WHO’S YOUR CADDY?
RUSH HOUR 3
The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter.
We start this eNewsletter off with the homegoing of one of our best educators and scholars – Asa G. Hilliard, III – who has joined the ancestors. We met him several times and had email interactions with him on a few occasions. He was always kind, gracious, helpful, patient, and consistent. Anyone who knew him well will surely miss him. Dr. Hilliard’s family will celebrate his life in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 22nd and 23rd on the Morehouse College Campus – 830 Westview Drive, SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30314 – and the details are as follows:
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
12pm-6pm – Lay In State at Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel
6pm-8pm – Acclamation of Legacy and Community at Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel
Immediately following will be Fellowship at Morehouse College Executive Conference Center – Leadership Facility
Thursday, August 23, 2007
11:00am – Celebration of Life at Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel
Instead of flowers, the family requests that any donations be sent to the Per Maat Foundation, Inc., which is a not-for-profit, tax deductible organization that was formed to educate the public about African and African Diaspora history and culture. The address is PO Box 357171, Gainesville, Florida 32635.
Dr. Asa Hilliard is one of our favorite scholars and he’s referenced in numerous BN-W eNewsletters. His writings are very powerful and his educational television series, “Free Your Mind, Return to the Source: African Origins of Civilization,” with Listervelt Middleton remains an excellent source for children and adults to begin their journey to learning about our ancient African history and how it’s been greatly tampered with along with our image through the American media and school system. Dr. Hilliard was a founding member of the National Black Child Development Institute and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. In BN-W #55 we included The State of African Education and in this presentation, he describes the rather simple problem when it comes to educating our children: “ Can we place our children in the care of well-prepared wise educators who love them and who have the will to teach them? We need educators and leaders who are oriented towards our destiny because they are rooted in a deep understanding of our culture and traditions, educators who identify with and are a part of us, educators who see our children as their own. Those who love our children and who have the will to teach them will make whatever sacrifices are necessary to raise our children up where they belong. Now is the time for the real liberators to come forward. Some educational researchers already serve in this role; more can by destroying myths. There is heroic work for educational researchers as a part of this process.” How many of us can honestly say we send our children (be it elementary or college) to educators and educational facilities that have the best interest of children of African descent at heart and in mind and love them? We all know what the answer to that is. So what are we going to do about it?
Another highly respected mathematician, educator, and scholar is Abdulalim A. Shabazz, who recently resigned fromLincoln University’s Mathematics Department due to an academic environment that didn’t promote and foster excellence from neither its students nor its faculty. “In the face of the national need for more and better trained mathematicians, scientists and engineers, with the overemphasis of the present mathematics leadership on remediation and with the continued conscious hiring of mathematics teachers, who have not had at least 18 hours of core graduate content mathematics, Lincoln is destined to produce very little.” Here’s Dr. Shabazz’s Open Letter of Resignation, which cites just some of the many problems he’s faced with at Lincoln, one of the historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Unfortunately, many of those problems and the people creating them are the result of the massive miseducation and misinformation that’s a long-held tradition throughout the American school system and the media. So what are we going to do about it?
After writing about two serious and highly intellectual and culturally aware scholars and the problems we’re faced with today due to centuries of miseducation, misinformation, and media manipulation, it’s disheartening to have to acknowledge – once again – the proof of that by those of us who think we’re highly educated and elite but yet somehow keep financing, producing, and marketing movies like Who’s Your Caddy? This film is the first offering from Our Stories Films production company, which is owned by Robert Johnson (founder and former owner of Black Entertainment Television [BET]) along with Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Our Stories Films is supposed to be historical because it represents the first time “that people of color can greenlight their own films and decide what goes on the big screen,” according to Tracey Edmonds, who is the president and chief operating officer of the company. The track record of Johnson and Edmonds forewarns us that there’s a high probability that we can expect more “Caddy” type films ahead; they’re already both pushing the concept of films that are primarily “funny” and “entertaining.” In a word, scary! The burning question – will they do any films that will empower and enlighten their people?
Edmonds had us with her for a minute with Soul Food, but nearly everything since then has been mediocre from movies to music (remember Jon B anyone). And just because a show gets high ratings (e.g., Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown) doesn’t mean it’s a hit qualitatively. Does VH-1’s Flava of Love represent quality entertainment? For the record, silly shows are okay, but there has to be a balance of quality and intellectually stimulating shows as well – especially from a company that’s supposed to represent Black people. Also, as we’ve mentioned before, we happily and voluntarily gave up cable a long time ago, so we’re not even regular viewers of cable, but we catch enough of it to know who’s selling us down the river. For more on the Edmonds/Johnson duo and the history of the White writer/director (and actor) of Who’s Your Caddy? for Our Stories’ first film production, continue reading the Monitor section at the end of this eNewsletter for this film.
Edmonds attended Stanford University; Johnson attended Princeton University; and two other BET comrades, Reginald Hudlin and Debra Lee, attended Harvard University. Out of those supposedly top-tier schools, we get this kind of brainpower behind the last 10 years of BET’s “quality” programming and Who’s Your Caddy? in the 21stcentury. They make it very easy to understand why Carter G. Woodson, who wrote The Miseducation of the Negro, said it took him nearly 40 years to get Harvard out of his system. Unless you’re smart enough to realize what’s being done to you as well as know the need to and are willing to self-educate, an education from most schools will teach you everything to keep you spiritually enslaved and economically dependent on a job – whether it’s a four- or eight-figure salary. And, for the most part, the actions of these four media professionals (and so many others like them) who have more power than they realize prove that very point. They have the tools but continue to severely misuse it because they don’t know how to really use that power – but they don’t know that they don’t know. Lastly, into this mix, comes Eddie “Norbit” Murphy and Charles “We Got To Do Better/Hot Ghetto Mess” Murphy. Somebody, somewhere, anybody, anywhere – save us!
By the way, we don’t expect much from the Weinstein brothers. If they have Black professionals who, presumably anyway, know more about their own people than the Weinsteins would, why would they butt in if these professionals choose to continually decide against promoting positive images of their own people. The Weinsteins have also launched a similar film venture through a $285 million movie fund with Asians. As any self-empowering group of people would do, cover as many bases as possible, right? Nothing wrong with that.
Examples of individuals who understand the importance of owning as much media/entertainment as possible are Rupert Murdoch (who’s company News Corp. just bought Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal for $5 billion) and Sumner Redstone (who’s company Viacom bought BET from Johnson in 2001 for $3 billion). Both know that as long as the power to buy up as much media as possible is not limited or hindered by the government that it’s more important to do just that because you then have the ability to control not only the image of your people – but perhaps just as importantly – the image of other groups of people. Pay attention to the media and the images that are put out there; keep in mind that there’s a very small group of people and companies/corporations that are actually controlling the type of and the way we get information – the very limited news we get, the excessive entertainment we get, and the print and screen visuals marketed to us constantly. Murdoch and Redstone are part of that small group.
INTERESTING WEB SITES/LINKS/ARTICLES OF THE DAY :
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is accepting applications from youth, ages 11-17, for the sixth year of its Junior Scholars Program, which is a “dynamic Saturday school geared toward students of African descent throughout the New York Metropolitan area. Its primary goal is to ground young people in the histories and cultures of the African Diaspora. The program is an intensive, 26-week, series of Saturday sessions, from 10am-3pm, designed to prepare them for intellectual and entrepreneurial careers. Junior Scholars have access to the extensive resources at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Where Every Month Is Black History Month. It is expected that Junior Scholars will expand their knowledge of who they are as intellectuals and artistic beings and will continue on the path prepared by their prolific and trailblazing ancestors.” For applications or more information about the program, go to the Schomburg Center, the Junior Scholars Program or contact Deirdre L. Hollman, Associate Director, at (212) 491-2234 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The application deadline is September 30, 2007.
As a follow-up to the Jena Six information and stories we provided in BN-W #81, here’s Color of Change.org for more on this “Jim Crow justice” case in Jena, Louisiana, including an online petition that’s almost near its 75,000 signature goal and the Jena 6 Defense Fund to make online contributions. Here’s a short video on the events surrounding theJena Six.
Author Harriet A. Washington, who wrote the excellent Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present , recently wrote a New York Times Op-Ed on the doctor and five nurses who were recently released after being found guilty, imprisoned, and sentenced to murder in Libya on charges of intentionally infecting hundreds of Libyan children with H.I.V. In BN-W #55, we mentioned this story briefly and the fact that we could find nothing substantial about it online or in the standard media. Why Africa Fears Western Medicine is the piece Washington wrote on this issue and the historical legitimacy of such fears.
Founder and former head of TransAfrica Randall Robinson did an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! In this interview, he spoke about the coup of Haiti’s former President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the links to Tavis Smiley, Colin Powell, and Ron Dellums. He also touches on the amazing (but rarely taught in schools) historical connection amongst Haiti, the United States, France, the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the tactics to destroy Haiti by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Woodrow Wilson as well as the reparations Haiti had to pay to the French government after winning the 12-year war because France claimed that a vast debt was incurred due to France not having access to the enslaved people of Haiti. Here are links to Robinson’sWeb site and the text/video of the interview.
The radio commentaries of Mumia Abu-Jamal are available online. They are short, to the point, and always interesting.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and the dogs! Always the no-holds-barred attorney, Alton Maddox asks in his weekly Amsterdam News editorial, What’s Going On With Michael Vick? “ Today, most Blacks have been thoroughly brainwashed through misinformation and disinformation. Vick is the unwitting version of Jack Johnson. He is not an assimilationist. No one can mistake Vick for Tiger Woods. In sports, they are both performing a ‘white man’s job.’ Vick, however, is doing it on the Black side. This is like a Black man rubbing salt in the white man’s wound.” Margaret Kimberley, editor and senior columnist of the Black Agenda Report, writes an on-point analysis of the double standard media treatment given to Vick as compared to the almost non-existent coverage given to the trial of music producer Phil Spector, who’s charged with murdering a human being, and the sympathy given to the 21-year-old alcohol/drug dependent actress Lindsay Lohan who after a “bizarre high speed chase…blamed a Black person. ‘I wasn’t driving. The Black kid was driving.’”
Soft drink giant, Pepsi, has been forced to admit that it’s Aquafina bottled water is plain old tap water. Here’s the full story: The Bottled Water Lie. Michael Blanding also wrote about the Tap Water Challenge in an October 2006AlterNet article.
We’ve had the transcript to the 1994 PBS Frontline special – The Diamond Empire – in eNewsletters and on the site for more than a year. Now, we’ve also got the video, which moves along perfectly in sync with the transcript. This special goes into many details about the diamond business, including the South Africa, United States, and Israellinks; the DeBeers; the Oppenheimers; Cecil Rhodes; and so much more. Here’s the link: The Diamond Empire.
Rappers Talib Kweli and David Banner (whose real name is Levell Crump) recently gave their opinions on Al Sharpton’s protests against lyrical content. Kweli was respectful about his “elders.” He did, however, make it clear that no one’s “gonna tell me what I can or can’t say.” We at BN-W simply laughed at how comical that was and wondered if he’s spoken with Michael Jackson lately about what happened to his “They Don’t Really Care About Us” song. Now, Banner, on the other hand, simply went overboard and acted totally undignified. In addition to calling Sharpton a “permed-out pimp,” he said to tell Sharpton “I said fuck him and he can suck my dick.” Come on now, is that necessary? Whatever Banner did for Katrina can be easily wiped out when that disrespectful attitude can be triggered so easily. Is keeping the N-word use alive in his music really worth all that? His reaction only reinforces the need to make a change in the lyrical content because it shows that duality of confusion that creates this kind of undue volatile reaction. Here’s the article: SOHH and David Banner/Talib Kweli. Even R&B singer Akonacknowledges that they’re all “talented enough to write lyrics for songs without using that type of language.” Besides, all of them were cleverly coaxed into that whole gangster/gangsta mode anyway. It’s just unfortunate that the bait worked and now some even think the use of one particular racial slur (when no other racial slur is marketed anywhere else around the globe) is somehow a freedom of speech issue. A speech is just that – a speech (describing thoughts, feelings, perceptions). A word – in this case, the N-word – is not a speech.
As we mentioned in BN-W #54 the conclusion of Part II: Black-Jewish Relations will be included with our new bi-monthly Music Monitor. As we also stated, we’ve got a lot of information, and, for that reason, until Part II comes out, we’ll be filtering stuff to you so it won’t be too overwhelming in the buildup to Part II’s conclusions. Refer toBN-W #53/54 if you need a repeat of our feelings on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Occupation 101 is about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It goes into detail about the history, the agreements, the destruction and theft of homes and land, the role of Zionism, the Israeli settlers, intentional ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, lying through omission, and so much more. View the full video here: Occupation 101.
Although not a companion piece to the Occupation 101 video above, this AlterNet article by Barry Lando – Israeli’s Primal Myth: A Barrier to Peace – coincides with a lot that’s in the film, including the following: “ Israeli historians concluded that the Palestinians’ flight [from Palestine territory]was–as the Arabs had long claimed–the result of a purposeful policy of Israeli forces, whose communiqués at the time spoke openly of ‘cleansing’ or ‘purifying’ the conquered Arab villages”; “ the decision of the Israeli government in 1948 to refuse to allow any Palestinians who had fled–no matter what their motive–to return to their homeland. At the same time, Israeli residence was offered to anyone in the world who could claim Jewish ancestry.”; and “as if to destroy evidence of the Palestinian past, over the following years some 400 out of 500 Palestinian towns and ancestral villages were burned, dynamited and bulldozed, obliterated from the maps of Israel.”
If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to email@example.com and request that it be sent to you. As always, we highly encourage you to see these films for yourself and, if applicable, make your own judgment call on the N-word usage – appropriate/inappropriate? necessary/unnecessary? sensible/nonsensical? does it add to or take away from the film’s concept? does the N-word have to be used at all? is there a valid reason for doing so? is it mandatory for the scene(s) to be effective? what are the circumstances/situation that necessitate any use of the word? is it just thrown in for humor, fear, crime, insult? are other culturally insulting slang terms used as much as the N-word in the film? Lots of questions and a whole lot of reasons to wonder what’s the real purpose and thought process behind why these entertainers, writers, directors, producers, executive producers, distributors, and studios/studio heads and executives give the “greenlight” for these crews to liberally use (or allow to be used) the N-word.
FEATURE FILM(S) :
W H O ’ S Y O U R C A D D Y
[Release Date: 7/27/07]
Starring Antwan Andre Patton, Andy Milonakis, Faizon Love, Finesse Mitchell, Sherri Shepherd, Tamala Jones, Jenifer Lewis; screenplay written by Don Michael Paul, Bradley Adelstein, Robert Henny; directed by Don Michael Paul; produced by Tracey E. Edmonds, Christopher Eberts, Arnold Rifkin, Kia Jam; executive produced by Shakim Compere, Queen Latifah, Ross M. Dinerstein, Marvin Peart, Chris Roberts, Bobby Schwartz, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein; studio – MGM (Weinstein)
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NOTE : Why do the worst movies always have the most cast members and the most production team members? These types of films must be the easiest films to get a part in/production credit for. This film opened with a weekend box office of about $2.7 million and nearly three weeks later it’s earned a whopping $5.4 million and has already been dropped by most movie theaters and is already categorized as being similar to Soul Plane. Bob Johnson and Tracey Edmonds probably need to rethink their film strategy. Blacks can handle more than “funny” and “entertaining,” neither of which this film was. We want family-friendly material that’s intellectual, stimulating, empowerment focused, heritage/legacy oriented – with some humor added for balance! Also, there’s plenty of money in the Black community where we don’t need to beg, scheme, and outsmart just to get membership into a primarily White golf club; we can build our own. That concept of the movie as it relates to Blacks is just plain silly. In selecting the first script to kickoff Our Stories Films, president and COO Tracey E. Edmonds said she didn’t want to use “reverse discrimination” and thought this film was something that “appeals to people of color,” so that’s her reason for choosing the script of White writer/director Don Michael Paul (who has mostly acting credits). Who is she trying to make brownie points with? But that’s the type of thinking that the American educational system teaches, which, again, is Carter G. Woodson’s exact point – that it took him nearly 40 years to get Harvard out of his system. He was aware, Edmonds any many others like her and Johnson haven’t a clue – and aren’t looking to get one. Yet, you can’t tell or enlighten them about anything because they think they know it all. In essence, they’re nearly blinded by the position, status, income, perceived power, and perks of being in the business. And therein lies one of our biggest problems and why we continue to get Who’s Your Caddy? type films as well as shows like College Hilland Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown with individuals (the usual suspects) who keep getting hired to oversee and present “our stories.” [As a side note, we checked out one of the latest BET offerings – Baldwin Hills – a so-called look at the upscale and affluent lifestyle for teenagers who have parents that are doctors, lawyers, engineers, entertainers, etc. (don’t most people at all career levels have kids?), where there are “I Passed For White” and “Sambo” framed pictures hanging in one household’s kitchen and one of the young characters states – “I’m dark-skinned, I gotta be stupid.”] Too many of us think we’ve “arrived” when in actuality, we’ll only really arrive when it’s as a group collectively – and that means thinking in terms of group empowerment, which is what every other group rightfully does. Except us! Reverse discrimination, how funny (but Stanford did its job well because Edmonds isdoing what they prepared her to do to maintain White supremacy). And, unfortunately, at this point, so are Bob Johnson, Debra Lee, Reginald Hudlin, and many others. Will they get that awakening and change their game plan? Time will tell…
R U S H H O U R 3
[Release Date: 8/10/07]
Starring Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan; screenplay written by Jeff Nathanson; directed by Brett Ratner; produced by Arthur Sarkissian, Roger Birnbaum, Jay Stern, Jonathan Glickman, Andrew Z. Davis; executive produced by Toby Emmerich; studio – New Line Cinema
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NOTE : The use of the N-word was not said directly, but there was an implication that it was used in French. It was unnecessary to do that, but perhaps the purpose of doing that was so Chris Tucker could cause the scene he did about the “N-word.” As expected, much violence and murder (“let me kill someone today” says one of the characters). Tucker’s character is embedded for this role perhaps, so he’s doing the usual womanizing (but still doesn’t get the woman) and squeaky, loud talking overacting. It would be interesting to see him in a quality role one day. Hopefully he’ll step out of his genre comfort zone and take a chance on something new and different. Nevertheless, the stereotypes continue: the Black male is categorized as hip hop, while the Chinese male is categorized as the disciplined martial artist. And so it goes – the power to present whatever image is allowed to be presented on the big screen. What are we going to do about it?
BN-W Monitor Coming Soon : “Home of the Brave” [Samuel L. Jackson, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Victoria Rowell]; The Kingdom” [Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner]; “The Invasion” [Jeffrey Wright, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig]; “Resurrecting the Champ” [Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett]; “The Comebacks” [Carl Weathers]
Also Coming : Part II: Black-Jewish Relations; Bi-Monthly Music Monitors