BN-W eNewsletter #93




The monitor of the film(s) listed above is farther down in this eNewsletter.  Because there’s never enough taught about American history through neither the public nor private educational systems, it was important to see three films – “Miracle at St. Anna,” “The Express,’’ “The Secret Life of Bees” – that focus on stories that America usually wants to ignore or act as if the situation within the films are a distant memory or never happened, which is very often by selective inclusion/exclusion.


November 4th is Election Day.  Good for you if you voted early.  If not, however, voter turnout is expected to be huge, so be patient and prepared for long lines and other issues that may crop up.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offers some valuable voting information in its link: Know Your Voting Rights – State By State.  In it you will find Voter Empowerment Cards (that can be printed) for each state that includes facts on registration, student voting, voting with a disability, early voting, and felon enfranchisement – surprisingly, there are many states where an individual with a felony or criminal record CAN vote.  [Note:  Rapper T.I. recently early voted in Georgia after doing some research and finding out that even though he had a felony conviction, he was still eligible to vote.]  For additional voting rights information, you can also call 877-523-2792.

There have also been some questions or concerns on whether or not clothing, buttons, or pins worn to polling places on Election Day can prevent anyone from voting.  It would be wonderful to say that’s a myth.  Unfortunately, that decision’s made at the state level by each individual state.  And that obviously means it’s best to play it safe in an election year such as this.  The past two elections were clearly given away by the U.S. Supreme Court and then stolen through voter fraud and numbers manipulation, so why chance it.  Read ACLU’s What Not to Wear…on Election Day.  One major note of importance in this blog:  “The confusion in the courts has placed the voter in a difficult position; can you wear your political clothing when you exercise your right to vote? Unless you know for sure, we suggest that you either refrain from wearing political clothing, or be prepared to cover up or remove such clothing. Though you may be permitted to vote with it on, you also risk losing your right to vote. In an election that has been described by many as the most important in our lifetime, we suggest that pragmatism carry the day.”

Voter suppression tactics are definitely on – and those who use them have got it mastered.  Election day volunteers from lawyers to poll workers are needed everywhere.  If you’ve got the time, please get involved.  Also check outVideo the Vote.

If you missed any other BN-W monitors, just send an e-mail to 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.


M I R A C L E  A T  S T. A N N A

[Release Date:  9/26/08]

Starring Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller; screenplay written by James McBride; directed by Spike Lee; produced by Roberto Cicutto, Luigi Musini, Spike Lee; executive produced by Marco Valerio Pugini, Jon Kilik; studio – Touchstone Pictures


NOTE :  It’s wonderful that Spike Lee put this film on the market.  There’s plenty of historical documentation that’s rarely seen in films and it can be used as one resource.  Unfortunately, it has done poorly at the box office, perhaps because people do not want to focus on war topics.  It had a production budget of $45 million – and its worldwide gross to date is nearing $10 million.  The one main gripe from BN-W’s perspective is the unnecessary use of the N-word by the Black soldiers.  One of the characters states, “I ain’t a nigger here,” referring to how he felt he was treated in Italy in comparison to how he’s treated in the United States , yet the lead Black characters run around calling themselves by the N-word multiple times.  There’s just no need for Lee to promote it as a “term of endearment” when they use itagainst themselves.  There’s also the inevitable scenes of racism when the word is used by Whites (as “niggras”), so Lee could have and really should have chosen to keep the word’s use in the context of its origins – to dehumanize Blacks when it’s used – instead he decided to make the wrong choice.  And a “choice” it always is…

T H E  E X P R E S S

[Release Date:  10/10/08]

Starring Rob Brown, Charles S. Dutton, Omar Benson Miller, Dennis Quaid, Darrin Dewitt Henson; screenplay written by Charles Leavitt; directed by Gary Fleder; produced by John Davis; executive produced by Derek Dauchy, Arne L. Schmidt, Ryan Kavanaugh; studio – Universal Pictures


NOTE :  This is another worthy film not only because of the life story it’s based on – the first Black Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis – but also in terms of historical documentation that’s rarely taught in schools concerning facts about the United States.  Perhaps because it’s another football movie, this film also tanked at the box office – grossing about $9.5 million to date with a production budget of about $40 million.  The N-word is only used as it was originally intended – to dehumanize Blacks – not “endearingly” amongst Blacks.  In 2008, with crowds of White people shouting “traitor,” “kill him,” and “off with his head” about presidential nominee Barack Obama during rallies supporting the ticket for another presidential nominee, John McCain, the question still remains how far have we really come when this kind of mob violence mentality  still so prominently exists – even if Obama wins?  Even in the case of OJ Simpson, he’s found guilty of all charges by an all-White jury in 2008 basically as payback for a crime many Whites believe to this day he’s guilty of – killing two White people.  In this film, references to Jim Crow (colored only sections, country club race restrictions, etc.), the Civil Rights Movement, Emmitt Till, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Confederate flag, forced segregation, and more are made.  If more Americans had a better understanding of its history – the good and the not-so-good – then we would all be better for it.  This film is only a small step, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

T H E  S E C R E T  L I F E  O F  B E E S

[Release Date:  10/17/08]

Starring Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning, Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Keys, Nate Parker; screenplay written by Gina Prince-Bythewood; directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, James Lassiter, Will Smith, Joe Pichirallo; executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith; studio – Fox Searchlight Pictures


NOTE :  While a decent film, this film didn’t quite hit the spot.  As mentioned in BN-W #92, after Jada and Will Smith disappointed with Hancock, The Women, and Lakeview Terrace, we thought maybe they’d make a strong comeback with this film.  Sadly, no such luck.  It’s a very beautiful looking and well-made film, with sisters sporting natural and natural-looking hairdos.  And there are definitely some very touching scenes.  One that’s fitting for today’s presidential election year is when Jennifer Hudson’s character gets called the N-word and beaten up by three White men because she can not only read and write but she is going to exercise her right to vote.  While voters are not overtly beaten up today, our votes – the Black vote – are still the primary ones targeted for suppression.  It’s also nice to see the model of a “Black Madonna and Child” – although the story told in the film is inaccurate.  There’s no reference to the African origins of this story (even Bill Maher’s Religulousdocumentary – worth seeing by the way – very briefly hints at the African origins of this mythological story).  Queen Latifah carries on in her usual protective and motherly role, particularly over Dakota Fanning’s character.  It would have been nice if the grief factor was just a little more balanced and resolved for all characters.  The Black characters are the accepting and non-questioning ones, even after death and near-death experiences related to racially motivated mob violence.  Proper closure to the film would have occurred if at least one person actually said the unsaid.


[Release Date:  10/17/08]

Starring Jeffrey Wright, Josh Brolin, Thandie Newton, Elizabeth Banks; screenplay written by Stanley Weiser; directed by Oliver Stone; produced by Bill Block, Eric Kopeloff, Moritz Borman, Paul Hanson; executive produced by Albert Yeung, Christopher Mapp, David Whealy, Elliot Ferwerda, Johnny Hon, Matthew Street, Peter D. Graves, Teresa Cheung, Thomas Sterchi, Tom Ortenberg; studio – Lionsgate


NOTE :  A pretty light and humorous take on George W. Bush and his life as a young, rich, spoiled, and unmotivated slacker who destroys everything he touches.  Those same lackluster ways, along with zero intellectual curiosity and a half-stepping mindset continue into full-blown adulthood, which explains the Iraqi invasion mess and the economic disaster we’re in now.   Overall, the film handles Bush with kid gloves.  Josh Brolin gives a lively portrayal.  Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell and Thandie Newton as Condi Rice also handle their character portrayals well.  Rice might not appreciate how uptight and passive Newton plays her, but that’s kind of the image she gives off.  Even though she can be given credit for at least stepping out of the box…just a little…and stating that America’s foundation of enslavement in this country is a “birth defect” because “Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together; Europeans by choice, and Africans in chains.”  You go, Condi!  Knew you had to have just a little bit up in there somewhere.

H I G H  S C H O O L  M U S I C A L  3:  S E N I O R  Y E A R

[Release Date:  10/24/08]

Starring Monique Coleman, Corbin Bleu, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens; screenplay written by Peter Barsocchini; directed by Kenny Ortega; produced by Bill Borden, Barry Rosenbush; executive produced by Kenny Ortega; studio – Walt Disney Pictures


NOTE :  Cutesy film for the teenagers who’ll enjoy the dancing and young love/romance.  The chemistry between Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens is there but it’s still hard to see the real talent.

BN-W Monitor Coming Soon :  “RocknRolla” [Thandie Newton, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges]; “Max Payne” [Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Mark Wahlberg]; “The Soloist” [Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr.]; “Quantum of Solace” [Jeffrey Wright, Daniel Craig]; “Soul Men” [Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, John Legend]; “Seven Pounds”[Will Smith, Michael Ealy, Rosario Dawson]; “The Spirit”[Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes]; “Hurricane Season”[Forest Whitaker]; and more…

Also Coming :  Part II:  Black-Jewish Relations; Music Monitors


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