expensive Taste.” The album was originally slated for a 2012 release, but after many well-publicized setbacks, it was pushed back more than two years. Banks finally left her label earlier this year, and the last night released the album without any warning on iTunes and Spotify. Within hours of its release, the album hit the number three spot on the U.S. iTunes music chart.

If you’ve got a Spotify account, you can stream the whole album below. 

Asian Woman Acts Like Creepy Dude, Talks About White Fetish

ICYMI, writer and actress Joy Regullano was tired of white men fetishizing Asian woman, so she flipped the script and turned in this hilarious video. Check it out.

(h/t Everyday Feminism)

Ryan Potter of ‘Big Hero 6’ Talks About Hapa Actors, Diversity in Casting

Ryan Potter of 'Big Hero 6' Talks About Hapa Actors, Diversity in Casting

“Big Hero 6” is Disney Pictures latest big film release and is set to hit theaters this weekend. Momo Chang at the Center for Asian American Media points out that the film itself is an homage to Japanese anime and also chatted with Ryan Potter, the 19-year-old voice actor for the film’s main character, Hiro.

So the main character, Hiro, is hapa, Japanese and white, similar to your own background. Could you relate to the character?

I mean, I could relate to the character, simply from the fact that we look similar. But then when you dive in deeper, we’re very similar, in the sense that when I set my mind to something, I get it done. Hiro’s very much the same way. We both get tunnel vision. Hiro’s much smarter than I am, but our intellect can get us into a little bit of trouble. Yeah, I mean, even when I walked into the audition the first time, I looked at the character design, and I thought, we kind of look similar!

The film also features a pretty diverse voiceover cast that includes Daniel Henney, Jamie Chung, Maya Rudolph, Damon Wayans, Jr. and Genesis Rodriguez. On that, Potter remarked:

When you hear the film, it sounds like we’re in the same room at the same time but it’s actually the opposite. We all record on our own, separately. And then the editors and sound engineers, they end up putting all the voiceover together. I mean, I worked with Maya Rudolph very briefly, maybe 20 minutes, max. But other than that, we all worked on our own.BIG HERO 6

Potter speaks to representation that’s seriously lacking in Hollywood. According to a study from the University of Southern California, Asians made up just over four percent of speaking characters across last year’s top 100 grossing movies.

Read more at the Center for Asian American Media

MTV’s ‘Rebel Music’ to Feature Indigenous Artists in North America

MTV is marking November’s Native American Heritage Month by premiering a 30-minute episode of its “Rebel Music” series on young indigenous artists in North America. The series looks at socially conscious artists across the globe. This episode, for which renowned street artist Shepard Fairey serves as an executive producer, features stories of Frank Waln, Inez Jasper, Nataanii Means and Mike Clifford. They’re all activists who channel their messages through art in an effort to combat the devastating realities of issues ranging from suicide to sexual assault in their communities.

 Here’s a sneak peek:

In a somewhat unconventional move, the episode will premiere on Rebel Music’s Facebook page next Thursday, November 13 at 4pm EST/1pm PST. Stay tuned. 

Sandra Oh Goes from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ to New Animated Film

Former “Grey’s Anatomy” star Sandra Oh is trying to raise money for a new animated project called “Window Horses.” It’s about a young Chinese-Iranian-Canadian poet who goes off in search of her father at a poetry festival. 

From NBC Asian America:

The film stars Oh as Rosie and Nancy Kwan — one of Hollywood’s first major stars of Asian descent — as Gloria, Rosie’s overprotective grandmother. Much of the film’s cast has yet to be officially announced, and in an interview with CBC Radio earlier this month, Oh, who also serves as executive producer, said she was searching for actors who would help keep the authenticity of the story.

“I would like to see…the people who are actually the central storytellers be people who are not white,” Oh said. “Look at the call sheet and number one, two, three, four, five, and that’s what I’d like to see change.”

Check out the project’s Indiegogo campaign to learn more. Watch Oh talk about the project in the video below:

TAGS: Sandra Oh

Kendrick Lamar Spreads Love in First Official Video From New Album

Kendrick Lamar dropped the first official video from his forthcoming, untitled album this week. The track, “i,” has already been roundly praised by fans and was chosen as the theme song for the 2014-2015 NBA season. As Ambrosia for Heads points out, the video is just another extension of Lamar’s mission to “save lives musically.” It features Lamar leading a crowd of people dancing through everyday and sometimes heartbreaking scenes in Compton. Here’s more:

Kendrick clearly understands the grasp his music has within the Hip-Hop realm and even more importantly, he understands that the people who listen to his music believein it and look to him for direction. In his interview with Peter Rosenberg and Hot 97, K. Dot reveals that fans have personally expressed that the Top Dawg member’s music has prevented them from doing harm to themselves and even relieved them from the stranglehold of suicidal thoughts. With that knowledge at hand, Kendrick has taken it upon himself to continue that trend by delivering uplifting, lyrically driven content with his listeners in mind.

Read more. Still no word on a release date for Lamar’s sophomore LP.

Eva Longoria: ‘I Was Fortunate to Grow Up in a Family of Activists’

Actress Eva Longoria recently co-founded the Latino Victory PAC, which tossed its support behind a number of Latino Democrats who ran in the midterm elections. In this video from Fusion, Longoria talks about how her family inspired her activism. 

Listen to Georgia Anne Muldrow’s New Track, ‘Ciao’

Songstress Georgia Anne Muldrow dropped an instrumental LP back in September called “Oligarchy Sucks,” and now she’s following up with some vocals. Listen to the track “Ciao,” which Okayplayer says “packs an air of escapism that picks up where Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat” left off.”

Ava DuVernay’s ‘Middle of Nowhere’ Will be on DVD, On Demand

Fans of Ava DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere” are gonna be pleased to see her award-winning film on DVD and streaming on demand early next year. The film, which follows a black couple dealing with incarceration, will be available starting January 13, 2015, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Code Black Films. 

The film aired on BET earlier this year and was streaming on Netflix for a brief period, but its upcoming release on DVD will be the first time that it’s made widely available since showing in theaters in 2012. 

(h/t Shadow and Act)

Video: Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama Urge Young Latino Voters to the Polls

Latino voters could influence 18 Senate and gubernatorial races in today’s midterm elections, and have the potential to swing elections in at least six states, according to a poll by Latino Decision. VotoLatino, a non-partisan organization founded by Maria Teresa Kumar and Rosario Dawson, is using its star power to turn out thousands of young Latinos to the polls this election. 

“It’s really important for people to speak up because this is the time to make our voices heard,” Dawson told Fusion at a recent VotoLatino conference in San Jose, California. “It’s not just about complaining about things at home and then wondering how they don’t get better the next day.”

Valderrama put it this way: “You gotta clean your house, and we have to clean The House.”

Lupita Nyong’o Named Glamour’s ‘Woman of the Year’

It’s been one helluva year for Lupita Nyong’o. The actress won an Oscar for her supporting role in “12 Years a Slave” and became one of the most recognized young faces in Hollywood. Now she’s been named Woman of the Year by Glamour Magazine. In an interview, she talked about being a role model to young black girls:

GLAMOUR: You’ve become a role model for many girls—black girls in particular. Who were your role models, growing up? 
LN: Oprah played a big role in my understanding of what it meant to be female and to really step into your own power. I wouldn’t even call her a role model; she was literally a reference point. You have the dictionary, you have the Bible, you have Oprah.

GLAMOUR: Do you feel a responsibility to young women out there? 
LN: I feel a responsibility to myself and my parents and the people whose love has gotten me this far—people who were in my life before fame. That’s where I get my sense of self. It’s deadly for anyone to take on that role of a deity; it’s not sustainable. I’ve got tons of flaws. Call my mother—she’ll tell you! She keeps it real. Sometimes you don’t want to hear the truth; she’ll tell it to you out of love.

Read more at Glamour

Watch Prince Rock the House on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Prince offered up a thrilling performance with his band, 3rdEyeGirl, and singer Lianne La Havas on “Saturday Night Live.” ICYMI, check it out below. 

TAGS: Prince video

Thousands Protest Washington, D.C., NFL Team Name

Thousands Protest Washington, D.C., NFL Team Name

Thousands of protesters gathered at Minneapolis’s TCF Stadium on Sunday to tell Washington D.C.’s NFL team owner Dan Snyder: “We are not mascots.” The Minnesota Vikings played host to Snyder’s team amid the long-planned protests, which reportedly brought together more than 5,000 people.

Why Minneapolis? Three big reasons: First, it’s a NFL city with a sizable Native population. Second, the Vikings are playing at the University of Minnesota this season as they await their new stadium; campus activists and community members have been organizing there for months. Finally, there’s precedent. The Washington Post noted that in 1992, when the Buffalo Bills played D.C. in the only Super Bowl hosted in Minnesota, an estimated 3,000 demonstrators turned out at the now-demolished Metrodome to denounce the team’s name.

Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation in Arizona, whose lawsuit led the U.S. Patent Office to revoke the team’s trademark in June because it disparages Natives, summed up the mood in Minneapolis on Sunday.

“It’s a good day to be indigenous,” Blackhorse told the Star Tribune. “I’m so glad to be here with you today. Minnesota Natives don’t mess around.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota also attended the protest.

“We are here to tell the NFL there is no honor in a racial slur,” McCollum told the Washington Post. “Here in Minnesota we have 11 proud tribal nations, but only 150 years ago, their ancestors, men and women, elders and children, were hunted and murdered for profit. This was a government-funded policy of genocide. The pain of this brutal and shameful history is still with us. If there is any decency in the NFL, the time is now — change the mascot.”

Spike Lee: ‘Post-Racial America is Bullshit’

Spike Lee made his case against a post-racial America to Jorge Ramos at Fusion. He also really, really hates “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Watch. 

(h/t Fusion)

Angela Davis Praises Toni Morrison’s Friendship and Editing

Angela Davis Praises Toni Morrison's Friendship and Editing

UC Santa Cruz’s Dan White sat down separately with Angela Davis and Toni Morrison and put together one gem of an interview about their nearly five decades of friendship. Before she earned her own place in the American canon, Morrison worked as an editor at Random House for 20 years and edited a stable of books by black writers, including Davis’ 1974 autobiography. The interview touches on everything from Morrison’s distaste for that era’s black memoirs to the “white gaze” and the importance of goodness in literature. But these thoughts from Davis on Morrison’s friendship and editing stand out:

To Angela Davis: During her time at Random House, Toni Morrison edited your [autobiography], which was published in 1974. How did that initial connection come about? 

AD:  She contacted me. I wasn’t so much interested in writing an autobiography. I was very young. I think I was 26 years old. Who writes an autobiography at that age? Also, I wasn’t that interested in writing a book that was focused on a personal trajectory. Of course at that time the paradigm for the autobiography as far as I was concerned was the heroic individual and I certainly did not want to represent myself in that way.  But Toni Morrison  persuaded me that I could write it the way I wanted to; it could be the story not only of my life but of the movement in which I had become involved, and she was successful. 

To Angela Davis: Your autobiography is very cinematic - I’ve read a lot of your more academic work, but this one is constructed like a novel. In the very beginning, you’re trying to get away from the FBI and there is this palpable sense of fear. The reader is right in the middle of a manhunt. I was wondering how much of that comes from the influence of your mentor, Toni Morrison.

AD: The decision to begin the story at the moment when I went underground and then would be arrested was an interesting way of drawing people into a story, the outlines of which they already knew because of course my being placed on the FBI 10 most wanted list was publicized all around the country, all around the world, so yes, there was the use of the kind of cinematic strategy of flashback and this was thanks to input from my editor, Toni Morrison. And I can also say that in learning how to write in that way for her - she did not rewrite things for me, but she asked me questions. She would say, ‘what did the space look like, what was in the room, and how would you describe it?’ It was quite an amazing experience for me to have her as a mentor. My experience with writing was primarily writing about philosophical issues.  I really had to learn about how to write something that would produce images in people’s minds that would draw them into a story. 

Morrison goes on to offer up some hilarious anecdotes about working as Davis’ handler on her book tour and setting boundaries for people. “People would come up to her, you know: ‘My brother is in prison, and I was wondering could we have a cocktail party (to raise money for him),’ and the thing was, (Davis) would stop and listen, and say, ‘where is he?’, and I would say, ‘Angela, come on!’”

Read more

ICYMI: Meet the Artist of Color Behind Those ‘Stop Telling Women to Smile’ Posters

We’ve covered Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh before, but her work is worth revisiting in light of the controversy that’s swirling around a new video that depicts street harassment faced by women in New York City. The video, which was released by anti street harassment group Hollaback and marketing agency Robert Bliss Creative, shows a seemingly white woman walking along Manhattan streets and being approached by several men of color — interestingly, all of the white men were edited out. Roxane Gay quipped on Twitter: “The racial politics of the video are fucked up. Like, she didn’t walk through any white neighborhoods?”

For the past few years, Fazlalizadeh has taken her message against street harassment across the country, opening up discussions about sexism and racism.

Is Your Halloween Costume Racist? Check This Flowchart

Are you worried that your Halloween costume may be a little bit racist? Don’t be this person. Or these folks. The good folks at College Humor found this handy little flowchart so you don’t make an asshole out of yourself this year. And, if you’re wondering, there are ways to dress up as a person from a different race and not be a jerk

racisthalloweenchart_103014.jpg

(h/t Angry Asian Man)

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