COLLEGE ROAD TRIP
NEVER BACK DOWN
MEET THE BROWNS
RUN, FAT BOY, RUN
The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter. The 2008 film season continues to be very slow and very dull. Even Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” while it was okay, it didn’t quite hit the spot. One good thing, however, is that none of the films monitored used the N-word. First quarter politics 2008, fortunately, has not suffered the same lackluster fate.
INTERESTING WEB SITES/LINKS/ARTICLES OF THE DAY :
Here are a few New York City plays – two currently playing and one upcoming – that we think are worth considering. We highly recommend “Celia,” which is an excellent theatrical production of the life of entertainer Celia Cruz playing Off Broadway at New World Stages. For details on English and Spanish language performances as well as discount tickets, go to BroadwayBox – Celia. This is definitely a different kind of play – “Passing Strange” – which is a rock musical about a Black man on a journey of self-discovery to find the “real.” It had a successful Off Broadway run last year and has now moved up to a bigger stage on Broadway. For discount tickets, click here: BroadwayBox-Passing Strange. Coming soon is Laurence Fishburne in the Broadway production of a one-man show – “Thurgood” – about Thurgood Marshall, who was the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice. For discount tickets, visitBroadwayBox – Thurgood. You can also get more general theatre information and additional discount sites from BN-W – Entertainment – Theatre.
How and why did our elders and parents drop the ball and let the N-word get to the level it’s arisen to remains a mystery. Is it the result of the “miseducation of the Negro”? Jamese Lewis is a 22-year-old college student who was the winner of an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity oratorical competition on the N-word. Following is an excerpt from this exceptional speech: “The N-Word has been on its deathbed for the past 40-60 years, and only we have our hands on the cord to end the livelihood, impact and longevity of it on our living possibilities….I think we have forgotten that it was those who share our bloodline that formed the geometry necessary to construct the pyramids, that invented many of the foundations of contemporary medicine, that first navigated by the stars and taught others all these things. We forget that Aristotle and his contemporaries voyaged to US in Timbuktu and Mali and Cairo to attain an education. I’m not talking about the bloodlines of our mothers’ violators during slavery that promulgated and gave roots to the firsts of our culture’s single parent homes….We need to be edifying each other, building each other up, removing from our language the arsenal of our enemies….This N-word has got to go. Its wheezing, straining against the covers, feeding through a tube. Its heart monitor is giving off a weak emasculated signal. Its breath is thin and hardly perceptible. It wants to die. Are you keeping it alive?” Read the entire speech here: “Is the ‘N-Word’ Dead?”
Interesting how the media went into an unhealthy and – whether they realized it or not – racially-motivated frenzy over remarks made by presidential candidate Barack Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright; yet in comparison, there was very little about March 19th, which marked the 5th anniversary of the Iraq invasion and occupation and which has now claimed more than 4000 American soldiers lives and more than one million Iraqi lives. There was also nothing on the Winter Soldier 2008: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations hearings, which took place March 13-16 in Silver Spring, Maryland. In these hearings, soldiers told their stories and experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan in “ gripping testimony, ranging from firsthand accounts of the murder of Iraqi civilians, the dehumanization of Iraqis and Afghanis that undergirds the violence of the occupations, to the toll that violence takes on the soldiers themselves and the inadequate care they receive upon returning home.” Read the complete article by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! here or at Winter Soldier Marches Again. Fortunately, alternative media and Web sites did an outstanding job in airing these hearings live and then making them available as archives. Following are some additional links to audio and transcripts of the testimony of the soldiers: Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Free Speech TV Winter Soldier. FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) also asks “Why Are Winter Soldiers Not News?”
Dick Cheney saying “So!” in response to the fact that most Americans feel the Iraq invasion/occupation is not worth fighting should have gotten the air time given to Reverend Wright. But, with a media owned by corporations that have been supporting the Bush administration, it’s no surprise that the replay button was deactivated. We all know, however, that the replay button was activated (and reactivated and reactivated and then reactivated again and again and again) for Reverend Wright. Why? Is it because he’s a man of the cloth? Or is it something else? Here’s a link to the more complete context of his sermon – which all of the media CHOSE not to show – using the “chickens coming home to roost” comment, which makes a reference to his source (Ambassador Edward Peck doing an interview on a FOX News television show): Wright “9/11” Sermon. Here’s a link to an audio of the full context of the “God Damn America” sermon – originally given on April 13, 2003 and officially known as “Confusing God and Government”: Wright “America” Sermon. Journalist and CNN commentator Roland Martin also gives a detailed written synopsis of this speech: Martin – Synopsis.
These Huffington Post articles (by Cenk Uygur and Sam Stein) also make some interesting distinctions to the differing standards set for Black and White preachers in the media with comparisons made to the treatment of Reverend Wright juxtaposed to those of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney’s church leaders and Reverends John Hagee, Rod Parsley, and the late Jerry Falwell – all of whom John McCain has accepted support from. And thus, we are forced to ask again – is it the cloth or is it something else? The Uygur and Stein links above give some insight on these differences and also provide a link to this Rod Parsley video, which includes a reference to Margaret Sanger, a eugenics supporter who participated in initiatives (such as the Negro Project) to reduce the fertility of Black women – in essence, to decrease the Black population. Sanger was also the founder of the American Birth Control League (ABCL), which later became known as Planned Parenthood. For more on Sanger and her attempts to “reduce births among Blacks,” read the book by Harriet A. Washington (Medical Apartheid) referenced farther down in this eNewsletter.
There are still many media stories that report and focus on the supposed “absurdity” of Reverend Wright’s claims of even the possibility of AIDS being man-made to kill Black folks and his “despicable” sermons of anti-Americanism. The thinking is – how dare he criticize this country – even if its foundation and economic powerhouse status were possible only because of its origins of Native American genocidal holocaust along with the African holocaust and enslavement that led to free and forced slave labor. Should those factual parts of American history be forgotten and not matter? Should we also forget about the slave owning presidents who raped and had offspring by their female slaves – including Thomas Jefferson who’s carved into Mt. Rushmore as one of the American “heroes”? We could, but forgetting about America’s origins would – obviously – be the epitome of stupidity for anyone of African descent. As for Whites, what they don’t know – apparently – keeps many of them in this perpetual state of fear that their comeuppance – “chickens coming home to roost” – is on the way.
In relation to all that’s written above, we’d like to remind you, once again, of one of our favorite books – Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present – byHarriet A. Washington, which recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award (NBCC) for General Nonfiction. As we’ve mentioned in previous BN-W eNewsletters, this is an unforgettable and well-written book that gives an extensive historical account (with an abundance of resources) of the many “medical apartheids” on Blacks here in America that not only involved the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study but all types of torturous, horrendous, and – yes, fatal – experimentations on Blacks from enslavement to post-enslavement. In fact, the other experiments almost make Tuskegee’s look like child’s play.
Margaret Kimberley of the Black Agenda Report site wrote a superb piece about this book where she also touches on the experiments done with toxic HIV drugs on foster care kids in New York City from 1988-2001 and how in the 1990s Black and Latino boys were used as guinea pigs to test the drug fenfluramine, which is now banned. An important side note on these two cases is that, as has often been the case throughout America’s history in these questionable experiments, what’s considered to be a top institution – this time Columbia University – is at the helm. In this article, Kimberley makes some interesting and proof-positive points about the mainstream American way of thinking: “ Sadistic torture can be condemned as long as it didn’t happen here…. White Americans love to point fingers at Germans who won’t apologize for Hitler, or Japanese who claim that the rape of Nanking didn’t take place. There is little interest in acknowledging, much less apologizing for atrocities that took place on American soil…. It is indeed valuable that some of the most racist crimes committed in this country have finally been exposed. But it will be of little use if this history is dismissed as vestiges of another time instead of revealing an ideology that has never disappeared from the American consciousness.” Read the complete and powerful article here: Freedom Rider – Medical Apartheid.
Joe Madison was recently on MSNBC’s Hardball and asked Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan “what are White men afraid of?” We too wonder why so many Americans who are considered mainstream America – aka Whites – seem to be so afraid of the truth? And the opportunity for the media to totally overplay Obama’s “typical White person” comment was even too much for a – gasp! – FOX host. See Chris Wallace dig into his stunned colleagues – are they wondering if he didn’t get the FOX memo to keep the Obama bashing going? Tim Wise, considered a “White anti-racist,” gives a pretty solid take on White discomfort, confusion, and fear about the issue of race: “ It is not the crime that bothers us, but the remembrance of it, the unwillingness to let it go–these last words [let it go]being the first ones uttered by most Whites it seems whenever anyone, least of all an ‘angry Black man’ like Jeremiah Wright, foists upon us the bill of particulars for several centuries of White supremacy.” The full article with the “feeble” and “raving maniac” quotes by author James Baldwin can be read here: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama and the Unacceptability of Truth: Of National Lies and Racial America.
In Barack Obama’s inevitable speech on race in America (A More Perfect Union), he managed to get some historical facts out there about America’s legacy of racism yet still spread the blame around, which slowed the tide for now. But whether or not White America can handle the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is still hugely debatable. While Obama does have the charisma and intelligence to appeal to people on a massive scale, at this point he doesn’t conjure up the fear that Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X did – hence their assassinations – but he’s still a Black man. And as long as the history of this country is not properly discussed, written, and taught, there’s always going to be that underlying discomfort no matter how the need for “change” is promoted and appears to be accepted – and regardless of how conciliatory and accommodating Obama attempts to be. Will he get the nomination? It looks very possible. But if he does, we’ll see even more of America’s true colors fly with the blatant fear mongering of the Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs types leading the media pack – and the behind-the-scenes manipulations of their editors, producers, and corporate executive bosses. Obama can definitely handle the kitchen sink, bathroom tub and toilet being thrown at him, but can a very insecure mainstream Americahandle him and what they even think he might represent? The Clintons – double talker Bill and sniper dodger Hillary– want back into that White House badly and, as they’ve shown, will do almost anything to make it happen. What won’t they do? No one knows yet!
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).
We’re in the New York area, so we must mention Eliot Spitzer who was recently forced to resign as its governor after getting caught in a prostitution ring scandal and doing some deceptive money transferring tactics to cover up his involvement. As New York State Attorney General, Spitzer also played a role in keeping certain Tawana Brawley files under lock and key and making it difficult for attorney Alton Maddox to retrieve them.
If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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) :
S E M I – P R O
[Release Date: 2/29/08]
Starring Andre Benjamin, Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson; screenplay written by Scot Armstrong; directed by Kent Alterman; produced by Jimmy Miller; executive produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Toby Emmerich, Cale Boyter, Michael Aguilar, David Householter, Kent Alterman; studio – New Line Cinema
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Anyone who’s seen a Will Ferrell movie has an idea of what this one is about. More of the same – only a little worse with a 70s theme. For the most part, the Black male characters were weak – poor dialogue, getting shot, punched in the face, and that kind of treatment. Waste of time!
C O L L E G E R O A D T R I P
[Release Date: 3/7/08]
Starring Martin Lawrence, Raven-Symone, Kym E. Whitley, Eshaya Draper, Donny Osmond; screenplay written by Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Evans, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio; directed by Roger Kumble; produced by Andrew Gunn; executive produced by Ann Marie Sanderlin, Raven-Simone, Michael Green, Anthony Katagas; studio – Walt Disney Pictures
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Good concept of father-daughter bonding and some tender moments, but just too predictable overall. Martin Lawrence is a little more subdued than usual, which is good. Raven-Symone shows a fun-loving, easy-going spirit, which is probably why her television sitcom does so well. It also would have been nice to have at least one reference to an HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities).
N E V E R B A C K D O W N
[Release Date: 3/14/08]
Starring Djimon Hounsou, Sean Faris; screenplay written by Chris Hauty; directed by Jeff Wadlow; produced by Craig Baumgarten, David Zelon; executive produced by [Not Listed]; studio – Summit Entertainment
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : This film was only added to our list because of Djimon Hounsou. He does a good job in this small role. Once again, however, he does that very familiar emotional tear-rolling scene we’ve come to expect in every role he plays now. How he managed to pull it off even in a film like this leaves you thinking “not again.” Also, the sole Black female has a very bad weave.
M E E T T H E B R O W N S
[Release Date: 3/21/08]
Starring Angela Bassett, Rick Fox, Jenifer Lewis, Sofia Vergara, David Mann, Margaret Avery, Frankie Faison, Lamman Rucker, Tyler Perry; screenplay written by Tyler Perry; directed by Tyler Perry; produced by Tyler Perry, Reuben Cannon; executive produced by Michael Paseornek; studio – Lionsgate/TPS
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : This is the weakest of the five Tyler Perry film productions over the past few years. While the focus is still on female spiritual and emotional empowerment, meaningful and healthy love, good Black men, and the importance of family, there was too much over-the-top tomfoolery. We’ve come to expect some of that in Perry’s films, but this has too many reminders of his stage plays. We also have to get beyond the slave references (“chicken George” fromRoots) and the natural hair jokes (“dreads = n.a.p.p.y.”); the continuation of these kinds of “jokes” only indicate ignorance and show the effective influence of White supremacy.
R U N, F A T B O Y, R U N
[Release Date: 3/28/08]
Starring Thandie Newton, Simon Pegg, Hank Azaria; screenplay written by Michael Ian Black, Simon Pegg; directed by David Schwimmer; produced by Robert Jones, Sarah Curtis; executive produced by Nigel Green, Camela Galand, Rolf Mittweg, Martha Coleman, Joseph Infantolino, Alexa L. Fogel; studio – Picturehouse/Entertainment Films
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : This film has good intentions but it just never takes off. There are some scenes worth a chuckle, but it’s full of clichés and the finish line ending is just totally phony. The Indian character is also a running joke. The naked butt shots are a mystery. Never be a quitter is the film’s ultimate highlight.
[Release Date: 3/28/08]
Starring Laurence Fishburne, Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth; screenplay written by Peter Steinfeld, Allan Loeb; directed by Robert Luketic; produced by Dana Brunetti, Kevin Spacey, Michael DeLuca; executive produced by William S. Beasley, Brett Ratner, Ryan Kavanaugh; studio – Columbia Pictures
|NONE||LOW TO EXCESSIVE [1+]|
NOTE : Another Hollywood usual; this time with a combination of gambling, education, greed – and a little bit of casino security violence thrown in for good measure. Old timers Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Spacey are standouts in their roles.
BN-W Monitor Coming Soon : “Street Kings” [Forest Whitaker, Keanu Reeves, Cedric the Entertainer, Common]; “Sex and the City” [Jennifer Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker]; “Wanted” [Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie]; “Hancock” [Will Smith]; and more…
Also Coming : Part II: Black-Jewish Relations; Music Monitors