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.
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.
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!’”
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.
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.
(h/t Angry Asian Man)
East Oakland has a reputation as one of America’s most violent neighborhoods. It’s where a great deal of the city’s murders happen every year, a trend that’s earned it the dubious name the “Kill Zone.” Castlemont high school is in this area. It has a proud football tradition that’s taken a big hit in recent years due to the violence that’s kept many of the neighborhood’s kids from enrolling.
But Grit Media caught up with Ed Washington, a proud Castlemont alumn who’s trying to rebuild the program and, along with it, students’ committment to their community. Already, Washington’s team is meeting some success: After going winless over the past three season, the team’s overall record currently stands at 2-5.
In the middle of touring with Brother Ali on the “Home Away From Home” tour, L.A.-raised, Oakland-based Filipino rapper Bambu just dropped a new album called “Party Worker.” He raised nearly $40,000 for the album on Kickstarter and kept fans connected to the production process throughout most of last spring. The new video for the track “Minimum Wage” was directed, edited and animated by filmmaker Paco Raterta in Manila and shot by “Welcome to the Party” director/editor, Kevin Vea. It looks at everyday life in the Philippines and follows one group of workers as they try to make ends meet.
From “How to Get Away With Murder” and “Black-ish” and “Jane The Virgin” and “Cristela,” racial diversity on network television is paying big dividends for industry execs. According to Deadline:
Both ABC’s HTGAWM and Black-ishare helped by strong lead-ins -Scandal and Modern Family, respectively. Still, HIGAWM has excelled, surpassing Scandal as well as NBC’s The Blacklist to rank as the highest-rated drama on television by a wide margin, averaging a 5.7 rating among adults 18-49 through three weeks of Live+7 numbers. That should be gratifying for star Viola Davis, who recently lamented the marginalizing of darker-skin black actresses like herself who usually are relegated to bit parts in movies and TV.
Read more at Deadline.
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.
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 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.
Last night we rapped at about midnight. Please stop by 22 East 2nd Street btw Bowery and Second Ave. from now through November to visit the “Every Mother’s Son” mural. Featuring portraits of some of the mothers who have lost their children to police brutality and racism in this country. Thank you to all who came out to help @maatmoon @loukster @cheeks__xox @raytion @sarebear329 and to all that shared words of encouragement while we worked. Standing in front of Constance Malcolm (mother of Ramarley Graham) and Margarita Rosario (mother of Anthony Garcia) 🎨
(h/t For Harriet)
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.
*Post has been updated to correct spelling of Lalo Alcaraz’s surname.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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:
Janay Rice, the woman at the center of the controversy, spoke out on Twitter:
.@TMZ it’s sad, that my suffering amuses others— Janay Rice (@JanayRice) October 22, 2014
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.”
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.